Thursday, September 7, 2017
The second round concludes here as we trim sixteen to eight in time for the quarterfinals.
Ronda Rousey was shown arriving to check out Shayna Baszler’s match later.
Evans beat Taynara Conti in a surprisingly good first round match, while Storm went over Ayesha Raymond to advance. Evans, a WWE project, got a chance to shine, while Storm didn’t have an impress opening round, but is pretty awesome. Storm held serve early, but showed off too much with her hip attacks and got rolled up. Evans busted out a slingshot elbow and remained in control by focusing on the arm. Storm came back with a backstabber and seemingly dropped Evans on her head on a Northern lights suplex. She then slipped free of the Jig and Toni won via WWE approved Strong Zero in 5:05. Solid match. I was again impressed by Evans, though Storm’s two matches felt like it was more about the girls who lost instead of giving her a chance to shine. She meets Piper Niven in the Quarterfinals.
Yim defeated Sarah Logan, while Baszler dominated Zeda. Baszler walked past Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch in the front row. She brushed them off as they flashed the four fingers at her. The other three MMA Horsewomen were shown at ringside as well. Shayna lit Mia up with kicks and whenever Mia got in offense, there was a sense of urgency behind it. She took Shayna down with a suicide dive that got a big pop. Back inside, they exchanged strikes and holds, with Mia using a tarantula and German suplex. Shayna rolled into the ankle lock, but Mia fought to get free. She got two on a powerbomb and attempted a 450 splash. Shayna got the knees up and applied a rear naked choke to advance in 5:37. Great little sprint here. Their styles matched up well and there was no downtime. Lots of action, helped along by a hot crowd. They’re building that Shayna is an incredibly dangerous competitor who can win at any moment.
On her way out, Shayna stopped to celebrate with her fellow Horsewomen. She also stopped to staredown Becky, Bayley and Charlotte, while the crowd went nuts.
Ripley is just 20 and was impressive in her win over Miranda Salinas, while Kai beat Kavita Devi to advance. We got quick, even exchanges to start, until Kai started in with kicks. They looked and sounded great. Ripley caught one with Dakota on the outside, got Kai on her shoulders and dropped her face first onto the apron in a great spot. Ripley started using her size to her advantage, getting two on a flapjack that Kai bumped well for. Kai began picking the pace back up, but ate a pretty Northern lights suplex for a near fall. They battled up top, where Kai fought off a superplex. Ripley fell into tree of Joey Lawrence position and Kai delivered the double stomp to win in 7:01. One of the most fun matches so far. Both girls are just a joy to watch. Ripley is gonna have a bright future, while Kai is great and should step into the NXT Women’s Title picture once this tournament ends. A good power vs. speed battle, with Kai showcasing some great kicks and fire. I can’t say enough about the potential both women have. Kai meets Kairi Sane in the Quarterfinals.
Savoy beat Reina Gonzalez, while Candice LeRae advanced over Renee Michelle. I saw these two meet in SHIMMER a while back (**½). Savoy refused the handshake and the crowd gave us “Candice Wrestling” chants again. Candice played the underdog, which a role she was born for. Savoy was aggressive from the opening bell and looked much better than her opening round outing. Candice’s offense felt like desperation moves, with Savoy battering her at each opening. Nicole couldn’t put Candice away, growing frustrated. They fought up top, where Candice blocked a superplex and hit the Wild Ride to win in 5:53. Solid, but completely unremarkable. Savoy lacked in both performances and while Candice was good, there’s more to her. They told the right story, it just felt kind of flat. I also didn’t like how the finish setup was too similar to the previous match. Candice faces Baszler in the next round.
Overall: I enjoyed this about as much as the other second round episode. Evans/Storm and LeRae/Savoy were fine matches. Baszler/Yim was very good and I loved the Horsewomen angle. It wasn’t big, but got a great reaction. Ripley/Kai was one of my favorite matches of the tournament so far. After a fine first round, the second round saw improvements across the board and I’m pumped for the quarterfinals.