Cleat Geeks

First Look: The 2nd Mae Young Classic (Part I)

The wait for the second annual Mae Young Classic tournament is almost over! All 32 women have been announced, and we are just weeks away from the tournament’s premiere on the WWE Network! To increase your anticipation, here is the first of an eight-part series that takes a look at the 32 combatants!

Kaitlyn: Clearly among the biggest and most anticipated of the 32 combatants, Kaitlyn was the very first woman announced for the 2nd annual tournament. The MYC marks Kaitlyn’s return to WWE after four years, and is the culmination of a wrestling comeback that began earlier this year. Kaitlyn’s WWE career began with NXT in 2010, and it was within a year that she was promoted to the main roster and formed a partnership with AJ Lee. Kaitlyn’s elevation began in 2012, when she was put into the Divas Championship picture en route to capturing the title on January 14, 2013. She held the title for just over five months before she would be on the wrong end of history; losing the title to AJ Lee and kickstarting AJ’s 295-day reign (which has been surpassed by Nikki Bella). Kaitlyn left WWE in 2014, but she would return to wrestling this past February when she defeated now-fellow MYC combatant Rachael Ellering at an indie event. Kaitlyn will definitely show out in the MYC, and I do hope that this leads to a full on WWE return.

Rhea Ripley: Australian sensation Rhea Ripley was the first returning combatant announced, and the first of many to return to the MYC. Rhea participated last year’s event; defeating Miranda Salinas in the opening round before being eliminated by Dakota Kai in Round 2, but she remains signed with WWE. She has competed on NXT and during several live events, but in recent months, Rhea has been working as a heel, aligning with Reina Gonzalez and a villainous Aliyah in recent house shows. The “Parade of Champions” special earlier this week saw Rhea debut her new villainous look during her intro; consisting of a new hairstyle, leather apparel, and a very fierce attitude. I am very curious to see how far Rhea will go with this new character. I know this much, she’ll give a great performance in the tournament, regardless of how far she reaches.

Io Shirai: The great thing about the Mae Young Classic is that I and other fans of women’s wrestling get to see certain women for the first time ever. In my case, Io Shirai is one of those women. Io Shirai is a name I’ve heard many times, but I have never seen her in action. So when I saw her name among those announced for the MYC, I was elated. Another Japanese phenom, Io made a mark during her time with the STARDOM promotion, having held the World of STARDOM Championship on two occasions. I myself am anxious to see what Io will bring to the MYC. I have a feeling that she will not disappoint.

Nicole Matthews: As a longtime fan of SHIMMER and a collector of their DVDs, I was so, so elated when I learned that Nicole Matthews would be participating in this year’s tournament! Nicole is a veteran of the Berwyn, Illinois based promotion, where she is best known as one half of the Canadian NINJAs with Portia Perez. The duo captured the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship twice, and it was in 2014 that Nicole captured the SHIMMER Championship in a four-way elimination match, defeating Athena (WWE’s Ember Moon), Madison Eagles, and entering champion Cheerleader Melissa (Lucha Underground’s Mariposa). Nicole actually appeared as an enhancement talent on WWE’s NXT, and she as actually an alternate for the first Mae Young Classic, but never used. Nicole has acted as a heel for pretty much all of her career, and quite a despicable one; she tossed a fireball at Eagles to win the SHIMMER Championship. With that, I’m hoping that she’s a face in the MYC. I have yet to see the heroic side of Nicole Matthews, and I hope to see that because I know she’ll pull it off very well.

Those are just a small collection of the combatants who will participate in the 2nd annual Mae Young Classic tournament, which premieres on September 5! And there’s more to come!

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