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WWE Mae Young Classic match recommendations: Episodes 5-8


A big tournament happening at potentially overwhelming pace? That means it’s time to bust out the match recommendation scale, folks! If you missed the first four, feel free to check ‘em out right here.

As always, I've got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that's worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.

Mind you, these are not star ratings. They're not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you're best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.

Episode 5

Abbey Laith vs. Rachel Evers (3): Laith ahead in the initial feeling out, alternating between lucha libre and power moves but Evers is able to stay in it, getting a nearfall of a sweet STO / turning springboard leg drop combo. Double bicycle kicks get a stalemate and they go to slugging it out, Abbey well in control but Rachel quite able to find openings, and it's a question of if she can get a finishing shot in before Laith overwhelms her.

A good match to kick the second round off with, a bit loose at points but not in an overly detrimental way.

Piper Niven vs. Serena Deeb (5): All about Piper's strength early, a lot of struggle in a collar and elbow, Deeb trying to cut her down with a side headlock but she just ends up on the receiving end of a short splash. But Serena keeps chipping away and finally gets control with the headlock, staggering Niven enough by the end of it that Deeb can do some real damage with punches.

She gets the slam off and a wicked neckbreaker, but can't put Piper away, and it's only a matter of time before the bigger woman recovers, and the match ebbs and flows from there. This match ruled-- Serena chipping away, putting so much into the headlock and the slam to build them, Piper is great as the proverbial immovable object, the two making each other look totally deadly when it's time to throw bombs... absolutely watch this one, folks.

Mercedes Martinez vs. Princesa Sugehit (2): Sugehit taking things to the mat, a bit of an edge but not dominant, and Martinez soon decides she'd rather lean on her striking game. A schoolboy puts Mercedes into the turnbuckle and Princesa is in control but the Shine Tag Team Champion keeps her wits about her and doesn't let it take her out of the match.

And so, a hard-hitting back and forth ensues, but this one didn't quite come together for me. Not bad by any means, just a bit underdeveloped. Watch accordingly.

Bianca Belair vs. Kairi Sane (5): Belair using her strength and keeping Sane down early, but a blown kiss gets Kairi fired up and right into it. A hair whip to the chest cracks out across Full Sail and cuts her rally off as Bianca keeps whipping away! Belair's strength is something else, squats in the delayed vertical suplex, a seated full nelson, a WAR Special deadlifted into a chickenwing facebuster, all sorts of cool stuff happening in this one.

But Kairi's will is indomitable, and if Bianca can't keep the press up full speed, she won't be able to put her away. So, uh, this match ruled. Belair really stepped up to the plate (450 splash!), Sane is Sane, great stuff all around.

Episode 6

Lacey Evans vs. Toni Storm (2): Light mat grappling in the feeling out but Storm pulls ahead and goes to the butt bumps. She pays for it, Evans beginning to throw strikes, shifting to the arm, back to strikes, back to the arm, clearly trying to switch it up to try and keep the Progress Women's Champion off guard.

Toni gets serious with forearms and a lungblower, and a hip attack into a snug snap northern lights suplex takes us into the finishing stretch. Anyway, this was fine but something about it just didn't work, whether it needed more time or what, I'm not sure, but watch accordingly.

Mia Yim vs. Shayna Baszler (4): Trading leg kicks from the jump, Baszler's educated feet give her an advantage but Yim pulls out of the tailspin and sends her outside with a headscissors takeover before capitalizing with a wild suicide dive. Back inside, Shayna goes to work on the leg for a moment, rolling Karelin lifts, Mia with the Tarantula, cannonball, but the issue is the Queen of Spades can grab a submission or land a deadly strike from any angle and any position and change the momentum in a heartbeat.

A lot of good stuff in this, fun counters (the finish especially!) and exchanges, although it never quite gets to mandatory must-watch status.

Dakota Kai vs. Rhea Ripley (3): Feeling out into a bit of light lucha, giving way to striking, Team Kick in full effect but a back body drop that puts Ripley outside only leads to Kai taking an electric chair facebuster into the apron! Rhea in control but unable to put her away and it's only a matter of time before Dakota creates an opening for herself.

Tight strike exchanges, Kai rallying, and you have to think the match is hers unless Ripley has untapped reserves. A good solid match, nothing exceptional but a good time all the same.

