WWE Mae Young Classic
Kay Lee Ray vs. Princessa Sugehit
Pairing the "hardcore daredevil" against a traditional luchadora was an interesting choice. Ray and Sugehit's styles don't naturally match up. There were a few moments in the match that felt a little off, but the women worked a quickly-paced, fun match that showed Ray's exciting charisma and Sugehit's veteran experience.
Ray went for a swanton bomb, but Sugehit rolled out of dodge and locked in an armbar for what many consider a surprising win.
Winner: Princessa Sugehit
Serena Deeb vs. Vanessa Borne
Vanessa Borne improved by leaps and bounds from her qualifying match on NXT, heeling it up in a wonderful way against this year's Brian Kendrick: Serena Deeb. Deeb hasn't missed a beat since her days in the Straight Edge Society, and the two put on a fun and engaging match.
Deeb won with a Spear (how many of the ladies use it as a finisher, I wonder?) and advances to the next round. She looked so happy to be back, and no matter how far she goes in the tournament, her return will be one of the best feel-good stories of the Mae Young Classic.
Winner: Serena Deeb
Shayna Baszler vs. Zeda
Newcomer Zeda and veteran fighter but fairly new wrestler Shayna Baszler's match was different from everything in the first round and a wonderful glimpse at both women's skillsets. Their match was a technical, submission-based match in which Baszler's offense looked uniquely MMA-based and Zeda's submissions looked very solid.
Baszler won with one of the most stunning finishers in the entire tournament: what looks like a falcon arrow right into an armbar. The move had Zeda tapping instantly, and made quite the impression on the audience. Baszler carries herself with an air of legitimacy that cannot be replicated. WWE would be wise to send her far in the tournament and then begin using her in a high-profile capacity right away.
She is that good.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
Jazzy Gabert vs. Abbey Laith
This was, by far, my favorite match of the first round. Laith and Gabert, also known as Alpha Female, had the audience on their feet from the moment their match started and kept them engaged throughout their battle. They roared and growled and struck with ferocity. Laith played the part of the underdog well, but Gabert made herself a star as her monstrous moveset and strength combined with her almost sweet, infectious charisma had the crowd rooting for her despite rooting for Laith as well.
Laith survived long enough to roll Gabert up for the victory, and the two embraced afterwards.
Winner: Abbey Laith
Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li
You'd be hard-pressed to find a woman int he world who is as just plain badass as Shimmer champion Mercedes Martinez. A grizzled ring veteran with a flair for showing off, Martinez brought all of that experience to play as she took on Chinese recruit Xia Li in the latter's debut match.
Pairing Martinez with Li was a brilliant move. Xia Li was extremely impressive for a rookie, and Martinez made her look fantastic even in defeat. Li's strikes were stiff and her athleticism was impressive. All she needs is character work, and she could be a real contender in WWE. Meanwhile, Martinez looked like the star she is, and after all of these years, she deserves every ounce of credit that she receives.
Winner: Mercedes Martinez
Rachel Evers vs. Marti Belle
This was the weakest match of the first round, but it was not without positive qualities. Rachel Evers is, as always, a natural star. She used her strength to her advantage as she took on Marti Belle, whose charisma made up for some of her awkward movement in the ring. She has a sultry, fun way of moving and hitting that makes her fun to watch.
Evers advanced to the next round to the delight of the crowd, and is sure to impress more than she did in this match. Some matches just never click all the way, and that's fine. Both women have bright futures and represented themselves well.
Winner: Rachel Evers
Rhea Ripley vs. Miranda Salinas
Rhea Ripley is only 20 years old. Let that sink in.
The sassy Miranda Salinas and dynamite Rhea Ripley put on a quick-paced, fun match that was fun as both a clash of egos and of strikes. Size was a fun factor in the match, as Ripley used her significant height advantage over Salinas many times. Ripley advanced with an impressive slam, but Salinas has nothing to be ashamed of. Both women have bright futures int he industry.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Mia Yim vs. Sarah Logan
Many times in the match between Mia Yim, the personification of mental fortitude and physical toughness, and Sarah Logan, formerly known as Crazy Mary Dobson on the indies, it felt like neither woman would ever be able to be pinned. Logan and Yim put on a thrilling, stiff match that showcased both wonderfully.
