9/12 MAE YOUNG CLASSIC 2018 – EP. 2: Deonna Purazzo vs. Priscilla Kelly, Zeuxis vs. Aerial Monroe, Reina Gonzalez vs. Kacy Catanzaro

By Nate Lindberg, PWTorch contributor


Announcers: Michael Cole, Renee Young, Beth Phoenix.

-Episode two of the 2018 Mae Young Classic opened with a video package that began by hyping The First Ever All Women’s PPV WWE Evolution and recapping the first episode. It ended with the card for this weeks’ showdown.

-After the MYC intro video, Michael Cole kicked off the show by introducing his counterparts, Beth Phoenix and Renee Young before diving into the first match of the night, Deonna Purazzo vs. Priscilla Kelly. Kelly’s video package played first where she introduced herself and said that she loves to play mind games with her opponents. She said her style is a mix of technical, powerhouse and strike heavy, allowing her to adapt to her opponent’s offense. Purrazo’s introduction video followed, where she classified herself as very methodical. Clips of her NXT matches play in the background as she talks about being an alternate in last year’s MYC, and not appearing in the Classic back then drove her to travel the world to better herself. She’s very excited to get in the ring and break some arms with her armbar.

Analysis: Very similar videos to last week’s competitors, showcasing both of their strengths in the ring. Neither of them came across verbally with a large sense of intensity or drive to thrive in this tournament, but the clips shown were intriguing and action oriented which could strike a balance for the promos.

(1) Deonna Purazzo vs. Priscilla Kelly

Kayla Braxton, standing in the center of the ring welcomes the crowd and announces the next match. Purazzo makes her way to the ring to a large pop from the Full Sail crowd. The announcers spoke heavily about her experience as an alternate last year, and said this year is her chance to shine. Kelly emerged from the back and walked down the aisle with the announcers hyped her “mind games”, and can’t wait to see how she applies these cerebral games to her opponent. They also made mention of her appearances on “My Big Fat Romanian Gypsy Wedding”.

The camera cuts to Samoa Joe in the crowd, rocking his “Tom Cruise In Top Gun” aviator sunglasses, snidely smirking to the crowd. The ref signals for the ceremonial handshake, and Kelly slapped Purazzo’s hand away. The two lock up in the ring getting some back and forth offense in. Kelly takes the lead after knocking Deonna down and putting her in a head scissors. Renee called Purazzo a master of mat wrestling, as Purazzo countered the head scissors hold by performing a headstand and jumping out of it.

Analysis: That was one slick reversal by Purazzo. You could hear an audible gasp from the crowd as it happened. It certainly caught me off guard. Terrific way to get the crowd hooked from the get-go.

The two circle each other in the ring once again before locking up. After a whip to the corner reversal by Kelly to Purazzo, Purazzo crawled under Kelly’s legs and swiftly got back to her feet. They locked up, and traded some great back and forth chain wrestling, ending when Purazzo rolled up Kelly for the two count. Kelly recovered in the corner, and Purazzo locked in an armbar before Kelly got the rope break. The announcers talk about how Purazzo got into wrestling by seeing a live show at a VFW as a kid, fell in love, and immediately signed up for classes. Kelly got a massive kick on Purazzo, and made a cover. Deonna kicked at two. Kelly gets an arm drag on Purazzo, and makes another cover. After the kickout, she locked in a modified dragon sleeper on Purazzo, before quickly breaking it and making a cover.

Analysis: Gripe. How often do you see a wrestler lock in a hold on their opponent, and then they no-sell their offense while their opponent sells the move? Well, Priscilla Kelly didn’t do that. She was constantly screaming and trash talking, and really sold the offense like a mad-woman. I really liked that extra touch.

Purazzo kicked out at two, and she recovered in the corner. Kelly ran at her, but she caught Kelly in the face with a vicious sounding elbow followed by a kick to the face. Purazzo chopped her in the chest a few times, hip tossed her and then performed a standing springboard into a dropkick to Kelly’s face. She made a quick cover, and Priscilla Kelly kicked at two. Purazzo misses a clothesline, and Kelly gets the upper hand with a stiff lariat takedown into a cover. After the two count they made their way to their feet and Purazzo nails a side Russian leg sweep to Kelly and locks in her signature Fujiwara armbar. Kelly tapped, securing the victory Deonna Purazzo.

WINNER: Deonna Purazzo.

Analysis: A solid performance by both competitors. I felt like Kelly looked a bit green here and there throughout the match, but overall I thought she came across as a threat to the Full Sail favorite, Deonna Purazzo.

