It’s time to finish up the first round of the Mae Young Classic. Let’s get going.
Candice LeRae v. Renee Michelle
I’m unaware of Renee Michelle, but Candice LeRae already has my heart. She earned most of it on her own, but I’d be lying if I pretended that I don’t also love that she’s married to Johnny Gargano, who is one of my new favorites. In fact, the crowd starts cheering “Candice Wrestling” as an homage to her husband, “Johnny Wrestling”.
The match begins with a lot of quick action and a lot of fast-paced pin attempts and reversals. Even though the match is fairly equal so far, almost every single person in the crowd is fully behind LeRae. Things start to turn around when Michelle hits a spinning facebuster to change momentum. It’s kind of a shame that Renee Michelle got paired up with Candice in the first round. While she gets to look really good, I’m sure most people will end up remembering Candice, which is a bummer because Michelle seems really talented as well.
The clear fan favorite hits her stride again with an incredible jumping neckbreaker, but it still doesn’t keep Michelle down. She drags her opponent up to the second rope for another signature neckbreaker and is able to finally get that three count for the win.
I. Love. Candice. LeRae.
Taynara Conti v. Lacey Evans
Lacey Evans has made a few NXT appearances already, so I’m familiar with her backstory as a former Marine and a proud mother. Taynara, on the other hand, is entirely new to me. Her pre-match package reveals to me that she was a finalist for the Brazilian Olympic team for Judo, but just barely missed the cut.
These two women are incredibly aggressive from the moment the bell rings. It’s probably the stiffest match we’ve seen thus far, and that’s exciting. Conti is laying in those elbow strikes, and they might be the hardest I’ve seen in a while just in general.
The overall pace was slow, but there was an impressive series of moves from a backwards somersault into a headstand and elbow drop. Evans gets the win off of a big sit-out slam.
Conti did a good job playing the heel without much wrestling experience, but Evans had the crowd behind her. She’ll be going up against Toni Storm in the second round.
Nicole Savoy v. Reina Gonzalez
The pre-match package reveals that Savoy goes by “The Queen Of Suplexes”, and the videos give a lot of credit to that nickname. On the other hand, Reina comes out with a cowboy hat and chaps. But also an eyepatch on her right eye. But also that eyepatch has a hole in it so she can see. I don’t really get it.
Gonzalez refuses the shake, so we get a clear and easy dynamic going very quickly. While Savoy is clearly the deadlier fighter, Gonzalez is just bigger and more emposing. Sometimes that’s enough. Just as Savoy starts to get a little steam going, Gonzalez yanks her down to the mat by her hair and throws a lariat at her as soon as she gets up.
After fighting a nonstop uphill battle, Savoy goes for an armbar on her larger opponent. It takes her a decent amount of time to actually lock it all the way, but it’s finally accomplished and she forces Gonzalez to tap out.
Unfortunately, Nicole Savoy will be facing Candice LeRae in the next round, but it should make for good wrestling.
Kairi Sane v. Tessa Blanchard
The Cruiserweight Classic had a match between Kota Ibushi and Cedric Alexander happen in either the first or second round, I can’t quite remember. Many people would have assumed that could’ve been the final of the tournament, but it was thrown at us early to make sure everyone watched the whole thing.
This. Is. That. Match.
This could EASILY have been the final match and I’m honestly a little heartbroken that it happened now because I hate to see one of these women lose.
The match begins with a lot of physical stalemate. They try to test each other’s strength, but it seems to be fairly even. Kairi hits a running neckbreaker and Tessa responds with one of her own, adding an elbow drop to the end. Kairi gets stuck sitting on the second turnbuckle and gets two knees to the face. Tessa charges her again but misses and eats a spear for it. Kairi hits a running sliding forearm in the corner and follows it up with a top rope Superman punch. Tessa answers by dropkicking Kairi into the ropes and elbowing her in the back, followed immediately by suplexing her back to the center.
Neither woman will accept defeat, not even after Tessa hits a top rope cannonball senton. She misses one more chance and Kairi doesn’t waste her chance. She goes to the top rope yet again, but is able to land her famous elbow drop for the win. Kairi’s elbow drop is maybe the best elbow drop I’ve ever seen.
They both hug afterward, and Tessa holds up Kairi’s hand in victory. If both women don’t remain in the company, I’ll be very remorseful about it. Kairi Sane will face Bianca Belair in the second round.
This has been some damn exciting wrestling, and I hope you’re ready to join me next week as the middle section of the tournament kicks off! What are your predictions? Who do you want to end up in the finals?
(You may have figured it out already, but my dream final is Candice LeRae v. Kairi Sane. I’m probably not good enough to get nice things though. We’ll see.)