Fans have been patiently waiting for the Mae Young Classic for some time now, the rumours began shortly after the incredible Cruiserweight Classic and since it was officially announced WWE has done a tremendous job at building it up. The first four episodes of the 32-women tournament have now been released on the WWE Network, with the rest of the episodes to air next month before the live finals.
Taping at Full Sail University, the home of NXT brought in the same loud and passionate audience that the CWC did and with Jim Ross and Lita on commentary it was clear before the bell even rang that WWE was throwing everything at this; but it's the wrestling that makes or break a show so let's get into that.
Kay Lee Ray vs Princesa Sugehit
The first match of the tournament is always one of the most important, setting the tone of what is to come and showcasing the wrestling quality that will be available throughout and this match certainly delivered in a big way.
Two of the tournaments bigger names with plenty of experience between them, both ladies put on a match that no doubt had the other women in the back wondering if they could top it. Right from the start, it was clear this was going to be a hard hitting battle with heavy strikes and some high impact moves that were mixed in well with clever submissions that saw the opening match paced brilliantly.
In the end, it would be Princessa Sugehit that would progress with a submission victory, sending the Scottish superstar home. Kay Lee Ray was arguably in control of the match throughout most of it, but she was made to pay after taking a gamble with a high-risk move which didn't land, allowing the experienced luchador to wrap things up with her submission finish.
Winner: Princesa Sugehit
Serena Deeb vs Vanessa Borne
This match saw the return of Serena Deeb to a WWE ring who is the former Straight Edge Society member as she clashed with Vanessa Borne in a match that pitted a veteran in Deeb against someone with much less experience as Borne looked to make a real impact.
From the start it was clear that the WWE Universe remembered Deeb and connected with the journey back to the company, getting behind her vocally which is something that Borne played upon, working a smart heel style. Pushing the referee's five count to the limit and bringing out a very aggressive style, Borne did a great job in this match, but the story was all about Deeb and an impressive Spear was enough to see her progress into the next round to the sound of a "welcome back" chant.
Winner: Serena Deeb
Shayna Baszler vs Zeda
One of the more intriguing match ups on the bracket saw two MMA experts collide in what was a unique match compared to any WWE women's matches seen before. Shayna Baszler denying the pre-match handshake immediately showcased the cocky character she was bringing to the ring and with the rest of the Four Horsewomen sat at ringside she had every reason to be.
Despite Zeda's best efforts, it was a quick submission victory for the former UFC star after a brilliant power move. It was a smart idea to keep this match as a quick one as it gave fans exactly the right amount of exposure to Baszler whilst ensuring that they wanted to see more of the popular star.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
Abbey Laith vs Jazzy Gabert
From the moment she entered the ringside area you could hear the fans shock at the size of Jazzy Gabert and the David vs Goliath story quickly began to unfold from there with Abbey Laith taking the fight straight to her; showing no fear.
Everything that Gabert did was bought into by the fans, but that doesn't take anything away from Laith who was just as over with the audience due to her striking and technical maneuvers, but nothing appeared to be able to take Gabert down. A huge clothesline followed by some ground and pound strikes appeared to have things set for Gabert, but just as it seemed to be over Laith pulled out an upset with a brilliant reversal and roll up.
Post match Gabert showed her respect to Laith by raising her hand but it was clear that Gabert was also a victor in defeat here after a brilliant effort.
Winner: Abbey Laith
That was an incredible first episode of the Mae Young Classic that set a very high standard for the rest of the episodes to follow. Every match delivered and in its own way with each one being unique to the other, yet the crowd was invested in them all. WWE began to tell small stories about each competitor with their pre match packages that should only be built upon as the tournament progresses, but if this is what the standard will be then the Mae Young Classic is set to be a brilliant tournament.
Match of the night: Abbey Laith vs Jazzy Gabert
Star of the night: Jazzy Gabert