With the final match of the second-annual Mae Young Classic set to take place during the Evolution PPV in Uniondale, New York this Sunday, it is safe to say many of the women in that tournament made an impact on fans and management alike.
Triple H recently sat down with KC Joyner of ESPN to discuss the competitors from the tournament this year, and the reactions of the women’s movement itself. Many women, including Ronda Rousey and Natalya, have noted that Triple H has been one of the leading individuals in getting women more attention on television, so he has a good grip on what it takes for female talent to make it in WWE.
One of the first big points Joyner asked of Triple H was to explain how he and the other officials backstage reacted live to the Mae Young Classic tapings as the various matches and segments were going on.
I’m sitting back here and pacing the show and pacing the reactions of how I need to react within the show for the fans here live. I know if I’m burnt, they’re burnt. Sometimes I’ll say, “Holy cow, I need a moment, and guys, we need to throw something on the tron and give them a breather because I’m exhausted, emotionally exhausted from that.” You put yourself in the last couple of matches with Meiko [Satomura] and Toni and Tegan [Nox] and Io [Shirai], if you’re not emotionally invested in those, you just don’t watch.
Triple H explains that he wasn’t even sure what exactly happened when Tegan Nox was injured during her match against Rhea Ripley.
Last year she had the ACL injury that prevented her from being in [the first Mae Young Classic]. It took her all year and she just got rolling and really feeling good and just gets cleared, I mean 100 percent, banging around on it and everything’s great — and then to come here tonight in a position to where, let me just say it couldn’t be any more heartbreaking for her, understand? Emotionally, it couldn’t have been any more heartbreaking. I don’t know at this point what happened. She landed funky on a dive and hurt herself.
“The Game” confirms that he has sat down both years and been forced to change various aspects of the tournament based on reactions and in-ring ability.
Look, somewhere in the back of your mind when you’re doing these things you’re building contingency plans — at least I am — of where you want to go. Even on the first night of the tournament, we got done and then there’s a regroup. How did everybody do compared to what we thought? We’ve done a bunch of these now, and there’s some times where you think somebody is going to be the ace and you see them and go, oh, I must have seen highlight reels or something because that wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. Or there’s somebody who overperforms because they are so much better than you expected them to be. Which is always a great thing, but you need to nimble and move.
Triple H is asked to explain if plans can change in a match, and after he confirms that it does happen, he subsequently explains how it is up to the team to implement changes quickly and efficiently.
The last time we were here we were calling audibles live in a match. I did. Little known fact, change one up live. So you gotta be nimble. When Tegan goes down there’s a quick regroup. This is the point where somebody’s got to make the final decision and that’s the pressure position. We all sit in the circle and somebody goes here’s my opinion, here’s my opinion, and usually, almost always, it’s 50/50, and then you have to make the call.
The thing about this team, and I just put everybody over for it in the other room, [it’s] seamless. Bang, somebody goes down, the medical system does its job and what it’s supposed to do and then we have to pick up those pieces and everybody comes together as a team and goes, “OK, here’s the new directive,” boom, and everybody grabs their piece and goes and runs and does it and it just works. That’s one of the things, if somebody doesn’t do their gig, it’s a cog in the wheel and the wheel falls off. That’s the mark of this team. This stuff doesn’t happen by accident, there are a lot of people who put their heart and soul into it, behind the scenes as well.
With 32 impressive performers featured in the Mae Young Classic this year, Triple H confirms two impressive standout performers he took notice of during the show.
Kacy Catanzaro and Xia Li.
Kacy, I don’t think she’s even been with us a year all in, and she goes and does what she did last night and tonight and you’re going, “Oh my god.”
Two years ago in China when I first met Xia Li, she didn’t know what WWE was. We had to explain to her what WWE was because we were there looking for athletes and she had never seen it. She grew up in farmlands in China so she didn’t know what it was. Once we told her what it was and showed it to her, she was, “oh yeah, definitely.” Then she came in and tried out and she just fell in love with it, and she has so much heart and passion I was like, “yeah, we’re bringing her back.” There’s certain people you see when you give them the chance to, and they’ve never seen it before, they get the bug bad. She was one that was like that.
For Li to do what she did tonight and last night, two years from even knowing what it was, to be where she is now, that’s incredible. That’s [NXT coach] Matt Bloom, that’s [NXT coach] Sara Del Rey, that’s the team that we have and the system that we have.
If you’d like to hear other points made by Triple H during the interview, click here.
Which performer most impressed you this year in the Mae Young Classic? Who do you hope takes the victory at Evolution? Let us know your thoughts, opinions, and reactions in the comments below.