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    Thursday, September 7, 2017

    The Smark Henry Mae Young Classic Review: Round 2

    By Ardelle Costuna, Miyann Bruan, and the mysterious enigma only known as KP

    One week after an impressive first round, the women of the Mae Young Classic return for another explosive set of matches that raised the stakes even higher.

    After a delightfully short but sweet second round, your final eight competitors for the MYC are:
    • Abbey Laith (def. Rachel Evers)
    • Piper Niven (def. Serena Deeb)
    • Mercedes Martinez (def. Princesa Sugehit)
    • Kairi Sane (def. Bianca Belair)
    • Toni Storm (def. Lacey Evans)
    • Shayna Baszler (def. Mia Yim)
    • Dakota Kai (def. Rhea Ripley)
    • Candice LeRae (def. Nicole Savoy)
    We picked three of what we believe were the best matches of round two and gave our thoughts on why they stood out from the pack.

    Kairi Sane vs. Bianca Belair

    Ardelle: Remember the name Bianca Belair, everyone. This woman is the future of the women’s division. This is a typical aggressive rookie versus wise veteran match, but still my favorite from round two. Bianca beat the holy crap out of Kairi with her hair whips, and it showed after the match because her chest and back had red areas!

    We briefly saw Kairi’s stiff joshi background with a really brutal backhand slap to Bianca, and then her patented diving elbow for the win. Bianca’s aggression may have cost her this match, but what a showing from her. It was also a great win for Kairi that clearly showed the real difference between being a veteran and being a rookie.

    Miyann: When I saw Bianca Belair, I muttered, “All Red Everything who?” because of her red gear and red nails. This match is great, ability-wise and storytelling-wise. I love how confident Belair was to the point na she was trying to intimidate Kairi but Kairi expressed that she wasn’t in the most comical way which was also effective.

    Belair was able to show off her skills and athleticism, which ended up betraying her storyline green side, in terms of aggressiveness and overconfidence. Kairi, on the other hand waited for the right moment to strike and counter the attacks, which showed her experience in the ring.

    KP: It was very difficult to not type "best girls" and leave this space with just that. Kairi played the perfect determined good guy here while Bianca was strong and matched her opponent move per move, even with just the basics. Ultimately, experience won Kairi the match, but it was a fight until the she landed her perfect diving elbow.

    Kairi and Bianca are the same age and while both are talented, they have different strengths. Obviously, Kairi's in-ring experience helped her dodge and reverse killer moves such as Bianca's split body splash and 450 splash, but Bianca's stamina and strength helped her stun Kairi for a fair chunk of the match. It was the kind of match that the performers enjoyed doing, and that was rewarded by fan enthusiasm.

    Mia Yim vs. Shayna Baszler

    Ardelle: In my humble opinion, this should have been the last match in episode six because of two reasons: Mia Yim and Shayna Baszler. I really liked Mia’s early attempt at Eat Defeat, it showed that she can’t afford to give Shayna a lot of openings in this match. Really cool finish when Shayna reversed Mia’s 450 in a choke hold. Another good match.

    Miyann: “All it’s gonna take for me to beat her is just exist.” — Shayna Slayzler.

    I loved how Mia Yim reacted during the match. She tried to use her finisher early, showed how desperate and intimidated she was. Their kick exchange was really good, and I love the 450 splash to a triangle choke finish, indeed that was from out of nowhere.

    KP: What can I say without waxing poetic over all the moves in this match? This was a dynamic fight between two of the most intimidating women in the entire tournament and it delivered all it promised on paper.

    Shayna looked ready to kill and used every opportunity to counter and nullify Mia's offense by targeting her legs. Mia, on the other hand, matched Shayna strike per strike and when she threatened to overwhelm her, Mia's ring awareness and sheer experience helped her get back on her feet. I loved that both women had moves that showed off their brawn—Shayna's twin gutwrench slams and Mia's german suplex come to mind—and their athletic intelligence. Wished this was the main event for the second half of this round.

    Princesa Sugehit vs. Mercedes Martinez

    Ardelle: Loved the flawless chain wrestling to open the match. So smooth as silk! Sugehit and Martinez are the most veteran competitors in the tournament, so my expectations were high, and they were met (as I expected). JR noted in the commentary (which is much better than the first round, in my opinion) that Sugehit is an amazing counter-wrestler, and it was shown in this match.

    Tita Mercy sells really well too. While Sugehit wasn’t able to fully lock in her arm submission move (the La Rejilla, as it was indicated in her stats), it did the necessary damage to Martinez’s left shoulder, so let’s see how it will play out moving forward.

    Miyann: Sugehit’s Wonder Woman inspired gear was really cool! It was a veteran match. We all know that Sugehit made Kay Lee Ray tap out instantly on the first round and that didn’t quite work with Mercedes. This alone showed that it might be another veteran match, but now it’s on another level. Mercedes’ Latina swag was always on point!

    KP: The thought of seeing two women with a combined in-ring experience of 37 years fight made me tear up like an old lady. The tears were worth it since, as Good Ol' JR noted, there were no fundamental mistakes to be seen and both women exuded confidence only veterans have throughout the match.

