In the final matches of the first round, Kairi Sane makes her long awaited debut in a WWE ring, whilst Candice LeRae opens up the show against Renee Michelle. Read on for match ratings and our full review.
(Winner via pinfall: Candice LeRae)
(Winner via pinfall: Lacey Evans)
(Winner via submission: Nicole Savoy)
(Winner via pinfall: Kairi Sane)
As much as I impatiently awaited the debut of Toni Storm in the Mae Young Classic, I was equally frustrated waiting for the arrival of Kairi Sane. I’d seen a little of her work in Stardom, and enough highlights on Twitter to know that all the hype about her was legitimate, and that WWE had made a big statement in signing her. Interestingly though, Jim Ross’ commentary implied that she wasn’t yet signed to the WWE, which was incorrect, so either an error on his part (that would have been edited out?), or that’s the kayfabe angle WWE want to take with Sane right now.
Candice LeRae had a good little match to open the show, and she was very over with the crowd, which made for a very positive atmosphere. Of course, the presence of her husband (Johnny Gargano) at ringside didn’t hurt things. LeRae is a very good talent, and WWE would be foolish not to offer her an NXT contract, if they haven’t already.
The Lacey Evans win was hard for me to accept. Firstly, Taynara Conti was made to look like a big deal in her video package, and also on Ross’ soundbites, so having her eat the pin seemed questionable. That said, it was exposure for her, and Evans can probably do more in the later rounds than Conti would be able to.
For me, whilst Evans has got her look down, the gimmick just doesn’t belong on TV in 2017. In an era of reality, Lacey Evans is clearly a fictional character, and a woman playing a role. The entrance genuinely just made me cringe, especially given how realistic and down to earth the competition had been until that point. I want to like her though, I must make that clear.
Savoy and Gonzalez never got going, for me. Gonzalez was moving awkwardly (injury?), which meant that Savoy really should’ve been stepping up to lead the match, but it never seemed to happen that way. It just didn’t click in any way.
A match that absolutely did click was Kairi Sane versus Tessa Blanchard. These two women put on an absolutely great final match of the first round, and both of them looked like stars from start to finish. Blanchard has been somewhat screwed over by being paired with Sane, as someone of her quality really should be getting to the deeper rounds of the tournament, but one gets the impression that her being put in this spot was done out of incredible good faith in her abilities. They knew she’d make Sane’s first WWE match a memorable one, and she did.
Kairi Sane was likely surprised by how over she was with the crowd at the start of the match. She ended it even hotter, clearly presented to the live audience and the viewing audience as a star. Her elbow drop was already the thing of gif’s on Twitter, but now it’s going to be everywhere – it really is a piece of art.
This main event was the best of the first round, but that came as no surprise given the people involved. I suspect we will see better as the tournament progresses, but at this point, it sits nicely at the top of the pack.
The second round seedlings are now complete, with some tasty matches set. More interesting, however, is looking further ahead and seeing some of the potential matches that could take place in later rounds. Without question, we are going to start seeing some wonderful matches between the remaining women’s, and I think some heads are going to get turned.
Match of the Night
Kairi Sane vs. Tessa Blanchard