-After the highlights of the match replayed, Cole hypes the next match. Zeuxis vs. “The Big Swole” Aerial Monroe.

Analysis: I really hope I’m not the only one who had to Urban Dictionary the word “Swole”.

(2) Zeuxis vs. Aerial Monroe

Kicking off her video package, Monroe said that she is different than the other women, and had a certain swagger that’s never been seen before. Zeuxis’s video package was up next, where she said that she was the reality of strong style. With subtitles across the bottom of the screen, Zeuxis said in her native language that she’s ready for everything and she came here to make history and leave a mark.

Making her second shameless appearance in as many episodes, Bayley super fan, Izzy appears over the shoulder of Nattie Neidhart, who is sitting in the crowd for the match. Zeuxis makes her way to the ring first, wearing a leather jacket over her ring gear that reminded me of a cross between something Shawn Michaels and Undertaker might wear. The announcers hyped her popularity and accolades south of the US border as well as her unique mix of wrestling styles. I looked for some BenGay or Icy-Hot, but couldn’t find any before “The Big Swole” Aerial Monroe made her entrance. Then I felt guilty for making fun of the “swole” thing as Michael Cole talked about her being an Air Force veteran. Monroe’s husband, Cedric Alexander, and their child were shown ringside cheering for Monroe.

The announcers talked about Monroe’s love for cosplaying as Storm from X-Men as the bell rang to signal the start of the bout. The two lock up in the center of the ring, and Zeuxis then lands a blow to the face of Monroe. Monroe retaliates by sternly telling Zeuxis that if she “ever touches her hair again, she’ll pop her in the mouth”! That was met with a loud “OOOOOOOOHHH” from the crowd. The two trade strikes and reversals, when Zeuxis went for a dropkick that was countered by Monroe. Monroe lands a Shinsuke “KNEE TO FACE” on Zeuxis and hooks the leg for a two count. She gets Zeuxis to her feet, and Zeuxis punches her in the face before forcefully grabbing Monroe’s hair. Keeping true to her word, Monroe popped Zeuxis in the mouth. Monroe keeps trash talking a prone Zeuxis, but she got a little too close, allowing Zeuxis to land a kick to Monroe’s face.

The two make it to their feet again, and Zeuxis lands a devastating uppercut, knocking Monroe down once again. Picking her up by the hair, Zeuxis then launched Monroe into the corner, and then whipped Monroe across the ring…. By her hair!

Analysis: So far, a slow-paced match. However, the charisma of both kept the crowd engaged. The continuity of consistently grabbing Monroe’s hair is a great touch, and an excellent “short story” for a match like this.

This sends the Full Said crowd into a frenzy, chanting “Swole is gonna pop you!”, while Zeuxis continues her assault on Monroe’s hair. The announcers mention that Zeuxis found inspiration from one of my favorite video games, God of War. Zeuxis locked Monroe into an abdominal stretch, while her husband looked on from the crowd. Monroe escapes landed a crucifix pin on Zeuxis for a two count. Zeuxis recovered, and slammed Monroe to the mat by her hair. She makes a quick cover, but Monroe kicked out at two.

Zeuxis then briefly locked Monroe in a camel clutch while clawing at Monroe’s face and nose. Monroe “hulks up” and catches a stiff kick from Zeuxis, reversing it into a dragon screw-eqsue takedown. Monroe starts chanting “Swole!”, getting the support of the crowd behind her. She gets some quick offense in, and made another cover. Zeuxis kicked at two and a half, and then quickly rolled Monroe up for a two count. Monroe recovers and gets the upperhand, nailing a modified Downward Spiral/End OF Days on Zeuxis. She gets some more offense on Zeuxis in the corner, before Zeuxis reversed an attack and threw Monroe on to the top rope. The two stand precariously on the top rope, and Zeuxis performs a breathtaking top rope Spanish Fly on Monroe before scoring the pin.

WINNER: Zeuxis.

Analysis: I really enjoyed this match. For a one off match between two competitors, it can be hard to tell a story between the ropes without any sort of buildup. Continually coming back to Aerial Monroe’s hair was an excellent touch. I may have balked at the “swole” gimmick at first, but her charisma and in-ring work completely won me over in the end.

