Round 1 of the 2018 Mae Young Classic has officially wrapped up, and although the results have been known for several weeks due to the entire tournament minus the finals being pre-taped, all we knew ahead of time were the results, not the specifics.
For many people like myself, this tournament was the first exposure I had to a good number of the women involved who haven’t been in WWE in the past. Even with regards to the talent who were already in the developmental system, I wasn’t too familiar with them, so they weren’t too far off from a first impression.
As such, I wanted to keep track of my thoughts going through all of the matches and taking note of the superstars who stood out from the pack, my initial judgment of how they all fared in comparison to each other, and so on—particularly for those who may be on the fence about whether or not to watch and could use a little info on at least one person’s opinion of who to look out for going forward.
Here is my breakdown of round 1’s matches and participants:
Tegan Nox defeated Zatara – Not really all that wowed by Zatara, but boy do I like Tegan Nox, and I hate to know what happens to her later. Nox strikes me as the type of person they could really put the title on in NXT or make an even bigger deal out of in NXT UK. Zatara…well…not so much.
Rhea Ripley defeated MJ Jenkins – I had higher hopes for Rhea Ripley after last year and I don’t think she’s matched them. She might be coming into her own style (which I hate, by the way) but I was actually more impressed by MJ Jenkins, who in one match has me convinced that she’ll be a star MUCH more than Ripley. I hope we see some great things from Jenkins in the future.
Lacey Lane defeated Vanessa Kraven – I’m not quite feeling Lacey Lane as I think I’m supposed to be, by now. She comes off to me like a pet project of sorts, but there’s a lot going on and I don’t know if it all syncs up. Kraven has a unique look, which could help her stand out, even though she’s already going to be forgotten about by the end of this episode.
Meiko Satomura defeated Killer Kelly – Satomura struck me right from the start as the type of person who was in this tournament to be “the veteran who loses”, similar to Princesa Sugehit from last year. Killer Kelly, I haven’t seen much of, but I’m hoping she impresses me more in the UK division over time. To be honest, though, both of these women didn’t really move the meter for me and I would have rather seen someone else advance.
Deonna Purrazzo defeated Priscilla Kelly – Deonna has it, and even though she doesn’t win, she’ll have a good shot at making it in WWE proper. Priscilla…well, not as much. She may have some potential in the future, but with pretty much every move, I felt like it was obvious who was the more seasoned of the two, for sure. Maybe she’s just someone who “looks kind of like Paige” and that’s her only real claim for notoriety? I hope I’m wrong about that.
Zeuxis defeated Aerial Monroe – What’s up with the music they picked for Zeuxis? The styles don’t mix. The same for the leather jacket. Even with all that going on to get some attention for Zeuxis, Monroe was able to strike me as more interesting and like she had more personality in two seconds with less effort. Monroe’s verbal skills were the highlight.
Kacy Catanzaro defeated Reina González – I still don’t get the chaps on Reina. Also, I’m so glad they booked the height difference like that. Kacy is SO tiny. Good lord. Both were very green and will need lots of time to get to the level of the regular NXT roster. There’s more of an excuse for Kacy, but for Reina, she should be better than this after a full year.
Mercedes Martinez defeated Ashley Rayne – How did they not sign Martinez after last year’s performances? She’s my favorite of both years and I want her to have a spot in WWE so bad. It’s a travesty if she doesn’t get put onto NXT right after this tournament is over. She could be the main heel there, for sure. Rayne was someone I wanted to be in WWE back in the past, but I think this might be all that we see of that. Maybe I just wanted The Beautiful People in general and not necessarily Rayne herself.
Kaitlyn defeated Kavita Devi – In my opinion, Kaitlyn looked so, so much better before in terms of both aesthetics and performance-wise. For being someone who is a returning champion, she wasn’t all that more impressive than the people who have only wrestled a few matches in the Performance Center. Kavita doesn’t have the type of character to do the handshake diss thing. That was weird. Devi might not have improved pretty much at all since before. It’s really coming off like WWE wants to have a tall Indian woman on the roster more than they want Kavita Devi herself.
Toni Storm defeated Jinny – Toni Storm is so good, always. It’s a shame she’ll be wrestling on NXT UK and not on the main roster, as she could really be a major star in WWE and the NXT UK platform won’t give her the same ability to reach the same heights. Jinny is much better suited for that “I’m not going to shake your hand” thing than Kavita Devi. I feel like there’s something missing about Jinny, but that she’ll find it, and it might just be a matter of her getting a little lost in the shuffle of so many women in a giant influx. I do think she has a future, though, even if she’s far eclipsed by Storm.
Xia Li defeated Karen Q – Right out of the gate, Xia Li has improved so much even in just her entrance. She looks much more confident and entertaining than last year. This whole martial arts face-off at the beginning was one of the more interesting things in the first round for me, oddly enough. Suddenly, I’m invested in Xia Li, when I was ready to write her off as a release last year. Not much to say about Karen Q. She played her part well and didn’t stand out positively or negatively.