Thanks to NXT, women’s wrestling has finally started getting the attention it deserves in WWE after decades of evening gown matches and lingerie pillow fights. This, combined with the company’s newfound love of the tournament format lead to the Mae Young Classic, touted as WWE’s attempt to gather the best female pro wrestlers from across the globe under one roof and give them the spotlight. I finally had a chance to binge watch the first four episodes and thought I’d share my top five takeaways from this so far wonderful event.
1. Why in the blue hell didn’t Jazzy Gabert advance?
WWE claims they’re always looks for wrestlers that possess a certain “it factor.” I’m not exactly sure what “it” is, but I’m still pretty damn sure that if anyone has “it,” it’s Jazzy Gabert. The physically imposing German looks like the long lost love child of Bull Nakano and Wendy O. Williams, and if booked properly she could easily be the monster heel of the women’s division Nia Jax has failed so spectacularly at being. It’s difficult to judge her move set based on one short match, but with a little polishing she could be the female analog to Braun Strowman. How the company thought it was a good idea to have Gabert lose in the first round is completely beyond me and I hope we get to see more of the Alpha Female in an NXT ring sooner than later.
2. Some of the wrestlers are way too green.
As much as I have enjoyed the Mae Young Classic so far, it can’t be denied that the in-ring action has been wildly uneven. For every good to great match there have been several where the talent involved looked lost in the ring. Look, I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but some of these wrestlers don’t have any business being on TV yet and I find it hard to believe that the international talent pool of women’s wrestling is so thin that WWE needed to put these greenhorns in the tournament as opposed to finding experienced workers who were ready to have the spotlight on them. I realize everyone has to start somewhere, but a tournament that is purported to be the best of the best probably isn’t the place to do it.
3. Jim Ross and Lita are killing it on commentary.
I’m always happy to hear JR on commentary and pairing him with Lita for the Mae Young Classic was a rare smart move on WWE’s part. Their chemistry isn’t quite as off the charts as Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan’s was for the Cruiserweight Classic yet, but JR’s play-by-play work is still damn sharp and with Lita in the booth it’s great to finally get a woman’s perspective on women’s matches, as opposed to having to listen to an all male booth call the action. I have a feeling that these two will warm up to one another as the tournament goes on and I’m looking forward to hearing them continue to improve as the stakes of the tournament become ever higher.
4. Kairi Sane vs. Tessa Blanchard was off the hook.
These two had the best match of the tournament so far. I’ve seen a few of Blanchard’s matches in NXT and while she always seemed a more than capable wrestler, I had no idea she was capable of putting on as excellent a match as the one she had with the heavily hyped (and rightly so) Kairi Sane to close out round one of the tournament. Both women did a wonderful job of appearing as though they were willing to sacrifice everything in order to advance in the tournament and the storytelling and psychology aspects of the match were off the charts. I mentioned earlier that round one seemed to feature quite a few green competitors, but these two women are ready to tear it up full time in NXT. And yes, Sane’s elbow drop is everything it’s cracked up to be.
5. Mia Yim tho.
There are many highly likable talents featured in the Mae Young Classic, but the one that really stood out to me during the first round is Mia Yim. Yim has a unique look, an impressive move set and a million dollar smile; there is just something about her energy that’s so infectious and genuine that you want to see more. In watching Yim, one gets the impression that she really is thrilled to be part of the tournament and she clearly has the skill to back up her enthusiasm. Whether or not she continues to advance, I hope that WWE will do the smart thing and sign her to a full-time deal, because she’s got the potential and the indie pedigree to be a top performer.