Kacy Catanzaro vs. Rhea Ripley
Out first is Kacy, bubbly as ever, waving to the crowd and here comes her opposition who tries to be smarmy and hard but doesn’t really do it for me. She looks like the female Ethan Craft from Lizzie McGuire and I can’t take her “edge” too seriously.
No handshake from Rhea. A quick waist lock starts the match for Kacy, but Rhea shrugs her off. She whips Kacy into the ropes and drops her with a shoulder block. Rhea off the ropes, Kacy attempts to leapfrog and is caught onto Rhea’s shoulders with ease. Kacy wriggles out and aims kicks to Rhea’s hamstrings. She ducks a big boot and goes right back to work on Rhea’s legs. Kacy rolls under a clothesline, and back handsprings into a headscissors.
An Irish whip attempt is blocked then reversed by Ripley. Kacy tips up and Rhea dumps her on the apron. Kacy hits a dropkick through the ropes into the stomach of Ripley, does a split-legged handstand on the top rope and transitions into a headscissors on Ripley. Kacy looks to press her advantage but gets a hot shot for her troubles. Two-count for Rhea. A stomp and a hair whip into the corner, Rhea looks for a vertical suplex to be countered with an inside cradle that was met with a dropkick to the face of Kacy. Two count. Rhea slams Kacy face first to the mat. She’s feeling herself, another face slam to the mat, and a low dropkick to the face. One count.
Overhand clubbing blow to the back of Kacy, who answers with a forearm to a beat down. Rhea goes for a delayed vertical for two. Ripley with an inverted Texas Cloverleaf. Kacy rolls through and is kicked in the face twice, pin for two. Whip on the ropes, a double tilt-a-whirl into a DDT from Kacy. The crowd was so here for it as they chant her name. Rhea takes a powder on the outside but Kacy will have none of that. She hits a rotating plancha onto Ripley taking her right back down again.
Both women are down on the outside. Rhea with a cheap shot and rolls into the ring, Kacy off the ropes, hit a leaping forearm, a dropkick, and a corner clothesline, shades of The Miz. Kacy tries to get fancy again and slips on the ropes, she goes again, a springboard leapfrog onto the second rope into a dropkick to Ripley! A spinning splash for two. Another back handspring headlock, but Rhea counters and ends her with RipTide.
Post-match, Ripley dismisses last year’s Mae Young Classic, where she was eliminated in the second round and says she is always ready for what comes next.
Even in defeat, Kacy says that despite having the least experienced in the tournament, the WWE shouldn’t underestimate her. She is grateful for Triple H‘s encouragement and will continue to work hard to own her craft.
Thoughts: Rhea may have won, but Kacy outshines her here. I’m glad they didn’t give us Reina vs Kacy 2.0. Rhea dominated but Kacy more than held her own. Michael Cole was right, she will be a big star someday. The match was awkward in some places, and Kacy did mess up here and there, but overall, both women did very well here. I just hope Kacy doesn’t just rely on high spots in the future.