Well the first episode of this tournament was an enjoyable start, with some good character work and a fun main event. Let’s see how Episode 2 shakes up in comparison!
This event is emanating from Full Sail University in Florida
Calling the action are Jim Ross and Lita
Round of 32 Match
Mercedes Martinez Vs Xia Li
This is apparently Xia’s first ever match, as she got spotted at a Chinese try out. She’s decked out in red and apparently has a legitimate Kung Fu background. Kung Fu is a real thing and not just something from martial arts movies? Cool! She’s obviously exceedingly green in wrestling terms, but who knows, maybe she has potential?
Martinez is a hard hitting veteran of the mat game who wants to ensure that Xia’s first match is also her last. She’s been a staple of SHIMMER as well as being the primary women’s wrestler of the early days of Evolve. I’ve also seen her in CZW teaming with Homicide. She’s tough, Latino and will chuffing END you if you get up in her business!
Martinez reluctantly adheres to the pre-match handshake, but mocks Xia straight after with a crane kick pose. Martinez toys with Xia to start, so Xia unloads with some kicks and a hip toss to show her displeasure at being mocked. Xia’s strikes look great for someone so green. Martinez comes right back with a spine buster however and then locks in a modified surfboard hold for the submission victory.
WINNER – MERCEDES MARTINEZ
RATING – *
Too short to be anything more, although the work was fine and Martinez did a good job carrying the less experienced Xia. My appreciation for her work went up after this display.
Round of 32 Match
Rachel Evers Vs Marti Belle
Evers is Paul Ellering’s daughter and trained with Lance Storm at the Storm Academy. She is quite stocky and looks like she has some power to work with. I’ve seen her occasionally on NXT episodes, but this will be her highest profile role in WWE thus far.
Belle is a Dominican fighter who isn’t afraid of getting rugged should the situation require. She has a good look with a flamboyant hairstyle. Fans of Total Non-Stop Action/Impact Wrestling/Global Force Wrestling will remember her from the notorious “Doll House” stable. I haven’t really watched TNA for about five years but friends of mine who do have assured me that the Doll House was good TV. Belle’s entrance theme almost sounds like a remixed version of Kevin Owens’s actually.
Marti is reluctant to lock up to start, playing heel to the crowd. Evers gets the better of things in the wrestling contest, so Marti resorts to heel tactics to take over, delivering a hot shot whilst begging off on the apron.
Marti works over Evers with basic stuff, but Rachel shrugs it off and fights back. I personally would I liked to see her take a piledriver and then pop straight back up as an homage to her dad’s most famous team, but sadly it wasn’t on the cards.
Evers offence doesn’t look too great sadly, although her standing pump kicks are nice at least. Evers hurks Marti up into a fisherwoman’s buster position and drops her into a power bomb for two. Marti comes back with a rough looking stroke for two, but Evers then pulls an inside cradle out of nowhere to pick up the win.
WINNER – Rachel Evers
RATING – ½*
This was pretty sloppy in truth. The story was certainly there, but sadly the execution wasn’t. apparently, Belle was slated to win this match originally but the agents called an audible during the match and they changed the ending on the fly. No wonder things were so messy.
We see Shadia Bseiso and Kacy Catanzaro in the crowd, as apparently they’ve signed deals with the WWE. My good friend Mr. Google assures me that Bseiso is an actor whilst Catanzaro had a stint on Ninja Warrior.
We see a video clip from earlier at the WWE Performance Centre, as Triple H gives everyone a pep talk.
Round of 32 Match
Rhea Ripley Vs Miranda Salinas
Salinas is a compact sassy Booker T trainee and has been part of his ROW company since 2014. There isn’t really much else to tell about her, as even the internet struggles to give me more info to go with the meagre amount provided by WWE.
Ripley is a 20 year old former soccer player who likes metal music and throwing kicks. She’s about six foot and blond, so I immediately like her chances in this contest considering who is hosting this tournament.
Miranda is reluctant to shake hands at first and then heels it up with some hair pulling. Rhea comes back with a dropkick and shrugs off some Salinas strikes, before hitting another dropkick for two. Salinas gets a desperation cradle for two, but Ripley comes right back with a big boot and a full nelson slam to pick up the easy win.
WINNER – RHEA RIPLEY
RATING – ½*
This was essentially a squash for Ripley, as she shrugged off all of Salinas’ offence and pinned her clean with little fuss. Salinas really wasn’t given much of a chance to leave a lasting impression here. JR was putting Ripley over strong on commentary, so WWE must be high on her and decided to have her polish off Salinas quickly to try and get her over.
Round of 32 Match
Sarah Logan Vs Mia Yim
Yim is a world travelled star who suffered domestic abuse in past and now crusades against it. She’s another Doll House alum, having worked TNA recently as well as many independent companies such as SHIMMER and CZW. I’ve never really had the chance to watch her work properly, so I’m very interested in seeing how this goes.
Logan is Kentucky girl who went to Japan at just age 16 to learn strong style. She’s worked for nearly every major independent promotion under the sun whilst named Crazy Mary Dobson, and was renowned for competing in death matches against both men and women alike. As Sarah Logan, they’ve gone for a slightly more traditional brawling southerner gimmick.
We see that Beth Phoenix and Nattie Neidhart are ringside watching the action. We’re told that Yim is representing South Korea in the tournament. I find both women pretty likeable, and with their history working the indie scene they’ll hopefully be able to deliver a good match.
Both women observe the pre-match handshake and commence with back and forth strikes between one another. The fans appear to be torn between the two competitors, as Yim hits a Pele kick for two. Yim starts wearing Logan down with more kicks, but Sarah is defiant and keeps coming back for more. Yim wraps Logan up with a Tarantula in the ropes and then fires off a front dropkick for two.
Yim goes for a guillotine choke but Logan fights out and we have a slug fest on our hands! Logan gets a charging knee strike for two, but then eats a German Suplex from Yim straight after. Yim fires off another German, but Logan refuses to stay down and comes back with a Samoan Drop for two. Logan gets a modified muscle buster for another two but misses a knee drop and Yim catches her with soul food for the three count.
WINNER – MIA YIM
RATING – **3/4
This was a good match and I really liked Logan. Given more time it could have been even better.
This episode suffered from too many inexperienced women facing people who weren’t capable of carrying them past a basic level. Logan/Yim was a lot of fun, but you could really see the difference when it came to those two and Martinez in comparison to the other competitors. All three really were a class above.
WWE seem high on Ripley, but her match wasn’t a particularly good showcase for her, whilst Belle struggled with a green Evers and did so poorly that then changed their mind on even letting her advance during her actual match itself! I can’t tell you if Belle is capable of more than that because, as I previously mentioned, I haven’t watched TNA in years. If she is then please let me know in the comments, because she looked pretty poor here in all honesty.
Not as good as episode 1, but it was still an easy watch and flew by. The main event is definitely worth a watch however, so take a look at that even if you don’t watch anything else on this one.
Thanks for reading
Until next time;