32 have become 16, and it’s now time to narrow that down to 8. The first round gave us matches ranging from good to great, and I’d expect nothing less than that going forward. There isn’t a single second round match that I’m not excited to see.
Abbey Laith def Rachel Evers
Piper Niven def Serena Deeb
Mercedes Martinez def Princesa Sugehit
Kairi Sane def Bianca Belair
After a quick look at the evening’s matches, we’re straight into the first one.
Rachel Evers vs Abbey Laith
Neither of these women were messing around, they started with aggression and intensity, and kept it up throughout. Nice duelling chants during this match. I enjoyed it much more than Evers first round match, against Marti Belle. Laith, of course, had a stand out first round match, against Jazzy Gabert.
As with the first round, commentary made a big deal of Evers’ superior strength, but considering who Laith eliminated in her first match, she was obviously not going to be phased. Abbey Laith has the edge in both skill and experience, and it came into play here. Evers seems to have a habit of hesitating too long between moves, something Laith was able to use to her advantage.
Abbey Laith won with the Alligator clutch again, the same move that won her the first round match, and which was previously used by the tournament’s namesake.
There was a lovely show of respect handshake, and hug, to finish things off.
Serena Deeb vs Piper Niven
Deeb may have the advantage in terms of experience, but Piper Niven is so strong she just couldn’t turn it into any kind of dominance. The crowd were supportive again with the duelling chants.
Really good match, with plenty of back and forth. Serena Deeb threw everything she had at Niven. Unfortunately for her, and like so many of Niven’s opponents, she failed to appreciate the agility, and ability of the larger athlete. When it came to Niven’s offence, she threw Deeb around like a doll.
Serene Deeb’s best chance came when Niven missed a splash from the top rope. But she failed to capitalise and Piper Niven won with the Michinoku driver.
I would be surprised if this is the last we see of Serena Deeb around WWE. If she doesn’t make a return, I can see her appearing in some kind of coaching role in the future.
Princesa Sugehit vs Mercedes Martinez
Sugehit opened the tournament by defeating Kay Lee Ray (I’m still not over it). Martinez booked her passage to the second round with a win over Xia Li, in Li’s very first competitive match. Both are among the most experienced in the competition and that was evident in the quality of the match.
The crowd were very much behind Princesa Sugehit in this one. I’m not surprised. She was impressive in the first round, and she’s the only masked wrestler and luchadora in the tournament.
It was a more technical match than we’ve seen so far in the second round. Martinez got the win with her fisherman buster suplex. After the match Martinez seemed to be in considerable pain with her shoulder.
Kairi Sane vs Bianca Belair
Bianca Belair is hugely popular with the crowd, despite only being a year or so into her career. However, Kairi Sane really does seem to be everyone’s new favourite. Sane beat Tessa Blanchard in, arguably, one of the best matches of the first round. Belair beat Sage Beckett to get through to this match.
This was a great match. Bianca Belair use her power to great effect, and her hair. I’ve got to admit, I don’t understand the hair whip as a deadly weapon thing, I guess it’s just one of those wrestling things we all accept. Hair aside, she looked great here. She’s got a huge future ahead of her. What she currently lacks in experience, she more than makes up for in confidence and poise.
Kairi Sane is the consummate professional. And it was her experience and level-headedness that allowed her to regain the upper hand on Belair, and finish the job. After Belair got frustrated by Sane kicking out, Sane took control and delivered her elbow drop from the top rope. As we all know, once she hits that, it’s all over.
Halfway through the second round, and we have our first four quarter finalists.
I don’t think, at this stage, any outcome can be truly described as a shock, but I was surprised that Princesa Sugehit went out. I thought she’d last at least one more round. Looking forward to the rest of the second-round matches, in the next episode. Keep an eye out for my review of those, here on Rear View Reviews.