Inaugural WWE Mae Young Classic – Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

Inaugural WWE Mae Young Classic – Triple Threat POV

Posted by Robert DeFelice Thursday, July 13, 2017
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Jordan Chaffiotte, Robert DeFelice and Gabby Velasquez will be giving their opinions on the first ever Mae Young Classic Tournament!

The tournament officially began taping on Thursday, July 13th.  However, this article was written just shortly prior to all entrants being announced so this is more of a fun speculation piece as we get ready to watch the actual tournament premiering on the network in late August.

Question 1: Who do you think will win the Mae Young Classic? What do you think the winner will receive?

CHAFFIOTTE: Candice LeRae is the favorite, and with good reason. Watching her work on the indy circuit, it's clear she's not only one of the best female competitors in the world, she's one of the best competitors, period. In this particular case, I do think WWE needs someone with her kind of star-power. The whole point of this is to spotlight women's wrestling, and putting it on a name like Candice, who is known by basically anyone with even a peripheral knowledge of indy wrestling, gives it a boost in buzz. However, WWE is two for two when it comes to crowning relative underdogs. It wouldn't surprise me to see someone like new recruit Taynara Conti or Sarah Logan take home the top prize.

There's been talk of a women's only wrestling show on the Network, but I say you've got to walk before you can run. With the amount of women it would take to fill that show, they could make a serious dent in their depth problem. Instead of giving the winner a belt to defend on XX Live, she should get a trophy and a contract for one title shot. Ideally, it'd be that the winner can choose which of the three belts she wants to go after, and not just because I want to see Candice LeRae vs. Alexa Bliss, but because it adds drama. When that woman picks Asuka's NXT Women's Championship, she'll come across as brave to a fault. When she beats Asuka for it, she'll be a superstar.

DeFELICE: Candice LeRae in a perfect world, but my honest prediction is new Japanese signee, Kairi Sane. I believe the winner will receive a pretty swanky trophy and a shot at the NXT women's title. I definitely think this is more of a showcase for the future of women's wrestling and that much like the Cruiserweight Classic we might only see six or seven people actually get full-time positions from this. They've recently set up a story where Asuka has decided she won't return to NXT without any real competition and I definitely see the winner of this tournament being that real competition that the Empress of Tomorrow is craving so badly.

VELASQUEZ: I have a STARDOM subscription and have been a fan of Kairi Sane, formerly known as Kairi Hojo, for a long time now. Anyone who has seen her work, or even just her elbow drop, knows that she is a star and the easy favorite to win. She works an incredibly quick and athletic style and is stocked full of charisma. Her elbow drop is the best elbow drop in the world. And unlike Kota Ibushi, she seems to want to stay with WWE. She is their next megastar if utilized correctly, and the sky's the limit for her. Fellow STARDOM stand out Io Shirai is suffering from an injury she sustained in a match against Toni Storm in Japan, but if she was in this I'd push her to the moon.

I'd also keep an eye on Mercedes Martinez (I cannot imagine this tournament happening without her and I have seen her name as a potential addition), SHIMMER Champion and true success story, and Toni Storm, who has put on some incredible matches in both the UK and Japan. I'd suggest anyone who is unfamiliar with these women to see the matches they have had against the likes of Io Shirai & Mayu Iwatani. Candice LeRae is a well-known name too, but I cannot see anyone but Sane walking away victorious.

Question 2: Who are some surprise names that you can see being added to the tournament although they have not been announced yet?

DeFELICE: The previously mentioned Candice LeRae whom I am surprised has not been mentioned for this tournament yet. I would like to see some legendary names like Aja Kong or even Medusa get one last shot at greatness. Other than these names, maybe some old favorites like Victoria or even Trish for one match. But I would really like to see is agent/trainer Sara Del Ray handpick a talent or two to really go out there and steal the show with. She is such a hard-working lady that I think she deserves at least one moment in the sun in such a spotlight. I mentioned above, I definitely see this is more of a showcase for the future so I don't think they'll keep too many surprises or too many legends but I'd like to see some added to increase some of the flare.

