Cleat Geeks

The 2nd Mae Young Classic Review (Episode 4)

Welcome to this review of the fourth episode of the 2018 Mae Young Classic! While the road to Evolution continues, the opening round of the tournament concludes, as the final four first round matches took place.

The episode’s opening match was one I’d been waiting for: Rachel Evers vs Hiroyo Matsumoto. I had been looking forward to this because I wanted to see the new-look Hiroyo in action, and I was anxious to know which of the combatants would serve as a heel in this match. Though the contest started out in typical face vs face manner, Hiroyo started turning heel when she tossed Rachel by her hair, and she appeared to be embracing the boos she received due to her offense against fan favorite Rachel. The contest would see a mostly villainous Hiroyo unleash a ruthless offense towards Rachel, continuing her persona as the Lady Godzilla. Rachel would constantly fight back against her opponent, and this match ended up becoming a classic, as both women refused to back down and give up! I swear there were about three moments where I believed the match was over and a winner was crowned, but it didn’t end until Hiroyo delivered a powerbomb followed by a Rock Bomb suplex, advancing her to Round 2.

Next up, Taynara Conti–the final woman to qualify for the tournament–faced off against NXT live event sensation Jessie Elaban. This match went as I expected:  a clash of personalities between the upbeat babyface Jessie and the vicious heel Taynara. In fact, Taynara appears to be a more sinister and sadistic character than last year, as she, at one point, scraped Jessie’s fingers on the ring ropes! Taynara’s turned-up aggression was key, as she defeated Jessie with a judo throw/side slam, and what I loved was that she broke character and expressed immense emotion over her victory; she was defeated in the first round last year. I was elated to see Jessie for the first time on the Network; I loved the glasses, but without them, she looks completely different. Jessie is golden as the upbeat and peppy babyface, but if she ever turns heel down the line, Jessie could end up ditching the glasses and playing a femme fatale role; she looks the part.

Match #3 saw Isla Dawn face off against Nicole Matthews, and the SHIMMER fan in me was elated to see Nicole in action. I was let down a bit by Nicole being a heel in this, but nevertheless, this was a good contest. I was also elated to see Isla for the first time, and their tit-for-tat in the beginning of the match was hilarious to say the least. After a back and forth battle, Nicole managed to place Isla in a modified Boston Crab, with Isla submitting, allowing the former SHIMMER Champion and SHIMMER Tag Team Champion to advance to the second round. This was a huge win for Nicole, as just like Tegan Nox (Nicole’s upcoming second round opponent) Deonna Purrazzo, and Io Shirai, Nicole was an alternate at last year’s MYC and was not used.

Speaking of Io Shirai, her match against Xia Brookside served as the episode’s main event and the finale of Round 1. Xia was shown hugging her proud father, the legendary Robbie Brookside, during her entrance, and Robbie was shown cheering on Xia during her contest. This was the first time I would get to see Io in action, while I actually watched one of Xia’s matches just a few days ago online. For a main event, this was a short match, mainly because Rachel vs Hiroyo ended up being a lengthy and epic show stealer. However, Io and Xia gave their all as well, competing valiantly and showing their true talents. Io managed to defeat Xia with a top rope moonsault, thus completing the second round field.

So who was in attendance in Episode 4? I mentioned Robbie Brookside, and Kassius Ohno was shown cheering on his girlfriend, Rachel Fazio, during her match. Dana Brooke was also shown in attendance, receiving an amazing reception from the crowd. Regarding the matches, there’s no doubt that Rachel vs Hiroyo was the marquee match of the episode; the passion and performances of both women were just amazing. I was surprised that Rachel lost, I thought they’d have her advance farther than she did last year. Hiroyo acting as the match’s antagonist was also great, because I had never seen Hiroyo display a heel persona. With the immensely popular Toni Storm as her next opponent, I would think that we would see a more evil and ruthless Hiroyo in that contest. As for the other new Round 2 matches made, Nicole Matthews will face Tegan Nox, Taynara Conti will face Lacey Lane, and Io Shirai will face off against Zeuxis. Trivial note: this year’s tournament saw nine women who had previously competed in last year’s MYC. Six of the nine advanced, with Rachel, Kavita Devi, and Reina Gonzalez being the ones who were eliminated. Of those three, only Rachel went backwards, as she actually advanced in last year’s MYC.

So now the field is cut in half; 32 women entered and now only the Sweet 16 remain. The second round of the Mae Young Classic starts next week, and the tournament will air every Wednesday at 9PM EST/6PM PST, until the two finalists are decided. The finals of the tournament will take place at WWE Evolution on Sunday, October 28.

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