(3) Reina Gonzalez vs. Kacy Catanzaro

As Zeuxis celebrated her victory in the ring, the camera cut to Cedric Alexander in the crowd, consoling his daughter over her mother’s loss. Cole then began to hype the next match, Kacy Catanzaro vs. Reina Gonzalez. Reina’s introduction video package was up first. It heavily focused on her size and power compared to the other women, as well as her time in last year’s MYC. She said she fell short of winning last year because she was too nice. This year, she’s here to fight ugly and fight dirty to make it all the way to Evolution. Kacy’s video package played next. She said that what sets her apart from the other women was her time on American Ninja Warrior, where she was the first and only woman to complete the grueling course. Renee can be heard saying that Kacy is devoted to learning the wrestling business and honing her craft. She says she won’t let anyone get in the way of her winning this year’s Mae Young Classic.

Analysis: I’m very curious to see how Kacy performs in the Classic in her first televised match, especially against the 6’0 Reina Gonzalez.

Riott Squad members, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan are shown watching ringside for the match. Kacy made her way to the ring first, to a warm pop from the crowd. She scaled the ring post to enter the ring as a nod to her American Ninja Warrior win. The announcers hyped her up as a happy-go-lucky girl with an infectious smile that could probably kick your butt. Reina emerged from the back next, walking with a purpose to the squared circle. Boos can be heard throughout the arena, as the announcers hyped her size, power and presence in the ring. Standing next to Kacy, Reina looked like an absolute giant.

Cole made the comparison between the two, Reina standing 6’0 tall at 200lbs and Kacy a foot shorter at 5’0 and 100lbs. Kacy outstretches her arm, looking for the ceremonial handshake. Reina grabs her hand and pulls her in close, trash talking Kacy before shoving her backwards. The ref breaks it up, and rings the bell. Reina gets the advantage straight out of the gate, knocking Kacy into the corner. Kacy tries retaliating, but is quickly put in a headlock. Holding on to her head, Reina performs a reverse “Big Swing”, spinning her opponent around in the center of the ring and then tossing her across the squared circle.

Reina picked Kacy up by the head again, and threw her into the corner. Reina moved to attack again, and Kacy ducked between the ropes, standing on the apron. Gaining an audible gasp from the crowd, Kacy maneuvers herself into a stalling handstand grasping nothing but the top rope. She swung her body around, and delivered a head scissors take down to the giant Reina, who fell into the corner. Reina gains the upper hand once again and put Kacy up on her shoulders, but the nimble American Warrior countered. She went for a head scissors takedown again or possibly an octopus stretch, but could not bring Reina to the mat. Instead, Reina countered with a nasty backbreaker on her knee. Reina choked Kacy on the 2nd rope, and then picked her up and whipped her into the corner, kicking her over and over until Kacy went down.

Analysis: Thus far, I was impressed with Kacy. She looked like a natural in the ring, and bumped well for Reina. A classic David vs. Goliath story, delivered well. Her agility as a Ninja Warrior competitor and gymnast really shined through and seemingly transitioned into the ring very well.

Reina picked Kacy up and delivered a front slam into a cover for the first attempted pin of the bout. Kacy narrowly kicked out. Reina continued to punish Kacy, as the crowd firmly gets behind the Ninja Warrior. Just when it looked like Kacy was about to get some offense in, she was met with a clubbing blow to the back from Reina. Reina continued to toss Kacy around the ring like a ragdoll, over and over again. Reina lands a powerful scoop slam and hooked the leg but couldn’t keep the resiliant Kacy down. Reina lands a massive elbow drop and made another unsuccessful cover.

Screaming in frustration, Reina picked up Kacy again and threw her into the corner. She went for a spear, but Kacy dodged sending Reina shoulder first into the ring post. Reina quickly recovered and went for an elbow drop but missed when Kacy rolled out of the way. Kacy landed three dropkicks to Reina’s knee, sending Reina into the middle rope – as if she was setting up for a 619. Kacy lept over the top rope out to the floor, grabbing Reina’s head along the way for a hangman. Hangwoman?

Kacy climbed to the apron as Reina made her way back to her feet. The Ninja Warrior showed off her skills by spring boarding to the top rope, and nailed a near perfect dropkick to the giant Reina sending her to the mat. Kacy then nailed a standing senton to the back of Reina, and hooked the leg but Reina kicked at two and a half. Reina retaliated by picking Kacy up by the head in an attempt to slam her to the mat, but Kacy countered with a quick roll up for the 1, 2, 3.

WINNER: Kacy Catanzaro

Analysis: Kacy definitely showed potential in this lopsided match. She garnered sympathy from the crowd during her multiple beatings by Reina, telling a great story. Overall, impressed with both women.

