The Mae Young Classic has been an interesting experiment for WWE, with choices ranging from the curious (the odd and not particularly well-promoted episode release schedule) to the contentious (namely, the focus on Ronda Rousey). The inaugural WWE women’s tournament came to a head tonight with a 30 minute, live finale episode, sandwiched in between Smackdown Live! and 205 Live.
With only thirty minutes, there wasn’t much time to fit in packages or promos, but WWE did its best. Renee Young’s recap of the red carpet included a fleeting mention of the potentially feuding Four Horsewomen factions. Alundra Blayze, Dana Warrior, and Beth Phoenix were shown at their ringside seats, along with Mercedes Martinez, Piper Niven, Toni Storm, and Candice LeRae who for the record looked fantastic in a hot pink blazer. Summer Rae was in attendance with Asuka, Becky, Bayley, and Charlotte.
The choice to sandwich the match between two other live shows is an unusual one, but the biggest issue is that all of the pomp and circumstances limited Baszler and Sane to at most a fifteen minute match. By the time the bell rang for them the audience had been sitting through a fraction of the wrestling as the Full Sail audience did for their tapings. The crowd was visibly curious and genuinely enthusiastic by the final moments, and if being surprised with such a rad match gets any casual fans in the crowd to check out the tournament, that’s a win for WWE.
Sane and Baszler traded a series of quick roll ups before Baszler taunted Sane with a high hand up in the air before forcibly bending Sane back and hitting her with a quick kick to the back. The match was one of the best of the tournament for Baszler and finally gave her the chance to be vicious and mean against a competitive opponent, rather than vicious and dominant in her early rounds or competitive and restrained as she was against Martinez. Though there might have been other, more anticipated potential finals, Baszler and Sane delivered a solid match that played to both of their strengths — Baszler as a methodical, powerful villain, and Sane as a relentless and passionate underdog hero.
It was that passion that finally brought Kairi the win with her signature elbow drop, making her the inaugural Mae Young Classic. In a statement to ESPN, Triple H announced Kairi’s victory has netted her an NXT Women’s Championship match at NXT Takeover: Houston on November 18.
In the official Triple H Dad Photo earlier tonight, he welcomed both women to WWE. Since the Mae Young Classic has netted Kairi a title shot, will that make Shayna Baszler a frontrunner for the number one contendership down the line?
— Triple H (@TripleH) September 13, 2017