The parade is over (watch below) and it’s time to find out who are the 32 female Wrestlers that will compete in the Mae Young Classic Tournament. The Tournament was expected to have competitors from 17 countries, as announced during Wrestlemania week. But they’re in fact from a dozen of countries only…
At this moment we still don’t know what the winner will earn. If like Cruiserweight Classic, they will receive a Championship Title or , like the Dusty Rhodes Tournament, an honour, right now it’s anyone’s guess. But one thing we don’t need to guess is that this Tournament is a must see on August 20th.
Japanese sensation Io Shirai was expected to be apart of it but she’s suffering from a neck injury WWE uncovered during Shirai’s medical tests in Pittsburgh. She will remain under WWE development contract however as she signed last May, after a tryout in March.
Welsh wrestler Nixon Newell will not be apart of it too as she has suffered an ACL injury that required surgery by the end of June. Newell also signed a WWE developmental contract last year and debuted at the Performance Center last May.
Lacey Evans (USA)
Lacey Evans joined the WWE Performance Center in April 2016 and already appeared regularly in both NXT TV and live events. Lacey Evans is a former U.S. Marine and member of the Marine Corps SWAT team. “The Lady of NXT” wants to prove to all women of the world, including her 4-year-old daughter, that there are no limits on what you can achieve.
Sarah Logan (USA)
Sarah Logan, aka Crazy Mary Dobson, aka Sarah Bridges, is proud to have been “born in the woods and raised in the mud”. She has been an independent promotions Superstar since 2011 in the USA and in UK. She also worked her craft in Japan with Taka Michinoku. She’s reknowned for not being afraid of fighting against men. She signed with NXT in October 2016 and made her NXT TV debut earlier this year.
Toni Storm (New Zealand)
At 21, she’s the first and reigning UK promotion PROGRESS Women’s Champion. Born in New Zealand, raised in Australia and based in the U.K., the 8-year wrestling veteran worked in 13 countries before the age of 20. She mixes an 80’s rock style aesthetic with a technical and hard-hitting wrestling style.
Princesa Sugehit (Mexico)
The Monterrey-born masked Princesa Sugehit is one of the most esteemed grapplers in Mexico. She’s been involved in the wrestling business since 1996 and will bring a massive experience to the tournament. She worked with Mexico’s top promotions, like AAA and CMLL. Current Mexican National Women’s Champion, she has claimed the masks of numerous rivals over the year, which is considered the ultimate sign of triumph in lucha libre.
Kavita Devi (India)
Kavita Devi was trained by former WWE Champion The Great Khali. Hailing from Jind, Haryana, India, the 5-foot-9 Devi is a top competitor in Khali’s Punjab-based organization, Continental Wrestling Entertainment. She gained the attention of WWE talent scouts at a tryout this past April in Dubai. Devi was an accomplished kabaddi player in high school and is also a competitive powerlifter. Inside the ring, Devi has racked up victories using a head-caving roundhouse kick.
Taynara Conti (Brazil)
Brazilian judo-master Taynara Conti is 22 and a newcomer in the wrestling business. She is a black belt in judo and a blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu. She competed in the 2016 Olympic trials in judo, but miseed the cut for her country. But not for the WWE talent scouts. She signed with NXT in October 2016 but hasn’t debuted with NXT yet. The Mae Young Classic Tournament will be her first chance in a WWE ring.
Abbey Laith (USA)
Abbey Laith, known as Kimberly Frankele and Kimber Lee, may be a master of suplexes and strikes, she’s also an experienced dancer, particularly in ballet, who began training for the ring while working toward a bachelor’s degree in dance education from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She worked for many American federations like SHIMMER, SHINE, Combat Zone Wrestling. Before signing with WWE last January, she was the only woman to hold CHIKARA Grand Champion. She’s a regular of NXT live events and appeared twice on TV last April and May.
