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Wrestling / WWE Mae Young Classic

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The WWE Mae Young Classic is a professional wrestling tournament featuring 32 female wrestlers from around the world, named in honour of women's wrestling legend Mae Young. The first four rounds were taped on July 13 and 14 with the finals airing after SmackDown on September 12, 2017. The winner was Kairi Sane.

After the success of the inaugural tournament, WWE announced another one in April 2018, with a possible eye to making it a yearly event. It began airing after WWE NXT every week starting from September 5, with the finals taking place as part of the all-female Evolution PPV on October 28th. The 2018 winner was Toni Storm.

A third tournament for 2019 was announced by Triple H, but it was apparently cancelled.


  • Ascended Extra:
    • Lacey Evans and Sarah Logan had appeared a couple of times as Jobbers or battle royal participants. Here they got spots in the tournament.
    • Mercedes Martinez had jobbed to Victoria on an episode of Sunday Night Heat way back in the early 2000s.
    • Kay Lee Ray, Candice LeRae, Rachel Evers, Santana Garrett and Tessa Blanchard had already competed on NXT as part of Squash Matches. Here they appeared as actual tournament participants.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Serena Deeb was previously in WWE back in 2010 as part of CM Punk's Straight Edge Society.
    • Kaitlyn returned for the 2018 tournament after briefly retiring in 2014.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Serena Deeb's video package referenced her time with the SES.
    • Unusually for former TNA competitors, Ashley "Madison" Rayne's intro video explicitly discussed her time with TNA.
  • Distaff Counterpart: This was the all-female equivalent to the WWE Cruiserweight Classic and UK Tournaments, which had been all male.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A lot of developmental female talent who hadn't appeared on NXT yet, or had only made minimal appearances, made their debuts in the tournament. Bianca Belair and Vanessa Borne were homegrown debuts, Kairi Sane, Dakota Kai, Abbey Laith and Shayna Baszler were indie women under contract who had yet to debut.
  • Faux Action Girl: Rather obvious on newer girls such as Vanessa Borne in the first tournament. The 2018 tournament had a more experienced roster.
  • Five-Token Band: Promoted as an international tournament, it featured the following nationalities being represented by women in WWE for the first time: Germany (Jazzy Gabert), Brazil (Taynara Conti), India (Kavita Devi) and China (Xia Li, Zeda).
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Nixon Newell was slated to compete, but tore her ACL before the tournament. She was replaced with Miranda Salinas. Heartbreakingly enough, she participated in the second tournament, getting all the way to the quarterfinals before tearing her other ACL in the ring during a match with Rhea Ripley.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Notably used with the female broadcasters. Dasha Fuentes - the young model - was the Maiden. Lita - the star from the Ruthless Aggression Era - was the Matron. And Madusa - the veteran from the 80s and 90s - was the Crone.
  • The Juggernaut: Combined with Old Master, this was Meiko Satomura in the 2018 tournament. 40 isn't particularly old, but for women in wrestling, it definitely is. In spite of her age, Meiko's skill level is unparalleled, and even her opponents (in particular Killer Kelly and Lacy Lane) bowed in deference upon Meiko defeating them.
  • The One Guy: Uniquely for WWE, the commentary team was almost all-female - except for Jim Ross in 2017 and Michael Cole in 2018.
  • Sensory Abuse: Kay Lee Ray's theme, though less than her indie themes which all pretty much sounded like this.
  • Stripperiffic: Notably averted with Jessicka Carr - WWE's first full time female referee. If females had refereed in the past, it was usually the talent in custom versions of their wrestling gear, which being usually sexy by default, ended up looking more like a Sexy Whatever Outfit.note  Jessicka wore the same uniform as the males.
  • Tournament Arc: Held during the third quarter of the year featuring 32 women competing in a two-three month duration.
  • World of Action Girls: This is notably the first time WWE has ever done an entirely all-female wrestling broadcast.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Despite being a heel, Vanessa Borne still shook Serena Deeb's hand.
    • Reina Gonzalez to Kacy Catanzaro, after Kacy's upset victory. No one considered the 4'11" newbie Kacy a threat to 5'10" Reina, but Kacy showed off an impressive skill set. Reina raised Kacy's hand in victory.
    • Meiko Satomura considered Mercedes Martinez this in the 2018 tournament. Meiko was gracious to other competitors, even toward Toni Storm, who eventually beat her, but Mercedes and Meiko considered each other true veterans.