With the finals in the bag, the 2017 inaugural Mae Young Classic tournament has come to a close, which means it’s time for another 3-Count reaction and a Smack Talk Pay-Per-Viewpoint review podcast!
For this edition’s 3-Count, let’s do a little round of Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light—effectively, what was a big positive, something mediocre in the middle of the road, and a big negative of the show.
Red Light = Marti Belle vs. Rachel Evers
The standout stinker of the entire tournament to me wasn’t Lita’s lackluster commentary or the annoyance of hearing “Missile” by Dorothy over and over to beyond an annoyingly repetitious level, but it was the match between Rachel Evers and Marti Belle.
Since this was a first round match and early on in the tournament, it put a damper on my mood that needed a few more segments to be turned around, and it had me wondering if the rest of the women who hadn’t been showcased yet were going to follow suit with matches that were equally as bad.
Belle vs. Evers was so awkward and later on, we would see Evers have a much better match in round 2 with Abbey Laith, so was this entirely Belle’s fault or were their wires just crossed in a strange way?
There seems to be some speculation that Belle was supposed to win the match, but it was changed midway through because of how poor things were going down. I don’t necessarily believe that, but it’s certainly a possibility, because Belle came off like she was the less experienced of the two despite Evers being very much a rookie.
Mostly all of the matches in the tournament were decent if not very good, but this one was the worst by far as it came off like two people practicing choreography in a test run, going through the motions slowly and getting hanged up on a few transitions.
I expected more after hearing about Marti Belle from TNA beforehand, where she was one of the only names I recognized.
Yellow Light = Release Schedule
I’m not quite sure what to make of this, which is why it has to go into this category.
On one hand, I can see some major benefits to how these episodes were released. On the other hand, I had some definite problems.
As far as the pros go, it’s hard to argue against the concept of binging being a popular viewing methodology, as that’s a mere fact nowadays. Lots of people just would rather set aside a single night or day to watch a lot of television in one shot rather than spread it out over the course of many weeks.
If you work a schedule that only allows for that type of viewing, then this was probably so much better for you. I, on the other hand, had numerous problems.
One of those issues was how it was just overkill of wrestling. To watch Raw for 3 hours, SmackDown for 2 hours, 205 Live for an hour and an hour of NXT at the bare minimum (cause who watches Main Event?) and then have to binge all of the episodes that were released that week as quickly as possible was way too hard to do, and I found myself legitimately frustrated at things like the bracketology special where I felt like it wasted my time.
There wasn’t much time given to binge these, it was on fast-forward to the finish line, so there was also not enough room to breathe with the tournament. I kind of felt like it was just as rushed as the United Kingdom Championship tournament, where it was frustrating to consume everything in one shot and then it was suddenly over.
The Cruiserweight Classic might have annoyed people in the sense of it being stretched out for too many months, but I felt like I was just watching another television show. This made me feel like I was scrambling to catch up on a series before the season finale hit.
Also, it’s hard to get too invested in these pre-taped tournaments when you know the finals before you even get an opportunity to watch the very first match, since they taped these weeks before they released episode #1.
However, you can make the argument that unless you’re running a website like myself, you didn’t have to read the spoilers and you could have enjoyed everything as if you didn’t know. I envy those people.
In the future, I can see a major benefit in the binge concept, but this particular execution of taping weeks in advance and then throwing everything in a short time frame before the finale was way too hectic and I hope WWE tweaks it considerably for the next tournament.
Green Light = Influx of Talent
By far the biggest positive to come out of this tournament is going to be the talent scouting portion of it.
Out of the 32 women involved, I think there’s a spot on the roster for nearly two-thirds of them—some of which already have contracts with WWE, thankfully.
Obviously, Kairi Sane is someone to look out for in the future, but we had Candice LeRae, Jazzy Gabert, Mercedes Martinez, Piper Niven, Santana Garrett, Tessa Blanchard, Toni Storm and Mia Yim as some examples of women not currently signed to WWE who definitely need to be given contracts as soon as possible.
Then, there are the women from NXT who have made some sporadic appearances here and there, but really made their true debuts here, like Lacey Evans, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley and Dakota Kai who are going to be incredible talents and staples of the women’s division in WWE for a long time to come.
Just as what happened with the Cruiserweight Classic, this was almost a mass job interview that could result in tons of hirings, similar to when a new Walmart opens and you’re in the sudden need of dozens of employees.
The more talent that gets signed, the more flexibility there is to expanding women’s wrestling into its own show (if there’s enough of a market for it and the budget can sustain it) or at the very least, strengthening the main roster and the NXT crew by having many more options to play around with, rather than being forced to have only 4-5 women per roster that the company ever wants to focus any attention on.
There were so many impressive women in this tournament that WWE can tap it for resources in all sorts of ways, even when it comes to hiring veterans like Mercedes Martinez as trainers for the WWE Performance Center or bringing Shayna Baszler into the fold to help usher in that Four Horsewomen vs. Four Horsewomen match we all know WWE desperately wants to do.