Hello and welcome back, fellow wrestling fans! WWE’s Mae Young Classic is quickly approaching and we’ve already covered 12 of the featured competitors so far! If you’re interested in refreshing yourself on those entrants, my fellow co-writer, Chris Caradine, has covered the eight of the entrants while I have followed up with four more entrants!
Tonight, I’d like to feature four more competitors in the tournament! In the same vein as before, I will be discussing tidbits of their career and their chances in this year’s big event! Are these following competitors in your brackets to win it all or do you guys think they won’t go very far? I won’t waste any more of your time here so here are four more competitors coming your way that will be included in WWE’s Mae Young Classic 2018!
Billed From: Fontana, California
Weight: 132 lbs
Finisher: SkyYim, STO
Signatures: Northern Lights/German/Saito Suplex, 450 Splash, Sitout Powerbomb
Debut: August 2009
Championship Accolades: SHINE Champion, SHINE Tag Team Champion, TNA Knockouts Champion
Main Promotions: SHINE, SHIMMER, TNA/Impact, Ring of Honor, WWE
Versatile Striking Skillset
Prior ‘Mae Young Classic’ Experience
Recently Altered Style
Prior Significant Injury
Recent Return from Injury
Being a former competitor in the first Mae Young Classic and with her extensive background, Mia Yim stands out as a favorite for this year’s tournament. With her wrestling expertise and her athletic background in martial arts, it’s hard to deny Yim any credibility as a legitimate threat in the bracket. Being a professional wrestling fan since she was a child, Yim underwent training when she was 18, balancing college in the process. After 18 months of training, she officially made her wrestling debut on August 2009, working for independent wrestling promotions around Virginia (where her training school resided) before finding herself in Jersey All Pro Wrestling. During her time there, she faced off against the likes of Annie Social and Daizee Haze, through whom she began training in the Ring of Honor Wrestling Acadamy, debuting initially as a valet for The Embassy. She would sporadically wrestle, however, against wrestlers like Sara Del Ray and MsChif while there.
From there, her career drastically took off, as she found herself in Japan with Pro Wrestling Reina and Mexico’s CMLL. Both of these promotions allowed her to develop her hard-hitting/lucha libre-hybrid style, which she still carries to this day. Yim also found success in CZW as Adam Cole’s on-screen girlfriend and SHINE Wrestling, where she became a SHINE Champion, holding onto the title for 138 days with three successful title defenses. Her rise to mainstream, however, came in TNA (now known as Impact Wrestling), as a member of The Dollhouse, a top-tier villainous stable consisting of herself (under the name Jade), Marti Belle, Rebel and Taryn Terrell. Following the breakup of the group, Yim picked up the TNA Knockouts Championship quickly, defeating Gail Kim and Madison Rayne in a Three-Way Match, and holding on to the title for 87 days. Following her departure there, she returned to the Independent scene but also competed in WWE’s first Mae Young Classic, defeating Sarah Logan in the first round but losing to Shayna Baszler in the second round. Sometime late last year, Yim suffered an undisclosed leg injury that shelved her for a few months, with her return coming just a few months ago and she’s been competing since.
Yim’s wrestling style is heavily-based on strikes, largely due to her Tae-Kwon-Do background, but she has also been known to utilize grapples as well, such as her multiple suplex variations. Due to her recent leg injury, she has adjusted her style to balance out both, incorporating submission grappling into her repertoire as well. However, given that she had just returned from this leg injury fairly recently and the fact that her style has been altered to compensate, she may potentially encounter trouble early on against this year’s field of competitors. If there’s one thing Yim has been able to do consistently, however, it’s that she can silence her doubters and overcome all types of strife. Can Yim utilize her past experience in the Mae Young Classic and hone her skills en route to becoming the winner of the tournament this year?
