In case you missed the announcement this week from the WWE, there will be a second, annual Mae Young Classic event taking place in August 2018. Last years inaugural event saw 32 women’s competitors battle one on one, over 5 rounds to determine a winner.
Whilst there were some leading Independent names from the US and International, the likes of Germany’s Jazzy Gabert (The Alpha Female), Scotlands Kay Lee Ray and Piper Nevin (Viper), Australia’s Toni Storm, New Zealand’s Dakota Kai, South Korea’s Mia Yim, England’sAyesha Raymond, US stars Mercedes Martinez, Abbey Laith, Candice Le Rae and current NXT star, former UFC fighter Shayna Baszler
The eventual winner was Japan’s Kairi Sane who by winning earned a title shot at the vacant NXT Women’s Championship. This match took place at NXT TakeOver: WarGames, in Texas, 18th November 2017. She would go on to lose in the Fatal 4 Way with Ember Moon being crowned the NXT Women’s Champion.
So far the 2018 event has only had two names announced Australia’s Rhea Ripley returning from last years tournament,
Rhea Ripley (2017 Mae Young Classic WWE.com Image)
and Kaitlyn from the US.
Kaitlyn (current WWE.com picture)
If that last name sounds familiar, it might be because Kaitlyn is the former NXT Season 3 winner, and a one time WWE Divas Champion. Throughout the Summer of 2012 and Kaitlyn feuded with Eve Torres, something which began with Torres beating in her a match to take over her GM’s Assistant job.
By January 2013 Kaitlyn had positioned herself as the number one contender to the Divas Championship, which by that time was heard by Eve Torres, who she would defeat on the January 14th episode of RAW in her hometown of Houston Texas, for her first ever WWE title. She would hold the belt for an impressive 153 days with defenses against Tamina Snuka, Natalya, and AJ Lee who would eventually take the title from Kaitlyn to start her first Divas Championship reign.
interestingly, prior to this an apparent backstage incident happened when Kaitlyn interrupted WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon doing a conversation with an executive and the CBO didn’t take to this too kindly, resulting in what was described at the time as a “scene” which would then spill over into a televised scene where Kaitlyn was berated on live TV by McMahon for interrupting her.
Kaitlyn would be unsuccessful in recapturing gold though would make a victorious appearance in a relatively high profile mixed tag match at Summerslam with Dolph Ziggler against the team of Big E and AJ. She would again beat AJ, this time in a non-title match, leading to a championship opportunity but would be unsuccessful, and in January 2014 had her final match, again a losing effort against AJ on Main Event, before leaving WWE to focus on other business ventures.
She would return to the independent circuit in February 2018, under her real name Celeste Bonin, to defeat Rachael Ellering at Coastal Championship Wrestling for their Breaking Chains event, and then in June their Summer Glory event.
Clearly, Bonin showed enough in those performances to lead to the WWE offering her a place in the 2nd Mae Young Classic event, but what does this say about the positioning of the Divas Championship?
The WWE now has NXT, and in 2016 eyebrows were raised when Mickie James, a five times WWE Women’s Champion, and former Divas Champion returned to NXT: Takeover for an NXT Women’s Championship title shot. A lot was made about her age (James is now 38) with suggestions she was at the twilight of her career, despite signing a multi-year deal, it was expected she would take up the type of role usually seen by her male roster counterparts until they approach their 50s; putting over new talent or the big name jobber.
But Kaitlyn is 31, the same age as Charlotte Flair, younger than Nia Jax and Asuka, three of the four women in the current championship picture and WWE has three established brands on which they could easily bring her back. When WWE bring back former champions it is usually done at big PPV events like the Hardy Boys at Wrestlemania or Rey Mysterio at the Royal Rumble, or at least on RAW or Smackdown every time Kane or Mark Henry come back. With all the respect in the world, we aren’t suggesting a one time champion like Kaitlyn is on that level, but, what does it say about how WWE views their former Dias Title if they currently position someone who carried that title for a large proportion of 2014 as only being worthy of arguably the lowest ranked tournament on their totem.
The Mae Young Classic is going to be a great opportunity for new talent on the Independent scene to build their profile. Though you only need to look at how few of the names from the inaugural event are still with WWE to see that for many this could be a one-shot deal. However, like everyone else, we can’t wait to see which British stars will get that opportunity and hopefully take an emphatic first step on the ladder to bigger things.
Mae Young classic Logo (credit wwe.com)
Names have been rumoured like a return for Toni Storm, US stars Mandy Leon and Chelsea Green, we’ve also seen mentions of ProgressregularJinny and ICW regular Isla Dawn, Nixon Newell may also take one of the spots, international names like Io Shirai, Killer Kelly,Vernice Gabriel of the Philippines and former UFC fighters Marina Shafir and Jassamyn Duke. Given the WWE’s current love of making history, it is likely we may also see Jordanian TV presenter Shadia Bseiso, the first ever Middle Eastern Arab woman to sign for the company, and as India still seems very much in their thoughts Kavita Devi may also make a return.
One thing for sure with 30 places still up for grabs we will all be watching for announcements over the next few weeks!
What do you think, does it devalue the history of the Divas Championship by placing a former Champion in at this level? Drop us a comment below or tweet us @BritBombshells