10/24 MAE YOUNG CLASSIC 2018 – EP. 8: Toni Storm vs. Meiko Satomura and Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley as winners head to Evolution

By Nate Lindberg, PWTorch Contributor

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Announcers: Michael Cole, Renee Young, Beth Phoenix.

-The semifinals of the Mae Young Classic are here!  The show kicked off with a video package recapping this year’s Classic, focusing on the quarterfinals from last week and then the matchups for tonight’s episode.

-Michael Cole welcomes the audience and introduced Renee Young and Beth Phoenix. The announcers hyped the upcoming contests.

(1) Toni Storm vs. Meiko Satomura

A video package played hyping the match. It started with highlights of Toni Storm’s successes and victories in the classic this year. Storm said that Satomura is the best wrestler in the world, and it won’t be easy because people don’t just beat Satomura. In Japanese, Satomura said that she had a match with Storm once before in Japan and that it ended in a draw. All she can think of is beating Storm. Storm said that this is her dream, and she will find a way to win.

-Storm made her way to the ring first, to an explosive reaction from the crowd. “Toni! Toni!” chants broke out as the announcers hyped her wins, and how dangerous she is in the ring. Satomura came out next to a mixed reaction. Cole reiterated her status as a Japanese legend, and the “final boss” of women’s wrestling in Japan. Cole goofed, and said that this is the first time these two have met in the ring, minutes after Satomura acknowledged they fought once before in Japan.

-The two met in the center of the ring for a handshake. The crowd cheered as the bell rang. They stared at one another from across the ring for a moment before locking up. They traded arm holds, before Satomura took Storm to the mat with a headlock into a pin, for a one count. Storm escaped and applied a headlock of her own, rolling into a cover which Satomura kicked out of at one and a half.

-Satomura escaped, and immediately locked in a head scissors on Storm. Storm struggled out, and reapplied the side headlock. Satomura escaped again, into a headlock of her own. Storm escaped, and was met with a swift kick to the chest. The two circled each other in the ring once again and tied up.

-Storm continued working the neck and shot Satomura off the ropes. She went for a shoulder block, and Satomura barely flinched. Storm went for a second shoulder block, and literally bounced off Satomura who stood tall. Storm landed a big boot to knock Satomura off her base and to the mat. She covered, and Satomura kicked at one.

-Storm delivered a series of kicks to a prone Satomura. She gets Satomura to her feet and head-butts her, sending Satomura reeling. Another head-butt into a cover for two. Storm hit a suplex for another two count. Satomura fought back with swift kicks to the hamstrings repeatedly before locking in a modified figure four leg lock. Storm was writhing in pain, trying to escape but Satomura reconfigured the hold and kept Storm incapacitated until Storm barely reached the ropes.

-Satomura continued the assault on the legs and hamstrings, while Storm sold the offense by having trouble getting to her feet. Satomura whipped Storm into the corner and followed it up with a forearm to the face. She locked the waist of Storm, possibly looking for a German suplex, but Storm fired back and escaped. Satomura ran the ropes and hit a spinning heel kick to take Storm down again.

-Satomura landed a series of uppercuts, when Storm blocked one and countered into a back-slide pin attempt for two. She then immediately went for a modified STF on Satomura, who desperately tried to escape. Storm had the hold applied for quite some time, bringing Satomura back to the center of the ring each time she squirmed her way closer to the ropes. Screaming in pain, Satomura finally was able to get to the ropes to break the hold.

-Storm went back on the offensive, and landed a hip attack in the corner into a bridging fisherman’s suplex for a near fall. Satomura rolled out of the ring towards the ramp to catch her breath. Storm looked around at the crowd and then ran the ropes for a suicide dive, taking Satomura out. Storm appeared to hurt her elbow in the dive. A chant that sounded like “Meiko’s Busted!” as the two struggle to get back to the ring before the count of 10. Back in the ring, Storm hit a Shining Wizard for a very near fall.

-Storm was selling the elbow, so she threw repeated kicks to Satomura’s face. Each kick enraged Satomura until she finally unleashed on Storm with a series of strikes and kicks, before landing a DDT. She then ran the ropes, did a handspring and landed a knee to the back of a prone Storm’s head. She picked Storm up looking for the Death Valley Driver and drove Storm to the mat. One – Two – Thr…. NOT TODAY! Storm kicked out at 2 and 7/8ths, garnering a major pop from the Full Sail crowd.

-Stunned, Satomura briefly argued with the ref and waited in the corner for Storm to get up. Satomura went to attack, and Storm blocked it with a German Suplex into Storm Zero. One – Two – Thr… NOT TODAY! Satomura barely kicked out! Renee exclaimed “This is Women’s Wrestling!” as the crowd broke out into “This is awesome!” chants.

