Over the last few weeks, we have revealed you the names and faces of the women who will compete in the Mae Young Classic 2018 Tournament. But the parade is over (watch below) and it’s time to find out who are the 32 female Wrestlers from 14 different countries that will compete in the Mae Young Classic Tournament.
Last year, Kairi Sane defeated Shayna Baszler and was given a chance for the NXT Women’s Championship. As of today, we don’t know what the winner of this year will earn. Io Shirai and Tegan Nox, who were unable to compete last year, will be there this year. A few women will be given a second chance to win the trophy of the tournament. Let’s find out who they are.
Where and when?
The Mae Young Classic 2018 Tournament tapings took place on August 8 and 9 at Full Sail Live in Orlando, Florida. The finals will be held as part of the WWE Evolution pay-per-view on October 28, 2018, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The show will air exclusively on WWE Network on August 29, with a Bracketology special. This year, the tournament will be a weekly show, airing directly after NXT on Wednesday nights at 9 PM EST. The first set of matches from round one are starting on September 5, after NXT.
Calling the action of this year’s Mae Young Classic will be Michael Cole, WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix and Renee Young, marking the first time in WWE history that two women are in the announce booth. Beth Phoenix most recently lent her insight at the announce desk as part of this year’s Mixed Match Challenge.
Jordanian TV host and NXT trainee Shadia Bseiso and Cathy Kelley will conduct backstage interviews with competitors throughout the tournament. Kayla Braxton will serve as the tournament’s ring announcer. Mae Young Classic 2018 Bracketology will be hosted by Beth Phoenix and Mauro Ranallo.
Aerial Monroe (USA)
Aerial Monroe made her debut 3 years ago. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Monroe trained for the ring under her future husband, WWE Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander and southern wrestling legend George South and has competed throughout the U.S. independent scene. A charismatic striker, “Big Swole” uses a full arsenal of high-power kicks and her finisher, The Dirty Dancing (a ripcord forearm smash), to pummel opponents.
Allysin Kay (USA)
Impact Wrestling fans immediately recognized Sienna in Allysin Kay, her real name. Since 2008, Kay has worked WSU, SHINE, SHIMMER, Ring of Honor and Lucha Libre AAA before making her debut with Impact in 2016. She would there win the Knockouts title 3 times. Kay also worked in China, India, Mexico, England and Japan, she has a background in MMA.
Ashley Rayne (USA)
Ashley Rayne has worked for every major promotion in the USA, but also in the indies with SHIMMER and many others. She also worked in Japan, the UK and Europe. Ashley Rayne has made a name by herself for more than 13 years. She’s a former 5-time TNA/Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion, 2-time TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship and former SHIMMER Tag Team Championship. She was involved in Women of Honor Championship tournament to crown the first-ever ROH Women Champion.
Deonna Purrazzo (USA)
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.
Hiroyo Matsumoto (Japan)
Nicknamed “Lady Destroyer” because she broke a wall in an arena during her Ice Ribbon debut. Hiroyo Matsumoto made her professional debut in July 2006 and wrestled in Japan most of her career. Matsumoto is revered for her power and technical proficiency and once held four championships simultaneously. She also worked with SHIMMER in the USA.
Io Shirai (Japan)
Io Shirai was introduced as WWE’s newest signee at a Live Event in Tokyo a few weeks ago. Dubbed “The Genius of the Sky”, Shirai has captured countless titles in Stardom promotion. Shirai, alongside NXT Star Kairi Sane and WWE Superstar Asuka, had been considered for a long time as the best female wrestlers in the world. Shirai was named the top women’s wrestler for the past three years by Tokyo Sports, as quoted by WWE.
Isla Dawn (Scotland)
The newest member of NXT UK Isla Dawn will represent Scotland in the tournament. The former dancer transitioned into wrestling in 2013 and worked for Scottish Wrestling Alliance and ICW, before making her own European tour of the business, wrestling in Spain, Denmark, Holland and Germany. She made her debut in 2016 in US wrestling promotions like CZW, Shine or NOVA. With fellow Superstars Toni Storm, Jinny and Killer Kelly, she will compete in the brand-new NXT UK division
Jessie Elaban (USA)
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.
