This is the last time for a week that you will have to put up with my bracketing skills.
This show features 3 of my favourite wrestlers in this tournament - Kairi Sane, Nicole Savoy and Candice LeRae.
Round 1 - Renee Michelle vs Candice LeRae
I know next to nothing about Michelle but I have been a fan of LeRae for a number of years. She has had some wild matches in PWG as a singles competitor and as part of a tag team with Joey Ryan. This was a solid match, it did what it needed to, establish LeRae going forward. The crowd was fully behind her here and she won, which was absolutely the right call. **1/2
Round 1 - Taynara Conti vs Lacey Evans
This is one of the matches that features two women who have very little experience, about a year for Evans and just 10 matches for Conti. Considering this lack of experience they did pretty well. The transitions between moves were a bit ropey but the moves themselves looked good and believable. I was honestly expecting this to be worse. Evans won with her version of the dudebuster, though I very much doubt she calls it that. **1/2
Round 1 - Nicole Savoy vs Reina Gonzalez
I became a fan of Nicole Savoy when I attended Shimmer 80 over WrestleMania 32 weekend. She has got a ton of upside. This was a weird match though as it didn't play into Savoy's strengths at all. She is a suplex heavy wrestler, and is marketed as such, but she spent all of this match selling before getting the win with the desperation armbar. **
Round 1 - Kairi Sane vs Tessa Blanchard
Lets not mince words here, Kairi Sane is the best wrestler in this tournament. That is in no way a knock on the other wrestlers, she would be the best wrestler in most tournaments. Blanchard is really good here too. This was my favourite match of the tournament so far. The crowd was into the match, cheering both women but with an extra verve in their love for Kairi. They go full bore for the entire match and it is a fitting way to end the first round. In the end Sane won with that beautiful elbow drop, a move that was over long before she hit it. Really good stuff. ***3/4
As this is the end of Round 1 it seems like a good time to look at what to expect in Round 2.
Abbey Laith vs Rachel Evers - I really hope that Laith wins this as Evers was poor in Round 1.
Princesa Sugehit vs Mercedes Martinez - The two most experienced wrestlers in the tournament will meet in Round 2. While I would have liked Kay Lee Ray to have won in Round 1 this should still be an intriguing match.
Nicole Savoy vs Candice LeRae - This has a ton of potential. I have seen these two square off before as part of a triple threat match that also included Heidi Lovelace (now known as Ruby Riot). If this match is as good as that one I will be very happy.
Mia Yim vs Shayna Baszler - Baszler has a style that isn't everyone's cup of tea but she has had really good matches during her run in Stardom. Hopefully this will be at that level.
Kairi Sane vs Bianca Belair - This is a perfect opportunity for Belair to have a breakout match. Let them go and lets see what they can do.
Dakota Kai vs Rhea Ripley - An Antipodean showdown. Kai should prove a good foil for Ripley here.
Serena Deeb vs Piper Niven - This has every chance of being a very good match as both of these women are very good at what they do. It will also play into Deeb's redemption storyline.
Lacey Evans vs Toni Storm - This is another good learning curve for Evans. Storm should be able to get an entertaining match out of her.
A decent finish to the first round with, once again, a really good main event. On the whole it went pretty much as expected. There weren't a great deal of standout matches but that is to be expected as a number of the wrestlers in this tournament are very inexperienced. A lot of those inexperienced or untested wrestlers have been eliminated now so I fully expect the quality to rise noticeably, especially as matches will get more time to breathe. It was a shame to lose talented wrestlers like Ray, Garrett and Blanchard but that is nitpicking really, especially as two of those women lost to other great wrestlers. I look forward to getting the next four shows in a week's time.