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.
Nicole Matthews def. Isla Dawn in a First-Round Match
Dawn has previous exposure from the NXT UK brand and is a competent competitor, but Matthews intrigues me more as someone to watch in this tournament. She is established on the independent scene and proved to be a solid worker here. It wasn't too exciting of an outing since there didn't feel like there was any urgency surrounding the nearfalls, but it was decent.
Io Shirai def. Xia Brookside in a First-Round Match
It's amazing to think Brookside (Robbie Brookside's daughter, of course) is only 19-years-old. She has a unique look and more than held her own here. She has plenty of potential, so although she was knocked out of the tournament early, I'm looking forward to seeing more of her in NXT UK. Shirai, of course, is a total star, and this was basically a squash that served to inform viewers that she should be the fan favorite to win it all.
I figured Shirai vs. Brookside would end up stealing the show, and while it was fun for what it was, the opening match between Matsumoto and Evers was undoubtedly the best bout of the night. Matthews vs. Dawn and Conti vs. Elaban were fine yet paled in comparison, so on the whole, this was a fairly average edition of the Mae Young Classic. With the first round wrapping up, I assume things will heat up in the second round and we'll get some more exciting encounters.
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