Tessa Blanchard (USA)
Tessa Blanchard, of Charlotte, N.C., may be only 21 but she’s already competed in the U.K., China, Japan and the Maritimes, where she once wrestled 23 nights in a row, since her debut in 2014. Her last name is synonymous with glory as she’s the daughter of WWE Hall of Famer and Four Horseman Tully Blanchard. Tessa decided to follow in the family trade after watching her father’s Hall of Fame induction in 2012. She was involved in the upcoming biopic about Paige and her family produced by the Rock and WWE “Fighting with My Family”.
Jazzy Gabert (Germany)
Jazzy Gabert is a German brawler who has wrestled internationally for more than 15 years. She started her career in 2001 with NWA Germany but also other local promotions like PWA and EWA. She worked for French promotion Queen of Chaos from 2006 to 2008. She also took part of 2008 and 2009 American Wrestling Rampage Tours.
She signed with Pro Wrestling: EVE in 2010 and became the first-ever Pro-Wrestling: Eve Champion. Gabert is a multi-time champion in Japan’s Stardom organization, and she is currently a women’s champion for groups in Germany and Switzerland. In MMA, she has fought under the banners of the Rizin Fighting Federation and IFO Europe.
Dakota Kai (New Zealand)
Kai, 29, wrestled internationally under the name of Evie for the American promotions Shimmer Women Athletes and Shine Wrestling as well as for Pro Wrestling Alliance in Sydney, Australia, where she is a former PWWA champion. She also worked for Impact Pro Wrestling in New Zealand, where she is a former three-time IPW Women’s Champion. She appeared on NXT on the October,14 2015 episode, losing to a debuting Nia Jax. On December 15, 2016, she signed a contract with WWE. She’s also known as “The Captain of Team Kick”, for her wide variety of strikes.
Kairi Sane (Japan)
Sane, 28, is best known as Japanese sensation Kairi Hojo. Nicknamed “The Pirate Princess” in her home country, she is one of the most celebrated women’s wrestlers of the modern era. She made her debut in 2012 for Stardom promotion, where, over the next five years, she became a one-time World of Stardom Champion, three-time Goddess of Stardom Champion and a four-time Artist of Stardom Champion, while also winning the 2015 5★Star GP and 2016 Goddesses of Stardom Tag League. She signed with WWE last March, helped by a certain Shinsuke Nakamura.
Piper Niven (Scotland)
Piper Niven is an experienced powerhouse who has competed across numerous promotions, including Shine, SHIMMER and ICW. Niven played contact sports in her youth, setting the foundation for her eventual in-ring debut in 2008. She is revered for her high-impact offense, which includes senton splashes, powerslams and a signature Michinoku Driver.
Bianca BelAir (USA)
The US former crossfit star, formerly known as Bianca Blair, signed a developmental deal in April 2016, she appears regularly in NXT live events and had her first TV match in May, being apart of the NXT Women’s Title #1 Contendership Battle Royal which ended in a no-contest. Calling herself the “EST of NXT,” Belair claims to be the strongest, fastest and toughest woman on the Performance Center roster.
Rhea Ripley (Australia)
At just 20 years old, Rhea Ripley is claimed to be a wrestling prodigy. The hard-hitting Australian was a standout soccer player in her youth, making her uniquely prepared for a career of throwing hard kicks. In addition to having competed in her home country of Australia and Japan, Ripley is also a two-time Riot City Women’s Wrestling Champion.
Sage Beckett (USA)
Formerly known as Rosie LottaLove in TNA, Beckett is a 10-year veteran of the ring, trained by Bully Ray and D-Von Dudley at their Team 3-D Academy. After her TNA stint, she toured in Japan but retired in 2012 due to injuries. She came back in the independent rings in 2014 and appeared in a NXT episode in October 2015. She signed a developmental deal in January and is managing Lana during her live events NXT matches. Sage Beckett is said to be as tough as they come as she has taken the hardcore philosophy of her trainers to heart.