Yim won with an Eat Defeat, in homage to her former TNA coworker and good friend Gail Kim. It's a shame to see Logan out so soon in the tournament, but nobody will be forgetting either woman any time soon after such a physical, fun match.
Winner: Mia Yim
Toni Storm vs. Ayesha Raymond
Toni Storm might very well be the perfect woman. A stylish, unforgettable mix of punk rock, glamour, and cockiness, Toni Storm carries herself like a star quarterback and backs up her swagger with a slew of impressive in-ring skill. She didn't showcase her full potential as she took on British gladiator Ayesha Raymond, but both women put on a fun match where Raymond was wonderfully annoyed at Storm's cocky assuredness.
That hubris ended up being Raymond's downfall, as she was rolled up by storm fairly quickly. Storm is sure to be allowed to showcase her full skillset soon enough, so I won't fault WWE too much for not giving her a lot of time to shine.
Winner: Toni Storm
Kavita Devi vs. Dakota Kai
When you hear that someone was trained by the Great Khali, it's easy to write them off as someone who won't be all that impressive. Because Great Khali. But Kavita Devi proved herself to be a fun, shockingly athletic and agile monster as she took on the captain of #TeamKick Dakota Kai.
The two were the perfect matchup, as Devi proved a formidable opponent for the spunky, hard-hitting Dakota Kai. Though she seems a bit awkward out of the ring, she shines betweent he ropes. Kai, to nobody's surprise, looked like a star. Her unique mix of adorableness and straight-up terrifying offensive moveset is wholly unique and should serve her round as she advances in the tournament.
Winner: Dakota Kai
Bianca Belair vs. Sage Beckett
Don't let Belair's devil-may-care, cool attitude fool you. This woman, though new to the game, is dynamite. Taking ont he alluring and hard-hitting Sage Beckett, Biance Belair showed that she's grasping the workings of wrestling as quickly as she can. She showed off her stunning strength in a match that felt more like a brawl.
Again, pairing someone with Beckett's experience with a newcomer like Belair was an excellent choice. Beckett helped make Belair look like gold, and as the former CrossFitter advances int he tournament, she'll now carry an air of legitimacy that she was missing before.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Santana Garrett vs. Piper Niven
Piper niven is not your average monster. She has the strength and endurance of your classic monster heel, but she also has an angelic smile and carries herself like Supergirl. Speaking of superheroes, WWE's resident Wonder Woman, Santana Garrett, proved to be a great foil for Niven, also known as Viper.
The crowd was wholly behind both women as Garrett proved to be a shockingly competitive foe for Niven, whose power-based offense was intermingled with awesome displays of athleticism. Niven won with a driver, but Garrett looked better than she's looked in years, and it's unlikely this crowd will EVER be able to really boo Niven, no matter how heelish she acts. She's just too much fun.
Winner: Piper Niven
Candice LeRae vs. Renee Michelle
Renee Michelle and worldwide star Candice LeRae's match took a while to heat up, but luckily, Candice is one of the most over women of the entire tournament, so the crowd was hot for the whole match.
This wasn't a crazy match, but it was fun all the same. LeRae won with a homage to her tag partner Joey Ryan, and will advance to the next round, and likely very far into the tournament.
Winner: Candice LeRae
Lacey Evans vs. Taynara Conti
NXT's Liberty Belle Lacey Evans and Taynara Conti managed to put on a fun match that made both women look very good. Conti's laser focus and heel tactics were a lot of fun to see from someone with such an adorable face, and Evans made her offense look devastating.
The match was slow, but both women are fairly new to the game. They have the charisma that, with more time and training, will carry them very far.
Winner: Lacey Evans
Nicole Savoy vs. Reina Gonzalez
Though the women were's given much time to work, the Queen of Suplexes Nicole Savoy and Reina Gonzalez told a nice, contained story as Savoy earned herself a spot int he next round.
An interesting possibility coming up is a possible matchup between Shimmer's Trifecta: a stable featuring Savoy, Mercedes Martinez and Shayna Baszler. If the women advance far enough, we very well could see these allies squaring off.
We can only dream!
Winner: Nicole Savoy
Kairi Sane vs. Tessa Blanchard
Kairi Sane came into this tournament with all of the hype in the world, and she did not disappoint. Tessa Blanchard surely had a chip on her shoulder, as someone like her could have advanced deep into the tournament if not for facing Sane int he first round. Together, these two put on a fun match that showed how much star quality both women have.
