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The Smark Henry Mae Young Classic 2018 Review (9/26/18): The Ace That Runs the Place


Round one of Mae Young Classic 2018 is in the books! It's sad to see a lot of great women go, but that's how it is in tournaments like this.

While this episode actually had good matches, it didn't really end round one with a bang, and it instead felt like a home stretch that we had to finish just for the sake of moving on to the second round.

We had our misgivings for this episode, but there is no doubt this is a historic one because of the debut of a certain Ace named Io Shirai. You may have heard of her.

Without further ado, here are the last four matches of the Mae Young Classic 2018 first round!

Hiroyo Matsumoto def. Rachel Evers


KP: HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA yay Hiroyo

Ugh, sorry, but while Lance Storm and the Full Sail crowd seem to adore her, I was bored to tears by Rachel Evers. One year later, Evers is still a strong contender for the Tuxedo Mask award: Thanks For Being There, We Guess. Her offense rang hollow for me, her “no selling” so trite that I kinda wished Matsumoto pinned her right after that clothesline.

And “Queen of Strong Smile”? Really? Have you seen Kairi Sane?? When her gimmick right now is complaining about how hard Konami (Asuka’s bloody apprentice) hit her? In retrospect, this sounds like a stupid complaint because MYC 2 was taped ahead of Stardom’s 5* Grand Prix, which could just be an angle, but to say that she’s the queen of "strong" when she’s wrestled so plainly? (This rant was cut for time.)

The best I can say about Evers is she took Matsumoto’s beating well and returned that energy as best as she could. Thankfully, Matsumoto moved forward; any other result is utter bullshit. Did you see her lifting the shit out of Evers for that powerbomb?? That Rock Drop?? Hell. Yes. Goodbye, orange mayonnaise, let’s go ひろよねえさん.

Miyann: Let’s start this by saying that Rachel Evers is the first MYC 2017 competitor that I wanted to forget right after her match. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t enjoy her work.

Evers and Matsumoto’s match is a two-star joshi match in my opinion. They didn’t have much time to sell their power moves and build up the “strong style” match they wanted to portray. This is the first time that I’ve seen Matsumoto wrestle and I can say that she really embodies the Japanese Strong Style. Evers improved a lot, but she needs to work more on her character.

Last note, the commentary team oversold the match.

Ardelle: Before I begin, let me just say that WOW. My friends definitely did not mince words. Let's just say I'm going to be the light at the end of the tunnel. Man, come on guys! The person's doing her best!

Anyway, I know I’m still way behind everyone in my attempts to catch up on my joshi stuff, but wow Hiroyo Matsumoto was such a joy to watch! Despite not getting as much buzz compared to Io or Meiko, the hype that came from joshi superfans when they learned that she was going to be in the MYC was so much deserved. People, bow down to the Lady Godzilla!

On the other hand, Rachel Evers was actually so much better this year than in last year’s MYC. She and Matsumoto were effective in telling the story that they are both very equally matched. Sure, Matsumoto dominated Evers whenever she had the chance, but Evers was able to strike back as well.

The latter parts of the match were great (Evers no-sold the German suplex! Those forearm strikes!), but the Queen of Strong Smile just can’t shake the Lady Destroyer off. She eventually ate a Rock Drop to bow out of the first round.

Taynara Conti def. Jessie Elaban


KP: Ooh, imagine only being in the wrestling scene for a hot second and doing more than certain wrestlers out there. *coughs*

I had misgivings about Elaban — her gimmick reminded me painfully of Percy Watson — but she lasted it out with a much-improved Conti. Once she stepped into the ring though, you get a sense of what kind of wrestler she’s trying to be, and the level of athleticism she can potentially bring into her

Conti, meanwhile, matured and integrated her judo skills more into her wrestling in the past year. They look tough and impressive without giving a sense that they may legitimately wrench an arm out of a socket. Unlike the judo throws of a certain ex-MMA “champion” why didn’tcha do that to Nunes and Holm, huh? Oh, because you wussed out? Piss off. And for that matter, what a fucking mistake was it to have Conti lose to Lacey Evans, that dried chicken-cooking, mayonnaise (KP’s segment has been cut short for time.)

Miyann: I was imagining a girl (Jessie Elaban) who accidentally fell in the den of a lioness (Taynara Conti) during this match. If I can make a short story from this match that would be Taynara seeing herself last year in Jessie Elaban. Remember she was one of the wrestlers last year that didn’t have a solid wrestling background? Taynara has always been confident, but she upped her game this year and made sure that she backed it up. Among all the competitors, she had the most genuine reaction after winning the match.

I have high hopes for Jessie Elaban. She may be new, but you can see how athletic she is and how eager she is to perform well in front of the crowd.

Ardelle: This match was... okay I guess. I guess both women are still trying to figure things out. I like Taynara Conti’s style; she is able to mix her legit judo skills into her wrestling flawlessly. But the catchphrase “ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!” (hopefully it isn’t a catchphrase yet at this point) definitely has to go. I still maintain that she should have been Undisputed ERA’s feisty woman who could put the boys in their own places, but that’s a completely different topic.

I was looking forward to Jessie Elaban because I have read glowing remarks about her from the NXT house show circuit regulars, but man, she didn’t quite live up to them for me. I guess the match was made to make Taynara look good...? I don’t know. Maybe in the future, Jessie.

Nicole Matthews def. Isla Dawn


KP:
Heyyyyy, it’s a certain part of Britwres’s goth GF versus a vet who is banned from entering the U.S. for the next five years ‘cause she used a travel visa to get bookings instead of a work visa. Coughs in text.

Anyway, Dawn proved to be an able dance partner for Matthews, who, to quote Young, looked “cool and collected” while working up to that dominant finish. I still don’t quite get the strong appeal of Dawn, even as I admit that she looked up to Matthews’ standards. Matthews though? Won’t be opposed to seeing her in promotions anywhere but in the U.S. for the next five years.


