TONI STORM VS. HIROYO MATSUMOTO
Matsumoto has the advantage in experience, and it shows early. She seems to be effortlessly controlling Storm. She’s strutting around with a smile on her face while Storm can’t get anything going at all. I do not like this, because I love Toni Storm. Storm finally gets some offense in with a huge snap German suplex. Matsumoto still gets the better of the next flurry of exchanges and puts Storm in a Lion Tamer, Boston Crab, Half Crab, and seems to let Storm get to the ropes. It seemed that she didn’t want Storm to tap out, she just wanted to weaken and dishearten her a bit.
Storm does not seem disheartened at all, she continues to fight back, even getting a foot on the rope after Matsumoto’s Rock Drop finisher. It’s amazing how much Matsumoto has controlled this match. Storm has had 2-3 offensive moves. But after Matsumoto hits continues to lift Storm off the mat for clothleslines, an attempt at a third was one too many as Storm ducked it and pinned Matsumoto with a bridging jackknife cover. Storm got the shit kicked out of her in the match and Matsumoto suffered almost no damage, yet Storm is the one moving on. It only take a three count.
Match Rating: Five Gold Medals
RHEA RIPLEY VS. KACY CATANZARO
Rhea Ripley says she’s going to rip Kacy Catanzaro apart. She is speaking the truth. Both of these women are grade-A badasses. If I saw Rhea Ripley in a mosh pit, I might think twice about getting into the mix. And I’m someone who has had my teeth knocked out in a pit, I am not scared. She just looks built to destroy. Catanzaro shows some great speed and athleticism early, but as soon as Ripley caught her it got ugly. Catanzaro rolls Ripley up, but after Ripley kicked out she hit Kacy with a pissed-off dropkick.
Now the shit talking from Ripley begins as she really starts to roll. She’s so confident, she KNOWS she’s going to win. Ripley’s arms look as thick as Catanzaro’s body. She lifts Kacy in a suplex and holds her up there for a good 10-15 seconds while walking her around the ring. Guys, Ripley is only 21 years old. I’m thrilled that WWE started the NXT UK brand and I hope they keep women like Ripley around for years to come, because she’s one of the most impressive competitors I’ve seen
Speaking of impressive, Kacy hits a crazy DDT where she basically used Ripley’s body as a jungle gym. A corkscrew plancha by Kacy gives her even more momentum and maybe some hope at a monumental upset. But she won’t win. But she might! But she won’t. Then she botched the hell out of a springboard missile dropkick, but they played it off nicely and she got a second shot at it, even inciting the crowd to cheer her on before trying it again. But the inevitable happened as Ripley hit her incredible Rip Tide one-armed powerbomb. What a fucking superstar she is.
Match Rating: Nine Gold Medals
LACEY LANE VS. TAYNARA CONTI
I remember Lane being a bit green and sloppy in her first round match, while being extremely impressed by Conti’s grappling. Lane looks a lot better at the start of this one, while Conti is still impressing the hell out of me. Conti is vicious. There’s no feeling out period in this one. Slams, throws, kicks, and clotheslines abound. Conti sets up for her side slam finisher, but Lane turns it into her Crucifix Bomb for the win out of nowhere. I’m not sure what to make of this because I really wanted to see more from these two who both looked great, but with the pace they started with, no way they could keep that up for a long match. For as short as the match was, the action was great.
Match Rating: Six Gold Medals
MERCEDES MARTINEZ VS. MEIKO SATOMURA
Mercedes Martinez is another of my favorites. I love her entrance music. Martinez is 37 and Satomura is 38. A lot of experience in this match should lead to great psychology and a great match. They aren’t disappointing, and they’re mixing mat wrestling with exciting action, especially a nice tight Northern Lights suplex by Martinez. They start throwing hands, and Martinez hits a hard power bomb/spine buster.
Martinez definitely has a more aggressive offensive attack while Satomura is more of a grappler, but that doesn’t mean Satomura can’t scrap. She hits a beautiful superkick and goes to the top ropes, but Martinez hits a crazy twisting neck breaker for a two count. As it seems Martinez is firmly in control, Satomura locks in an arm bar out of nowhere and Martinez is in trouble. She is finally able to get her foot on the bottom rope to break the hold, but now Satomura shows off her striking game with some nasty kicks. A terrific frog splash gets a two count for the Japanese legend. A side suplex by Martinez breaks Satomura’s momentum and both women are down.
Martinez tries for her Fisherman Buster a second time but it’s countered with a DDT, and then a second DDT. I’m now eating my words that Martinez has a more aggressive attack. Satomura is a beast. Martinez finally hits her Fisherman Buster finisher BUT SATOMURA KICKS OUT AT TWO! The crowd is going nuts for these two. Martinez locks in a Mexican Surfboard but Satomura breaks the hold and hits a spinning wheel kick, then a Scorpion Kick to the back of the head for the win. Tear for Mercedes. Holy shit what a match. That was perfection. I said at the start it should be great psychology and a great match, and god damn did they deliver both.
Match Rating: Ten Gold Medals
Overall Show Rating: Eight Gold Medals