The semi-finals of the Mae Young Classic concluded last night (Oct. 24, 2018) on the WWE Network. You can find all the match results and a detailed play-by-play on the live blog here.
The weekly episodes of the MYC may have concluded last night, but the WWE Universe couldn’t have asked for a more exciting final match-up for Evolution. Both semi-final matches were hard-hitting, emotional and told two unique in-ring stories.
Meiko Satomura vs. Toni Storm
Here’s your moment of Meiko fan-girling, I LOVED this match. The fact that Meiko and Toni have only wrestled once previously (and that it ended in a draw), but were able to put on a match of this quality really speaks to their in-ring talent. We know that Meiko can look good against anyone (and make her opponent look good), but so can Toni Storm.
I appreciated that Toni took the time in her video package to say out loud on official WWE television “Meiko Satomura is the best wrestler in the world.” Not best female wrestler, best wrestler period. Not only is that an amazing sound bite, but it really set the stage for Toni’s journey in-ring. Toni looked focused in the beginning of the match, but she also seemed scared. She knew that she had to beat the very best to realize her dream.
.@satomurameiko @tonistorm_— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 25, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/ePt5TzD6sU pic.twitter.com/av84Jq0ors
Her cautious approach at the beginning of the match made the slow start feel like it was truly building to something and not just “we start slow, we get fast.” It’s almost like she had to try a bunch of little things and start slow to not only asses her opponent, but to build her confidence. A good example of this happened near the beginning when Toni got Meiko down and Toni started to kick her. The strikes weren’t the most powerful and seemed to serve more as a pep talk for Toni. Like with every kick she was saying to herself. “She’s not so scary. She’s not so bad. I can do this!”
But if you poke a bear...or more accurately if you kick a Meiko, you’re asking for trouble!
.@satomurameiko with some blistering kicks!— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 25, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/ePt5TzD6sU pic.twitter.com/pBzDMoNnIR
I liked how Meiko didn’t simply dominate this match, it really was a back and forth - similar to the Mercedes match- because it gave legitimacy to Toni’s win. It’s a problem with some Charlotte matches that I don’t like - she’ll be losing the whole time and then will win with two moves. Not believable at all. Here, however, both women were fighting fire with fire. In what seemed like 5 seconds the two traded finishers (and kicked out of finishers), literally throwing every move in their arsenals at each other.
Shining wizard -> DVD -> Storm Zero -> Scorpio Rising -> It’s enough to give a person watching a heart attack!
.@satomurameiko hits SCORPIO RISING! ...But @tonistorm_ kicks out!— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 25, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/ePt5TzD6sU pic.twitter.com/Etq6jWkOdn
Near falls are everyday stuff in wrestling, but when Toni kicked out of the Scorpio Rising I was so shocked that I literally screamed. I was on the edge of my seat! Once Toni, hit the second Storm Zero, however, it was over.
I was sad to see Meiko go, it’s been such a unique pleasure watching her in WWE, but damn Toni Storm deserved that win.
Her post match speech with inspiring (HOW IS SHE ONLY 22?) and, yes, her paying respect to Meiko (and vice versa) made me cry a lot.
Io Shirai vs Rhea Ripley
Now, I have been hard on both these competitors throughout the MYC and I was ready to continue on that train of thought. Frankly, I didn’t think they would be able to follow that incredible match from Toni and Meiko. I was (happily) wrong.
Rhea, doing her “badass” thing, swiped at Io’s hand instead of embracing it for the traditional handshake, but then she followed it up by dominating Io. She’s not just a punk, she can back it up! Considering Rhea’s last match where she frankly only won because Tegan’s knee exploded (Seriously, it exploded!) she needed to look strong and reestablish herself has this dominate bad ass that doesn’t care. Think Baron Corbin, but a lady and better.
.@RheaRipley_WWE launches the high-flying Ace sky high!— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 25, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/ePt5TzD6sU pic.twitter.com/RgbhlUuRB6
Io, on the other hand, has dominated in this tournament - almost to the point that her matches seemed too one-sided. It was refreshing to see her have to battle her way out of Rhea’s clutches and really utilize her speed and high flying in a way that didn’t feel obvious. She hit the same finishing moves in this match as in her other matches, but in this match it felt like she had to do win. It wasn’t just a cherry on top, but was necessary.
This opportunity means so much to @shirai_io! The Queen is on fire!— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 25, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/ePt5TzD6sU pic.twitter.com/5rVwJpAdG0
It was a classic match-up of power versus speed and they both sold it brilliantly. I particularly appreciated how Rhea didn’t seem scared of Io in the least. While Toni was smartly intimidated by Meiko, Rhea acted like she could care less about who Io was or her reputation. Rhea’s confidence in the face of Io was refreshing and made me appreciate her in a way I haven’t before.And can we talk about that Superplex? Rhea pulled out all the stops and didn’t look green at all next to a veteran like Io.
.@RheaRipley_WWE isn't finished yet!— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 25, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/ePt5TzD6sU pic.twitter.com/rOHzl2hkxK
Rhea took too long to capitalize, on the damage caused by the superplex, however, and Io was able to wiggle out of Rhea’s finisher, land the double knees and the moonsault for the win. Rhea may have lost and she may not be my favorite, but I finally get what all the hype is about. An impressive outing for both of them
After the match, Io celebrated in the ring with last year’s MYC winner and her best friend, Kairi Sane. Her joy was so infectious! I felt my heart burst into a million pieces when they hugged. A win well deserved.
A perfect moment! So happy to see @KairiSaneWWE and @shirai_io together again! #WWEMYC #スターダム— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 25, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/ePt5TzD6sU pic.twitter.com/4ZAoqFH8rN
While it’s sad that the MYC is almost over, that was a hell of an episode to lead into the finale! Two incredible matches with four talented women. Just thinking about the finale is giving me goosebumps. We have seen what these women can do, but what will happen when they face each other on such a large scale at Evolution? My very obvious and probably true guess is that they will steal the show.
As for who will win? I may hate to agree with Micheal Cole, Storm’s a-coming.
Who do you think will win Cagesiders? Sound off below!