The second episode has a tough act to follow considering the standard of matches in episode 1. The competitors in this episode include Xia Li, who is having her first competitive match ever as part of the tournament.
Mercedes Martinez def Xia Li
Rachel Evers def Marti Belle
Rhea Ripley def Miranda Salinas
Mia Yim def Sarah Logan
Mercedes Martinez vs Xia Li
I appreciate the desire to have as many countries as possible represented in the tournament, but to have someone have their very first competitive wrestling match in this arena just seems wrong to me, almost disrespectful to the women who have toiled for years, waiting for an opportunity like this. Maybe Mercedes Martinez agrees, her lack of respect to Li before the match was unpleasant to watch.
Xia Li may have no in-ring experience, but she has some offence to her game. Early in the match she hit Martinez with some tough strikes. She’s also got quite a lot of personality in the ring. I expect to see a lot more from her in the future.
In the future is the operative here though. I really don’t think it would have been fair for her to progress, and experience won out in the end. Martinez got Li in a modified dragon sleeper and Li tapped out fast.
Marti Belle vs Rachel Evers
Marti Belle is all attitude and swagger, but she has a wrestling career of approaching a decade to back that up. It’s a contrast to Evers, who comes across as likeable and down to earth. Evers is the daughter of Paul Ellering, and has only been wrestling for a couple of years. Her background is in powerlifting.
Belle tried to psych Evers out early in the match, mainly with delaying tactics. She’s the more experienced wrestler, but didn’t take into account Evers’ superior strength, stemming from that powerlifting background. The match was a little disjointed in places, it didn’t flow as well as it could have.
Rachel Evers won with an inside cradle after Marti Belle pulled her up by her hair
Rhea Ripley vs Miranda Salinas
Quite a marked height difference in this one, with Ripley standing at 5’7” (according to wwe.com, but she looks taller and commentary said she was six foot), and Salinas around 5’ (she said five foot in her intro package, but wwe.com says five one).
JR told us that Rhea Ripley is one of the most highly regarded competitors in the tournament, and it’s easy to see why. I wasn’t really familiar with her work before this match, but I’ll be seeking it out now. I think that’s one of the great things about a tournament like this, the opportunity to discover new favourites.
Salinas looked good in this match, but Ripley looked better. I don’t think either of them would look out of place on NXT. They had a well paced and competitive match, which Rhea Ripley won with a full nelson slam.
Mia Yim vs Sarah Logan
Sarah Logan, as Crazy Mary Dobson, made quite the impact on the indies, and on the NXT crowds, who have claimed her as one of their own. Mia Yim is a much loved veteran of the sport, probably known best as Jade in TNA. Personally, I’d like to have seen both in the second round, but, yet again, it wasn’t to be.
They really played up Yim’s experience and training, and played down Logan’s indie career. Mia Yim is the more experienced, by a long way. But Logan is, perhaps, not as rough around the edges as they made her out to be. Before the match Mia Yim pointed out her purple fingernail, representing the ‘Put a Nail in it’ campaign to end domestic abuse. It’s a great cause, please check it out.
There is a pattern emerging that the episodes finish on the best match of the show. We’ll have to see if that continues, but it was certainly the case here. The match flowed beautifully and they moved from technical offence, to going strike for strike, and back again, with finesse. There were a lot of near falls, and there were times when it really felt that the result could go either way. In the end, Mia Yim won out with Eat Defeat.
Another four through to the second round
I don’t think this episode held any big surprises, and Sarah Logan is the only one of the defeated competitors I would have liked to see go through to the second round. Rhea Ripley is definitely my ‘one to watch’ of the episode.