Kay Lee Ray (Scotland)
At 25, the red-headed grappler is well-known in the United Kingdom for her ability to take to the skies with an innovative, daredevil attack. Ray is a former Queen of Southside Champion, Scottish Women’s Champion, SWE Speed King Champion and a Women’s champion for Glasgow-based Insane Championship Wrestling. She faced a debuting Nia Jax in October 2015 on a NXT TV episode .
Ayesha Raymond (England)
The 6-feet-tall Ayesha Raymond not only has the size but also the strength to overpower the competition, and she loves to fight. Having grown up in the East End of London, she started training in bodybuilding to start to fight at the age of 15. She was trained by British greats like Johnny Saint, Tony Scarlo and WWE Performance Center coach Robbie Brookside. One of the biggest and strongest women to declare for this tournament, she has won titles in various promotions, including STARDOM, IPW and World War Wrestling.
Vanessa Borne (USA)
Formerly known in NXT as Danielle Kamela, Borne was trained by Rikishi and Gangrel in their wrestling school in Arizona. She worked for Fox Sports Arizona, was a cheerleader and dancer. She wrestled for Knokx Pro Entertainement in California before signing a WWE deal in April 2016.
Marti Belle (Dominican Republic)
At 28, the former TNA Knockout Marti Belle is nearly a 10-year ring veteran. She worked for Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU), Evolve, Shimmer Women Athletes and Shine Wrestling. She is also a former WSU Spirit Champion and a two–time WSU Tag Team Champion.
Mercedes Martinez (USA)
At 36, the former basketball player started training in 2000. Since, she has worked for numerous independent promotions like Shimmer, World Xtreme Wrestling, Full Impact Pro and Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU). She’s is the current and 3-time WSU Champion, the current 2-time Shimmer Champion, WXW Women’s champion, nCw Female Champion, and one half of the current Shine Tag Team Champions. She also appeared in Combat Zone Wrestling and Ring of Honor rings.
Serena Deeb (USA)
Deeb will be in this tournament what Brian Kendrick was for CWC, the comeback one. Deeb was trained in WWE developmental system OVW was a member of the SmackDown roster in 2010, during which time she famously became a baldheaded member of The Straight Edge Society alongside CM Punk and a certain Luke Gallows. She combines the concentration and motivation of a yogi — she’s a certified yoga teacher — with the intensity and passion of a warrior.
Xia Li (China)
Xia is the first Chinese woman to have ever signed a developmental deal with WWE, it was last September. She’s a martial arts and fitness specialist who has had multiple first-place finishes in both sports competitions.
Rachel Evers (USA)
Behind this name is hidden an heritage as Evers, 24, is the daughter of Paul Ellering, current manager of NXT Tag Team Champions, The Authors of Pain. She trained with Lance Storm by the end of 2015 and debuted in Canada. She worked with SHINE before making her debut on NXT in April 2016 in a match against Alexa Bliss. She made more stints in NXT in September and November 2016. She appeared on Impact Wrestling in March 2017 for a few matches but quickly came back to WWE as she participated in a #1 Contender’s Women’s Battle Royal on May 3 edition of NXT.
Santana Garrett (USA)
Garrett began her career in Coastal Championship Wrestling, a Florida promotion, on 2009. She made a name of herself on the independent circuit in promotions like NWA, PWX, Shimmer, Women of Wrestling, SHINE, Japanese promotion Stardom, but also GFW and TNA. Garrett is one of the most accomplished competitors outside of WWE. Inspired to pursue wrestling by her father, who was once a grappler, Garrett translated her gymnastics and cheerleading background into a sports-entertainment skillset that has earned her title reigns across the globe. She received a tryout with WWE in 2013 and appeared in OVW for a match against Women’s Champion Taeler Hendrix. She appeared in NXT in 2013 and 2016.
