Thursday, August 31, 2017
Looking at the cards, episode #3 was my most anticipated one of the first round. It features three of my favorite girls on the independent scene.
The opening video package gave short introductions for the eight women competing tonight, voiced over by Mauro Ranallo.
I’ve never seen Raymond before. She’s 27 and can apparently deadlift over 450 pounds. Storm has been KILLING it lately and is very popular. She’s just 21 and is the first PROGRESS Women’s Champion. Storm stood out and looked more like a star before even locking up than everyone else so far. Raymond didn’t shake hands, but Storm paid her back with some cockiness of her own. Storm got to bust out the ass attacks, which got a pop. Raymond took over a bit with her power, while Storm rallied behind the “Aussie” chants. The finish was VERY awkward, as Raymond faked out her finish, then missed a splash and got pulled into a lame looking cradle to lose in 4:27. It worked as a decent showcase for Storm. She didn’t show a ton of offense but she oozed charisma.
Charlotte and Sara Amato were shown in the crowd.
Devi is the first Indian woman in the WWE. Kai is my absolute favorite in the tournament, formerly known as Evie. She’s been great in SHIMMER, Shine and STARDOM in recent years. She’s signed to the WWE. Like Raymond in the previous match, Devi held the clear strength advantage. Her doing a slow motion lucha arm drag was not a good look. It looked bad and she should probably stick to power stuff for now. Kai got in some dropkicks that had no effect and then looked to die on a press slam. Kai quickened the pace and delivered a huge running kick, before scoring with a diving double stomp to win in 3:56. The double stomp looked more impactful than Balor’s, to be honest. Kai did her best to sell and bump for Devi, but Devi didn’t know enough to even work a four minute match. She was very repetitive. Still, kudos to Kai for selling during and after the match. Kai meets Rhea Ripley in round two.
The Rock’s family was shown in the crowd. His mother, his daughter and his ex-wife, sitting with Nia Jax.
Both are signed to WWE. Beckett is 32 and was trained by the Dudley Boyz, while Belair is 28 and has been working for about a year. Again, we had someone with a clear size and strength advantage. Maybe they should’ve put these matches on separate episodes. Belair fired up but the crowd didn’t seem that into it. Beckett got a pop from me for busting out the old Bubba Bomb. She ended up missing the Vader Bomb and Belair whipped her with her braid. She followed with a spear to win in 5:33. Average outing, though the story of a bigger girl having control and making a mistake that costs her is redundant on this episode. With no familiar faces in this one, the crowd was less invested than the first two matches.
It blows my mind that Garrett hasn’t been signed yet. She’s 29, worked with TNA and STARDOM and has won tons of titles. She also has the kind of look that the WWE would typically market. Nevin is signed and formerly known as Viper. She’s 26 and has worked for STARDOM, WCPW and other promotions. The crowd was split for this one. From the start, it was clear that this would be the best “speed vs. size” matchup. Santana used her quickness and athleticism to find ways to negate Piper’s size. Piper powered out of a submission and pulled out a cross body of her own. That led to Piper slowing the pace and wearing down Santana. Santana fought back with a tornado DDT and Eat Defeat (I wouldn’t have her do that, since it’s another girl’s finish). She survived another splash and pulled out the Trish handstand rana for two. The fans came to their feet just before Santana missed her finish. Piper hit a senton and weird looking Michinoku Driver to win in 7:09. Another quality main event. They told a tried and true story very well, but I was kind of burnt out by that tale on this episode. Santana and Piper are both great and it’s a shame one had to go out so early. The dynamic worked and the crowd was way invested. Piper faces Serena Deeb in the next round.
Overall: I wanted to like this episode more. With Toni Storm, Dakota Kai, Santana Garrett and Piper Nevin, it could’ve been great. However, Storm and Kai were paired with women who weren’t anywhere near their level and put in short matches. They both looked good, though. Belair/Beckett was alright. The main event was very good and showed why Nevin and Garrett are so good. I just would’ve put some of these matches on different episodes due to how redundant they were.