Just when you think it can’t get any better, these women continue to outdo themselves.
The second round of the Mae Young Classic began last night, and it sure started with a bang. Four women have punched their ticket to the quarterfinals, while four more have been sent packing.
Let’s get into these matchups!
Second Round: Toni Storm vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto
Kicking off the night was the Rockstar, Toni Storm, facing off against Lady Godzilla, Hiroyo Matsumoto.
Storm advanced to the second round after beating fellow NXT UK superstar, Jinny, while Matsumoto defeated Rachel Evers.
Even though the Lady Destroyer gave her all she could handle, Storm was able to come away with the win thanks to a sneaky roll-up.
Both women have faced off before in the indies, so they knew each other pretty well going into this match. Things started off with some technical holds, but the pace quickened soon after. Surprisingly, the crowd was almost split, which was a testament to how impressive Matsumoto was in the first round. She was in control for most of the match and rarely gave Storm a chance to breathe.
After a while, however, it started to have the same feel as Matsumoto’s first round match; much like Evers before her, Storm attempted to make numerous comebacks but Matsumoto had an answer every time. While I’m not the biggest fan of non-finisher endings, this one really made it feel like Storm escaped with the win by the skin of her teeth.
I thought this was a great way to start the evening and would be really hard to follow. Storm advances to the quarterfinals, but Matsumoto impressed many by her showing in the tournament.
Second Round: Kacy Catanzaro vs. Rhea Ripley
Up next was another David vs. Goliath matchup, as Kacy Catanzaro took on Rhea Ripley.
Looking to play spoiler once again, Catanzaro vanquished Reina Gonzalez in the first round. Ripley aimed to continue her path of dominance, dispatching MJ Jenkins to advance.
What could have easily been a quick win for Ripley, Catanzaro gave her all she could handle and left her reeling on several occasions. However, one mistake was all it took for Ripley to pick up the victory.
The former American Ninja Warrior star was the obvious underdog going into this one, but boy did she put up quite a fight. She used her speed to counteract Ripley’s power and disoriented her with an array of high-flying moves. Despite one bad-looking botch towards the end of the match, Catanzaro has adjusted to the ring quite well.
Things were a little sloppy in the beginning, but both women found more and more chemistry as the match went on. The crowd was once again split, with Catanzaro winning fans over with her unique move set and her underdog story. I expect her to improve even more as she gains more experience in NXT.
Ripley continued to impress, but she definitely was not expecting the kind of fight she got. But the Aussie now moves on to rip more competitors apart.
Second Round: Lacey Lane vs Taynara Conti
After that was the hometown girl, Lacey Lane, going up against the Brazilian blackbelt, Taynara Conti.
Lane advanced after upsetting the Mountain, Vanessa Kraven, while Conti put down NXT rookie, Jessie Elaban.
Conti continued to show off her ruthless style in the ring, smothering Lane and using her Judo background to punish the Winter Park native. But in a matter of seconds, Lane was able to hit her Crucifix Bomb finisher to stun Conti.
This match was rather short and the ending was quite abrupt. It was one of those “blink and you might miss it” kind of finishes, seemingly coming out of nowhere. But I still liked Conti’s offense, throwing her opponent around the ring like a ragdoll. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I won’t be surprised if she becomes a big part of the NXT women’s division.
Lane was basically grounded the entire time; even though she got some offense in, not once was she able to show off any of her high-flying moves. Regardless, her Cinderella story continues into the quarterfinals.
Second Round: Mercedes Martinez vs. Meiko Satomura
The night concluded with a highly-anticipated contest: Mercedes Martinez vs. Meiko Satomura.
Martinez got to the second round by defeating fellow veteran Ashley Rayne, while Satomura beat NXT UK superstar, Killer Kelly.
In a hard-hitting, back and forth bout, it was Satomura who walked away the victor, hitting a vicious Scorpion Kick that ended Martinez’s redemption story.
This one was an absolute classic, and in my opinion, the current match to beat in the tournament. With over 40 years of experience between the two, both women are veterans of the ring and respected all over the world. They traded blow for blow and pushed each other to their absolute limits here.
Everyone was on the edge of their seats throughout, with so many near falls making it difficult to choose who would pick up the win. The crowd gave them a well-deserved standing ovation, knowing that they were witnessing a dream match live and in person.
It was a shame that Martinez was eliminated so soon after making it all the way to the semi-finals last year. I really hope she gets signed to WWE soon because she absolutely deserves it.
The more I see Satomura wrestle, the more I’m blown away. There’s a reason why they call her the Final Boss in her native Japan. Luckily for me and many others, we get to see her wrestle more in the quarterfinals. Her opponent, Lacy Lane, better watch out and get ready for the fight of her life.