12 matches down and 4 matches left for our remaining 8 women to advance to the next round of the Mae Young Classic. We’ve seen some great matches come our way in this first round, but things certainly aren’t over yet. With one chance to make a good impression, these ladies are hungrier than ever to fill those final positions and end the first round on a high. It’s your regular RAW reviewer Alex, taking you through the final episode of the first round!

Renee Michelle VS Candice LeRae

Our first match features the sassy Renee Michelle, a regular fixture in MCW Pro Wrestling. She is taking on another indy-darling, Candice LeRae, who states that she’s the ‘modern day Mighty Mouse’ who wants to impress her husband in the audience, NXT Superstar Johnny Gargano!

At the start of the match, the two shake hands while the crowd start the “Women’s Wrestling!” chants. The start of the match sees a series of chain wrestling into 1 counts, which leads to Candice becoming the fan favourite and Renee showing more of a cocky approach to the match. When they get back into it, it’s Candice using her speed to take out Renee with a springboard armdrag and a missile dropkick.

After Candice runs the ropes, Renee uses this momentum to hit a knee buster and a swift kick to earn a 2 count. She hits a neckbreaker for another 2 count and decides to start nailing Candice with mid-kicks that would have made Daniel Bryan proud. However, during her third attempt, Candice dives out the way and manages to hit her own neckbreaker to turn the tides of the match once again. A fired up Candice starts reigning blows in on Renee in the corner that she has to get pulled back by the referee. The two go 1 for 1 with running Super’woman’ punches, but it’s Renee standing tall after a spinning heel kick and she goes for a pinfall.

Renee can only get the two count, so she climbs up to the second rope for a moonsault which she misses! Candice hits a running dropkick, but can only get a 2 count! Renee manages to prop herself in the corner, but Candice has her target set. She charges at Renee, who attempts to hit a big boot, but the smaller Candice uses her momentum to perch Renee onto the top turnbuckle. She climbs onto the other side of the ‘buckle and hits a sick looking second-rope swinging neckbreaker that she calls the Miss LeRae Wild Ride! 1.. 2.. 3! The veteran Candice LeRae is going onto Round 2 and it’s the end of the road for Renee Michelle!

Backstage, Candice is clearly buzzing off her victory and in quite a dorky but cute exchange, husband Johnny ‘Wrestling’ Gargano congratulates his wife and gives her a bottle of water, while she returns a cute peck on the cheek.

Thoughts: Candice being super popular in the crowd was really nice to see and having Gargano make an appearance, considering his NXT career got the kick-off following the Cruiserweight Classic last year. Overall, the match wasn’t the strongest, but you could see what they were going for. The story was trying to portray Candice as this terrier-terrier fighter, but Renee probably wasn’t the best opponent for that. The experience difference between the two was the issue here, as you could see Candice could wrestle circles around Renee, so seeing her take a beating just didn’t seem the most believable.

Not to discredit Renee at all, because she did do a good job. However, she just seemed to lack that energy and fire. With Candice getting such a babyface reaction, Renee really should have pandered to the crowd to make them hate her. If she taunted before she hit the moonsault, it would have made much more of a difference. Either way, it was a good result that Renee will definitely progress from and I’m definitely excited to see Candice take on her next opponent… which is revealed later in this episode!

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