Episode Three: Queens of the World
Match One: Toni Storm versus Ayesha Raymond
I’m going to preface this match by saying that I really love Toni Storm, a lot. Now that I’ve said that, Ayesha Raymond is a beast! Going into this match I knew a lot about Toni through PROGRESS, but nothing about Ayesha. If this tournament is going to do anything for you as a fan let it be discovering amazing talent from countries you never would have watched before.
Ayesha has the height and quite possibly out powers Toni in this one, but Toni plays it super cool and relaxed. One of the things I love most about Toni Storm is how focused, yet relaxed she is in the ring. Ayesha tried to get in her head by avoiding the handshake at the start, but Toni keeps being as cool as the other side of the pillow. If you’ve ever watched any of Toni’s matches prior to this tournament, she is really good at escaping from holds; case in point Ayesha has Toni in a headlock, Toni escapes by a sort of headstand move. I’ll say it all the time talking about Toni, as I already have stated she’s cool.
Throughout the match, Ayesha gets in some good offense, but little mistakes cost her. She finds herself in the middle of a Toni Storm signature hip attack, which is brilliant every time Toni executes it.
Now the end of the match comes off as a tad weird to me, I’m still not quite sure why it ended like it did. We get to a spot in the match where Toni is down on the mat and Ayesha goes to the corner for a high risk move. All of a sudden she jumps down, yells at the crowd and switches corners, heel move in every sense of the way I know. Ayesha eventually misses her high risk move and Toni gets the pin because of the miss. The end of this was a miss for me just because we didn’t get Toni’s pile driver finisher, which is amazing, and the finish seemed rushed. But overall, Toni and Ayesha worked really well together and put on a stellar match.
Match Two: Dakota Kai versus Kavita Devi
This is a match of women who are the first women signees from their respective countries of New Zealand and India. Kavita is very powerful in comparison, Dakota is very small.
Kavita was in control for the majority of this match. Dakota’s arm was Kavita’s main focus. Anytime Dakota tried to mount some offense, Kavita would simply swat her away. While Kavita’s power and height are her biggest strengths, they also turned out to be her biggest weakness. After executing an impressive military press, the rookie did not keep the pressure on Dakota, giving her time to catch her breath. The little mistake proved costly, as Dakota used her quickness and amazing kicks to take Kavita off her feet. Your winner with a run around kick into a top rope double stomp: Dakota Kai!
Dakota took a beating during this match, which could be a factor into her second round match up against Rhea Ripley.
Match Three: Bianca Belair versus Sage Beckett
Two of NXT’s up and comers, two of the best the women’s division has to offer fighting to move on. I love Sage Beckett and her story, I highly recommend watching her video on WWE’s website. Sage has been through a lot to get to the stage she is at, she’s amazing. Bianca considers herself the EST of NXT and its hard to argue that, she’s good, real good.
Surprisingly, I thought even with style differences and size differences between the two, that this was a fairly even match. Both ladies got to show the WWE Universe what they are all about. Sage showed her naturally raw and vicious side; Bianca showed why she is the best. For me, the downfall with this match, is a character aspect, I don’t think Bianca should be able to use her braid as a weapon. Bianca has an amazing move set and I believe using her hair in a match with no repercussions, takes away from what she can really do. Hopefully throughout the rest of the tournament her hair won’t be a factor.
Winner by spear: Bianca Belair
Match Four: Piper Niven vs Santana Garrett
This match gives me goosebumps just writing about it. I have been blessed to attend some really good matches at Full Sail in the past year, this may just be my favorite. As soon as Piper came out, Full Sail felt so different, it felt like Full Sail was really ready for something special to happen. Then, our own wonder woman made her entrance.
Once the bell rang these ladies were off. Santana is quick, works hard in the ring, but Piper is quick as well. We start with a semi clean break in the corner from Piper who gave a little tap on the chin to Santana. Santana uses her ring awareness to get Piper into a submission, but Piper uses her strength and quickness to drop Santana. When Piper hits you, or drops you there is no time for recovery, Piper quickly follows up every strike.
This match had everything, every time you thought there would be a three count you were wrong. Full Sail was on the edge of their seats every pin attempt and on their feet for every big move. One of Santana’s biggest moves of the match was move Trish Stratus would use, the Stratusphere, Full Sail went nuts. I thought Piper was done for after this move, but her strength and drive to win is off the charts. With an amazing michinoku driver, Piper moves on to round two.
Santana versus Piper is my match of the first round. I have been asked by friends and people on Twitter what my must see matches of the first round were, this is it. Piper and Santana deserved the recognition they got, it felt like a once in a lifetime match.
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