Johnnie Mae Young (March 12, 1923 January 14, 2014) was an American professional wrestler. An influential pioneer in women's wrestling, she helped increase its popularity during World War II and training many generations of wrestlers. She wrestled throughout the United States and Canada, and won multiple titles in the National Wrestling Alliance.
Beginning in 1999, Young had a high-profile second career in the WWE, being part of a recurring comedic duo with best friend The Fabulous Moolah in appearances on WWE televised events. One of her more infamous moments was when she began a "storyline" where she dated Mark Henry, including an announcement that Young was pregnant. Her "child" was eventually delivered and found to be nothing more than a bloody rubber hand. In a more badass storyline, The Dudley Boys, specifically Bubba Ray Dudley, performed a powerbomb on Young through a table twice in consecutive episodes of Raw - the first being in the ring and the second being off the entryway stage. Young was 77 years of age at the time, but expressed enthusiasm for the stunt. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2017 the WWE held the WWE Mae Young Classic, a special all-woman worldwide invitational tournament, in her honour. A second one was held in 2018.
Tropes related to Mae Young:
- Always Second Best: In that she could have been world women's champion or WWWA singles champion if not for Mildred Burke, against whom a draw was the best she could manage even after thirteen years as a pro. She did defeat June Byers several times but the two times the title was on the line were a draw and a loss, with Byers retiring before Young could get a third shot.
- Arch-Enemy: Gloria Barattini, excepting 1959 when they were a Tag Team in Washington DC but especially antagonistic concerning the NWA Florida Women's belt.
- Ascended Fanboy: Originally a fan in the crowd who watched Mildred Burke as World Women's Champion and wanted a chance to wrestle her. Young was denied a shot at Burke, as Gladys Gillem was higher on the contenders' list. So Young simply beat Gillem, in under a minute, leading Billy Wolfe to break her into the pro wrestling business. Young got a few shots at Burke, but never won and ended up working for her in the WWWA.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
- Body Horror/Fetus Terrible: The hand which Mark Henry sired.
- Cool Old Lady: You better believe it. And badass too.
- Cool Teacher: While not her main trainer, she did help Moolah learn to wrestle. She was the main trainer of June Byers.
- Dirty Old Woman: So, so much.
- Effortless Amazonian Lift: Promotional posters for her matches often depicted her and her opponents or partners with a man across their shoulders, even though Young rarely, if ever, wrestled men in her pro career. This presumably was just to show off the strength of the wrestlers.
- Fake Boobs: She had "enhancements" in WWE when one of their storylines called for her flashing the crowd. These were not to make them more appealing but to make her breasts look more disgusting!
- I Was Quite a Looker: Obviously during her WWF/E time she was Fan Disservice played for comedy, but back in the 50s, her look was based on the starlets of the time and she was well known for her attractiveness.
- Iron Lady: During the 80s and early 90s, Mae Young worked as a manager in the Portland indy scene working this gimmick as a manager of male wrestlers in a male-dominated profession, where she'd go toe-to-toe with the promotional authority figures. She wore power suits and a perm that could deflect a crowbar.
- The Lad-ette: In her prime she was known for her habit of drinking and gambling with the male wrestlers she was on tour with. She later brought this back during her tenure in the WWE where she was sometime shown smoking a cigar.
- Let X Be the Unknown: In Arizona she antagonized Gloria Barattini for a month, hiding her identity as "Madame X".
- Never Mess with Granny: How many 80-year old women do you know that are not only willing, but eager to be put through tables? Not only did she want to go through the table, but when Bubba Ray Dudley tried to soften her landing and lessen the force he used on the throw, she walked up to him, slapped him across the face, and told him "Throw me through the table, asshole". It's also been said that, when Bubba wanted to rehearse going through the table, she ran up and put herself through the table. Additionally, she once related the story that Vince McMahon offered her a night off because, he jokingly said, "I don't want you to die in the ring." Mae responded by saying "You know what, Vince? I hope I do die in the ring." She said it would be the perfect way for "an old broad" like her to go out.
- One of the Boys: Taught to wrestle by her brothers and joined a wrestling team full of boys in high school.
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: See below for a good example.
- Skewed Priorities: During the infamous pregnancy storyline with Mark Henry, she stressed that she would not give birth unless she had a smoke and was more concerned about this rather than the fact she was in labor.
- Squash Match: Billy Wolfe recruited her for pro wrestling training after Young squashed Gladys Gillem in a shoot fight, which allowed Young to get a title shot against Mildred Burke in Young's first official match.
- Tomboyish Name: Yes, her real first name really was "Johnnie".
- Took a Level in Badass: She was always badass, but her confrontation with LayCool at "Old School Raw", calling them "bitches" and "sluts" (in WWE's "PG-Era", no less), was a welcome level for her.
- The first NWA Florida Women's Champion, the women's belt used by Championship Wrestling From Florida\Florida Championship Wrestling. It is not to be confused with the Ladies Championship belt CWF Florida used when it lost the rights to its own name and rebranded the entire product after its FCW B Show(first holder, Alexis Laree), nor the FCW Divas belt used when WWE was also forced to use the B Show branding(first holder, Naomi Knight).
- One half of the NWA's first World Women's Tag Team Champions with Ella Waldek. There is some dispute here, with some records citing June Byers and Millie Stafford as the first, but all records that have Young and Waldek on record have Young and Waldek first.