Let’s look at this 32 women tournament shall we? We are currently a week away from filming the first round and we know, well not a whole lot. Fifteen of the thirty-two women have been announced, which is my hope that there will be some surprise entrants come next week. We know our commentary team, JR and Lita, which has the potential to elevate this tournament to a whole new level. We know when the shows will start airing on the WWE Network, August 28th. We know very little, so should we be worried? I say if you are nervous about the tournament, you have every right to be.
WWE has currently the best roster they have had in years; I’d go as far to say its the best roster since early 2000s. The women’s division is as stacked as its ever been, with women that can actually wrestle. We are at a time where women in wrestling have proven that they are worthy of main event status, the MYC is coming at a peak time. With names like Lacey Evans, Abbey Laith, Dakota Kai, and Toni Storm there is so much potential for new faces to shine. Many faces will be new to the WWE Universe, the past year in wrestling has shown people who had only watched WWE wrestling what else is out there. My worry with these new faces is the lack of time to invest in them. For those who don’t follow UK wrestling, New Zealand wrestling, or even the American independents, will there be enough time to invest?
This is crunch time. As fans we’ve asked for this tournament, we’ve asked for women’s wrestling to be better, but are we going to get it? As fans do we do our homework on some of these ladies or do we try to learn as we go? For my nerves, lets chat about a few of the announced competitors.
Will fans connect with Toni Storm (pictured left), a kickass Australian-New Zealand wrestler? They should. Toni currently holds the SWA World Championship in Stardom and is the current reigning and defending Progress Women’s Champion. Look out for her Strong Zero finishing move, a sick pile driver that has won her countless matches. Check out matches Toni has had with Kay Lee Ray, Viper (also known as Piper Niven for the MYC), Io Shirai, and Jinny. Storm is young, but has traveled all over the world. Don’t sleep on her in this tournament.
Most fans already know Tessa Blanchard, daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard. A familiar face, in what so far seems to be a sea of unknown. Tessa has only been wrestling for four years, but has made a name for herself with companies like: Shimmer, Stardom, and Wrestle Circus. Tessa is a face that fans can get behind as she has been on WWE TV previously.
For those that follow wrestling in Japan you will already know Kairi Hojo, er Kairi Sane (pictured below) her WWE name. Kairi was one of Stardom’s most successful wrestlers, with her killer elbow drop and experience in high pressure situations she should be a favorite to win the Mae Young Classic.
Other names announced for the tournament are Dakota Kai (FKA Evie), Abbey Laith (FKA Kimber Lee), Bianca Blair, Lacey Evans, Taynara Coti, Kavita Devi, Piper Niven, Princesa Sugehit, Jazzy Gabert, Sage Beckett, Rhea Ripley and Sarah Logan (FKA Crazy Mary Dobson). A lot of the competitors are currently apart of the NXT brand, which means most are home-grown talent. WWE seems to want the WWE Universe to be invested in names that have been around the performance center; like Bianca Blair, Lacey, Taynara Coti.
While having faces that have been brought through the performance center is great, all for it, we again come across the ‘do fans no who these people are’ question. Most of the homegrown talent haven’t even been featured on WWE NXT tapings yet. If any fans do know anything about some of these women, it will be the NXT fateful in Orlando. A lot of these women have been on the Florida loop with NXT, going to different towns across Florida. There is some recognition that will hopefully help viewers at home find a favorite to root for.
As fans we want this tournament to do well, we don’t want things to fail, but my nerves are at an all time high with this tournament. Women have taken a long, hard road to get to the point they are now and this tournament can make or break the “revolution.” With little being told about competitors, less than half the names announced, and no prize that we know of, the tournament is starting to seem like an afterthought. One thing that could help elevate the tournament to a new level, is commentary. As we saw with the Cruiserweight Classic, Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan made every competitor and every match must see. Mauro and Daniel had you on the edge of your seat with every move. With the Mae Young Classic we are given two WWE Hall of Famers at the commentary table, Jim Ross and Lita. We all know JR is the best commentator of the generation and having one of the best women’s wrestlers to be in the WWE should make for good chemistry and insight on matches. The concern will be if JR can be on his A game, as clearly during the G1 USA Special he was not. Hopefully Lita and JR can keep fans invested and wanting more because right now, a lot is up in the air.
With all we know of the tournament being nervous is completely valid. But the WWE is full of surprises, this will be no different.