SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE MAE YOUNG CLASSIC – LIVE FINALE REPORT
SEPTEMBER 12, 2017
LAS VEGAS, NEV. AT THOMAS AND MACK CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Jim Ross and Lita at ringside, Lilian Garcia in the ring.
Guests at Ringside: RONDA ROUSEY and one member of the UFC HORSEWOMEN, DANA WARRIOR, BETH PHOENIX, ALUNDRA BLAZE, MAURO RANALLO, PIPER NEVIN, CANDICE LERAE, TONI STORM, MERCEDES MARTINEZ, CHARLOTTE, BECKY LYNCH, and BAYLEY.
The finale kicked off with a promo video voiced by Mauro Ranallo highlighting the tournament road. Finalists Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler were both featured in the hype video to build the show. They then cut to the live crowd in Las Vegas with Renee Young as the master of ceremonies. The audience appeared to be just as full as it was when SmackDown Live went off the air.
Young’s first job was to cue a video that highlighted the Mae Young Classic red carpet event. The video included interviews from Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, actors from the G.L.O.W Netflix series, and Ronda Rousey.
Renee Young then said that you could feel the excitement in the arena before throwing the broadcast down to JR and Lita at ringside who further promoted the journey of both Baszler and Sane in the tournament. As JR spoke about that journey, Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler were shown preparing backstage.
Another promo video aired highlighting both competitors. Much of the footage shown already aired throughout the tournament, but there was some unique clips as well. Baszler really seemed to play up a heel role and said that nobody can work a body part like she can. Sane said that wrestling is her world and that Baszler simply doesn’t know what she’s getting in to.
MAE YOUNG CLASSIC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP – SHAYNA BASZLER vs. KAIRI SANE
Shayna Baszler made her way to the ring first to a very tempered reaction from the Las Vegas audience. Baszler looked confident and quite comfortable as she entered the ring. Kairi Sane came out next decked out in her typical pirate queen getup. The audience popped nicely for her and she looked like a veteran walking to the ring. Sane got on the turnbuckle for her pose which got a very nice pop from the crowd. Overall, the audience didn’t appear to fully know each competitor, but they seemed genuinely interested and invested in what they were watching.
Lilian Garcia announced both Baszler and Sane which the crowd really loved. Her lines seemed to hit home. Garcia’s introductions yielded boos for Baszler and cheers for Sane. Clearly, they had a nice heel/babyface dichotomy to work with if they wanted to. Both shook hands and the bell rang for the match to begin.
Sane and Baszler tied up to start the match with the crowd entrenched in a duel chant for both of them. Sane attempted a tie up again but failed as Baszler took her down and attacked with strikes to the head. Then they both attempted a variety of pinning combinations on each other before Baszler requested a test of strength. Sane agreed and Baszler immediately took her down and connected with a stiff kick. After some stalling, Sane went back on the attack but was met with a thunderous kick that sent her to the outside of the ring. Sane attempted to get back in but Baszler delivered another kick to her back. She then went to the outside of the ring and threw Sane back in for a cover and the first two count of the match. Baszler then locked in wrist lock that made Sane scream in pain. Baszler had the clear momentum here and she had it in a very heelish way. That heel heat allowed for the crowd to start chanting exclusively for Sane. Baszler kept the momentum going by countering not one, but two spears by Sane. She then hit Sane with a double gut wrench suplex, followed by another pinfall attempt, and then another submission.
Baszler did a nice job and looked very strong to this point. Sane did some wonderful selling to keep the crowd on her side. From there, Sane once again attempted to shift momentum by destroying Baszler with some double hand chops. Baszler no sold the first couple but then was chopped down to her knees against the ropes. Sane looked to capitalize with a running neckbreaker, but Baszler countered again. After some show boating by Baszler, Sane finally nailed her spear which the crowd loved. Now the momentum was on the side of Sane. She connected with a nice running forearm and a dropkick before locking in a submission to work over Baszler’s ribs which she already hurt with the spear. Baszler powered out with stiff punches to the face. Baszler then crawled to the corner and sold the ribs effectively in doing so. Sane went for another forearm smash but it was countered by Baszler who still sold those ribs. Sane then went to the top rope for her Insane Elbow which was countered by Baszler’s rear naked sleeper.
Sane was in that hold for quite a long time before she escaped by punching Baszler’s injured ribs. Because Baszler was in so much pain, she had to relinquish the hold. With Baszler’s ribs hurt, Sane looked to capitalize again by going to the top rope. Baszler followed and tried to hit Sane with a superplex. Sane countered and the two exchanged punches while on the turnbuckle which the crowd popped for. While on the top rope, Baszler locked in a double wrist lock. Sane punched out and connected with a double foot stomp to Baszler’s injured ribs, covered, and received a two count. I really liked Baszler’s selling here as she looked to be in real pain. From there, Sane connected with her running forearm and then went to the top for her Insane Elbow. She connected for the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Sane at 12:14 – After the match, JR worked hard to sell the rib injury that Baszler competed with. Both Sane and Baszler embraced after Sane’s hand was raised.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This match surprised me because it was booked backwards from how I expected it to go. That is a good thing in my eyes. My expectation was that Baszler would have been the one to be standing tall after working over a body part on Sane throughout the match to showcase her aggressiveness and dominance. Instead, Sane was the one to do that and the whole thing still worked perfectly. The way they constructed this match allowed both women to shine in their own ways, while also being elevated to the next level in the WWE. From a tactical match standpoint, I thought both women were crisp and owned their time on offense effectively. On the flip side, when needed, they both sold well to put over the offense they just took. This was especially true of Baszler who for the majority of the time in the back half of the match sold her injured ribs by not only holding them but by utilizing a grimacing facial expression to further show the crowd how much pain she was in. Sane once again looked amazing and that elbow drop is going to make her a rich woman. Due to Ronda Rousey’s inevitable involvement with WWE, Baszler is going to get a major push and be a star in the company. That is a foregone conclusion. I think the WWE realized that with this platform tonight they could make Kairi Sane an equally big star by giving her this win. Based on the crowd reaction, that realization payed off as the audience clearly enjoyed Sane and wanted her to be victorious. All in all, I really enjoyed the match. Both women were entering a live arena that had been tired out with two plus hours of dramatic television on SmackDown Live. That audience could have easily phoned it in and sat on their hands. Baszler and Sane together gave them a reason not to and will be popular faces on WWE TV in the recent future.
Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Sara Amato awarded the trophy to Kairi Sane in the ring. Becky, Charlotte, and Bayley all took pictures of the great moment from their ringside seats. Baszler was shown rolling out of the ring and being helped to the back. With her flowers, Sane stood on the turnbuckle and posed to the fans who cheered appreciatively as the show went off the air.
This finale was the perfect way to end a really great tournament. For one thing, it wasn’t overly long and drawn out. The WWE hyped it up an appropriate amount and let the women do their talking in the ring. I loved that aspect to it. The focus was on the wrestlers the entire time and not just in this finale, but throughout all the other rounds as well. It remains to be seen whether or not this tournament helped generate business for the WWE. Regardless, it is a nice feather in the cap for the WWE Network and my hope is this type of programming is constant for years to come.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS REPORT: 9/11 Mae Young Classic – Recap Special Report: Triple H makes special appearance on last night’s post-Raw primer for tonight’s finals