Toni Storm def. Meiko Satomura in a Semifinal Match
The clash of styles here was perfect considering Satomura is such a seasoned veteran while Storm is still new to the game of wrestling yet has shown incredible potential in her few years on the scene. Putting those two things together made for an amazing affair that the crowd was heavily invested in from start to finish. I also loved how they gradually picked up the pace as they went along and the second half in particular was just fantastic. Their signature spots have been established nicely over the course of the tournament, so the fans in attendance popped huge when each of them kicked out of the other's finisher. Storm looked like an absolute star in victory here and Satomura proved once again that she remains among the best women's wrestlers in the world. What a match.
Io Shirai def. Rhea Ripley in a Semifinal Match
Similar to Storm, Ripley hasn't been doing this for very long, and likely even less than she has, so it's super impressive how she has been able to come into her own so quickly. After all, she showed signs of promise in in the 2017 Mae Young Classic, but her evolution as a character over the last year has been something to behold. Despite her defeat to Shirai, she has a very bright future ahead of her, and there's no questioning how tremendously talented Shirai is. This was another extremely entertaining match that was certainly worthy of taking place in the semifinals.
Meiko Satomura def. Lacey Lane in a Quarterfinal Match
As well as Lane has done in the tournament up to this point, this was a total mismatch on paper. Lane is still relatively new to the business, whereas Satomura has been wrestling for over two decades. That's not to say mismatches such as this one are a bad thing (we saw a few earlier on in the tourney), but the outcome was never in doubt. Nevertheless, Lane had her best showing yet and looked good in defeat against the experienced veteran.
Io Shirai def. Deonna Purrazzo in a Quarterfinal Match
Purrazzo can not be praised enough for her technical abilities and I'm so happy the rest of the world is getting to find that out too through her performances in the Mae Young Classic. This was a very competitive and fun match for the time it was allotted where both women put forth a hell of an effort. Although Purrazzo won't be advancing to the semifinals, I hope she continues to be spotlighted on NXT TV.
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.
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