During WrestleMania weekend WWE announced the return of the Mae Young Classic later in the year, the all-women’s tournament that did strong numbers on the WWE Network last summer.
Although nothing official has come out from the company, the wrestling rumor mill has began to whir with speculation over the dates and the first names likely to be involved.
According to Bryan Alvarez of Wrestling Observer Radio, the 2018 edition of the tournament will be filmed at NXT’s home base Full Sail University on August 7 and 8, with everything except the final match shot over those two days.
Some of the (unconfirmed) names doing the rounds are very interesting. The first is Toni Storm, one of the hardest working and most recognizable faces from the independent scene, particularly in the U.K. Storm competed in last year’s tournament and it was recently reported that she had signed a contract with WWE.
Another U.K. scene stalwart, Jinny, has also been mentioned as a potential competitor. The PROGRESS, RevPro and wXw regular became the first ever (and current) RevPro Women’s Champion in January, and was one of three women to co-headline the first ever all-female main event on a PROGRESS chapter show back in May 2017. According to sources, Jinny has also inked a WWE deal.
The third name being discussed is a very familiar one: Io Shirai – the woman WrestleTalk Magazine named the number one female wrestler in the world in the WrestleTalk Women’s 50 – was set to win last year’s tournament until a combination of neck injuries and a heart murmur caused WWE to renege on offering her a contract. Evidently that has changed, with Shirai now strongly linked to the second MYC by those on the inside.
The likelihood of Shirai being part of the tournament seemingly increased when she dropped the Wonder of Stardom title – the Stardom promotion’s top prize – to teenage Cinderella Tournament winner Momo Watanabe at Korakuen Hall earlier this week.
We would also expect Welsh starlet Nixon Newell – who signed for WWE early last year but had to sit out the tournament due to a shoulder injury – to be a featured competitor in this year’s edition. Newell has recently been appearing on NXT house shows in a tag team with Dakota Kai.