Saturday, September 9, 2017
And then there were four. Kairi Sane, Mercedes Martinez, Shayna Baszler and Toni Storm. I’ve finally reached the final episode of the Mae Young Classic before the live finale.
They were stablemates in SHIMMER. Shayna got heat after her actions following her win over Candice LeRae. Despite that attitude, Shayna shook hands with Martinez, which she hadn’t done with anyone else yet. They were tentative for the first few seconds, but Martinez then fired off shots, taking the fight to Shayna like nobody before. She had the first real bit of sustained offense over Shayna. Shayna turned things around with a series of gutwrench suplexes for two. Martinez escaped a knee bar and Shayna got free from a Regal Stretch. They traded strikes before Martinez hit the Fisherman’s Buster, but was too hurt to cover right away. Martinez fired off a bunch of suplexes, but had a second Fisherman’s Buster blocked. Shayna hit the falcon arrow into the rear naked choke. Martinez lasted longer than everyone else, but had to tap at 8:10. Very good, even match. It allowed us to see a side of Shayna where she didn’t dominate. They knew each other well and played off that. It was stiff and one of those matches where it truly felt like something important was on the line.
Mercedes and Shayna hugged after the match. Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Sara Amato entered the ring to congratulate the women and present Shayna with flowers.
These two know each other from STARDOM. As usual, the speed vs. size dynamic came into play. Toni went after the arm, looking to take Sane’s signature elbow drop away from her. Sane managed a huge cross body to the outside and ate a face full of ramp. There was talk of her suffering a concussion during the tournament and I could totally see that being where it happened. Inside, Storm fought off a Boston crab and brought out the hip attack. Sane came back and looked for the elbow, but Storm cut her off and got two on a great bridging Muscle Buster. Storm applied an awesome looking armbar, with Sane selling the hell out of it. Storm delivered the leg drop that won her the previous match, but couldn’t make the cover. Kairi nailed a desperation back fist and went up top. She clutched her elbow in pain, but risked it anyway. The elbow connected and Sane advanced in 12:23. Great match. Storm had a lackluster first two rounds, but delivered the two best matches in her final two outings. They told a great story. Storm had a game plan and it worked, with Sane’s elbow being taken out. She sold it very well and survived a lot, before risking it all to make the finals. The crowd was completely invested, adding to this.
Triple H, Stephanie and Sara Amato gave Kairi the same treatment Shayna got earlier. Atop the stage, Sane and Shayna came face to face to build the finals.
Overall: The big dump of episodes ended with the highest note. Both matches were given time to breathe and delivered. Martinez/Baszler allowed us to see a different side of Shayna and she impressed. It was also easily Martinez’s best performance so far. Sane/Storm ruled and was my match of the tournament. Sane is a star and WWE needs to get to work on signing Storm, because she can be one too. We aren’t getting the finals I would’ve picked, but I certainly understand the choice.