Sane won with her elbow drop which, in my opinion, is the best elbow drop in the world. She's the odds-on favorite to win the entire tournament, and to become a massive star in the entire WWE.
Winner: Kairi Sane
WWE Monday Night Raw
Emma vs. Mickie James
WWE prides itself on meaningful, deep storylines and enthralling drama. SO naturally, Mickie James and Emma went to war over...a hashtag.
Yes, the stipulation of this match was that if Emma won, Mickie would have to tweet out a hashtag of Emma's choice. Deep stuff here, folks.
Mickie managed to get a hint of offense in, but within the blink of an eye, Emma got her with a rana into a pin for the victory. So...yay, Emma won on television, but I won't lie and say this match gave me flashbacks to 2013.
Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss (Raw Women's Championship match)
Poor Sasha Banks. Seriously.
The main event of Raw (without obnoxious fanfare, thank goodness) was a very good, dramatic match between two women whose professionalism and competitiveness has turned an otherwise stale feud into a series of very good, hard-hitting matches. Banks and Bliss' main event-worthy battle was full of near-falls and daredevil stunts, but in the end, Bliss got the best of Banks with her signature DDT and recaptured the Raw Women's Championship.
After the match, Nia Jax came out to celebrate with Bliss, hoisting her up on her shoulder...before dropping her to the ground and attacking her. Raw ended with Jax holding up the title.
I have mixed feelings about all of this. On one hand, there weren't many places to go leading up to Hell in a Cell with Banks as champion without repeating feuds, unless WWE was going to actually invest in Emma or Mickie James. On the other, it must really be disheartening to be Sasha Banks and never successfully defend a title when she's a clear superstar.
That said, Jax and Bliss are sure to have a fresh and fun feud. I'm interested to see if one of them will shift into more of a babyface role or if they will stay full-on heels.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Tamina vs. Tina Stock
Let's just state the obvious: Tamina crushed Tina Stock. Very handily. Of course. After, of course, Lana introduced her into the ring Rusev-style.
After the match, Lana invited photographers to take pictures, and I was left wondering what in the world this could possibly lead to that wouldn't make me want to fling myself into the sun.
In other news, Naomi gets her rematch against Natalya in two weeks!
Ruby Riot vs. Peyton Royce
Has there ever been any doubt that NXT's women's midcard is really freaking solid? Because it totally is.
After a bit of a rocky start, Riot and Royce picked up steam quickly. Riot's powerbomb on Royce was absolutely devastating. But we all know that the real moment of this match was Billie Kay's life-altering big boot. If you don't believe me, track it down on Youtube or Twitter.
Riot still feels fresh as she adjusts to WWE's style, but she continues to show remarkable potential and is developing good chemistry with Kay and Royce both, who are stepping up to the plate with their recent push in every respect. I'm excited to see where this all goes.
Winner: Peyton Royce
Sexy Star vs. Joey Ryan
It feels weird recapping a Sexy Star match after the woman deliberately injured Rosemary last week. I don't think I will ever be able to support her again or watch any of her matches the same way. But here we are, so let's just dive into it.
Ryan and Star put on a highly competitive match which featured a string of offense from Star, including a wicked DDT, but after Taya Valkyrie (hehe) distracted Star, Ryan was able to hit a Superkick for the win.
Winner: Joey Ryan
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
German Wrestling Federation
Match: Kate Harvey vs. Alpha Female (Women's Wrestling Revolution title match)
Winner: Kate Harvey
Match: Viper vs. Kagetsu
Match: Dahlia Black vs. Jinny
Winner: Dahlia Black
Ring of Honor
Match: Kelly Klein vs. Brandi Rhodes
Winner: Kelly Klein
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Abbey Laith vs. Jazzy Gabert
Abbey Laith vs. Jazzy Gabert
It's hard to get a crowd to absolutely lose their minds the way that Abbey Laith and Jazzy gabert managed to when they went to war in the Mae Young Classic. But they did, showcasing ferocity and charisma in the perfect underdog story that made both women stars in an instant.
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
I cannot say how much joy it brings me to give this accolade to Alpha Female herself. She is the personification of mental toughness and an amazingly talented worker who deserves all of the attention she's gotten and so much more.
So there you have it, the breakdown for the week in women's wrestling. What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments from these women? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Also, come back next week for a full breakdown of the Mae Young Classic's first round of episodes and matches.