Mauro Ranallo gives us a recap of the matches that transpired in the last episode and the matches that are scheduled to take place in this episode. This makes me sad. He is so much better at talking about this stuff than the jokers they have doing commentary. Why couldn’t we have him and Renee Young on commentary? But I digress. Let’s head back to Full Sail for more wrestling action!
JR and Lita are still our hosts and after they welcome us back they throw it to a video package for the first two competitors.
Xia Li is from China and has trained in kung fu and sanda, which the subtitles later explain is Chinese wrestling. She was hired by the WWE after they had tryouts in Shanghai last year. This is apparently her first wrestling match ever and she wants to show the WWE fans Chinese culture.
Mercedes Martinez is a sixteen year veteran who’s wrestled everywhere except in the WWE. She says that she’s going to make sure that Xia Li’s first match is also her last.
Match 1: Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li
Li does some kung fu stuff with a fan during her entrance. The ref has Li and Martinez meet center ring. Li bows to her and Martinez does the Karate Kid crane kick pose mockingly. They shake hands and Martinez wipes her hand off on her pants afterwards.
Martinez takes control at the bell but doesn’t really take Li seriously so she toys with her. Li eventually fires back with kicks and running forearms and then cradles Martinez for one. Martinez comes back with strikes of her own, but Li blocks them and fires back with more kicks. She drops Martinez and covers for two.
Li follows with more strikes and kicks but ends up running into a spinebuster that gets Martinez a near fall. Martinez decides she’s had enough of the kung fu bullshit and gets Li in a Romero Special before locking in a dragon sleeper that causes Li to tap.
Winner: Mercedes Martinez
Another fine little television match. Xia Li looks pretty good for someone who’s “never wrestled before” (she’s had NXT house show matches before this). I like that her style is different for any other woman currently on the roster and think that with a few more matches she’ll be a decent addition to the NXT women’s division.
Pairing her with Martinez was smart. Like the match between Serena Deeb and Vanessa Borne pairing Li with a long time veteran helped with the flow of the match. I think Martinez did a fine job here, mostly in selling. The match was short and she didn’t get a ton of offense in, but apparently she’s apparently very good so I’m interested in seeing her later matches in the tournament against other experienced wrestlers. [**]
We get a video package about Rachel Evers. She is Paul Ellering’s daughter. He apparently wouldn’t let her watch wrestling when she was young and didn’t allow her to train until after she’d finished college. She doesn’t have a specific wrestling style. If you want to mat wrestle with her she’ll mat wrestle. If you want to do 80s hoss wrestling, she has a bronze medal in powerlifting so she’ll hoss fight ya!
Marti Belle came to NYC when she was seven. She didn’t speak a word of English. She claims to be a lioness.
Match 2: Rachel Evers vs. Marti Belle
Belle does the same hand wipe on her pants that Martinez did in the last match after the handshake and the match gets underway. There are some pretty loud chants for Rachel as they start. Almost right away Belle tries to stall, going to the ropes and having the ref back Evers away.
They lock up and go back to the ropes and again Belle has the ref separate them. Belle connects with a suplex and covers for one. Evers tries to overpower Belle. She puts the boots to her and goes for a cover but Belle kicks out at two. Evers hits an STO and then hits a springboard spinning legdrop off the bottom rope that earns her a one count.
Belle heads out to the apron and stuns Evers off the ropes to take control of the match and things more or less fall off a cliff. She delivers a series of slow, sloppy looking strikes before Evers fights back and slams Belle into the turnbuckles.
Evers delivers some strikes and kicks of her own before hitting a running senton. She then hits an ugly looking spinebuster that earns her a near fall. She then kind of hurks Belle up and looks like she’s going to go for a fisherman suplex, but she can’t get Belle all the way up and just sort of slams her onto the mat.
Belle fights back and hits a face buster that earns her a near fall before Evers gets a roll up FROM OUTTA NOWHERE to pick up the win and advance in the tournament.
Winner: Rachel Evers
This was not a particularly good wrestling match. I don’t know if they’re both terrible or they just didn’t have chemistry with one another leading to this debacle, but either way it was bad news. They were slow and sloppy and seemed to have no idea what to do once the bell rang. I hope that it was the later and these two just had bad chemistry and Evers has a better showing in Round Two. [-*]
Meanwhile in the Audience…
We forego any replays from the last match and go right to the crowd where we see Shadia Bseiso and Kacy Catanzaro. Both have apparently signed with NXT. One is from something called American Ninja Warrior, the other was picked up at WWE tryouts in Dubai.
Earlier This Week…
We see Triple H in good guy COO mode giving a pep talk to the women competing in this tournament about how it’s something that they’ve wanted to do for a long time and he hopes they all go out there and give it their best.
