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Mae Young Classic: Getting To Know You (Part One)



We’ve asked for it and now we get it, a women’s tournament in the WWE. The days are getting closer to the four episodes dropping on the Network. We’ve been given the 32 names, but what do you really know about the competitors? I am here to help you out. Over the next month leading to the tournament, I will highlight the competitors. I’ll tell you what you need to know, matches to watch, and hopefully help you be familiar with some names that aren’t widely known.

The Mae Young Classic is going to take the WWE Universe by storm. Women’s wrestling is truly back and the takeover is real. The way one looks, where one is from, the color of their skin, any stereotypes are all out the window when it comes to this tournament. Welcome to the revolution, as the WWE has been calling it, this tournament is truly what the women’s revolution is. For the ladies waiting to watch this tournament, you are in for a special treat. Ladies, these women are going to inspire you, they are going to remind you to be yourself and own it, but most importantly they are going to remind you that dreams come true.

Writer’s note: the matches linked are just a taste of what these tremendous women can do, please keep supporting them! Find other matches; look into the companies they have wrestled for! There is amazing wrestling out there, do some homework 😉 and enjoy!

Piper Niven (image credit – Kirsty Anderson)

You may know Piper Niven by another name; many know her as Viper on the independent scenes in the UK and Japan. Piper is one to keep an eye on during this tournament. With a similar build to Nia Jax, Piper is intense and hard-hitting in the ring, every move she hits is going to make a big impact.  She’s tough, forceful, but at the same time graceful and quick. She is a powerhouse that has come to America to prove why she is the best in the world.

Representing Scotland, Piper has been trained by Mikey Whiplash, Damian O’Connor (Better known as Killian Dain to NXT fans), and Source Wrestling School. Her training started in 2008 and she made her debut in 2009 for Scottish Wrestling Alliance. In the time since her debut she has worked for companies including, Insane Championship Wrestling, Shine, Shimmer, What Culture Pro Wrestling and Stardom. Piper made such a name for herself that in 2014 she was asked to compete on TNA British Boot Camp.

Although she may have some gracefulness to her, don’t be fooled punishment will be inflicted. Be on the lookout for her Viper Bomb, senton, and Michinoku Driver. She’s in this tournament for a purpose, much like her other competitors, she’s here to win. Piper will be a favorite in the Mae Young Classic for many and a reminder for many little girls to keep going and be themselves.

Piper versus Kay Lee Ray: Although Piper lost in this match, we still get a taste of what Piper can do in the ring.

Piper takes on Little Miss Roxxy

You can find Piper on Twitter: @MissViper91

Kairi Sane (Also known as Kairi Hojo)

Kairi is most likely the woman fans are most excited to see in this tournament. Whether you’ve seen her matches or just know her by word of mouth, the Pirate Princess is exciting, high-flying, and hard-hitting.

Most know that Kairi is representing Japan in the Mae Young Classic, in 2011 Kairi began her training with Stardom, one of Japan’s top promotions. Kairi graduated in the third class of Stardom trainees and made her Stardom debut on January 7, 2012 in a losing effort to Yuzuki Aikawa; this was just the beginning of Kairi’s path to becoming one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world.

Kairi’s whole career has taken place in Japan, at 28 years old this pirate has accomplished a lot. In March 2015 she won the World of Stardom Championship for the first time, which no doubt helped in her being named Stardom’s MVP for the year. She won countess tag team titles and awards. In May 2016, Kairi defeated Santana Garrett to become the new Wonder of Stardom champion. She held this championship for over a year and had 9 defenses of the title, one short of the record held by Garrett.

2016 was the year rumors flew about Kairi being offered a WWE contract, something she had been interested in, but was worried because of concussions she had suffered in the past. WWE Universe has Bull Nakano to thank for Kairi coming to WWE, as a conversation with Bull helped in Sane’s decision.

Kairi is without a doubt the top competitor to win the entire Mae Young Classic and if she does look out for her diving elbow drop, it’s a thing of beauty. Other moves to look out for is her wicked spear, 4173 (bridging Gedo clutch), Ikari (bridging cross legged Boston crab) and her sliding forearm smash.

I don’t even think Kairi’s matches need any introductions, they are just that good. Do note that Kairi, during her time in Japan was a successful tag team/stable.

