Last night, WWE taped the first four episodes of the Mae Young Classic. Before the tapings began, however, there was a live stream that introduced all 32 women involved in this historic event. While there isn’t as much geographical diversity as the Cruiserweight Classic, there is an incredible depth to this field of competitors. Let’s take a look at 16 of the women that will be competing when the first four episodes air on the WWE Network on August 28.
Tessa Blanchard (USA)
Fans of NXT might recognize Tessa Blanchard from a couple one-off appearances, but most wrestling fans will recognize her last name. Blanchard is a third-generation wrestler, with her father being WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard and her grandfather, Joe Blanchard, being a wrestler and a promoter. Blanchard debuted in 2014 and has competed across the globe.
Toni Storm (Australia)
At just 21 years old, Toni Storm became the first Progress Women’s Champion, and she still holds the title today. Even though she is so young, she already has eight years of experience under her belt. She has wrestled in numerous countries and captured several championships.
Marti Belle (Dominican Republic)
Fans of Impact Wrestling will recognize Marti Belle as part of The Dollhouse. Along with her three-year long tenure in TNA, Belle has competed in the squared circle for over a decade. She has held several championships, including the Shine Tag Team Championships with former WWE Superstar Jazz.
Lacey Evans (USA)
Fans who have watched NXT over the past few months should recognize Lacey Evans. Evans (formerly known as Macey Estrella) joined the WWE Performance Center in April 2016 and she has occasionally been featured on NXT. Before joining WWE, Evans was a member of the Special Reactions Team in the United States Marines.
Shayna Baszler (USA)
A former fighter in UFC, Shayna Baszler is known as being one of the “true pioneers of women’s MMA” along the likes of Paige VanZant and Ronda Rousey. She has transitioned to professional wrestling and has already captured several championships. She currently holds the AIW Women’s Championship, the IndyGurlz Australia Championship, and the Premiere Women’s Championship.
Piper Niven (Scotland)
While Jazzy Gabert might look like she could steamroll the entire tournament, Piper Niven equals her in size. The Scotland native has won championships in Shine, Shimmer, and Insane Championship Wrestling (which provided a lot of Superstars for the UK Championship Tournament) and is known for being a powerhouse.
Although she lives in Richmond, VA, Zeda is one of two women in the Mae Young Classic representing China. She joined the WWE Performance Center earlier this year with a background in MMA and amateur wrestling, and she has been training under The Brian Kendrick, who also trained (former?) WWE Superstar Eva Marie.
Rhea Ripley (Australia)
At only 20 years old, Rhea Ripley already has four years of in-ring experience. Ripley’s soccer background translated to an arsenal of hard-hitting kicks which have won her two Women’s Championships in Riot City Wrestling. She has also toured extensively in Japan.
Kavita Devi (India)
WWE fans will not recognize Kavita Devi, but they will recognize who she trained under. Representing India, Devi is a “top competitor” in Continental Wrestling Entertainment, a Punjab-based promotion run by former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the Great Khali. Devi might be one of the stronger women in the tournament, with a background in powerlifting.
Sarah Logan (USA)
Known primarily for her work in the independent scene as “Crazy” Mary Dobson, Sarah Logan competed throughout the United States before training in Japan under the tutelage of former WWE Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku. Logan has been featured on NXT every couple of months, most recently in a great showing against Peyton Royce.
Abbey Laith (USA)
Abbey Laith just got her new WWE name a few weeks ago, so fans will probably recognize her under her previous name, Kimber Lee (or Kimberly Frankele in her few NXT matches). Laith was one of the most prominent women in independent wrestling before joining WWE, capturing several championships in Shimmer, Shine, and Chikara, where she was the first woman to win their Grand Championship. Laith has trained under 205 Live’s Drew Gulak.
Princesa Sugehit (Mexico)
Princesa Sugehit is by far the most experienced competitor in the Mae Young Classic, debuting in 1996. Sugehit has competed in CMLL and AAA (Mexico’s top promotions) and has won a few championships in Lucha Libre Feminil. Her greatest accomplishments, however, might be the handful of Mask vs. Mask matches she has won over the past two decades. The lucha libre veteran will provide a unique amount of experience and a new style to the field.
Mercedes Martinez (USA)
With 17 years of experience under her belt, Mercedes Martinez is perhaps the most notable independent female wrestler in this tournament. Most known for her time in Shimmer and Women Superstars Uncensored, she has dozens of championships under her belt (no pun intended), and she is the only woman to hold the WXW Cruiserweight Championship.
Jazzy Gabert (Germany)
Being the biggest woman in the tournament at 6’1”, Jazzy Gabert is more than an impressive physique. Representing Germany, Gabert has been competing for 15 years throughout Europe and Japan. She has held multiple championships in Japan’s World Wonder Ring Stardom promotion, and when she is not wrestling, she competes in MMA.
Taynara Conti (Brazil)
If Taynara Conti does not ring a bell, it is because she is brand new to the wrestling world. WWE officials caught wind of Conti when she was competing in the 2016 Olympic judo trials. Having both a black belt in judo and a blue belt in jiu-jitsu, Conti has been preparing for her debut since October of 2016. She also looks like a 50/50 combination of Renee Young and Natalya.
Kairi Sane (Japan)
WWE.com describes Kairi Sane as “a modern-day pirate queen, sailing from port to port, meeting interesting people and beating them in wrestling matches.” Sane (formerly Kairi Hojo) was the biggest prospect coming into the Mae Young Classic. She is regarded as one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world and she has the best diving elbow drop in the business.
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