We now know the 16 women moving on to the second round.
The final first round match-ups of the Mae Young Classic are over and it once again did not disappoint. We saw newcomers, well-known stars, and everything in between. Let’s get into it!
First Round: Rachel Evers vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto
The opening contest of the night was the Queen of Strong Smile, Rachel Evers, taking on Lady Godzilla, Hiroyo Matsumoto.
Each woman was able to show off their power and strength, but it was Matsumoto who controlled most of the momentum. Evers battled back several times though, with the help of the crowd who was clearly in her corner. Despite her resilience, it was not enough as the Lady Destroyer finally put her away with a brutal Rock Drop.
Once the bracket was announced, I said that this one could easily be one of the hardest-hitting bouts in the entire tournament. Needless to say, it lived up to the hype. Evers and Matsumoto had very good chemistry and kept the crowd interested from start to finish.
This one felt like it could go either way, having several spots where it looked like either woman would walk away victorious. It was a competitive and entertaining contest that was a great start to the night.
It’s sad to see Evers get eliminated in the first round, but she definitely did not go down without a fight. Matsumoto is tons of fun to watch in the ring, and won over a good portion of the crowd. Her second round opponent will be none other than Toni Storm, so expect those two to blow the roof off of Full Sail.
First Round: Taynara Conti vs. Jessie Elaban
Up next was the Brazilian black belt, Taynara Conti, against the effervescent upstart, Jessie Elaban.
Conti controlled the action for a good majority of the contest, barely giving her opponent a chance to breathe. While Elaban was able to find ways to stay in it, Conti picked up the win in short order.
Both women are signed to NXT and haven’t had a lot of exposure to fans that haven’t seen them compete at house shows or TV tapings. This matched proved that they still are pretty green inside the ring. The crowd was not into it at all and both women seemed out of sync at times. It was probably a good thing that the bout did not last very long.
When I first saw Elaban, I was immediately reminded of Bayley and her bubbly personality. While that’s not a bad thing, hopefully she’ll be able to create a character that will set her apart in the future.
While the match was pretty average, Conti displayed a more ruthless and relentless style that we didn’t see in last year’s tournament. With time, she could be a big part of the NXT women’s division.
First Round: Isla Dawn vs. Nicole Matthews
After that came Isla Dawn facing off against Nicole Matthews.
An alternate in last year’s tournament, Matthews had a chip on her shoulder and was out to prove people wrong. She used her experience to her advantage and kept Dawn down throughout, treating her as if she wasn’t a threat.
However, the Modern-Day Witch proved that she should be taken seriously, taking the fight to Matthews several times. But in the end, the veteran was able to submit Dawn with a modified Boston Crab.
This one was a little off in my opinion; there wasn’t a lot of chemistry between the two and the crowd was once again not into it. While Matthews tried to come off as the cocky, experienced heel, there wasn’t a whole lot of storytelling done in the match.
I absolutely love Dawn and was excited to see her compete in the tournament. Her character is different and interesting, and she can adapt her in-ring style to compete with just about anyone. So needless to say, I was just a little salty that she was eliminated in the first round. Watch out for her on the NXT UK brand, because she is someone to keep an eye on.
Matthews has plenty of talent, but she’ll need all the help she can get in the second round. Waiting for her is the fan-favorite, Tegan Nox, who is just as determined to go all the way.
First Round: Io Shirai vs. Xia Brookside
In the final contest of the night, heavy favorite, Io Shirai, opposed Xia Brookside.
While the 19-year-old Brookside put up a good fight, Shirai made quick work of her and capped it off with an impressive moonsault.
Shirai was regarded as one of the highest-profile signings in recent history for NXT, and she was able to show why. However, this match was way too short. You could have almost blinked and missed the ending.
I understand that Shirai will definitely go far in this tournament, but there was very little time for Brookside to show off what she has to offer. This one was not anywhere close to Meiko Satomura vs. Killer Kelly, where both women were given plenty of time to shine.