You can find Kairi on Twitter: @KairiSaneWWE

Candice LeRae

I am going to try not to gush about this competitor, but it may come off as gushing. For this writer there is no one that deserves to be in the Mae Young Classic more than Candice. A 15 year veteran, LeRae is representing the USA as she is from Anaheim, California.

Fans of NXT will know Candice because of her marriage to Johnny Gargano, but indy wrestling fans will know her because of her fearless attitude and wrestling style. Candice is in this tournament as one of the best wrestlers in the world, she can wrestle just as well, if not better, than most males in the sport. LeRae is one that is a true role model for following a dream and sticking up for what one believes in. I mean if I had a daughter I would hope that Candice LeRae would be one of her heroes.

Candice made her pro wrestling debut in 2002 for Empire Wrestling Federation, where she spent the first two years of her career. Candice is probably most known for her work in PWG (Pro Wrestling Guerrilla) and being a tag team with Joey Ryan, the World’s Cutest Tag Team. PWG is where the infamous match with the Young Bucks occurred, at Guerilla Warfare. You all know the one, the one where Candice was a bloody mess, but one the match to become the new PWG tag team champions? Come on, there’s a shirt and a pin of her bloody face. She’s resilient, she’s hardcore, she’s a woman’s wrestler, no she’s a PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER.

That PWG tag match showed Candice’s heart, but you can point to any match she’s ever been in and you’ll see that. We can go and look at her matches in Shimmer, her matches in the UK, Ring of Honor, Japan: win, lose, or draw, you can count that Candice went out to that ring and gave her all. Every night, every match, Candice leaves it all in
the ring and proves why women can hang with the men in this sport and take them to their very limit.

LeRae will take you to your very brink and get the very best out of you. I have never watched a match involving Candice that wasn’t good. Every time she hits the ring fans you’ll be in for a treat. Look out for her Super Swinging neckbreaker and Mrs. Gargano Escape, an octopus hold swung into a chicken wing over the shoulder crossface.

If this is your first time experiencing Candice Wrestling you are in for a real treat. Make some cupcakes, buckle your seatbelt and get ready for a wonderfully, sweet ride. Candice LeRae is One Tough Cupcake ready to take over the Mae Young Classic.

The match up of the Young Bucks versus The World’s Cutest Tag Team:

Believe it or not Candice has faced her husband, Johnny Gargano, multiple times: Enjoy!

Five of the very best women in the world: Candice with the victory

You can find Candice on Twitter: @CandiceLeRae

Toni Storm

The UK wrestling scene is absolutely on fire right now, meet one of the best wrestlers to come from the UK. She is the current reigning and defending SWA World Champion in Stardom wrestling, a title she has held for a year now. She is also Progress Wrestling’s first and current Women’s Champion. At 21 years old, Toni is young, hungry, and ready to take on the world.

Toni is representing the Gold Coast of Australia in the Mae Young Classic. Australia is where Toni made her wrestling debut in 2009 at the age of 9. Wrestling for companies like Melbourne City Wrestling and Impact Pro Wrestling Australia, Toni began to make a name for herself.

Once taking over the scene in Australia, Toni rode the wave to the UK, Ireland, and of course Japan. Toni signed with Stardom in 2016 and kick started her way to a championship within the first two months of being there. When Storm comes into a company she doesn’t play games, she may look like a rocker, but she’ll completely destroy her opponent and have a match of the year candidate almost every time.

Look out for Storm’s hard hitting, high-flying, strong style moves. She may be young, but the woman is fierce and hella strong. The UK has been proving why they shouldn’t be overlooked and now Toni is here to help remind fans of the Australian scene too. My suggestion with Toni: watch out for her hips and her pile driver, you’ll leave the ring with a pretty hurt head if you aren’t careful.

If you can subscribe to Progress Wrestling on demand, Toni’s match to become the first ever Progress Women’s Championship is something special. But here is a tag team match from Progress!

And a match from Stardom

You can find Toni on Twitter: @tonistorm_

photo credits – Paigey B. 

I'm more awesome than the Miz and like to think I'm a cupcake like Candice LeRae (she's way cooler than I am). British Wrestling stole my heart and I don't think I'll ever get it back. I blame British Strong Style, probably.

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