The inaugural Mae Young Classic showcased many talented women, but the finals came down to Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane.
After a hard-fought match, it was Sane who edged out the victory and carved her name in the history books.
Nothing has been announced for how WWE will capitalize on this tournament or what’s next for the two finalists, so the WWE Universe is left to speculate on the future.
What directions can Baszler and Sane go following this tournament? There are thankfully a few roads that lead to success.
Joining the NXT Roster
By far the simplest and easiest next step to take is to incorporate both into the NXT women’s division.
At first, this may seem like overkill when you factor in that Abbey Laith, Bianca Belair, Dakota Kai, Lacey Evans, Reina Gonzalez, Rhea Ripley, Sage Beckett, Sarah Logan, Taynara Conti, Vanessa Borne, Xia Li and Zeda are already signed to the company, along with Sane.
However, when was an influx of talent a bad idea?
The women’s division in NXT just lost its biggest star in Asuka, who is set to make her main roster debut on Monday Night Raw soon, so that is one big empty slot ready to be filled.
Several other women in NXT have proved themselves ready to go up to the main roster soon, too—namely Ember Moon, Ruby Riot, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce.
Both Sane and Baszler received enough of a positive reaction from the crowd that there should be no question they can be useful in helping to rebuild NXT once those women are moved up to Raw and SmackDown.
This is particularly true if even more of the Mae Young Classic competitors are signed, such as Toni Storm, Jazzy Gabert, Mercedes Martinez and Candice LeRae.
With NXT being the developmental brand that mixes rookies with veterans, there’s no negative consequences to adding any of these women into the fold—least of all the two who made it to the finals.
Since Asuka departed and relinquished the NXT Women’s Championship, someone has to step up to take the vacated title.
Considering their spots in the tournament, at least Sane should be granted an opportunity to fight for the championship, if not Baszler as well.
Even if they were left out of the running for the title, they should still be sought after as staples of the NXT roster as they impressed more than enough to carry that momentum into being regular performers.
A path toward the NXT Women’s Championship may be more of Sane’s future than Baszler’s, though, as the Queen of Spades may have other plans in WWE.
The Four Horsewomen vs. The Four Horsewomen
WWE has made it abundantly clear that if there’s any possible way to do a match between The Four Horsewomen of WWE against The Four Horsewomen of MMA, it will happen.
It has been teased multiple times during the Mae Young Classic itself as well as other times in the past several years, so this is something WWE is still interested in.
When and where it happens, what goes down during the confrontation and which quartet will come out on top are all still elements we’re in the dark about, but rest assured there are plans in the works.
Somehow, in some fashion, we will see Bayley, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair against Baszler, Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke and Ronda Rousey.
Rousey already had one foot in the door after her appearance at WrestleMania 31, and Shafir is intrinsically tied to WWE with her husband, Roderick Strong.
Now that Baszler has been treated so well in the Mae Young Classic, even though she isn’t signed to the company at the moment, one has to assume there’s a contract waiting with her name on it.
This just leaves Duke—who made several on-screen appearances in support of Baszler during the tournament—which should equate to her being game to step into the ring.
So long as there aren’t any logistical problems with UFC and other organizations stepping in to prevent it from happening, WWE’s primary goal with Baszler has to be to set this eight-woman tag team match up, possibly at WrestleMania 34.
In the meantime, Baszler should still be working in the NXT system, putting in training at the Performance Center to hone her craft under the best trainers who could teach her how to be the ring general for her team when that match happens.
Then, when the papers have been signed and the ink has dried, Baszler will be part of the biggest women’s match that could possibly take place in any professional wrestling organization in the world.
Certainly, no matter what plans WWE has for Sane and Baszler, their performances during the Mae Young Classic and the star treatment they were given surely allude to them not fading away into obscurity.
These two women will find success in any avenue they’re placed, and the women’s revolution will continue to get stronger and stronger with them helping to champion the cause.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.