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Mae Young Classic recap & reactions (Oct. 10, 2018): Bad to the Bone

The second round of the Mae Young Classic concluded last night (Oct. 10, 2018) on the WWE Network. You can find all the match results and a detailed play-by-play on the live blog here.

Three tournament favorites handily advanced to round three, while the main event put an end to an emotional comeback story.

Zeuxis vs. Io Shirai

It’s no secret that I did not enjoy Zeuxis’ first match in the MYC. I thought her character was undefined, her look was in-cohesive and that her wrestling was sloppy. A part from a pretty dope Spanish fly I was left wondering why she advanced into round two over Aerial Monroe. Io on the other hand is a clear favorite to win this whole dang tournament so right off the get go this match felt really one sided.

In an effort to combat that one sided feeling Zeuxis, much like Xia Brookside two weeks ago, took the fight to Io hard and fast. She managed to break away from Io’s early attack and serve Io some of her own kick infused medicine with a few vicious looking dropkicks.

But where Zeuxis is strong, Io is fast and soon she had Zeuxis off her feet - and the worse place to be in a wrestling ring with Io is off your feet.

Zeuxis’ wrestling felt cleaner this week and her moonsault was well executed (except for the part where no one was home). The pace of the match kept it moving and the finish with the Spanish fly reversal was clever, but while Zeuxis had some nice moments of offense Io’s victory felt inevitable. I guess that’s the trouble with having clear favorites in a tournament - some matches are going to feel rote no matter what is happening in the ring.

Deonna Purazzo vs. Xia Li

I have only one question - why is Deonna so cool?? Every time she comes out to the ring she has this air of tranquility about her like “Yeah, I know I’m that good. I don’t even need to break a sweat for this.” I like it a lot, especially juxtaposed against her in ring brutality.

Xia didn’t let The Virtuosa’s coolness under her skin, however, and seemed to have a response to every clever move Deonna had. I particularly loved when Xia scouted an arm bar attempt and blocked it with a back fist combo and a split leg drop!

Deonna tried to win the match the same way as round one with a side Russian leg sweep into the arm bar, but again Xia had her number and was able to roll her up forcing a kick out. It was a classic “submission versus strikes” style match and it was very effective.

Although I assumed Deonna would win (I was correct) there were a couple of moments in this match that had me second guessing my choice. Xia really kept up with the indie darling and has become one of my favorite competitors to watch in the MYC. Ultimately, Deonna won buy catching Xia mid air and locking her into the Fujiwara arm bar with an added arm-trap submission for good measure! It looked brutal, but also made Xia look strong - she didn’t tap until she was truly forced to.

Xia Li is one of the competitors from last year’s MYC that didn’t really leave an impression with me. She wasn’t terrible, but she wasn’t memorable either - but that has all changed! She is killing it this year! She cut a pretty good English promo in her pre match video package too so I am hoping that we are going to get more of her in NXT post MYC.

As for Deonna, I can not wait for her to face Io next week!

Tegan Nox vs. Nicole Matthews

This match gave me the feels and not for good reasons. I feel so bad letting real world news regarding these two interfere with my enjoyment of their match, but since it was taped such a long time ago it’s hard not to. The next time we see Tegan she’s going to get injured so badly that she not only has to pull out of the MYC, but she may have to end her career! It doesn't help that Micheal Cole keeps talked about her injury (I know it’s not his fault) and her miraculous comeback. As for Nicole, she’s stuck in Canada (and the rest of the non USA world) and I personally am just really sad that I’m not going to get to see one of my favs live for 5 years.

...feelings aside...

This match was really fun. I love how they are characterizing Nicole as this unstoppable pillar of the women’s indie scene. Rightfully so! Tegan is no slouch, but she has to get through this Titan before she can move on. This story carried over into the ring and became the foundation for some great in ring psychology.

This match felt like a lesson. Nicole was delivering a beat down and Tegan (and her underdog story) had to learn quick or leave the MYC. Generally, I’m not a huge fan of a one-sided beat down that ends in a rally/win combination, but in this case it really made sense. It made Nicole look strong even though she lost, solidified Tegan as a competitor to watch and her finisher as a dangerous move in this competition - she just needs one moment to land the shiniest wizard to win.

Sad to see Nicole Matthews leave the MYC and happy/scared for Tegan in round 3.

Kaitlyn vs. Mia Yim

Like I’ve said many times before I have purposely avoided spoilers for the MYC. Granted I watch an absurd amount of women’s wrestling so some of the tournament match-ups are easy to predict, but not this one! Classic win/win (or lose/lose depending on how you look at it).

Kaitlyn is a former Divas champion, on the path to redemption, who really stepped up her in-ring game, but Mia Yim is a crowd favorite, a second year competitor and a newly signed WWE talent. The unknown factor made this match my favorite of the night!

Mia Yim entered the ring with her hand quite obviously bandaged - she had banged it up good in her match with Allison Kay. Right off the bat we know that this is going to play a big role in the match. Sometimes kayfabe injuries used for story line fodder can seem corny, but Mia committed hard to the injury and Kaitlyn focused just the right amount targeting the hand. For example, I loved how Kaitlyn extended her hand to Mia before the match and Mia shook it but only slightly. It was hard to tell if she didn’t shake harder because her hand hurt or because she was disrespecting Kaitlyn. It looked like Kaitlyn didn’t know either so her not going after the hand until she felt she had to was some nice in ring psychology.

I also loved how Mia - knowing that her hand was a big red target - decided to create a target on Kaitlyn too by continuously attacking her left leg. Mia knows Kaitlyn loves to leg drop, so Mia takes away that ability while also potentially affecting her lifting ability and creating an even playing field.

Kaitlyn in this tournament has been a solid face, but you could see a little heel smirk come through when Mia hit the mat with her bad hand allowing space for Kaitlyn to take control with a wrenching wrist-lock. It was a great moment of “two can play at this game” from the veteran.

The last third of the match was so exciting. I love a good near fall and my heart was pumping. Kaitlyn kicked out of Mia’s sole food and Mia barely kicked out of Kaitlyn’s spear! Leaving two finishers unfinished and me freaking out in my living room!

Kaitlyn tried to win dirty by stomping on Mia’s injured hand but it backfired and Mia was able to lock in the kneebar! Kaitlyn reluctantly tapped and Mia moved on to round three!

I really though Kaitlyn was going to move on, but am so happy for Mia. Regardless of the MYC outcome I hope to see both of these competitors in WWE for a long time. I’d love it Kaitlyn joined RAW or SD - heck they’re bringing back DX surely we can make room for one BA former Diva’s champion!

While this episode was pretty predictable I found myself focusing more on in ring character development and really becoming attached to some of these competitors. Telling stories in a tournament is no easy feat and these women had me invested tonight!

We’ve only two more episodes left before the finals at Evolution. Personally, I can’t wait to see Io wrestle Deonna because Io needs some real competition in this tourney. She may be a favorite to win, but she needs to have a “classic match” before potentially making her way into the finals.

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