Mae Young Classic Finals Recap & Closing Thoughts

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The road has finally led to this, the culmination of the dreams of 32 women looking to kick down the door and take the WWE Universe by storm. Some would say they have all succeeded, but the fact remains that only one of them can be the final one to walk through that door and we are inching closer to the moment in which one of these women will take that step. The show opens with a video package which takes us through the highs and lows, before we get some final thoughts from our finalists, Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler.

Renee Young welcomes us and then recaps the red carpet event from earlier tonight, which included WWE Superstars Bayley, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch; the stars of “GLOW”, and the 3 of the MMA 4 Horsewomen. Lots of pomp on the red carpet tonight. Young then throws it down to Lita and J.R. and they introduce in depth profiles of the finalists. Baszler’s half hypes up her dominance and Kairi’s half hypes up her heart and high flying ability. After some more shots of stars and special guests in the crowd, Baszler’s theme hits and it is time to crown a winner.

Mae Young Classic Finals: Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane

Baszler out first and looks ready to go. Very light crowd reaction here, but she gets a nice ovation from the other Horsewomen. Sane out to a slightly better reaction, and she on the other had is all smiles. The tale of the tape shows us that Baszler will have a 6 INCH height advantage. Lillian Garcia is our ring announcer and she gets a great pop. Official introductions tell us that it’s definitely a Sane crowd, and we are underway.

The Pirate Princess looking to use her agility to get some offense going but Baszler goes straight at her with a takedown and they do some rolling and restart. Our first major move of the match comes when Shayna hits Sane with a kick that knocks her to the outside. She throws her prey back inside and then gets a near fall. Baszler is stretching Sane out at every turn, focusing on the arm to take the elbow away.

Kairi goes for a spear to get herself going but gets caught and The Queen of Spades makes her pay for it by hitting a floatover gutwrench suplex for 2. Sane fires back with multiple chops and heads towards the ropes for more offense but Baszler follows and nails a knee strike. She then bounces off the ropes but Sane quickly bounces off the opposite set of ropes and finally nails a spear, as other WWE women look on, including Asuka. It produces a 2 count but Sane starts to open up and unload on the bigger Baszler and then grounds her with a body scissors.

Kairi heads up to the top but Shayna stands up and catches her off the top in a rear naked choke. Sane is able to escape by pounding away on the left side of Baszler’s ribs, which she has been favoring since the body scissors. A duel on the top rope ends with Sane hitting the Marine Spike, or as I used to call it, the beginning of the “Hojo Death Combo”. She pins her near the corner and Shayna manages to grab the bottom rope to stay in the match. The end then comes as the other 2 parts of the now-Sane Death Combo are unleashed: Sane hits the Sliding D forearm to the cornered Baszler (she switched it at the last moment and hit Baszler’s injured ribs instead of her face) and then finishes her off with the best elbowdrop in the business right to the ribs to win the MYC. Good show of sportsmanship as Sane helps up Baszler, and the two embrace before the runner up exits the ring. After replays, the two finalists are back in the ring with the trophy and are showered with applause as Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Sara Amato (Sara Del Rey forever!) look on.

My Take: The match was a very slow build and got a lot better the more involved Sane became on offense. Baszler has some raw ability but there is a big difference between her and say, Sonya Deville. Whereas they both have MMA backgrounds, Deville has been trained EXCLUSIVELY in the WWE-style as far as her wrestling goes. Baszler to me, hasn’t yet been trained on that style of storytelling in the ring and her timing seemed a bit off. All in all, pretty solid final considering the contrast of styles and experience.

Overall, I think the tournament did it’s job: It solidified the new generation of women’s wrestlers forces to be reckoned with moving forward. I definitely feel like the MYC not only introduced new stars to fans, but it also did a good job of getting fans to buy into many of these women and care about them. The broadcast team is a major reason for that. Both Lita and J.R. did an excellent job of not only conveying the physical action we were seeing in the ring, but also the emotional and psychological aspects of each match. There were a couple of hiccups were the call didn’t seem as fluid, but they recovered fairly quickly and you could almost blame that on them getting used to each other. They were able to paint pictures right alongside the competitors and it gave the entire tournament a boost.

As far as the matchups, I have been having a hard time picking a BEST match of the tournament but to me, it’s between Sane-Bianca Belair or Sane-Blanchard. The match with Belair was just some amazing storytelling and an athletic showcase on both ends, and the Blanchard match was also some great storytelling mixed with some sensational back and forth wrestling. I can already see this tourney as being a major steppingstone for Belair and I expect her to be in title contention down in NXT shortly.

One person I am looking forward to seeing more of is Piper Niven. I know we already have Nia Jax but I feel like alot of times, Jax just reacts to what her opponent does and then uses her strength to overpower them. With Niven, she comes at you and initiates a little more. She’s a little more proactive. I really enjoyed her match with Toni Storm and would like to see them go at it again.

Something I didn’t like was the continued WWE whitewashing of Santana Garrett’s career. Matching her with Niven and having her lose yet another match on WWE TV was hard for me to see. I mean, here is one of the most decorated women’s wrestlers in history, a woman that has held titles all over the planet, and she is continually brought in to lose. I just hope I live long enough to see her win a WWE match. That’s all I can ask for at this point.

Well, with another WWE Network tournament in the books, the fun can begin. Now we get to see just how many of these women will transition fully into WWE and what roles they will hold in the big picture. This certainly is a very interesting time in women’s wrestling with the strength of Smackdown Live’s division, the constant state of chaos of the division on Raw, and the title being vacant down in NXT. The tourney opened the door, now we have to see who runs through it.

 

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