Those who have never heard about Jinny discovered what the PROGRESS Wrestling Champion is about during the WWE UK Championship Tournament last month. She holds the distinction of being the first female graduate of PROGRESS’s wrestling school and has been wrestling for the company since 2014. The UK-based hard-hitting talent is now a member of the brand new NXT UK roster.
Kacy Catanzaro (USA)
Kacy Catanzaro was best known for her groundbreaking performances on “American Ninja Warrior” before being recruited into the WWE Performance Center earlier this year. The former gymnast has been a wrestling fan since childhood. She signed with WWE during the Mae Young Classic 2017 Tournament. She made her in-ring debut at an NXT live event last April, she also appeared on NXT TV show.
Celeste Bonin, 31, started her rise to fame after winning the third season of NXT in 2010. Her feuds with AJ Lee were epic. On the 20th anniversary episode of RAW on January 14, 2013, Kaitlyn defeated Eve in her hometown of Houston, Texas, to win the Divas Championship. A year later, Bonin and WWE decided to terminate her contract and Bonin came back to the fitness industry.
During her time away from WWE, women’s wrestling has changed and Kaitlyn is decided to celebrate those changes her own way. As a former bodybuilder and powerlifter, she was a strong and explosive opponent. Kaitlyn held the title for 153 days before losing it to one of her greatest rivals, AJ Lee.
Karen Q (USA)
Chinese-American Karen Q made her professional in-ring debut in 2014 and worked for many indy promotions. She became a Woman of Honor when she made her debut with Ring of Honor in April 2017. She took part in the ROH Women Of Honor Championship inaugural Tournament. She’s described as tough, aerial, acrobatic and entertaining. She has a 12-year background in gymnastics, a background in diving, and a background in volleyball as well.
Kavita Devi (India)
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 (Portugal)
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 26, 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.
Lacey Lane (USA)
Lacey Lane was set to participate last year but, because of arthritis in her knee, WWE rescinded its contract offer. Lane will be a part of the second Mae Young Classic as one of the recent recruits who headed to the WWE Performance Center last week. Lane was trained at the Dudley Boyz’ Team 3D Academy and has worked for promotions like The Crash Lucha Libre and AroLucha. She was also on a Division II Basketball National Championship team.
MJ Jenkins (USA)
Jenkins made her debut in Shine Wrestling in 2012. She also worked for Impact Wrestling. Formerly an independent wrestler who earned her reputation throughout the Northeast, Florida and the Dominican Republic, Jenkins is a seasoned competitor of seven years and trained under such luminaries as WWE Hall of Famers The Dudley Boyz and Johnny Rodz. On July 17, Jenkins signed a contract with WWE and reported to WWE’s Performance Center.
Meiko Satomura (Japan)
The 23-year veteran made her in-ring debut at 16 in her native country. In 1996 she even took part of the inaugural WCW Women’s World Championship. After more than 10 years with Gaea Japan, she created her own promotion, Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling, while appearing in CHIKARA events in the USA. “Known for her debilitating Death Valley Bomb and explosive Scorpion Rising axe kick, Satomura is a master of Joshi Strong Style, the hard-hitting in-ring female wrestling style,” tells WWE.
Mercedes Martinez (USA)
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.
Mia Yim (South Korea)
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.
Nicole Matthews (Canada)
The former SHIMMER World Champion and 2-time Tag Team Champion Nicole Matthews is a 12-year ring veteran from Vancouver. She has competed in Canada, the United States, England, Japan and Australia. She has faced some of the best female wrestlers of this planet. Like WWE quotes, “She boasts an aggressive, bullying style of wrestling and likes to finish opponents with a devastating rolling cutter she calls the ‘Vancouver Maneuver’.”
Priscilla Kelly (USA)
At only 21, Priscilla Kelly made her debut 3 years ago with Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment where she crossed paths with some of the best indie wrestling wrestlers, like Jazzy Gabert, Amber O’Neal, Kiera Hogan and Tessa Blanchard. She’s the current and inaugural SHINE Wrestling Nova Champion. She’s described by WWE as a master of mind games inside the ring.
Rachel Evers (USA)
Behind this name is hidden an heritage as Evers, 25, is the daughter of Paul Ellering, former manager ofThe 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. Evers was eliminated from the 2017 tournament in the second round by Abbey Laith.
Reina González (USA)
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.
