Io Shirai def. Zeuxis in a Second-Round Match
Shirai has been called one of the best women's wrestlers in the world by many and it's hard to argue with that following her first two matches in the Mae Young Classic. This was much more competitive than her clash with Xia Brookside and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even Zeuxis, who I figured wasn't winning, had a solid showing. This was a lot of fun and a smart choice for the opener.
Deonna Purrazzo def. Xia Li in a Second-Round Match
Li was another woman I didn't see making it far in the tournament, but she fared well for herself here against the submission specialist. The cool thing about Purrazzo is that she's able to adapt her style depending on who she's facing and that's why I find her to be so underrated. Li is still inexperienced, but Purrazzo got a great match out of her and now we have Purrazzo vs. Shirai to look forward to in the next round.
Toni Storm def. Hiroyo Matsumoto in a Second-Round Match
What I like most about Storm (aside from her star-like presence) is that, based off what I've seen from her, she's able to adapt to anyone else's style in the ring. Matsumoto is a very hard-hitting competitor and Storm successfully went toe-to-toe with her in what turned out to be a great match. I don't know if WWE would be interested in signing Matsumoto, but she impressed me enough that I could certainly see her being a good fit in NXT's women's division. As for Storm, her advancing was the right call.
Kacy Catanzaro def. Rhea Ripley in a Second-Round Match
Catanzaro had a hell of a showing in the first round and I wasn't sure if she'd be able to have a repeat performance, but she somehow managed to outdo herself this time. This was a ton of fun and the crowd was into everything they did. Despite not being incredibly polished, Catanzaro is crazy athletic and thus she's so unique and different from everyone else in the tournament. Hell, she even botched down the stretch but still managed to make up for it and rebound by pulling it off with ease. I'm happy Ripley is moving on to the next round, but Catanzaro has so much potential waiting to be tapped into. Don't be shocked to see her on NXT TV before long.
Hiroyo Matsumoto def. Rachel Evers in a First-Round Match
I wasn't familiar with Matsumoto whatsoever coming into this tournament and didn't know what to expect, but she absolutely impressed me with her strong showing here, as well as Evers. She has been featured on NXT plenty of times in the past and was even in last year's Mae Young Classic, so I was glad to see her get another opportunity to shine (which she did). This was an excellent outing and a great way to kick off the night.
Taynara Conti def. Jessie Elaban in a First-Round Match
This is actually the first match I've seen Elaban involved in, even though she has been training at the Performance Center for about a year and a half by this point. She fared well for herself, and Conti is pretty passable as well, but this wasn't that good of a match at all. Conti was the right choice to advance between the two of them and hopefully she'll continue to improve in the future. At least she has a presence about her.
Kaitlyn def. KAvita Devi in a First-Round Match
In all honesty, this could have been way worse than it was. Devi had a really bad outing in the 2017 Mae Young Classic while Kaitlyn has largely been out of the ring for the past four and half years. However, Kaitlyn looked good here and Devi didn't embarrass herself, either. It was smart to keep this as short and as sweet as possible, in addition to allowing Kaitlyn to advance to the next round.
Toni Storm def. Jinny in a First-Round Match
Both women being cut from the same cloth in the NXT/UK women's division helped a lot along with how they've probably faced off on countless occasions in the past, so they had that history. Storm is an absolute star who deserves to go all the way this year, and I hope the rumors of her being signed to some sort of deal to WWE are true so that can become a reality. Storm had the crowd in the palm of her hand the entire time and Jimmy had a decent showing in defeat.
Deonna Purrazzo def. Priscilla Kelly in a First-Rounda Match
I've been following Purrazzo on the independent scene for years and am stoked she's finally getting a chance to shine on the big stage. She's a welcome addition to the Mae Young Classic and she proved she belongs among these elites with her showing here. It wasn't the most must-see match, but both women looked good in defeat and Purrazzo getting emotional afterward was a cool moment.
Zeuxis def. Aerial Monroe in a First-Round Match
This was easily the weakest match on the show, but that's not to say it was bad by any means. Nothing stood out as special about it and neither of them did anything to leave a lasting impression on me, but it was a passable bout. Plus, I did like Cedric Alexander (Monroe's husband) and their son watching on from the front row because that added an extra layer to it.
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