Billed From: Niigata, Niigata, Japan
Weight: 150 lbs
Finisher: Scorpio Rising, Death Valley Bomb
Signatures: Arm Trap Crossface, Fujiwara Armbar, Juji-gatame, Shoot Kick
Debut: April 1995
Championship Accolades: World of STARDOM Championship, AAAW Single Champion, SENDG8I Girls’ World Champion, CHIKARA King of Trios Winner
Main Promotions: SENDAI Girls’ Pro Wrestling, STARDOM, Gaea Japan
Vast Wrestling Career
Proficient Striking and Grappling
Lack of Mainstream Exposure
Perhaps the most experienced competitor in this year’s Mae Young Classic, Meiko Satomura can be argued to be one of the cornerstones of Joshi (Japanese female Strong-Style) wrestling. Trained by Chigusa Nagayo and Billy Robinson, Satomura is considered by many female wrestlers to be the ‘final boss’ in Japan. Satomura started wrestling back in 1994 at the age of 14 before debuting in the all-female Gaea Japan, where she would remain for a decade. During her tenure, she would quickly establish a dominant legacy, becoming one-half of the inaugural AAAW Tag Team Champions (teaming with Sonoko Kato) and going on to win the title two more times with two different partners (Ayako Hamada and Chikayo Nagashima). Her legacy continued to be bolstered when she won the AAAW Singles Championship two times, holding the title for a combined total of 510 days, which is the third-most combined days as the champion (only bested by her trainer, Chigusa Nagayo, and Aja Kong).
While working with Gaea Japan, Satomura made appearances for WCW (through Gaea’s working relationship with them) while WCW was attempting to establish a women’s division at the time. During her time there, Satomura competed in two tournaments, both of which were to establish a WCW Women’s World Champion and WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Champion. Satomura would be eliminated in the first round in both tournaments but the women that defeated her would go on to win the tournament in the end. Once the working relationship between the two promotions ended, Satomura continued to work for Gaea Japan until the promotion’s close. From there, Satomura formed the SENDAI Girls’ Pro Wrestling promotion (along with Jinsei Shinzaki), which has become a very solid Joshi promotion that still runs to this day. Satomura would go on to become the inaugural Sendai Girls’ World Championship, winning the championship on her 20th anniversary show and holding onto the championship for an impressive 371 days. Satomura has also competed in CHIKARA as well, featured popularly in a trio consisting of SENDAI Girls’ competitors and winning the 2016 edition of the King of Trios tournament.
Satomura’s style of fighting is heavily Joshi Strong-Style-based, with explosive power and hard-impact techniques (likely the result of training under Chigusa Nagayo). In addition, Satomura’s managed to blend her striking with a catch-wrestling style (the result of her training under Billy Robinson) to provide a hybrid fighting style that has felled some of the most prolific names in Joshi wrestling. However, her presence is mostly regionalized towards the Puroresu scene of wrestling (with only one mainstream promotion in America under her belt in WCW and the other as an Independent scene in CHIKARA). This may result in her not successfully catching on with the casual audience, who won’t be aware of her skill-set. Also of note, she’s wrestled in the Joshi-style for 20+ years, which leaves considerable wear-and-tear on the body due to the high-impact and hard-hitting nature of the style. Considering her height as well, she may face some tough opposition at first, but she hasn’t earned her reputation without her decades of combat and, with that and her experience in mind, she will inevitably prove to be the most daunting competitor going into the Mae Young Classic.
Billed From: Columbus, Ohio
Weight: 120 lbs
Finisher: Cross Rayne, Rayne Drop
Signatures: Scissor Stomp, Northern Lights Suplex, Armdrag, Spear
Debut: May 2005
Championship Accolades: 5x TNA Knockouts Champion, 2x TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion, SHIMMER Tag Team Champion, 2x OCW Women’s Champion
Main Promotions: SHIMMER, TNA (Impact)
Solid In-Ring Performance
Extensive Wrestling Experience
Lack of Promotion Experience
Ashley Rayne (the former Madison Rayne from Impact Wrestling) may not have a wrestling resumé as extensive as most of her fellow competitors but don’t let that distract you from the fact that Ashley is a 13-year veteran of the sport and considered by many wrestling pundits to be a dark horse in this tournament. Prior to professional wrestling, Ashley had a proficient background in some of the sub-categories of the sport. She was a former track runner, a member of the drama club and a varsity cheerleader in High School, which gave her a head-start for understanding ring psychology and a background to build off of for the future. After High School, she had started to train for fitness competitions. It was during college that she started to get involved with professional wrestling, which she ultimately chose to pursue in lieu of Radiology.