Rhea Ripley (Australia)
Rhea Ripley, 21, had worked in many promotions in her native country of Australia from 2013 to 2017. She also worked in Japan and Mexico, before becoming a participant of the first-ever Mae Young Classic Tournament last summer. Under the ring name Rhea Ripley, she was the youngest competitor in the field of this first tournament. She eliminated Miranda Salinas in the first round. She advanced to the second rounds of the tournament where she was eliminated by Dakota Kai.
She was quickly signed by WWE and sent to the Performance Center after the tournament. She made her debut in NXT a few weeks after, on August 25, in a three-on-three tag team match and wrestled her first NXT singles match a month after against Bianca Belair. Ever since she has been a steady presence in NXT live events and TV weekly shows. Ripley has yet to chase the NXT Women’s Championship, held by fellow Tournament participant Shayna Baszler. Winning this second edition could be the key to her upcoming success for the hard-hitting and striking wrestler.
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 missed the cut for her country. But not for the WWE talent scouts. She signed with NXT 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 ever since. She was eliminated in the first round by Lacey Evans in the inaugural tournament.
Tegan Nox (Wales)
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.
Toni Storm (Australia)
Like Mercedes Martinez last year, Toni Storm was one of the last four in the inaugural tournament, reaching the semifinals to be defeated by Kairi Sane. She’s the current wXw Women’s Championship and was the inaugural 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 “snap suplexes, British technical grappling and the odd bit of high-flying”, like quotes WWE.
Vanessa Kraven (Canada)
Kraven made her professional debut in Canada in 2004, same organization where Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn cut their teeth. She worked with SHIMMER and Shine Wrestling in the USA but also toured many times in Japan from 2006 to 2010. As quoted by WWE, Kraven boasts a wide repertoire of hard-hitting moves, highlighted by her Cliffhanger Chokebomb, which is a two-handed sit-out chokeslam.
Xia Brookside (England)
Xia Brookside is only 19 but the girl for Leicester is no other than United Kingdom legend and WWE Performance Center coach Robbie Brookside. She wrestled her first match in 2015, teaming up NXT UK talent Ligero. The current IPW: UK Women’s Champion worked in the UK, Germany and Japan. She made her first steps in the USA last year working for DEFY, RISE and Queens Of Combat. Like her father, she’s a specialist of classic British grappling techniques, with a hard-hitting influence.
Xia Li (China)
Xia Li is one of the first Chinese athletes recruited by WWE in January 2017. She made her in-ring debut at last year’s Mae Young Classic but was eliminated by Mercedes Martinez in the first round. The combat-sport athlete masters the Chinese martial art of wushu.
Known for her hyper-aggressive in-ring style, Zatara, 26, of Santiago, Chile, is known for her ruthless reputation. Debuting in February 2008, the masked Luchadora has captured titles throughout South America and counts wrestling in Mexico City’s world-famous Arena Mexico as one of her proudest accomplishments. Believing “the end justifies her means,” the opportunistic wrestler often finishes off opponents with a running knee strike to the back of the head.
Zeuxis (Puerto Rico)
Zeuxis is a Puerto Rican masked Luchadora, best known for her 10 years tenure with the Mexican wrestling promotion CMLL. She also made regular tours of Japan with the Reina Joshi Puroresu promotion. The “Puerto Rican Power” is a proponent of “Lucha Strong Style,” a mix of Lucha Libre and Japanese Strong Style. she put an end to former Mae Young Classic participant Princesa Sugehit when she defeated her in a mask vs. mask match. Like Pentagon Junior or Fénix, Zeuxis chose to hide her private life and real identity thanks to the mask she’s wearing.
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, spoiler free :
- Meiko Satomura vs. Killer Kelly
- Ashley Rayne vs. Mercedes Martinez
- Lacey Lane vs. Vanessa Kraven
- Taynara Conti vs. Jessie Eleban
- Toni Storm vs. Jinny
- Rachel Evers vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto
- Mia Yim vs. Allysin Kay
- Kaitlyn vs. Kavita Devi
- Tegan Nox vs. Zatara
- Isla Dawn vs. Nicole Matthews
- Rhea Ripley vs. MJ Jenkins
- Kacy Catanzaro vs. Reina Gonzalez
- Io Shirai vs. Xia Brookside
- Zeuxis vs. Aerial Monroe
- Deonna Purrazzo vs. Priscilla Kelly
- Karen Q vs. Xia Li
All pics courtesy of WWE.com