Some big names come into play, as the Mae Young Classic rolls on. Read the full review, and match ratings…
(Winner via pinfall: Toni Storm)
(Winner via pinfall: Dakota Kai)
(Winner via pinfall: Bianca Belair)
(Winner via pinfall: Piper Niven)
I would be lying if I said I didn’t mark out when Toni Storm made her entrance to open this third episode of the Mae Young Classic. I’ll be honest, and admit that I actually marked out every time they showed her in the commercials before the show debuted, too. Toni Storm is awesome, and now about a million more people in the world will know of her existence, which is just brilliant.
Her first round match was decent enough. It wasn’t as by-the-numbers as some of the other matches we have seen, but it never truly excelled to levels that I’m personally used to seeing from the Aussie athlete. Believe me when I say that Toni Storm can go, and whilst we saw hints of that here, I have a feeling the chains will really start to come off her as we move deeper into the competition. A fun opener, with Ayesha Raymond playing her part well too.
I actually enjoyed the Dakota Kai and Kavita Devi match, despite cringing numerous times at how Devi moved in the ring. I don’t know if it was her ring attire (I’m assuming a cultural choice, as it didn’t seem natural for this kind of physical competition), or just her general physical stature, but something was very awkward about Devi that I can’t quite put my finger on. That said, she dominated most of this match, and it was Kai’s selling that actually carried this match to the rating I gave it. Kai has a great look, can go in the ring, and clearly can make people look like a million bucks – no wonder she’s been signed to NXT! She had the typical babyface comeback win, but my god was that kick to Devi’s head brutal. That whole sequence looked superb.
Bianca Belair is someone who I’m not sold on right now, but at the same time, I can’t help but admire the effort she is clearly putting in. The long hair really infuriates me though, and is nothing more than a distraction for viewers, and a potential safety issue for the ring combatants. I’m not necessarily sure how she can use it as a whip in a match, without receiving a disqualification, but I try not to question that kind of things anymore. Despite the effort put in by both, this did feel very awkward, with both women appearing nervous, particularly Belair. I suspect Belair, victor bere, will be able to put on some good matches when she’s put in the ring with proper veterans though.
It’s incredibly disappointing that, in the days leading up to the release of these first round episodes, Piper Niven was victim to a lot of hurtful comments about her weight. Given what the Mae Young Classic is meant to represent, negative comments about Niven’s body have no place in any discussion, and are just a reminder that there is still work to be done in educated some of the general public in how to treat other people. I would imagine that Niven made a lot of those people feel very silly though, after they saw her match with Santana Garrett.
Whilst the weakest main event of the collection of first round matches, it still told an interesting story and both women really went at it. I could’ve done with a little more variety from Niven, in that her splashes became slightly repetitive, but I liked some of the big moves she hit, and ones she teased hitting throughout. Garrett was no doubt sad to go out in the first round, but Niven offers the competition something that no one else does, so it was the right call to have her go through.
All in all, a decent episode. There’s still that unavoidable feeling of most of these matches being filler, but you’ll get that in a 32 person tournament. I’m happy to finally see the likes of Toni Storm appear, and some of the second round matches look very tasty.
Match of the Night
Piper Niven vs. Santana Garrett