-After the match, Reina extended her hand for a handshake. Kacy goes to accept, and once again Reina pulled her in close. Instead of attacking, she hoisted Kacy up on her right shoulder and pointed at Kacy as a sign of respect. She celebrated in the ring with Kacy as the camera cut to the announcers talking about how well the tournament has gone so far, and the road to Evolution. Up next was Ashley Rayne vs. Mercedes Martinez.

(4) Ashley Rayne vs. Mercedes Martinez

-Martinez’s video package played first, heavily playing up her role in last year’s tournament where she lost to Shayna Baszler in the semifinals. She said this year, she’s not here to lose. Her goals haven’t been met yet, and this year will be the year she goes all the way. Rayne’s video was up next. She said she is normally a smiley and happy person, but once something gets under her skin, she snaps. The 13 year vet talked about how she’s worked so hard to get here, and nothing will get in her way.

-The Undisputed Era was shown ringside for the match. Rayne made her way to the ring first to a lukewarm reaction from the crowd. All smiles, she entered the ring as the announcers hyped her accolades outside of the WWE. Martinez music hit, garnering a loud cheer from the crowd. She intensely made her way to the ring as the announcers talked about how the 18 year veteran wrestler works two jobs to support her family, wrestling when she can.

-The two shared a respectful handshake in the center of the ring, as the ref called for the bell. They circled each other in the ring as the crowd chanted for Mercedes. Back and forth, the two grappled on the mat reversing each other’s offense. They made their way to their feet, chain wrestling until Rayne got the upper hand, rolling up Martinez, who kicked out at 1. As Martinez struggled to her feet, Rayne locked in a headlock, only to be countered by Martinez who picked her up and gave her an impressive overhead belly to belly suplex into a cover for the two count. Martinez maintained the upper hand with a chin lock, working the neck of her opponent.

Analysis: A slow start to the match, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The crowd was solidly behind Martinez here, and they were definitely engaged in the action. The slow build worked well, and built anticipation for what was yet to come.

-Rayne eventually escaped the hold, reversing into a pin for the two count. Rayne kept the offense going, trying to nail a springboard arm drag off of her opponent. However, Martinez countered into a gnarly looking modified brain buster/piledriver-esque move – something I can’t recall seeing before. She made the cover, but Rayne kicked at two and a half. Martinez locked in a front full nelson face lock, attempting to get Rayne to tap. Rayne looked like she was about to escape, when Martinez locked it in even harder. Rayne gets the rope break, and Martinez broke the hold. The two fight into the corner, and Martinez went for a running splash on Rayne, who ducked out of the way sending Martinez into the turnbuckles.

-Rayne set Martinez up for a tornado DDT, but it was blocked by Martinez with a 10+ second stalling suplex. She went for another suplex, but Rayne countered into an RKO style neckbreaker and made the cover for two. Rayne followed it up with a pair of clotheslines into another cover for two. Martinez retaliates with a powerful spinebuster into a rollup pin for the two count. Martinez was looking for a fishermen’s suplex, but Rayne countered with a forearm to the face and chops to the chest, knocking Martinez down. Martinez recovered, but is met with a lariat and a neckbreaker by Rayne. Martinez recovered in the corner and was met with a jumping clothesline by Rayne. Rayne goes up top, and nailed a cross body on her opponent.

-She gets right back on the attack, and landed a rear-naked guillotine drop on Martinez. Martinez sold the offense, while the crowd was cheering for Martinez to get off the mat. After some back and forth offense, Martinez went for a fishermen’s suplex again, but got rolled up by Rayne for the two count. Rayne then nailed Martinez with an enziguri and maintained the offensive for a moment, but Martinez finally landed her signature Fishermen’s suplex, and then into a cover for the win.

WINNER: Mercedes Martinez

Analysis: A hard fought battle between both women. Equal offense throughout, and both competitors looked very strong. Mercedes’ offense came off as more hard hitting, but just barely as Rayne really laid her stuff in. They never lost the crowd, and put on one hell of a performance.

Overall Analysis: Another solid episode of the Mae Young Classic. I was very impressed with Kacy Catanzaro considering her lack of wrestling experience. Each match told their own unique (to this episode, anyway) story, and kept the crowd entertained throughout.

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 9/5 MAE YOUNG CLASSIC 2018 – EP. 1: Zatar vs. Tegan Nox, Rhea Ripley vs. M.J. Jenkins, Lacey Lane vs. Vanessa Kraven, Meiko Satomura vs. Killer Kelly

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