Before we get any further, none of these names for the Mae Young Classic have been officially confirmed by the WWE, no matter what any other news site says. The original source is coming from PWInsider and Squared Circle Sirens reports that the WWE is planning on using developmental stars from the Performance Center (most of which haven’t appeared on NXT television yet or only in enhancement roles) mixed with some indie stars, similar to how WWE booked last summer’s Cruiserweight Classic. And while many would say that everyone from the Cruiserweight Classic ended up being signed for the new WWE Cruiserweight Division, the truth is that’s not even close to true. Of the 32 competitors (and five alternates, for a total of 37 wrestlers), 19 of them (more than half) never signed WWE contracts after the tournament – Alejandro Saez, Anthony Bennett, Clement Periot (aka Tristan Archer), Da Mack, Damian Slater, Fabian Aichner (aka Adrian Severe), Ho Ho Lun, Jason Lee, Kenneth Johnson, Kota Ibushi, Raul Mendoza, Sean Maluta, Tyson Dux and Zack Sabre Jr. of the main competitors, and none of the five alternates (Aaron Solow, Jesse Sorensen, Mr. 450, Kai Katana, or Johnny Vandal), signed with the WWE following the CWC (although several of the unsigned have still worked NXT or 205 Live as enhancement, most notably Lun, Maluta and Solow, and Fabian Aichner recently signed, most likely for the WWE UK show).
The inaugural Mae Young Classic will tape in mid-July at Full Sail University (site of NXT television tapings) and then start airing in August – a preview special on August 20, the first round all at once on demand on the WWE Network the following week, followed a week later with the second round. The finale will air live on the WWE Network on Tuesday September 12. Jim Ross is confirmed to be the lead announcer for the tournament, with colour commentators and analysts still to be announced.
With all of that out of the way, here’s a closer look at the 17 names that Squared Circle Sirens and PWInsider have reported are confirmed for the WWE Women’s Tournament.
#1 MARTI BELLE
New York City, 28 years old, SHIMMER, SHINE, AIW, Impact Wrestling, Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU), NYWC
A former member of the Dollhouse stable in Impact Wrestling, she left the company when her contract expired in January of this year… Ranked #32 on the PWI 50 for Women’s Wrestlers in 2016… SHINE Tag Team Champion (w/ Jayme Jameson), WSU Spirit Champion, 2x WSU Tag Team Champion (1x each w/ Jazz and Tina San Antonio), NYWC Starlet Champion
#2 DEMI BENNETT
Adelaide, Australia, 20 years old, Riot City Wrestling (RCW), Melbourne City Wrestling (MCW), Pro Wrestling DIANA
Signed with NXT in late April 2017… 2x and current RCW Women’s Champion, with current reign at 235 days… Latest in a long line of Australian wrestlers courted by the WWE, including WWE/NXT Superstars Emma, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, TM-61 and Buddy Murphy.
#3 BIANCA BLAIR
Knoxville, Tennessee, 28 years old
Signed to NXT in 2016… Former All-American and All-SEC Hurdler, CrossFit competitor and powerlifter… Has impressed Performance Center trainers with her dedication and quick learning of the industry… Made her televised debut on May 3 edition of NXT, as part of the Battle Royal to crown the #1 Contender to Asuka’s NXT Women’s Championship
#4 LACEY EVANS
Parris Island, South Carolina, 27 years old
Former Marine… Briefly competed on the indies as Macey Evans, then in NXT as an enhancement under her real name, Macey Estrella, before recently getting her NXT name… Has recently begun her NXT push as a regular.
Auckland, New Zealand, 29 years old, MCW, SHIMMER, Stardom, SHINE, Pro Wrestling DIANA, Pro Wrestling Women’s Alliance (PWWA)
Signed with NXT in December of 2016, but recently completed her indie commitments … Ranked #21 on the PWI 50 for Women’s Wrestlers in 2016… PWWA Champion, SHIMMER Tag Team Champion (w/ Ruby Riot), Artist of Stardom Champion (w/ Hiroyo Matsumoto & Kellie Skater)
#6 VICTORIA GONZALEZ
La Feria, Texas, 25 years old
Second generation wrestler, daughter of Texas indie wrestler Ricky Gonzalez, aka Desperado and Speedy Gonzalez… At 6’1″, one of the tallest women competitors in NXT/WWE… Tried out for Tough Enough in 2015, but failed to qualify. Was signed to a developmental deal and sent to the Performance Center.. Made her televised debut on May 3 edition of NXT, as part of the Battle Royal to crown the #1 Contender to Asuka’s NXT Women’s Championship
#7 JULIA HO
Virginia, USA, Caged Fury Fighting Championship (CFFC)
Although she’s a former model, she’s also a 2-0 MMA fighter. Her last fight was a submission victory at CFFC 18 in 2012 when she choked out Evelyn Johnson… Trained by current WWE Superstar THE Brian Kendrick… Her MMA nickname was WillKilla – as in, Julia ‘WillKilla’ Ho… Signed to NXT in December of 2016
Thanks to @craigyerkey for sharing this video since it was only available on pay-per-view. #TBT to my 2nd MMA fight for Cage Fury Fighting Championships: Julia "WillKilla" Ho vs. Evie Johnson . . . . . . #mma #martialarts #fighting #cagefight #fight #girlfight #wmma #cffc #takedown #wrestling #wrestler #bjj #bjjgirls #jiujitsu #muaythai #kickboxing #fightlife #fighter #boxing #martialartist #bjjlifestyle #rearnakedchoke #rnc #mixedmartialarts #athlete #competitor #cagefighting #bjjlife #throwbackthursday
#8 KAIRI HOJO
Hikari, Yamaguchi, Japan, 28 years old, Stardom, Lucha Underground