Ardelle: Man, Nicole Matthews is cool. She's another veteran in the game who I personally also love now but she's not quite a tita yet, so maybe I'm going to put her on the cool ninang column.

Anyway, the reason why we have tropes is because they always work, just like this match. It was a typical veteran-versus-newbie match, but it still worked! I have always heard about Nicole Matthews and how good she is, so the revelation in this match was Isla Dawn. She truly held her own here. I loved how she responded to Matthews' cockiness and she gave her a run for her money.

While it wasn't a walk in the park for Nicole, she maintained her composure and she had all the answers to Isla's bursts of energy, punctuating it with a brrrrrruuuuutal Liontamer. Yes, two more women in my favorites list.

Miyann: I love Nicole Matthews’ attitude. Just like what Ardelle said, it was a typical veteran-versus-newbie match. I like how Nicole treated Isla. At first, we could say that Nicole was always one step ahead of Isla until she decided to light the fire inside her with endless trash talking and disrespect. It was a nice comeback for Isla, who has good facials and looks like she really is from a spooky horror movie. Nicole had enough of it and won the match via submission. It was indeed, a power play from Nicole.

Io Shirai def. Xia Brookside


KP: Xia Brookside, the wunderkind! I’d heard middling reviews from her time in the UK, and not that much when she flew to Japan, but I can see now that her time grappling there paid off. She’s not even 20, people! Girl’s only going to improve.

Yeah, sure, this ended too quickly, but (say it with me) it did its job. What job is this? To show that Brookside can make a name for herself outside her father’s shadow (unlike another second-gen wrestler on this list *coughs*), and tease viewers to just how fuckin’ bomb Shirai is. Her Meteora and moonsault were queen-like and made me look forward to how the rest of her tournament shakes out.

(KP’s love letter to Shirai was cut for time. But also:

HEY ASSHOLES WHO GOT BROOKSIDE’S PHONE NUMBER: STOP CIRCULATING BROOKSIDE’S PHONE NUMBER. NEVER CONTACT CELEBRITIES EVER, AND NEVER SUPPORT DOXXING OF ANY KIND. THOSE WHO DO ARE SICK FUCKOS.)

Miyann: It is a squash match for Io’s introduction. Did I cry? Yes, when I realized how much WWE trusts Xia Brookside to face the Io. She’s already very good at the age of 19, what more when she gains gain more experience? I was thinking that Xia Brookside and Tessa Blanchard (from last year’s tournament) suffered the same fate, but both of them delivered a good match that can be remembered for a long time. Kudos for both women.

Ardelle: Bitin! I wanted more from both women (especially Xia!) but yeah, I guess this was just a teaser match from Io Shirai. Io made quick work of Xia in this match, but Xia has nothing to be ashamed of! She was on fire right from the get-go with her strikes to Io. And that beautiful headscissor takedown THAT IO JUST SHRUGGED OFF! Io then proceeded to murder Xia with a painful-looking meteora and her patented moonsault to move to round 2.

Io was smiling all throughout, but it wasn’t a wicked smile. It was more of a “Yes guys, look, I’m the best in the world, and it’s so much fun to be the best in the world!” She kept that air of arrogance in the entire match, and while Xia was lovable, people just couldn’t boo Io! I mean, who boos The Ace? Do you all boo Hiroshi Tanahashi (another Ace in NJPW, for those uninitiated)? No! The same goes with The Ace of joshi puroresu.

Anyway, I get what they tried to do here, but Xia, man. Her father has not seen her matches until MYC but it was in a losing effort (I'm not crying, you are crying). But she’s still 19 (!!) and is still only three years in the business (!!!), she has a bright future ahead.

Final thoughts

KP: Hmm. I’m not sure that I liked MYC 2’s first round better than last year’s. Both rounds were very much a process of elimination with a few standout matches in between. Perhaps it’s because I know so much more of the competitors this year that I was looking to confirm reports more than coming into it with pure wonder? Whatever it is, I do look forward to the second round, which is already shaping up to be something explosive.

Miyann: I’ve seen the round two teaser before watching the show and I can completely say that I am beyond excited for it to start. We have amazing matches to look forward to, like Meiko Satomura vs Mercedes Martinez! *cries in Filipino*

Ardelle: All the matches in this episode were good (save for Taynara vs. Jessie which was… eh), but it still felt lacking…? Last week’s episode had so much fire, I enjoyed it a lot. This episode felt like it passed by just to get right to the second round. I understand that the second round is the shit (MEIKO VS. MERCEDES!), but it’s important to have consistency in all episodes.

Overall, the first round was okay. It was quite a roller coaster ride because it had its ups, downs, and its meh’s. I’m still looking for another match that will knock me off my feet.

Favorite matches in Round 1?

KP: Boy, this is tough. Storm vs. Jinny and Satomura vs. Kelly are what I remember the most, but to be honest, I remember the competitors more than their matches. Shout out to Karen Q, Ripley, Kay, and Nox, the people who actually made me open YouTube to look for their other matches.

Miyann: I really loved Mia Yim vs. Allysin Kay and Xia Li vs Karen Q.

Ardelle: Since I am an indecisive Gemini (which I just realized was redundant AF), I have three favorite matches from the first round: 1) Meiko Satomura vs. Killer Kelly, 2) Toni Storm vs. Jinny, and 3) Xia Li vs. Karen Q.

It's the Round of Sweet 16, baby! What were your favorite Round 1 matches? ARE YOU HYPED FOR MEIKO SATOMURA VS. MERCEDES MARTINEZ AS WELL? Are you nodding in agreement? Violent reactions? Comment them below!

Photos from WWE.com

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