Candice LeRae vs. Nicole Savoy (4): Savoy in charge early, using her strength, but LeRae gets a tornado reverse STO off. Nicole drops her Dr. Death style with a Backdrop Driver and keeps the press going but you can't keep Candice down for long. Trading bombs, butterfly suplex rolled into a Danielson Special, LeRae blocks the armbar, gets a wicked octopus hold of her own and you get a real sense that the first woman to flinch is going to lose.

Feel like this one could have maybe used a few more minutes but what we got was great, just real scrappy hard-fighting pro wrestling that felt like two women trying their damnedest to win a fight.

Episode 7

Abbey Laith vs. Mercedes Martinez (3): Jockeying for position on the mat, Martinez shifting to strikes and pummeling Laith something fierce when it looks like she might wrench an advantage out on the injured shoulder. Indeed, a series of arm drags into a spinning kick, while not directly targeting the shoulder, are enough to get Abbey back into it.

Mercedes tries to hide the injury with an onslaught of clubbering and so the match goes, back and forth with great violence, and if only Laith would target the shoulder decisively she'd likely have it in the bag. And so, telegraphing the shoulder (and having commentary focused on it) only for it to not really matter hurt this one for me. Good action, a lot of fun stuff going on, and I get with the alignments as presented here you don't want too much sympathy on Martinez, but that and a flat finish knock this one down a notch.

Candice LeRae vs. Shayna Baszler (5): Baszler clubbing away early but LeRae is able to sidestep a knockout boot... suicide dive tornado DDT on the ramp! Back inside it's all Candice, going from an octopus hold to a From Dusk 'Til Dawn style Mrs. Gargano Escape! Short and sweet, Shayna needs to fight her off and land a kill shot to hope to take this one.

This was a great example of how more isn't always more in pro wrestling. Maybe five moves in the match total and it's mandatory viewing with a hell of a finish. Don’t miss it!

Piper Niven vs. Toni Storm (5): Storm managing to finesse Niven into the corner on the initial lockup, the first time her strength has been negated so easily, but the followup test of strength goes Piper's way even as Toni's able to bridge up and block the pin, stalemate, double bridge into a handshake!

A bit of grappling, Niven collapses a bridge with a big splash and it's on! Piper continuing to run Storm over but a floatover lungblower gets some separation and evens the odds. From there it's all about her comeback and if Niven can stop her in her tracks before she finishes the deal.

Like all of Piper's matches in the tournament, this was smartly built around her power advantage and was really good as a result.

Dakota Kai vs. Kairi Sane (4): Feeling out leads to a stalemate as both women dodge strikes in quick succession. Trying to eke an advantage out, throwing hands, struggle in the corner, Kai gets a facewash off and is set in firm control until Sane connects with a spear. Back and forth, Dakota's knee begins to act up, at one point keeping her from capitalizing on a knockout kick.

A good solid match, the knee drama not integral but well-played (and so I won't complain about it not being the focus), but this felt just a tiny bit off-- whether it was the face/face matchup in a tournament that's given us a lot of well-defined clashes of alignment or what I don't know. Still really good, just a click off essential.

Episode 8

Mercedes Martinez vs. Shayna Baszler (5): Mercedes bringing the heat early, chops cracking across Full Sail, keeping the press up with exceptions here and there until Shayna kicks out of a roll-up and right into a kneebar, from there to an ankle lock and a heel hook, wrenching it in. Slugging it out as the match opens up, but the damage is done, Baszler able to take charge with a single knee kick and Martinez unable to capitalize off her fisherman buster.

So the match goes into the bombs, the leg a constant but not overwhelming presence. This was great, visceral and hard-hitting action. Couldn't help but feel like Mercedes' previous matches this set were a little slow and steady, but this rather made up for both of 'em in short order.

Kairi Sane vs. Toni Storm (5): Mat grappling intensifying early, Sane the one to take it to striking, but Storm targets the arm, clearly trying to block the elbow. Kairi pushes things outside for a big diving crossbody, firmly in control back in the ring but all Toni needs is an opportunity. Slugging it out, Storm in for the kill with a bridging Muscle Buster and a bridging Fujiwara armbar, just to name two.

And so, down and out, arm all jacked up, it all comes down to whether Sane can swim upstream long enough to land the elbow drop. This was a bit uneven in spots (perhaps due to the concussion Kairi suffered, in all fairness), but still really good and worth carving the time out for for sure.

There you have it, folks

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.

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