We’re finally here. Thirty-two competitors have been whittled down to just two over the course of eight episodes of some great wrestling. It’s a little disappointing that the final has only been allocated half an hour in total. I know it’s only one match, but all the prelude, and the celebration afterwards, means it’s very time limited. I hope it doesn’t end up feeling rushed.
If you haven’t seen it, there is also a 20 minute ‘Road to the Finals’ show. It’s a brief rundown of the tournament, and a six-woman tag match. The tag match features Santana Garrett, Sarah Logan, and Marti Belle vs Tessa Blanchard, Jazzy Gabert, and Kay Lee Ray. It was really good, and deserved to be on a more prominent show. Basically, this show is what would have been added into the finals show, if they’d made it an hour. It’s worth watching just for Triple H’s reaction to the ‘Please sign Jazzy’ chants after the tag match, and the rest of his speech.
Kairi Sane def Shayna Baszler – to win the Mae Young Classic 2017
There was a full ten minutes of messing around before the match. Renee Young hosted, and we started things off with a recap of the tournament, interspersed with interview clips. We also got an introduction to some of the prominent names in the audience, before Young handed over to Lita and JR.
Interviews with Baszler and Sane followed, with footage of their journey’s through the tournament. I’m not sure why they felt the need to include Kairi Sane faceplanting the ramp, but they did and it still makes me wince. More audience shots next then, finally, Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane came out to the ring.
After the entrances, we were already half way through the allotted half hour.
Kairi Sane looked so small and delicate compared to, the athletic and powerful, Baszler. There was a nice duelling chant to start the match, a little louder for Sane maybe, but duelling just the same. They both started by trying for the quick pin, then went to a test of strength. Kairi Sane lost that, as Baszler bent her backwards and kicked her legs out from under her.
Shayna Baszler kicked Sane so hard she knocked her out of the ring, then kicked her again to keep her out, before throwing her back in to attempt a pin. She followed that up with her first attempt to neutralise Sane’s elbow, by stomping on it.
Kairi Sane kept trying to outwrestle Baszler. Shayna Baszler was more about inflicting damage, taking out that elbow, and keeping Sane grounded.
Interesting note. There were the obligatory crowd shots during the match, of WWE superstars and Baszler’s fellow MMA horsewomen. Sasha Banks was, once again, a notable absence, but there was a Summer Rae sighting.
Sane took a lot of punishment during the middle section of the match, and started to show some signs of frustration. Baszler appeared calm and collected throughout, until Kairi Sane hit her with a spear. Sane followed up by working Baszler’s ribs, the only weakness Baszler had shown.
Kairi Sane took too long strutting across the ring, and Baszler moved out of the way of her attempted forearm, sending Sane slamming into the corner. Baszler was clearly struggling with pain around her ribs, but it didn’t stop her catching Sane as she flew from the top rope, and wrapping her in her Kirifuda driver submission. Sane managed to elbow her way out of it, becoming the first person in the tournament to break the hold.
Baszler, once again, thwarted Sane’s attempt to set up for her elbow drop and climbed the turnbuckle with her. They exchanged blows, and Shayna Baszler locked in a kimura lock, but was forced to break it by the ref. Sane headbutted her and hung her upside down from the ropes to deliver a double foot stomp.
The subsequent pin attempt was too close to the ropes, and Baszler managed to drape an arm over to stop the count. .
For the big finish, Kairi Sane hit a running forearm into the corner. That kept Baszler down long enough for Kairi Sane to ascend to the top, and hit her elbow drop for the win.
Kairi Sane pulled her opponent up and they hugged before Baszler raised Sane’s hand in victory.
One quick, and slightly understated, presentation later, and the first Mae Young Classic was all over.
I think it’s safe to say that the tournament has been a success. It has raised the profile of many of the competitors, and introduced most fans (including myself) to some new favourites. It will be interesting to see how WWE proceed with these women, how many are offered contracts, and who ends up going where.
As for the winner, Triple H announced shortly after the show that Kairi Sane will compete at the next NXT TakeOver event for the, currently vacant, NXT women’s championship. We will have to wait to find out how they determine her opponent, but at least we know what the next step for Sane is.
A lot of the talent used in this year’s tournament is still developing, and there is a lot more talent out there. Let’s hope the Mae Young Classic becomes an annual event.