We get videos for the next two competitors. Rhea Ripley was a soccer star in her native Australia so she uses a lot of kicks. She is also a “mosh kid.” She’s in her early 20s so this probably means that she listens to screamo and metalcore bands from the mid-aughts.
Miranda Salinas is only 5′ tall, but people shouldn’t underestimate her because of her height. She’s trained with WWE Hall of Famer, Booker T and is ready to win.
Match 3: Rhea Ripley vs. Miranda Salinas
Ripley is legit like a foot taller than Salinas which makes Salinas heeling it up in the early going kind of hilarious. She pulls Ripley’s hair to try to gain an advantage but Ripley gets in control and nails Salinas with a dropkick that sends Salinas out to the floor to regroup.
Salinas comes back in and goes on the attack. They trade strikes and Salinas gets the better of the exchange and grounds Ripley, but it doesn’t last long. Ripley fires back and hits a dropkick that she follows up with a running corner boot that drops Salinas. Ripley then wrecks Salinas’ shit with a hesitation dropkick and goes for a cover, but Salinas kicks out at two.
Salinas gets a desperation roll up, but Ripley escapes and hits her right in the mush with a big kick and then nails her with a full nelson slam to pick up the win.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Ripley came off looking like a superstar. She’s tall, athletic, and pretty good at talking. I don’t know if she’s signed with WWE beyond this tournament, but if she has I could easily see them turning her into a big deal.
Salinas, like a lot of the other unknowns has a decent amount of potential. She has a good look and was pretty good on the mic and looked believable in the ring and with a few more matches under her belt could easily be a decent heel in NXT. [*½]
Mia Yim is a second degree black belt in taekwondo. She has a purple fingernail to raise awareness about domestic violence, something that she herself experienced and recently spoke out about.
Sarah Logan is a country girl. She’d go out in the morning and kill whatever it was that they were going to eat. She left her hometown four days after she graduated from high school to go train in Japan and was the first person in her family to go on an airplane.
Meanwhile in the Audience…
Beth Phoenix and Natalya are in the crowd.
Match 4: Mia Yim vs. Sarah Logan
They shake hands in a show of respect and work a pretty basic back and forth match in the opening moments to feel each other out. The crowd chants are pretty evenly split.
Logan shows some aggression early on, but Yim outquicks her to cut her off and lay in some kicks, but Logan is able to summon the “fighting spirit,” and gets back up each time only to get kicked again.
Eventually she takes things to the mat and works over Mia Yim with some ground and pound before nailing her with a basement dropkick. Yim fires back with various strikes and kicks that are enough to earn her a near fall. She stays on Logan after the kick out, working her over with more kicks before locking her in the Tarantula. Lita, doing her best announcing to date, mentions that Yim was trained by Tajiri and uses the Tarantula as a tribute to him.
Yim breaks the hold at four and follows up with a missile dropkick that’s good for two. She then locks in a rolling guillotine, but Logan powers out of it. The two women trade strikes on their knees in the center of the ring. They slap the shit out of each other, start kicking each other while sitting in the center of the ring, and then get to their feet, and continue nailing one another.
Logan wins the exchange and toss Yim back to the mat. She then hits a cartwheel in a running near knee strike that earns her a near fall.
Yim fights back and destroys Logan with a pair of German suplexes that earn her a near fall as well, but Logan has FIGHTING SPIRIT and will not back down. She fights back and nails Yim with charging knees in the corner and then hits a fisherman’s suplex for another near fall.
Logan goes for another knee strike, screaming, “OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!” but Yim dodges, yells back, “No! Off with your head!” and hits Logan with Eat Defeat to pick up the win.
Winner: Mia Yim
Once again the Mae Young Classic delivers in the “main event.” Yim and Logan both looked good in the ring and put on on of the better matches of the first round. Logan’s really proven herself to be a solid addition to the NXT roster. [***⅓]
Post-Match Wrap Up
We get a brief rundown of the women advancing to round two in the tournament (Mercedes Martinez, Rachel Evers, Rhea Ripley, Mia Yim) and some hype videos for the matches that will be coming up in Episode 3.
Like Episode One, this episode was by and large decent television match caliber wrestling action. The vast majority of the women who wrestled in this episode looked decent, even those who lost. The two exceptions would be Marti Belle and Rachel Evers who, for whatever reason, did not look like they knew what they were doing. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that for whatever reason they didn’t have chemistry with one another and hope the Rachel Evers does better in Round Two.
Again, though, my biggest complaint is the commentary which just seems bored and listless. I’ve read that there were some issues with the commentary that was done live and what we’re hearing is something that was rerecorded after the fact, so maybe that’s part of the trouble and the commentary will get better once they get past Round One and into Round Two.