With Triple H intimating that a 3rd Mae Young Classic Tournament is in the offing, Matthew Roberts casts his eye over the world of women’s wrestling and takes a look at who might/who should make the list of 32 this time around.
The annual prospect of the Mae Young Classic is one of my highlights of the year in the WWE Universe. As much as the matches we get when it actually happens, a lot of excitement comes from speculating who from the vast world of wrestling will get signed up for the action. This is not meant to be a definitive list, nor should it be taken as the names we think will actually make it. It’s a mixture of names you would think are nailed on for a spot, some that the WWE could take a chance on and others that are unlikely but would make this writer’s day.
If you want something to stand out in the Mae Young Classic roster, then what better place to start than Aiger. As Mizuki Endo she was a hard-hitting machine, as Aiger…well she needs to be seen to be believed. Best described as something akin to the Ghost Girl from The Ring in terms of image, this 28-year veteran has reinvented herself is stunning fashion, and once seen is never forgotten.
19. DASH Chisako
Meiko Satamura’s burgenoning reputation in the Western Hemisphere as (not-so) arguably the greatest women’s wrestler in the world today has opened up the doors for other stars of Sendai Girls to make a name for themselves and the diminutive (4’ 11’) Chisako has certainly done that. Not afraid to mix it up in streetfights and other kinds of gimmick matches, as well as straight up singles action, Chisako has the versatility to make a good match with anyone and has a bubbly personality that would just leap off the screen.
18. GISELE SHAW
The Filipino wrestler, of Chinese and Spanish descent trained under Lance Storm at the Storm Wrestling Academy and has previously trained at the Performance Centre. Now more than four years into her career, 2019 has seen an improvement in her in-ring skills and her exposure across the globe, including matches for Progress Wrestling, Attack and RevPro in the UK. Graceful in the air, but also able to both dish out and take punishment, the sky could be the limit for Gisele. And what better way to kick start that than a spot in the MYC.
17. Hana Kimura
You could argue that Kimura’s popularity with the western joshi audience is not particularly because of her in-ring skills, but that would be to overlook an ever-improving level of performance in Stardom (and other places) from her over the past year or so. Slowly but surely she’s adding timing and psychology to her all-round act and with only around four years in the business she’s only going to get better.
16. Jamie Hayter
The standout of many a Pro-Wrestling Eve, Stardom (where she is currently working the 5* Grand Prix tournament) or RevPro show, Jamie Hayter has been one of the break out stars in women’s wrestling over the past year or so. In a tournament scenario where there is a “blink and you’ll miss it” vibe in terms of making an impact, the nuclear heat that Hayter can whip up in PWE is a sure fire sign that ten minutes on the Network would be ample time for her to make her mark.
15. Killer Kelly
This Portuguese native would add to the list of countries represented in the tournament (and we know how WWE like to hype their diversity), but she would be worth so much more than being a token entry into proceedings. Whilst she’s not really been able to turn her NXT UK contract into really showing what she can do (clearly not being a priority for the bookers on that show at the moment) she has continued to shine on the continent (and elsewhere in the UK), plus her almost shoot-style aesthetic would add another layer to the tournament.
14. Lana Austin
To know me is to know that I love Lana Austin. Having recently celebrated the sixth anniversary of her debut match, Austin is one of the most improved women in UK wrestling over the past few years. She’s made appearances for Impact (in a great match with Su Yung) and showed up in NXT UK around the turn of the year. With an ability to have a good match with many different styles of opponents and herself being able to mix it up with a multitude of styles, she has a versatility that would be very useful indeed within the tournament.
Ok, as much as I liked Kaitlyn the idea of her being a “legend” is perhaps a little far fetched. But it was nice to see her back in action last year AND it was nice to see that it obviously meant so much to her. There’s sure to be a similar “redemption” style entrant in this year’s effort and even with seemingly monthly “legends reunion” shows on WWE TV and PPV there’s still a lot of scope here. Melina made an on-screen return to WWE TV at the recent Raw reunion, and a couple of years ago won a Southside Queen of the Ring tournament in such emotional fashion that it made me cry. The likes of Molly Holly could still conceivably “go” and if it’s name value, rather than natural ability, the likes of Kelly Kelly could still put in a shift.
Having wrestled since 1997 and been a big part behind the scenes in Canadian Wrestling in terms of overturning laws that prohibited men vs women matches, LuFisto is a well-travelled veteran who, sadly, has had to recently admit that her career is winding down due to injuries. LuFisto does not need her “moment” in WWE to have had a great career but it would certainly be a wonderful moment for her to have it nonetheless. And if we need a little bit of hardcore violence to mix things up a little bit she would be the ideal candidate.
