Friday, 6 April 2018

Spotlight: Kairi Sane

I'm on a 2018 catch-up kick right now and that's coincided with an NXT catch-up kick so here's me taking a shallow dive on your 2017 Mae Young Classic winner, Kairi Sane (whom I'd watched all of two times before she got to WWE).

Kairi Sane v Tessa Blanchard (Mae Young Classic, 7/13/17)

I'm a little surprised Blanchard was the first one to lose to Kairi in this tournament. I figured they'd have her advance if for no reason other than the name (they'll usually milk that "third generation superstar" for all it's worth). I'd never actually seen her before so for all I know she could be rubbish, but she sure never looked it in this. In a lot of ways it felt like Sane ran through her usual stuff, the running forearm in the corner, the Kabuki elbow, the spear and so on, while Tessa was booked to look as strong as possible in defeat. Which, you know...that's a pretty good idea. She was fun roughing it up with her rabbit punches from the headlock, throwing a few big forearms, desperation headbutts, a nice abdominal stretch where she was really twisting Sane's neck. At one point she hit a Codebreaker out the corner that about put Sane's teeth through the back of her head. I liked Sane's ax kick to the lower back as a set up to the elbow drop, but she kind of took forever climbing up the turnbuckles, stopping to do her pirate salutes and all that. Still, this was good stuff and I think I'll check out a few more tournament matches.

Kairi Sane v Peyton Royce (NXT, 11/29/17)

This wasn't much. It mostly felt like a way to give Sane a bounce back win after the WarGames 4 way, without the loser losing too much by losing (better believe I thought that through). Royce has a pretty fun bitchy character and makes amusing self-entitled facial expressions, like that move she did should've ended the match and how dare Sane kick out of it. Who does she think she is? Not a lot of what she actually hits looks very good yet, but she'll get better. There are enough bland indie wrestlers who do lots of cool stuff in a vacuum with no personality, so I know I'd rather someone was ahead of the game with the character work while needing to catch up on move execution than the other way around. Sane was mostly fine, her running forearm to the sternum looked nasty (Royce sold it like it really winded her too) and her elbow drop is of course awesome. Her spear isn't the best, but not a lot of people can make that move look good at this point.

Kairi Sane v Shayna Baszler (NXT, 2/28/18)

Well this was real tidy. I maybe should've watched their MYC final before this in case I missed a callback or whatever, but what's done is done. Baszler was pretty badass in this and I thought she was comfortably the better of the two. All of her armwork looked nasty and I liked how unconventional some of her throws were. She hit a gutwrench suplex that landed Sane in a seated position, but then she followed up by just drilling her in the back with a kick. I don't know if the suplex was intended to land like that as a set up to the kick or the kick was something she chose to do after noticing how Sane landed, but either way it was sort of impressive. She threw a couple absolutely brutal looking knees as well. There was no thigh-slapping, it was just patella to nose and that was that. The suplex at the end was of course intended to land like that and it was a killer set up to the choke. Sane was fine selling the arm initially, but when she started making her comeback she dropped it almost instantly. Long-term limb selling/limbwork doesn't really bother me as much as I grow soft in my old age, but I wanted a wee bit more from her. I probably will watch their Mae Young Classic now because this was good.

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