    Princesa and Tita Mercy had no hesitation in pulling off each move, all executed with unique little touches and aggression. Mercedes' almost-Three Amigos with the twisting neckbreaker ending and Princesa's tornado ddt made me wish these two fought again to show what else they could do. Their intensity fed to the ending and while more than satisfactory, the energy Mercedes expended here could be an issue in her match with Abbey Laith.

    Sailor Scouts of the Inner Solar System: Round 2

    We decided to use this system to determine who we believe embody the following categories because a) We can’t agree on who’s the “best” competitor so far, b) we’re weabs, and c) We think Sailor Scouts fit with these women more than spanish bread and other kinds of Filipino breads.

    Sailor Moon - Best Babyface: Kairi Sane

    Miyann: People will not argue with this because this is something that shouldn’t be justified. Her smile, her reactions, and her personality can create positive vibes all throughout the room. Aside from her being charming, we all know that she can also knock someone out easily. Total babyface package!

    KP: Kairi’s the kind of wrestler who can brighten up an arena with her presence alone. I thought of voting for Abbey but her energy in the MYC feels more geared towards a fight. Kairi’s here is all about taking the crowd on a journey with her as she beats her opponent—the charismatic captain of S.S. Full Sail.

    Sailor Mercury - Smartest Worker: Mercedes Martinez

    KP: Was very much torn between her, Princesa, and Mia, but Mercedes’ awareness of her opponent and ability to turn Princesa’s aggression against her won me over. Very, very close fight between Mercedes and Mia but had to go with the former because her ring smarts lead her to victory.

    Ardelle: Similar to KP, I was also torn, but between Tita Mercy, Princesa Sugehit, and Mia Yim. All three women are veterans between the ropes, so they don’t throw out moves just because. They always have a purpose behind them. The only edge Tita Mercy has is she’s going to the quarterfinals, so she’s the smartest among the three in kayfabe.

    Sailor Mars - Most Spirited: Abbey Laith

    Miyann: You can always feel Abbey Laith’s desire to win. It is something most of the built babyfaces in this tournament lacks. The crowd might be behind the likes of Candice, Dakota, Serena, and Evers, but in my opinion they weren’t able to successfully transmit emotions during their matches. It was not just about her facials and what she did during the match; I felt something unexplainable while watching her, and again, I believe that’s wrestling magic.

    KP: I wanna fight when Abbey fights. Her battle cries rallies the fans to her side and keep them there was essential in her fight against Jazzy and Rachel, both of whom were as fired up as Abbey and enjoyed popularity with the crowd. She’s got a strong fighting spirit, and I’m excited to see that carry her through to more victories.

    Ardelle: Abbey Laith is such an effective scrappy, underdog babyface. She has the ability to make the crowd root for her all the time (except maybe if she faces Kairi, but the crowd may even be at 50-50 at most). She has a Barangay Ginebra-esque never-say-die attitude that makes her endearing to fans.

    Sailor Jupiter - Strongest Woman: Shayna Baszler

    Ardelle: Shayna lifts people like they were ragdolls. When she punches and kicks her opponents, they look like they hurt like hell. She may also know a thousand holds, thanks to her MMA and catch wrestling background. I think I made my case.

    KP: Another toss-up between Mercedes and Shayna, but Shayna’s spine-dislocating kicks, ability to withstand suicide dives, and strength in lifting Mia like she weighed nothing sealed it for me. Her MMA background was also a constant presence in the back of my head, reminding me that Shayna was built to break defenses until her opponent quits.

    Sailor Venus - Star in the Making: Bianca Belair

    Ardelle: She's only been in the Performance Center for a year (and without indie background, at that), but she’s already a natural in the ring. Bianca is also overflowing with charisma! It’s like she’s made for this business. I said it once, and I’ll say it again and again: Bianca Belair is the future.

    Miyann: She is someone who is really confident about her abilities and yes my friend, she can back it up. You know someone’s a star in a making when you she passion and hard work during the process of being one. She’s also very athletic and creative when it comes to her character and moveset. She has a bright future!

    Tuxedo Mask - Thanks For Being There, We Guess: Rachel Evers

    (KP is forbidden from speaking for this category.)

    Ardelle: Rachel Evers still has a lot of time to improve, and being part of the Mae Young Classic will add so much to her arsenal. Give her a couple more years and she will be the performer everyone wants her to be.

    Miyann: Rachel Evers, despite of having half of the crowd behind her still needs to improve a lot. She can be a good babyface because the crowd was still behind her after her not-so-promising win on the first round. You can do this Rachel!

    The Magic Eight

    The field has been whittled down from sixteen to eight, the quarter- and semi-finals of the MYC looks like a fever dream enfleshed. However, it remains to be seen if filming round two, the quarterfinals, and the semis in the same day will take its toll on the competitors who remain in the race.
    • Abbey Laith vs. Mercedes Martinez
    • Candice LeRae vs. Shayna Baszler
    • Kairi Sane vs. Dakota Kai
    • Piper Niven vs. Toni Storm
    You can actually already catch the quarterfinals and the semis as those episodes dropped the same time as round two. We'll be back with our review of those rounds this weekend—but in the meantime, tell us what you liked about round two in the comments!

    Photo from WWE
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Mae Young Classic Review: Round 2 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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