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Mae Young Classic Episode Two: Welcome to the Jungle

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We are welcomed to the continuation of Round One by a Mauro Ranallo voiceover. Mauro just gives everything a big fight feel, so it was nice to see him involved somehow. These next four matches feature women that have been on tremendous journeys to get to the WWE.

Episode Two: Welcome to the Jungle

Match One: Mercedes Martinez versus Xia Li

A 16-year veteran versus a woman in her very first match, advantage has to be with Mercedes in this one. Xia Li may have stood out in her tryout, but Mercedes has worked her way up to be on this platform, where she should have been a long time ago honestly.

We don’t start with a handshake in this one folks, Mercedes plays the intimidation card, by using a “Kung Fu” stance. I love Mercedes in this match because the WWE Universe finally gets to see what I’ve seen for years, she’s really, really good and she knows it.

Xia Li, while inexperienced, has tremendously effective kicks that took down the more experienced Mercedes. Xia did her homework, which any other competitor she may have thrown off, but Mercedes is world-class.

After Xia kicked out of a spine buster, Mercedes put her away with an impressive modified sleeper hold. Xia made an impressive showing, but Mercedes has too much ring awareness to be taken out this early.

Match Two: Rachel Evers versus Marti Belle

Rachel Evers, daughter of Paul Ellering, being in this tournament put a big smile on my face. She has not been wrestling for long, but she’s hungry and determined; which shows every time she steps foot in the squared circle. While she is the Queen of Strong Smile, don’t let that smile fool you! Rachel is powerful and will defeat you all with a
smile on her face.

Marti Belle will be very familiar to fans of Shimmer and TNA Wrestling (GFW/Impact). Marti has been around enough places that she has mastered the art of playing mind games with her opponent. Marti is a heel and will try to get under your skin, like she did with Rachel in this match.

While Marti was playing mind games, Rachel continued to find her strength and power. I don’t have too much to say about this match, which is not a knock on the two women in it, but ultimately I don’t think it was a good fit style wise. Rachel is very hard-hitting and powerful, but Marti has a lot of spunk. It just didn’t really click for me, but seeing Rachel move on to the second round, winning by inside cradle, was amazing. A lot of happy faces in Full Sail, including Kassius Ohno.

Match Three: Rhea Ripley versus Miranda Salinas

I fell in love with Rhea Ripley in this match, well really as soon as she made her entrance. As soon as her music hits, you just feel ready to take on the world. Rhea at only 20 years old sure is taking over. Rhea’s opponent, Miranda, is no slouch having been trained by Booker T.

This is a fun match up, both woman have their own swagger and spunk, but the height difference is what makes it for me. Miranda is almost a foot shorter than Rhea, doesn’t back down. Sassy and resourceful it seems Miranda will do whatever it takes to win, but Rhea is so mature and collected in the ring that not much phases her. As Rhea said in her prematch video, she ripped Miranda apart, kick after kick, finishing the match with a full nelson slam. This match had to make people take notice of Rhea, not just because of her height, but because of her maturity. At 20-years-old I was nowhere near as mature as Rhea, she has a real bright future.

Match Four: Mia Yim versus Sarah Logan

This is my top match of the first round. Two women with faces and backgrounds that the WWE Universe should know really well. Not surprising with both their independent wrestling backgrounds, this is not the first match between them. I love that this match gave me Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa feels from the CWC. I respect both women so much, that rooting for one was difficult and having to see one be knocked out of the tournament was upsetting.

Sitting at Full Sail, I knew from the beginning of the match how important this one would wind up being. This was a long time coming for Mia Yim, she was going to come out fierce, guns blazing. Sarah Logan on the other hand wanted nothing more to put a stop to Mia’s time in the WWE. Both being so experienced this match up was going to
be physical and boy was it. With Mia’s hard kicks versus Sarah’s Kentucky strength, the best match you could have asked for. As a fan I didn’t want it to end, the intensity in Full Sail was amazing.

If you only watch one match from episode two, make it this one. The sequence of Mia and Sarah exchanging open palm strikes in the middle of the ring is my favorite part besides seeing Mia’s reaction after hitting Eat Defeat and getting the win. Stay woke on Mia Yim because—god she is good.

I'm more awesome than the Miz and like to think I'm a cupcake like Candice LeRae (she's way cooler than I am). British Wrestling stole my heart and I don't think I'll ever get it back. I blame British Strong Style, probably.

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