When Ashley first started, she had wrestled in local Independent promotions in Ohio before debuting in Ohio Championship Wrestling, where she began to develop and cultivate in-ring experience. For the next four years, Ashley contended against the likes of Shantelle Taylor (the former Taylor Wilde of TNA), Jessicka Havok and Sara Del Ray en route to becoming the inaugural OCW Women’s Champion. She would go on to win the title one more time, holding the title for a combined 616 days and balancing her career there with matches in various independent promotions. She would eventually end up in SHIMMER (and, through them, Ring of Honor), competing against the likes of Portia Perez, Daizee Haze, MsChif and Sara Del Ray. By 2009, she had found her new home promotion in TNA Wrestling (now Impact Wrestling), where she would go on to build the majority of her career. She had originally started as a face but gained immense notoriety by aligning herself with Velvet Sky and Angelina Love, known as the Beautiful People. While in this stable, Ashley (then known as Madison Rayne) enjoyed immense success, becoming a multi-time TNA Knockouts Champion and TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion and also becoming the first Knockout (TNA’s Women’s Division wrestler) to hold both titles simultaneously. Madison Rayne would go on to be featured prominently in the Knockouts Division during and after her ‘Beautiful People’ run, amassing victories over Gail Kim, Tara, Angelina Love, Roxxi Laveaux to name a few. She had taken a brief hiatus from wrestling in July 2013, due to pregnancy, but would return later that year to feud with then-champion Gail Kim, ultimately defeating her to win her fifth TNA Knockouts Championship.
In 2015, she also participated in the TNA World Title series, a tournament that was established to determine a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion, following the title being vacated, coming in third-place in her block and failing to qualify for the finals. From here, Rayne would undergo several storylines throughout her tenure in TNA, including multiple reformations of the Beautiful People before transitioning to a backstage creative role for the Knockouts Division. Rayne would return to Ring of Honor for a few more matches, including the Women of Honor Championship tournament while balancing her Impact Wrestling duties. Her most recent match was during Impact Slammiversary ’18, where she was defeated by current-Impact Knockouts Champion (at the time of this writing) Su Yung. Following this, it was announced that she would be competing in the Mae Young Classic soon after.
Madison Rayne’s fighting style is a balance of solid striking and adept grappling. Her background in drama gives her an improved sense of ring psychology, which is utilized well when considering her character work (whether she’s a heel or a face). Her in-ring style is based significantly on her character alignment, utilizing dirty tactics as a heel while utilizing a more ‘no-nonsense’ approach as a face. As mentioned before, her wrestling resumé is mostly based within a few national promotions, resulting in her style being somewhat one-dimensional compared to the other competitors in the field. Also of note, Ashley has recently become a mother to a child, meaning that her entire focus may not primarily be on wrestling at this point in time. Regardless of these factors, however, Rayne will definitely be a competitor to contend with during the course of the tournament and may garner a few surprise victories along the way.
Billed From: Koto, Tokyo, Japan
Weight: 119 lbs
Finisher: Arcoiris de Io, STO
Signatures: Moonsault, Shinkansen Attack, Crossface, Handspring Dropkick
Debut: March 2007
Championship Accolades: 2x World of STARDOM Champion, 2x Wonder of STARDOM Champion, 6x Artist of STARDOM champion, NEO High Speed Champion, SWA World Champion, 3x Joshi Puroresu Grand Prize (2015-2017)
Main Promotions: Pro Wrestlng Wave, SENDAI Girls’ Pro Wrestling, JWP Joshi Puroresu, STARDOM
Exceptional In-Ring Talent
Prior Significant Injuries
Lack of Promotion Experience
Undoubtedly one of the most prolific entrants currently in the Mae Young Classic tournament, Io Shirai has been hailed by many wrestling fans and critics alike as one of the best wrestlers today. Shirai is an 11-year veteran in wrestling, but with her multiple title reigns and accolades, she’s performing at a level expected of legends in the ring. Shirai started her career as a freelancer at 16 years old while attending High School, teaming with her sister, Mio Shirai. For the early part of her career, the Shirai sisters wrestled under ‘Team Makehen’. a freelancer stable that worked with different independent promotions in Japan. It was here that Io was introduced to promotions like SENDAI Girls’ Professional Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Wave, where Io would begin to develop her in-ring style.
