After former Divas Champion Kaitlyn, Australian NXT wrestler Rhea Ripley, and other interesting names, WWE announced four more competitors for The Mae Young Classic 2018 Tournament in NXT talent Tegan Nox, former Women of Honor Deonna Purrazzo, rookie Jessica Elaban and the returning Reina Gonzalez. And this Friday, 4 more names appeared on WWE.com. Kavita Devi, Mia Yim and Mercedes Martinez are coming back for the second edition while Killer Kelly will make their debut.
Tegan Nox, aka Welsh wrestling sensation Nixon Newell, made her debut in 2014 with British promotions like ATTACK!, PROGRESS, WCPW or Fight Club: Pro. She started to work in the US with SHIMMER in 2016 and even worked for Japanese female promotion Stardom. Nox signed with WWE in April 2017 and was supposed to be a part of the inaugural WWE Mae Young Classic. But she tore her ACL before the tournament began. She made her official NXT debut last April.
Jessica Elaban has been an athlete all her life. She played soccer and volleyball, excelled at track and dance. But in May 2017, she joined the WWE Performance Center to become a wrestler. One year later, she’s going to participate in the 2018 Mae Young Classic tournament. Even if she may be a rookie, she’s been on the road with NXT and squared off with NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, Lacey Evans, Vanessa Borne or Candice LeRae.
It had been reported for a long time that Deonna Purrazzo signed with WWE. But it was confirmed by the company only a few days ago. As a former Women of Honor and TNA Knockout, Purrazzo has worked with the very best. Purrazzo is credited with starting the “rebirth” of Women of Honor in 2015. She took part of the tournament to crown the inaugural Women of Honour Champion. Purrazzo also wrestled for Impact Wrestling and Japanese promotion Stardom. The “Virtuosa” is going to be a serious contender for the trophy this year.
Reina Gonzalez may have been eliminated in the first round of the inaugural tournament, she will be given a second chance this year. 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 has been wrestling at NXT house shows against the best talents of the promotion and also appeared on the weekly show a few times since 2017.
She may have lost in the opening round last year, Kavita Devi will have a second chance this year to show the world the powerlifter she is. Her performance in the tournament was so impressive WWE signed her a few months after and started training at their Performance Center in January 2018. She made her very first appearance as part of the company at WrestleMania 34 when she competed in the inaugural WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. She made her NXT debut a few days after. Kavita Devi was trained by former WWE Champion The Great Khali. Hailing from Jind, Haryana, India, the 5-foot-9 Devi was a top competitor in Khali’s Punjab-based organization, Continental Wrestling Entertainment. She gained the attention of WWE talent scouts at a tryout in April 2017 in Dubai.
Killer Kelly is the epitome of the European wrestler. She was born in Portugal, wrestled in Germany, Spain, Belgium, France and in the UK for EVE and PROGRESS. At 28, she made her WWE debut at NXT’s events at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She holds the distinction of being the first-ever wXw Women’s Championship. Her style is described as strong, with kicks and suplexes, with an MMA influence.
In the inaugural tournament, Mia Yim defeated Sarah Logan in the first round but was defeated by Shayna Baszler in the next one. She’s given this year a second chance to grab the trophy of the women’s tournament. 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.
Last year, Mercedes Martinez was one of the last four in the tournament when she reached the semifinals. Will she this year make the ultimate steps she was unable to make in the inaugural edition? At 37, 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 one half of the current Shine Tag Team Champions. She also appeared in Combat Zone Wrestling and Ring of Honor rings.
More names will be announced by WWE in the coming days and weeks. The Mae Young Classic 2018 Tournament tapings are taking place on August 8 and 9 at Full Sail Live in Orlando, Florida. The shows were sold out a few hours after the announcement of the tapings.
All pics courtesy of WWE.com