11. Millie McKenzie
Although Millie made an appearance in the NXT UK Women’s Title Tournament and was expected to commit to the division, she made the choice to turn down a “full time” offer from that brand…which might not have been a bad idea. Not that she doesn’t have the talent, but more that she probably would not have been a featured performer there and the opportunity to hone her craft, especially in Japan, elsewhere seems perfect for a woman who has not yet reached 20 years of age. At the time of writing, she’s one-half of the Sendai Girls tag team champions with Charli Evans so that’s a career path that seems to be working well. All that said, her work is up there with the best of the scene and she would be an exciting addition to the tournament line up.
10. Nina Samuels
Consistently featured on NXT UK in recent months, Samuels exudes that “superstar” aura and you can well imagine that the pre-tournament vignettes alone would get her noticed by fans who neither watch NXT UK nor will have seen her exploits in the likes of Pro-Wrestling Eve. As someone you can really “love to hate” Samuels is one of the best characters on this list.
9. Tegan Nox
Given that the former Nixon Newell was hotly tipped to win last year’s tournament before an horrific injury during the action itself put paid to that AND that she’s recently made a return to in-ring action you would think that Tegan Nox is almost certain to take one of the spots this year. It would certainly make for an emotional storyline and if anyone deserves a break it’s the talented Welsh Wizard.
8. Piper Niven
Ok so she’s been in the MYC before and she’s an integral part of the NXT UK Women’s Division but Piper is a class act who could certainly add something to the third instalment of this tournament. Unique, but with a style that is compatible with almost anyone, we’d like to see her go far this time around.
7. Santana Garrett
Having formerly worked in NXT on a freelance basis, as well as appearing in the likes of TNA, Stardom, Shine and WOW, Garrett has recently reported to the WWE Performance Centre and inked a deal with the developmental side of WWE. Another one with vast international experience which would translate well into making an impact in the quick fire nature of a tournament such as this.
6. Session Moth Martina
I call for this every year, but with a recent sighting of Martina in the UK Performance Centre, could this be the year that Session Moth is introduced formally to the WWE Universe? And gets her dream of meeting John Cena come true too? The misguided “setting back women’s wrestling a decade” jibes have long since subsided as Martina has proved that beyond the comedy “gimmick” there lies, you know, an actual wrestler who can mix it up with the best of them. And who doesn’t want to see Full Sail rocking to Darude? (Other generic CFO$ bangers will be available).
5. Shotzi Blackheart
A couple of years ago Shotzi seemed primed to become the “next big thing” but she seemed to go a little quiet after that. Now, though, she is back with a vengeance and is looking better than ever. Hard-hitting and fearless she is one of those characters that jumps out of the screen whenever she is on and her passion for wrestling is clearly evident. Previously she tried out for WWE’s Tough Enough in 2015 and was recently a part of the Evolve special that aired on the Network so those in control of the MYC line-up will know all about her. If she gets the opportunity here, everyone will know all about her.
4. Su Yung
Ok so she’s under contract to Impact Wrestling at the moment as far as I can tell, but that seemingly didn’t stop Rob Van Dam appearing at the recent Raw Reunion. Her dedication to the character (staying in “gimmick” during a meet and greet) endears her to me, as did her work in Shine and Shimmer. Admittedly it’s one of the more unlikely suggestions on this list, but we can dream can’t we?
3. Veda Scott
In some ways Veda would appear to have everything the WWE would look for in it’s women. She can work, is adept on the mic AND on commentary (which aren’t always mutual abilities as anyone who has sat through Shawn Michaels cutting commentary would attest to) and she had the ability to get face or heel heat. As such this would make her the perfect inclusion for the Mae Young Classic.
2. VXT (Chelsea Green, Deonna Purrazzo & Rachael Evers)
An unfortunate injury to Rachael Evers recently means that the promising “VXT” trio of her, Chelsea Green and Deonna Purrazzo will have to wait a little longer to wreak havoc in NXT. But in the meantime, there’s no reason why Chelsea or Deonna (or both) can’t turn their attention to the MYC. Both have vast experience across the world and would bring a lot to proceedings and it would be a bit of a novelty for two associates to be wreaking havoc in the same MYC tournament.
1. Zoe Lucas
Shimmer, Rise, RPW, Pro-Wrestling Eve and IPW are just some of the places that Zoe Lucas has plied her trade in 2019 alone. A gymnastics and dance background means she has the athletic background to succeed and she has rounded out her character over the past year or so to the extent that you can imagine one promo would be all it would take leading up to the tournament to get her over.
As said this is not intended to cover all bases/highlight everyone who deserves a shot. If you violently disagree with a choice, let me know. If I’ve missed off your favourite, let me know too!
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON