From 32 original participants, we are now down to just 8. The four matches on this episode promise a range of styles, but I think it’s safe to say we can expect consistently high quality.
Mercedes Martinez def Abbey Laith
Shayna Baszler def Candice LeRae
Toni Storm def Piper Niven
Kairi Sane def Dakota Kai
The recaps of how each competitor got to the quarter final, and who each would be facing, started the show.
Abbey Laith vs Mercedes Martinez
Commentary made a big deal out of Martinez having undergone shoulder surgery during this match. Not just a quick mention, but a long portion of commentary. I love it when WWE spoonfeed us a point of weakness. Either that or JR and Lita were running out of relevant things to say at by this point too.
This was the best match of the tournament for both of them. With the stakes being higher, there were some bigger spots mixed in with the technical stuff. And they really seemed to take each other to the limit.
Mercedes Martinez won with her fisherman buster. Big fan of them establishing everyone’s finishing moves during this tournament. Most of the women who have progressed have finished each of their matches with the same move.
Candice LeRae vs Shayna Baszler
Between the shots of Johnny Gargano supporting Candice LeRae, and the shots of Ronda Rousey supporting Baszler, it’s a wonder the athletes in the ring got any screen time at all.
The way Shayna Baszler turned away from LeRae’s offer of a handshake had a dismissive air about it. Surely she knows better than to underestimate Candice LeRae just because she’s small and smiley.
Canidce LeRae could have kept this quick and light and technical, and it might have served her better. She has far more experience and wrestling skill than Baszler. Instead she seemed to be happy to play the match predominantly on Baszler’s terms, trying for several submissions on the more powerful athlete.
As LeRae went for Miss LeRae’s Wild Ride, Baszer caught her in a rear naked chokechoke/sleeper (apparently called the Kirifuda Driver). Candice LeRae tapped out, but Baszler didn’t want to let go. She only released the hold when LeRae was unconscious.
Johnny Gargano jumped into the ring to check on his wife, which seemed unnecessary, and didn’t stop Shayna Baszler giving her a kick before she left the ring.
Piper Niven vs Toni Storm
This was a fun match. No animosity between the participants, lots of respect. A simple contest to see who was the superior professional wrestler. At this stage the women’s wrestling chants are starting to bother me a little, but not as much as the ‘sweet’ after every two count. I love the duelling chants, I wish the crowds would stick to those.
Piper Niven controlled a lot of the pace and tone of the match. She used her power and size to keep things slow and methodical. But Storm bided her time and waited for her opportunities. Toni Storm kicked out of the Michinoku driver which Niven has finished her previous matches with, and managed to suplex Niven off the second rope.
Toni Storm immediately hit a leg drop on the prone Niven, and got the three count. Beautiful show of respect hug after the match. That’s still one of my favourite things in wrestling.
Before the final match, they showed the car park confrontation between three of MMA’s four horsewomen, and three of WWE’s four horsewomen.
Kairi Sane vs Dakota Kai
Arguably Kairi Sane’s toughest match yet. She and Kai have similar styles, which can cancel each other out, but it worked extremely well in this case. What we ended up with was two small, slight, fast, wrestlers trying to kick each other’s heads off. It was great.
How does Kairi Sane hit such a big spear? She’s so tiny and delicate. It looks effective though. And the crowd enjoyed it too. Most of the support seemed to be for Sane in this match. I get it, but Dakota Kai has been immense through the tournament. I think she could have a huge WWE future.
Dakota Kai missed her double foot stomp with Sane tied up in the tree of woe, but seemed to hurt her knee on landing. It threw her off her stride for a few moments, and allowed Sane to inflict a bit more damage. But it was missing a high kick into the corner that finally finished Kai’s chance of winning the match.
Kairi Sane hit her elbow drop to qualify for the semi-final.
The Semi-final line up is;
Mercedes Martinez vs Shayna Baszler
Toni Storm vs Kairi Sane
The standard of matches just keeps getting better. I firmly believe the tournament has exceeded most people’s expectations. So many of the women deserve WWE contracts, it will be interesting to see who gets them. With all the women’s rosters in need of padding out, there are theoretically plenty of spaces available.