Her first big exposure would come in All-Japan Pro Wrestling, where the Shirai sisters would begin to establish their reputation through them, the Ice Ribbon promotion and Pro-Wrestling Zero1. However, her career surged when she, along with Mio Shirai and Kana (WWE’s Asuka) formed the ‘Triple Tails’ stable, which saw Io Shirai travel through different promotions in Japan, such as SMASH and NEO Japan Ladies Pro Wrestling. Through the stable, Shirai would also undergo an excursion in Mexico, working under the International Wrestling Revolution Group and even AAA. It was here where Shirai began to develop her Lucha-Libre style and perfect her craft in the ring (which would later earn her the moniker “The Genius of the Sky”).
After she left ‘Triple Tails’, Shirai found herself in STARDOM and unofficially made it her home promotion (while still declaring herself a freelancer). It wouldn’t be until her 5th anniversary as a wrestler where she officially aligned with STARDOM, ending her freelancer status. Over the next seven years, Shirai would dominate STARDOM with unrivaled talent and skill, establishing herself as the ‘ace’ of the promotion and winning every title and accolade within the promotion. Shirai is also known for her two World of STARDOM Championship reigns, which both surpass a year each and feature numerous successful defenses, bringing many views to the promotion in the process. Within the promotion, she would also form ‘Queen’s Quest’, a dominant stable which contends with the likes of the villainous Oedo Tai stable and the STARDOM Seikigun.
Ultimately, this would lead to a contract offer from the WWE for both her and fellow STARDOM competitor Kairi Hojo (NXT’s Kairi Sane, who was the winner of the 1st Mae Young Classic). However, while Kairi was admitted and settled in the WWE, Shirai’s debut was delayed, due to an undisclosed neck injury (and later discovered, an undisclosed heart issue) that prevented her medical clearance and resulted in her contract offer being rescinded. As a result, she spent one more year in STARDOM, building the ‘Queen’s Quest’ stable to be the most dominant stable in the promotion, as well as accumulating additional title reigns and accolades, such as Tokyo Sports’ Best Female Wrestler Award. After her neck and her heart were cleared by doctors, Shirai once again began negotiations with WWE, which ultimately resulted in her becoming an entrant in this year’s Mae Young Classic.
Shirai’s style is arguably the most well-rounded of all the competitors, being able to effectively ground her toughest opponents with technical proficiency or dropping them violently with strikes. She’s a student of the Joshi-Strong Style wrestling but she has also developed a hybrid style consisting of this and the Lucha-Libre style she had developed in Mexico. This style of wrestling has earned her the moniker, ‘The Genius in the Sky’, and it’s difficult to deny her that title, as Shirai is capable of adapting to, matching or outright overwhelming opponents of differing styles. However, her style of wrestling does not come without any faults, as it’s a combination of two high-risk styles. This naturally results in her style itself carrying a higher amount of risk in execution. Unfortunately, it has also resulted in some significant injuries (namely her neck issues), but she would never let you be aware of that. Her only other flaw is that, with the end of her freelancing status back in 2011, her only real promotional experience was STARDOM, with Mexico’s promotions being the only other area she’s worked under. Normally, this would be an issue in terms of contending with different wrestling styles, but Shirai has been able to mitigate this with pure talent and skill. With that being said, Shirai has finally achieved her dream of being in a WWE ring but can ‘The Genius of the Sky’ ascend to the echelon of greatness with victory in the Mae Young Classic?
That’ll do it for this breakdown but don’t you fret because we’re still not close to being done! We still have more competitors coming your way and we will be presenting Part 4 of our analysis on all of the competitors in WWE’s Mae Young Classic ’18. That being said, I wholeheartedly encourage you to come back to our website, as we continue to cover the tournament! What do you all think of these analyses so far? Let us know in the comments what you’re thinking, as well as who your favorite entrant to win the entire tournament! I thank you all for reading and I hope you all have yourselves a great night!
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Image Credit: WWE, Twitter (Killer Kelly, Mia Yim), DeviantArt