One way I would like to see this in tournament improve upon the cruiserweight classic is the use of current roster superstars that fit the mold for what this tournament is looking for. Just because they are signed doesn't mean that they should be excluded this could be a showcase opportunity for them as well and a chance to put some new talent in the ring with some veterans that can teach them the WWE style.

VELASQUEZ: I selfishly want to see Sara Del Rey participate just so I could see her face off against Mercedes Martinez (if she is confirmed), but I just want confirmation that Candice is going to be in the tournament. I'd also love to see Santana Garrett and Amber O'Neal, because their work with WOW has made me a huge fan of them both. And we all know that the first lady of the Bullet Club has charisma and a half to spare.

Another name I very much want to see is Rachael Ellering, a top indie talent who has appeared on NXT a few times. She is a wonderful person and a thrilling wrestler to watch in the ring, and I think she could do great things in a tournament like this.

CHAFFIOTTE: It's still early so many, including the favorite to win in Candice LeRae, haven't been officially announced yet. I'm looking forward to hearing her name as well as fellow fan-favorite Io Shirai. However, what I'm most interested in right now is that last subset of competitors. We more or less know the indy darlings and rookies that will grace the Mae Young Classic, but there's also bound to be a returner or two reclaiming their careers. Brian Kendrick's rebound during and after the Cruiserweight Classic makes it evident that WWE loves a redemption story. Awesome Kong is straight off the wild success of Netflix's GLOW and even if she wasn't originally planned, I can see them making room to capitalize on that. I think Gail Kim has been burned too many times by WWE, but Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix can probably still go, and this would be a fun opportunity to get Sara Del Rey back in the ring. It's clear that her first love is training, but putting a young promising talent over and getting to lace up her boots again would surely be an exciting prospect for her.

Question 3: What are some dream matchups that you are hoping this tournament will provide?

VELASQUEZ: Kairi Sane vs. Toni Storm, easily, but honestly any matchup featuring those two women is something I'd want to see. I'd also love to see Kairi square up against Mia Yim, whose work in TNA as Jade against Gail Kim and Rosemary has been nothing short of stellar.

Did I mention above that I really want Rosemary in this thing? I doubt it will happen, but STILL! Imagine how amazing it would be to see her and Kairi face off! I'd also love to see Toni Storm go against Lacey Evans because they both have a very tough aesthetic about them and could put on a great, highly physical match. Storm's experience would also be very useful for Evans, who is still learning the ropes in many ways.

CHAFFIOTTE: If I had to guess the finals right now, I'd put my money on Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai, they are easily the two biggest stars WWE is bringing in for this tournament. That match alone will be worth the price of the Network this July. I've got my eye on Taynara Conti, who seems to be the total package and then some. Since her background is in martial arts and not necessarily the performance, matching her up with a vet like Awesome Kong would be a huge learning opportunity. I'd also like to see Sara Logan get her win back from Peyton Royce, assuming the lower tier of current stars will also participate. Both are really quite talented, and it struck me as odd for Peyton to get such a decisive win over the wrestler we all know is actually Crazy Mary Dobson. With Billie Kay banned from ringside, these two could be the sleeper match of the tournament a propel Sara Logan forward in the tournament.

DeFELICE: Candace LeRae vs the world. No, seriously. I would like to see Candace LeRae get the chance to shine on WWE television and I can't say that enough. Other dream matches for me include Tessa Blanchard vs. Natalya. Candace vs The artist formally known as Evie. Aja vs Kharma, provided that both could magically sign on for this thing. Other than the wild shots that I'm putting down here my mind is really open to any and all matches I'm just glad that female wrestlers are getting a chance to shine in such a way that they haven't in my lifetime.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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Robert DeFelice is a journalist and marketing student. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram as well as his apparel website Time Killer Apparel and his pro wrestling blog PandemoniuMania.


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