Kaitlyn def. Kavita Devi
Toni Storm def. Jinny
Xia Li def. Karen Q
Mia Yim def. Allysin Kay
Kaitlyn vs Kavita Devi
A returning competitor versus a former Diva for the first match of the night. Devi had a taste of WrestleMania in the Women’s Battle Royal and was in last year’s tournament. This year she’s planning to win the whole thing (aren’t they all?). Kaitlyn has been through a lot since leaving WWE, but the former Diva’s champion is back and ready to earn her place in this phase of the women’s evolution.
Devi has an attitude now, she refused the handshake from Kaitlyn before the match. She looks a lot more fluid in her movement this time around, she’s not the best in-ring competitor but she’s made progress. Kaitlyn, on the other hand, looks to be in top form.
Kavita Devi had a power advantage, but it wasn’t as marked as it would have been with some of the other women in the tournament, and she got manhandled more than she’s likely to be used to. Kaitlyn ran rings around her skills-wise, and she was always going to.
Decent enough opening match. Kaitlyn won with a spear.
Jinny vs Toni Storm
I am so disappointed this was a first-round match. I wanted to see both these women in the second round at the very least. But, we can’t have everything we want, and this was what we got. Jinny missed out on last year’s tournament, Toni Storm made it right through to the semi-finals.
It was a good match, but it was always going to be because they know each other so well. They first faced each other three years ago (at Progress, ENDVR 12) and they’ve been fighting ever since. Jinny describes her style as ruthless, and that’s a pretty good descriptor. She’s as comfortable in a deathmatch scenario as a match like this and she’s happy to make it look like it hurts. Toni Storm has been marked by WWE as a future star, if they could only hold her down to a contract. They’re both part of the NXTUK brand, so this one is likely to carry over into that as well.
Jinny did a great job of making herself unlikable, with her offence and her trash talk. The crowd were always going to be behind Storm anyway, but Jinny got boos, not bad for someone half the crowd would be unfamiliar with.
There were gasps at how hard these two went for each other at times, but there was only going to be one winner. Toni Storm won with what commentary called Storm Zero.
Karen Q vs Xia Li
Xia Li is the first female Chinese superstar signed by WWE, which gives her something to prove. Her match in last year’s Mae Young Classic was her first match ever. She has a martial arts background which she incorporates into her style. Karen Q comes from a gymnastics background, she’s also a PE teacher, apparently.
There was a nice show of respect in this match, slightly spoiled when Karen Q slapped Xia Li across the face. She paid for it though, taking a flurry of kicks and punches.
This one was all speed, athleticism, and beautiful movement. There is something the wrestlers with martial arts backgrounds bring to the ring that is very aesthetically pleasing.
Li has clearly worked extremely hard over the last year, and it paid off. After Karen Q missed with a frogsplash, Li finished the match with a spinning axe kick.
Allysin Kay vs Mia Yim
Allysin Kay (Sienna for Impact fans) finisher is called the Big D, a Discus Lariat. She’s bringing power and a whole lot of attitude. Mia Yim (Jade for the Impact crowd) is a returning competitor and must be one of the most experienced in the tournament. She said she’s bringing a new style and a new attitude. Both said in their promo videos that they aren’t playing. They have a long history and in their first ever match, Yim broke Kay’s nose.
This one went outside the ring a couple of times, including a suicide dive from Yim. It’s always a pleasure watching matches where people know each other inside out, and this was no exception. Kay moved out of the way as Yim went for a chop against the ringpost and Yim hit her hand on the post. A big deal was made if it at the time, but it didn’t seem to affect her much.
This had the feel of a grudge match, something commentary were really selling. Rivalries like this never really die until someone retires, but this was Yim’s night. Kay did manage to hit her Big D, discus lariat, but Yim kicked out. After a tussle on the top turnbuckle, Mia Yim hit her Seoul Food finisher and it was all over.
Another female ref debuted this week, officiating the Xia Li versus Karen Q match. Her name is Aubrey Edwards. It’s good to see and I look forward to the day it isn’t noteworthy to see a new female ref.
Two more second round matches set this week. Kaitlyn will face Mia Yim, and Xia Li faces Deonna Purrazzo.