As we near closer and closer to launch of the WWE Network exclusive women’s tournament, the Mae Young Classic, featuring 32 female competitors from around the world, official news from the WWE is being unveiled at a rapid pace. Here’s a recap of everything we know so far, as confirmed by the WWE.
WHEN DOES IT START?
The Mae Young Classic will taping the opening rounds on Thursday July 13 and Friday July 14 at Full Sail University, the same location as NXT, Cruiserweight Classic and Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Much like Netflix, the WWE will be airing the episodes in batches, so fans can binge watch at their own leisure – while many lament this is a sign that the WWE lacks faith in the tournament already, it’s most likely an experiment for any future tournaments for the Network, in an effort to combat or reduce spoilers. A Mae Young Bracketology special – similar to what they did for the Cruiserweight Classic to introduce all 32 competitors – will air on August 20. The first set of episodes will drop on August 28, followed by the second batch on September 4. The live finale will air on Tuesday September 12, either prior to or part of 205 Live.
WHO WILL BE CALLING IT?
It was originally announced that WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross would be handling the lead announcer position, with rumours of several former female stars being considered as J.R.’s colour commentator. Two days ago, the WWE finally revealed that another WWE Hall of Famer, 4x WWE Women’s Champion Lita would be joining Jim Ross in calling the matches. Still no word on who could potentially be handling the in-studio analyst position akin to what Corey Graves provided for the CWC, but chances are it will be Talking Smack host Renee Young.
WHO WILL BE PARTICIPATING?
There’s been rumours for months about the actual 32 participants, from fans and news sites alike. Back in November at it’s earliest rumblings, we at Last Word on Pro Wrestling made our prediction. A few weeks back, 17 names were leaked by PWInsider of names thought to be confirmed. But it wasn’t until just over a week ago that we got our first confirmation from the WWE, followed by another round of confirmations a few days ago. Last week’s NXT tapings also provided two more names (they won qualifying matches taped for July episodes of NXT), but in to avoid spoilers, we’ve listed the two competitors in each match in our list. And while many are naming 32 A-list names in their wish lists, keep in mind that 16 of them (half the list) will be eliminated first round – so much like the CWC, they will mostly be lesser known stars to be used as enhancement for the other 16 advancing, so don’t be too worried if there are names you’re not familiar with.
TESSA BLANCHARD, USA
Tessa Blanchard was rumoured practically since day one; her dad is WWE Hall of Famer and Four Horseman Tully Blanchard; one of the indie circuit’s highest profile female performers.
TAYNARA CONTI, Brazil
Taynara Conti is the NXT name of Brazilian judo fighter Taynara Melo; she was one of the 17 names on the leaked list.
KAVITA DEVI, India
A protege of former WWE Superstar and World Champion The Great Khali; regular competitor for Khali’s Continental Wrestling Entertainment (CWE) in India
LACEY EVANS, USA
Lacey Evans made her debut on NXT a few months back and looks to be getting her NXT push via the Mae Young Classic.
JAZZY GABERT, Germany
German powerhouse who wrestles as Alpha Female on the indies; has competed for wXw in her native Germany, Pro Wrestling EVE in the UK and is a multi-time champion in Stardom.
ABBEY LAITH, USA
Formerly known as Princess Kimber Lee in CHIKARA and Kimber Lee in SHIMMER, SHINE and CZW; first woman to win a non-female exclusive major wrestling promotion’s title when she won CHIKARA’s Grand Championship; will be making her official WWE Universe debut (beyond enhancement under her real name) at the Mae Young Classic.
SARAH LOGAN, USA
Formerly known as Crazy Mary Dobson on the indies; will be making her official WWE Universe debut (beyond enhancement under her real name) at the Mae Young Classic.
PRINCESS SUGEHIT, Mexico
Absolute legend in female lucha libre in Mexico; check out our recent spotlight on her for more details.
TONI STORM, New Zealand
The first announced competitor for the tournament; recently became the first PROGRESS Women’s Champion; another star from Australian scene, plus champion in Stardom
Qualifying Matches (airing on July episodes of NXT)
VANESSA BORNE, USA vs. JAYME HACHEY, USA
Vanessa Borne is the new NXT name for former enhancement Danielle Kamela; Jayme Hachey is the real name of SHINE regular Jayme Jameson.
ALIYAH, Canada vs. BIANCA BELAIR, USA
Aliyah has been used off and on in NXT for months now and looked strong, even appearing on Smackdown Live; Bianca BelAir is the new NXT name for Bianca Blair, whom PC trainers have been very impressed with of late.
RECENT SIGNEE GETS NXT NAME
In a potential sign that another recent signee is bound for the Mae Young Classic tournament, former SHINE star Andrea (who also wrestled as Rosie Lottalove in Impact Wrestling) has reportedly been given her NXT name, according to the always reliable Squared Circle Sirens. While she’d been working NXT Live Events as Mary Kate for the past month or so (acting as the bodyguard for Lana while the latter trained for her Smackdown Live debut), it appears going forward she will now be known as Sage Miller.
There you have it! Eleven guaranteed names so far of 32 (with a potential 12th) revealed so far by the WWE, with 20 more to go.
Keep checking back with Last Word on Pro Wrestling, as we continue the most in-depth look at the women being selected for this historic women’s tournament coming to the WWE Network.