-Storm makes it to her feet and tried setting up another Storm Zero. Satomura wiggled out of it, hit a Pele kick and followed it up with a boot to the face. She rolled Storm up for a two count. Satomura got up, ran the ropes and delivered this thunderous kick to the back of Storm’s head. She rolled storm up again, and Storm once again found the strength to kick out before the third count.

-The crowd was going wild as Satomura taunted a nearly defeated Storm. She picked Storm up for the Death Valley Driver once again, but Storm countered and hit Storm Zero for the outstanding win.

WINNER: Toni Storm

Analysis: I would have expected no less from these two incredible athletes. Storm held her own against the Japanese veteran, and certainly earned her spot in the finals. They never once lost the crowd, even during the slow start to the match and told a great story: The “final boss” of Japan slowly getting conquered, as the up and coming star forced her to stare at the lights. One of the most entertaining matches of the entire Classic.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S WADE KELLER PRO WRESTLING PODCAST “THURSDAY FLAGSHIP” – PWTorch VIP Analyst Todd Martin joined Wade to preview Evolution including Mae Young Classic semi-finals and predictions on finals.

-Listen on Stitcher: CLICK HERE
-Listen on Apple Podcasts: CLICK HERE
-Or search “Wade Keller” on your podcast app of choice

-Both Satomura and Storm were crying in the ring as the ref raised Storm’s hand. The Full Sail crowd paid their respects to Satomura with chants of “Thank you, Meiko!” Satomura and Storm bowed to one another before embracing and congratulating one another. Last year’s winner, Kairi Sane entered the ring with a bouquet of flowers for Storm. The camera cuts to the stage, where HHH is seen shaking hands with, and bowing to the defeated Satomura. I will also admit, it took me longer than it should have to realize HHH’s hair didn’t magically grow since his appearance on RAW this past Monday and that this was taped months ago.

-An announcer, one unfamiliar to me, entered the ring and asked Storm what is going through her mind after her win. Storm, fighting back tears of joy, said that after her win over Satomura, she can truly say she has achieved her dream. She thanked all the girls in the back “working their butts off” and the crowd to make this happen. As Storm walked up the ramp, Triple H met her on the stage and raised her hand in victory.

(2) Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley

-The hype video for the final match of the MYC kicked off with Io Shirai saying she is number one and that she wants to win to show the world how great of a wrestler she is. She wants to make the finals and win the tournament. Rhea Ripley said she is out to get the gold. She touted her win over Nox, and said she’s glad Nox will have to watch Ripley’s match from her hospital bed.

-Rhea Ripley made her way to the ring first to a chorus of boos from the crowd. She charismatically made her way to the ring, as the announcers talked about Nox’s injury ‘at the hands of Ripley’. Ripley gave the referee grief as he tried patting her down. Io Shirai made her way to the ring next as the crowd clapped along to the beat of her music.

-Shirai went for the handshake, and Ripley slapped her hand away. The bell rang, and the two tied up and Ripley just threw Shirai across the ring like a rag doll. They tied up again, same result. Shirai ran the ropes and landed a dropkick taking Ripley down. She went for a second dropkick, but was met by Ripley tossing her into the air, landing on her face. Ripley covered for a near fall.

-Ripley laid in strikes to the back of Shirai, trash talking “Come on, Io!” She put Shirai in an armbar, and Shirai attempted to escape however Ripley fired off impressive punches to the midsection before breaking the hold. Ripley rolled Shirai on to her stomach, and stood on her lower back. She made another cover for two.

-She applied an abdominal stretch to Shirai, as Shirai screamed in agony in the center of the ring. Shirai eventually was eventually able to escape after a series of punches to Ripley. Ripley, however, mounted Shirai and punched her repeatedly before locking in a body scissors. Shirai, still in the body scissors, managed to roll Ripley onto her back pinning the shoulders for a two count. Still applying the hold, Ripley struck her in the back of the head a few times, screaming at Shirai to tap.

-Once again, Shirai rolled Ripley back on her shoulders for a near fall. Ripley finally broke the body scissors, and they both quickly got to their feet. Just as quickly, Ripley took her down with a fierce dropkick into another cover for two. Ripley continued attacking a prone Shirai with strikes and kicks, eventually taking Shirai up for a stalling vertical suplex for yet another near fall.

-Ripley locked in the body scissors yet again, and repeatedly struck Shirai in the back of the head and neck. She kept the hold applied, and rolled Shirai on to her stomach and taunted Shirai by slapping her a few times in the back of the head. After the slaps, she rolled Shirai back to a sitting position – all while keeping the body scissors applied.