Nicole Savoy (USA)
Known as “The Queen of Suplexes,” Savoy dishes out the punishing maneuvers with both intensity and variety. German, Tiger, Dragon, Butterfly, you never know which suplex Savoy is going to execute; you just know it’s going to be vicious. She’s a multi-dimensional competitor, trained in both Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu. Her unique ability to hurt people has earned her a title in the SHIMMER promotion.
Reina Gonzalez (USA)
Daughter of Texan indie wrestler Ricky “Desperado” Gonzalez, Gonzalez is a former basketball player. She graduated in journalism in 2013. She was signed to a WWE developmental deal in October 2016. She appeared a few times in NXT live events and once on TV in the NXT Women’s Title #1 Contendership Battle Royal last May.
Shayna Baszler (USA)
The former UFC fighter knowned as “The Queen of Spades” is one of the true pioneers of Women’s MMA, and she’s credited with helping give rise to the likes of Paige VanZant, Miesha Tate and her good friend, Ronda Rousey. She transitioned into wrestling successfully 2 years ago and is the reigning AIW Women’s Champion, IndyGurlz Australia Champion and PREMIERE Women’s Champion.
Zeda, formerly known as Julia Ho, comes from Canada but trained with Brian Kendrick in his California-based school. She’s a singer, a model, but also a MMA fighter. She was known as Julia “WillKilla” Ho when she was fighting for Cage Fury Fighting Championships MMA promotion. She signed with WWE in December 2016.
Candice LeRae (USA)
LeRae may be Mrs Johnny Gargano, she’s also a gifted wrestler and a 10-year ring veteran. She worked for Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Ring of Honor, NWA, CZW, TNA, Shimmer and so many more. She’s a specialist of intergender matches and even was the tag team partner of Joey Ryan in PWG. During her career, she crossed paths with WWE Superstars Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Rick Swann and TJ Perkins and Wrestling Superstars like Tommy Dreamer, The Young Bucks, Christopher Daniels and Gail Kim. She appeared the #1 Contender’s Women’s Battle Royal on May 3 edition of NXT, letting many expecting she would come to WWE.
Mia Yim (South Korea)
The Impact Wrestling fans will better remember her as Jade, a one-time TNA Knockouts Champion. She also previously worked for national promotions such as Ring of Honor (ROH), and independent promotions such as Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), Shimmer Women Athletes, and Shine Wrestling. With a second-degree black belt in taekwondo and a training in Muay Thai, Yim loves to compare herself to the legendary lightning-quick attacks Street Fighter character Chun Li.
Miranda Salinas (USA)
At 5’1, Miranda Salinas may not be the biggest competitor but she can explode in the ring without much notice, decimating everything in her immediate vicinity. She began training at age 18 in many schools, including in Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling organization. Salinas is equipped with a fast-moving style that is punctuated with notes of lucha libre craziness.
Renee Michelle (USA)
Former WWE Superstar Gillberg approached Michelle at the first sports-entertainment event she attended and asked if she would consider giving the ring a try. She has held the MCW Women’s Title three times and the ECWA Women’s Title twice, and has built a reputation outside the east coast, traveling as far as Japan and India to compete. She’s able to adapt to her environment with chameleon-like deftness.
Click on a pic to open the picture gallery of the 32 participants (all pics courtesy of WWE.com).
Here is the list of the First Round matches :
* Princesa Sugehit vs. Kay Lee Ray
* Serena Deeb vs. Vanessa Borne
* Shayna Baszler vs. Zeda
* Piper Niven vs. Santana Garrett
* Mia Yim vs. Sarah Logan
* Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li
* Rhea Ripley vs. Miranda Salinas
* Abbey Laith vs. Jazzy Gabert
* Toni Storm vs. Ayesha Raymond
* Dakota Kai vs. Kavita Devi
* Candice LeRae vs. Renee Michelle
* Rachel Evers vs. Marti Belle
* Bianca Belair vs. Sage Beckett
* Lacey Evans vs. Taynara Conti
* Nicole Savoy vs. Reina Gonzalez
* Kairi Sane vs. Tessa Blanchard