SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This week begins tapings of the 2018 edition of the Mae Young Classic at Full Sail University. The first iteration of the tournament last summer was a big part of WWE’s Women’s Evolution, which this year will include a women’s-only PPV in October. The Mae Young Classic finals will be held at that event.
Last year’s finals wound up being a preview of the top of the NXT Women’s Division for the next year: Kairi Sane, the winner, has been positioned as a top babyface, while Shayna Baszler, the runner-up, has been THE heel of the women. In fact, if it weren’t for Tommaso Ciampa doing such a bang-up job as a heel in NXT, we’d probably be hearing more about how great Baszler has been in a similar role.
Like in 2017, this year’s field in the MYC features both WWE and non-WWE contracted talent. There are also some names back for a second year, which could play into the stories of matches that couldn’t be played into last year. It’s an impressive list, even more impressive when you think about some names that aren’t included (Britt Baker, Jordynne Grace, Chelsea Green), thought it gives fans some new faces to look forward to for next year. As for this year, here are some names to keep an eye on:
Allysin Kay and Ashley Rayne: Better known in Impact Wrestling as Sienna and Madison Rayne, it’ll be a little odd to see these two in a WWE ring when to many, they are associated with Impact. Both had major roles last time they were seen there.
Kaitlyn: Taking the Serena Deeb role of the veteran on the comeback trail, Kaitlyn’s return to wrestling has culminated with her inclusion in this tournament. Like Deeb before her, a solid performance could earn her a WWE deal.
Kacy Catanzaro: The former American Ninja Warrior contestant has earned rave reviews from viewers of her work at NXT house shows on the Florida loop. Now, a wider audience will get to see her unique talents inside the squared circle.
Meiko Satomura: NXT’s women have had a heavy Japanese presence with Asuka, Kairi Sane, and now Io Shirai. Satomura, though, came before all of them. The 38 year-old, who once appeared in WCW, can probably teach the women a thing or two in addition to competing against them.
Mia Yim: It was a mild surprise when Yim wasn’t signed after last year’s Mae Young Classic. It’s a good sign, though, that WWE has brought her back for a second go-round. She’s got a lot of fans watching on and rooting for her.
Xia Brookside: She’d probably already have a developmental deal if it wasn’t for her age – at just 19 years old, she’ll be the youngest competitor in the tournament. The Brit already has three years experience, and she has an “in” – her father is WWE trainer Robbie Brookside.
Greg Parks hosts the “Wrestling Night in America” Livecast every Sunday night on PWTorchlivecast.com. Read additional columns from him at PWTorchVIP.com. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.