-Ripley torqued the body scissors, and Shirai was screaming in agony. Shirai found the strength to flip her body around in the hold, and unload a series of forearms at the face of Ripley. The two struggle to get to their feet as “Io! Io!” chants broke out. Ripley once again took the upper hand, and whipped Shirai off the ropes, who countered with a hurricanrana pin for two. Ripley sat up, and Shirai nailed a basement dropkick to the face. Ripley, wisely, rolled out of the ring.

-Shirai screamed, slapped the mat, and delivered a beautiful suicide dive to Ripley sending both to the metal ramp. At the ref’s count of six, it looked like Shirai was about to make it back into the ring. Ripley yanked on her leg, pulling her back out to the floor and quickly dove under the ropes. For some reason, this broke the count and the ref started his count once again leaving Shirai the 10 count to make it back to the ring.

Analysis: Shirai never made it back inside the ropes before being pulled out, only made it to the apron. That shouldn’t have restarted the ref’s count, but hey, what are rules anyway?

-Shirai struggled to her feet, but was able to get back inside the ring at the 9 count. Ripley immediately went on the offensive, pummeling Shirai. Ripley pulls Shirai to her feet by her hair, and screamed “What, you think you’re supposed to be here, huh?! You think you deserve it?!” Just as Ripley finished taunting Shirai with those shouts, Shirai landed a stiff slap to Ripley’s cheek.

-That slap only incensed Ripley, who threw a powerful forearm at Shirai sending her to her knees. Ripley picked up Shirai for another suplex, but Shirai countered and unleashed a series of strikes to Ripley. Ripley was sent reeling, and Shirai went up top for a missile dropkick for a near fall.

-Shirai went back up top looking for the moonsault, but Ripley hit her from behind. Shirai was reeling on the top turnbuckle, and Ripley took advantage with a superplex for a very close near fall. Ripley seemed to land a bit awkward, and was selling her back. Shirai got the upper hand and sent Ripley shoulder first to the turnbuckle post. Shirai landed a double knee to Ripley in the corner, and then landed the moonsault for the victory.

WINNER: Io Shirai

Analysis: What a win for Shirai! Ripley dominated most of the match, and every time Shirai looked like she was about to capitalize, Ripley tore her down and put a stop to Shirai until the last moments of the bout. The match felt like a mix of old school technical wrestling with a touch of high flying, more modern wrestling. The beginning of the match with Ripley repeatedly working the torso with the body scissors and other holds actually held my attention, leaving me rooting for Shirai to escape. Then the superplex, suicide dive, and moonsault sprinkled in the more modern style. Ripley kept her guise as a complete badass throughout this contest, making Shirai look as sympathetic as possible. That, of course, led to a massive pop when Shirai won.

-Shirai celebrated in the ring with tears in her eyes. Ripley was fighting back tears of her own, presumably to keep that badass façade. Triple H emerged from the back to raise Ripley’s hand at the stage. In the ring, Shirai continued celebrating and was met by one of her best friend, and last year’s winner, Kairi Saine who gave her a bouquet of flowers and an embrace.

-That same unnamed announcer from before then congratulated Shirai, and asked her what was going through her mind. Shirai screamed out “Thank you so much everyone! I will win! I will [be] number one!”

The show ended with the announce team hyping Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai at Evolution. Phoenix picked Storm as her favorite to win, Renee chose Io Shirai. Cole, with the tiebreaker, also chose Storm. Triple H, Sara Amato, Kairi Saine and Io Shirai were celebrating at the stage when Toni Storm emerged from the back to show respect to Shirai with an embrace. The show went off the air with a shot of Storm and Shirai clenching their fists and staring each other down.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I feel like I say it every week, each episode of the Classic just got better and better. The final episode was no different. Storm and Satomura put on one hell of a clinic, and Shirai’s upset victory over Ripley was so much fun to watch. All four women entered the night as four of the best women wrestlers in the world, and all four left as four of the best in the world. Even in their defeats, Ripley and Satomura looked insanely impressive and should be proud of what they have accomplished. Shirai vs Storm, in my opinion, should be one of the most anticipated matches at Evolution, at least to the hardcore fan base anyway. Time will tell who will walk away as the winner of this year’s Mae Young Classic!

NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 10/17 MAE YOUNG CLASSIC 2018 – EP. 7: Lacey Lane vs. Meiko Satomura, Io Shirai vs. Deonna Purrazzo, Teagan Nox vs. Rhea Ripley, Mia Yim vs. Toni Storm

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