Widely regarded as one of the top female wrestlers in the world… World of Stardom Champion, Wonder of Stardom Champion, 3x Goddesses of Stardom Champion, 4x Artist of Stardom Championship… Appeared in Season 3 of Lucha Underground as part of Black Lotus’ Triad, under the name Doku… Signed with NXT in March of 2017
#9 DANIELLE KAMELA
Los Angeles, California, 24 years old, Knoks Pro Wrestling (KPW)
Trained by WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi and former WWE Superstar Gangrel at Knoks Pro Academy… Signed with NXT in fall of 2016… Has been used as enhancement in several NXT matches
#10 KIMBER LEE
Seattle, Washington, 26 years old, CHIKARA, CZW, WSU, SHIMMER, SHINE
First woman to win a major promotion’s top ranked championship, when she defeated Hallowicked for the CHIKARA Grand Championship in December of 2015…Trained by current WWE Superstar Drew Gulak… Had a formidable tag team with Impact Wrestling’s Allie (when she was known as Cherry Bomb), called The Kimber Bombs… Ranked #17 on the PWI 50 for Women’s Wrestlers in 2016… CHIKARA Grand Champion, Maryland Championship Wrestling Women’s Champion, SHIMMER Tag Team Champion (The Kimber Bombs), SHINE Tag Team Champions (The Kimber Bombs), 2x WSU Tag Team Champion (w/ Annie Social)
#11 SARAH LOGAN
Jefferson, Indiana, 23 years old, SHIMMER, Ring of Honor (ROH), Juggalo Championship Wrestling (JCW), Resistance Pro Wrestling
Best known as her indie moniker, Crazy Mary Dobson… Ranked #41 on the PWI 50 for Women’s Wrestlers in 2016… Resistance Pro Wrestling Women’s Champion, JCW Tag Team Champion (w/ Mad Man Pondo)
#12 MARY KATE
Ruskin, Florida, 32 years old, SHINE, Impact Wrestling, Pro-Wrestling DIANA, World Xtreme Wrestling
Had runs in SHINE as Andrea, Impact Wrestling as Rosia Lottalove, and in the Wild Samoan’s World Xtreme Wrestling as Betsy Ruth… Trained by Bubba Ray & Devon Dudley at the Team 3D Academy… At 6’1″ and 190 lbs., she’s an imposing figure in the ring… Since signing with NXT in January 2017, she’s been accompanying Lana while she trained at the NXT Live Events, acting as her enforcer.
#13 TAYNARA MELO
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 22 years old
Black belt in judo and blue belt in Brazilian judo…Signed to NXT in fall of 2016
#14 NIXON NEWELL
Bargoed, Wales, 22 years old, PROGRESS, WCPW, Stardom, ATTACK!, SHIMMER, British Empire Wrestling (BEW), Southside Wrestling Entertainment (SWE)
Has had an impressive past few years for such a young age… Inaugural WCPW Women’s Champion, SWE Queen of Southside Champion, 2x DDT Pro Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion, SWE Tag Team Champion (w/ PJ Black), ATTACK! Tag Team Champion (w/ Mark Andrews)… Signed with NXT in April of 2017
#15 THEA TRINIDAD
Queens, New York, 26 years old, SHINE, Impact Wrestling, CMLL, Global Force Wrestling (GFW), WSU
Was trained by WWE Superstar TJ Perkins when she was only 17 years old… Discovered by Tommy Dreamer and signed with Impact Wrestling in 2011 as Rosita, part of Mexican America. Her tag partner, Sarita, now works as a trainer at the WWE Performance Center (Sarah Stock).. Left Impact in 2013 and returned to the indies, working CMLL in Mexico and SHINE in the US… Despite enhancement appearances for NXT, recently re-debuted last week in an angle with Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas… Real life fiance of WWE Superstar and former ROH and Impact World Champion Austin Aries… Is portraying AJ Lee in the upcoming WWE – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson co-production of Paige‘s life story biopic… TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion (w/ Sarita).
#16 MIA YIM
Orlando, Florida, 28 years old, Impact Wrestling, SHIMMER, SHINE, ROH, Full Impact Pro, WSU
Best known as former Impact Knockouts Champion Jade, and part of the Dollhouse faction… Left Impact Wrestling in March of 2017… Ranked #6 on the PWI 50 for Women’s Wrestlers in 2016.. Impact Knockouts Champion, SHINE Champion, SHINE Tag Team Champion (w/ Leva Bates), DDT Pro Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion
#17 ZHAO XIA
Signed as part of WWE’s China tryouts in the fall of 2016… Former world Martial Arts and fitness competitor, including a first place finish in the Nike Challenge Competition… Began training at the WWE PC in January of 2017
There’s also been reports that Candice LeRae will be appearing (after her NXT debut last month), as well as Scottish wrestler Viper, although none of been confirmed past the rumour stage. Kairi Hojo’s longtime partner and rival, Io Shirai, has also recently made the jump to WWE. Many have also speculated that WWE Hall of Famer Lita could enter the tournament, based on the fact she recently returned to the ring after being away for years. WWE also recently polled fans on which former WWE Superstar they’d like to return for the tournament – interestingly enough, they’ve included former WWE Women’s Champion and 6-time Impact Knockouts Champion Gail Kim on the list. While Kim has always said she’s an Impact performer for life, she’s recently given praise to Triple H for his vision for women’s wrestling and has said “never say never” in regards to a return. She’s currently a free agent and while a full-time return to the WWE is highly unlikely, a brief return for this tournament before heading back to Impact may not entirely be out of the question.
So who else do you think we’ll see in the Mae Young Classic? Let us know in the comments below!
Main Photo: WWE