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By Stuart Carapola on 2017-09-13 15:04:00

Another tournament special has come and gone, and the Mae Young classic is in the books.  Had a few thoughts of some things I really liked and kinda didn't like after watching the whole thing over the last two days, so I thought I'd share my two cents on some of what stood out to me while watching:

The depth of talent in this thing was incredible.

As amazing as the matches were, the first round was in another sense excruciating for me to watch because nearly every match saw someone I considered exceptionally talented have their journey cut short.  Even though it's a performance and their future prospects don't hinge on "winning" like in a real sport, it was a letdown to see ladies as talented and over as Jazzy Gabert, Miranda Salinas, and especially Tessa Blanchard get knocked out so early in the competition.

I don't think the "binge" release schedule made it any less enjoyable.

One of the complaints I heard a lot when the tournament format was announced was that, instead of weekly episodes spanning the entire summer, the preliminary rounds would be released in two packs of four a week apart.  I can only speak for myself, but this didn't bother me in the slightest because, like many people, this is already how I watch TV.  Other than Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead (which you can't miss without almost being guaranteed to hear spoilers no matter how you try to avoid them), I usually go about my life and let several weeks (or even months) of a show build up in my queue, and then I'll make a night out of it.  It's usually how I watch NXT, by catching up on months of TV the week or so leading into each TakeOver event.  I think it was a smart move by WWE, who recognize that the days of weekly distribution of pre-taped content are long in the rearview mirror.

I liked how they used the dignitaries in the crowd to give the tournament a big event feel.

Over the course of the competition, we saw most of the top female wrestlers on the main roster, Ronda Rousey and the MMA Four Horsewomen, Johnny Gargano, and others in the crowd.  I thought it was mixed in very well without disrupting the flow of the shows or distracting from the new talent in any way.  It sent the message that this tournament meant something, and people at the top of the industry who are already super busy with touring and appearances were interested enough to take time out of their lives to attend in person.

I don't think the presentation of the finals did the entire event justice.

Now for the negatives, starting with the bare-bones finale episode.  The finale of the Cruiserweight Classic was two hours long and featured the semifinals, finals, as well as a non-tournament match, analysis by the broadcasters and William Regal before the finals, and an interview with TJ Perkins to close the show.  All we got in the finals of the Mae Young Classic was literally the final match and the award presentation afterward.  It felt rushed, and the reality is that it was because it was wedged between live broadcasts of Smackdown and 205 Live.  Granted, there was no 205 Live back when they did the Cruiserweight Classic, but they really should have found a time and place where they could have given the finale the pageantry it deserved.

I think the wrong person won the tournament.

Don't get me wrong, I think Kairi Sane is a very talented performer, and obviously has a persona that's connected with the fans.  I also think it was blaringly obvious she was going over from the moment I first saw her come through the curtain.  I don't think she should have been buried by any means, I just don't think she would have been who I put over.  I thought Toni Storm or Dakota Kai could have made great underdog winners against Shayna, and both had far more charisma in my estimation.  Piper Niven is an amazing athlete who proves you don't have to look a certain way to be successful. Mia Yim would have been a terrific feel-good story based on her life story.  You could have even had Shayna win if they want to do WWE Horsewomen vs MMA Horsewomen, which it looks like they do.

But at the end of the day, Kairi went over and, to me, it feels like they're trying to replace Asuka with Asuka 2.0 by putting her in the title match at TakeOver: Houston.  I think there's other, better directions they could have gone there too, but overall, this was a terrific tournament that should prove what an abundance of talented female athletes there are out there, and what a terrific future women's wrestling really has.

Stuart Carapola can be reached at

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