Mercedes Martinez (c) vs Kylie Rae
Phoenix of RISE Championship
World Gym Arena, Texas City, Texas, United States
(reviewed 04/22/2019) Real good build-up for their no ropes rematch. I’ve been watching Kylie more and more as she becomes a prominent name on the indies and up until now I wasn’t sure if I liked her gimmick. The smiley, cheery female babyface thing appeals to me greatly (see my appreciation for Bayley, Dakota Kai, etc.) but the degree to which Kylie stuck to it in the face of adversity and the way in which it seemed to infantilize her character weighed on me. Here that’s been cut out, thanks largely to Mercedes. The champ is—and basically always has been—awesome, very much my kind of wrestler. She’s larger than your average woman and brings a delightful amount of physicality to the ring along with emphatic and believable character work. Here Mercedes’ style focuses Kylie’s approach, nullifying the arm drags and fancy maneuvers that she usually relies on and forcing her to just hit hard the way Mercedes does herself. I don’t mean to come across like “oh I hate it when wrestlers do flippity flops, I just wanna see them beat the shit out of each other”. What I mean is that Kylie taking the fight to a very capable, very hard-nosed veteran in front of her old stomping grounds is a great step forward for that character and way more interesting to me than the other stuff I’ve seen Kylie do. They continue on in that vein, with Kylie’s aggression slowly opening the champ up for more complicated maneuvers, including Kylie’s signature crossface. It’s nearly enough to beat Mercedes but when she rolls around to stack Kylie up in a pinfall attempt she tangles her legs up in the ropes for illegal leverage and the ref doesn’t see it before counting the three. Great stuff. Hope the rematch lives up to the hype.