WWE has announced four more Mae Young Classic competitors – Mia Yim, Killer Kelly, Crystal and Mercedes Martinez.
WWE now has 15 competitors confirmed for the tournament, which tapes in early August to air later this summer on the WWE Network. The confirmed names are Yim, Kelly, Crystal, Martinez, Kavita Devi, Kaitlyn, Io Shirai, Rhea Ripley, Kacy Catanzaro, Nicole Matthews, Jinny, Tegan Nox, Deonna Purrazzo, Jessie Elaban and Reina Gonzalez. Vernice Gabriel has been reported but not confirmed by WWE. The 2017 tournament featured 32 competitors.
Below is WWE’s announcement on the latest 4 participants:
Returning favorites, WWE newcomers added to Mae Young Classic 2018
Four more Mae Young Classic 2018 competitors have been revealed, and they include two of the top combatants from last year’s tournament, one of Europe’s toughest grapplers and a breakout star from Southeast Asia’s burgeoning wrestling scene.
Returning competitors Mercedes Martinez and Mia Yim, as well as Portugal’s Killer Kelly and the Philippines’ Crystal, are the latest additions to this year’s 32-woman tournament, bringing the total number of competitors announced so far to 15. It was also confirmed earlier today that India’s Kavita Devi will make her sophomore appearance in the Classic.
The global tournament, which tapes Aug. 8 and 9 at Full Sail Live in Orlando, Fla., will stream later this summer exclusively on WWE Network.
Mercedes Martinez, whose return to the Classic was first reported by Newsweek.com, is a 18-year ring veteran from Waterbury, Conn. Using an aggressive combination of strong-style and submission wrestling, Martinez defeated China’s Xia Li, Mexico’s Princesa Sugehit and America’s Abbey Laith in last year’s tournament before falling to her protégé, current NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, in the Semifinals. With an astonishing number of titles to her resume, The Latina Sensation will undoubtedly be one of the most decorated competitors in the mix this year.
Also returning to action is Mia Yim, a dangerous striker from Fontana, Calif., who represented South Korea in 2017’s tournament. After pinning Sarah Logan in last year’s opening round, Yim was ousted by Baszler in her next match. Yim suffered a leg injury in late 2017 that shelved her for months, but upon returning to action earlier this year, she adjusted her style to emphasize strikes and submissions, both of which she’s well-versed in thanks to her extensive background in taekwondo. Yim brings nearly a decade of wrestling experience to this year’s field.
Killer Kelly made her WWE Network debut in June at NXT’s events at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Known throughout the European scene for her punishing kicks and spine-bending suplexes, the Portuguese-born 28-year-old brings a heavy MMA influence to her mat game. Kelly — whose vicious ring name was inspired by Portuguese fans’ chants of “Killer Kelly” early in her career — holds the distinction of being the first women’s champion in the history of the German-based Westside Xtreme Wrestling promotion.
Twenty-four-year-old Crystal, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Philippine Wrestling,” has competed throughout Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, since making her debut in February 2016. Sporting a wrestling ring tattoo on her arm, Crystal developed a love for sports-entertainment in her youth when she would watch WWE with her grandmother. A highflyer inside the squared circle, she was discovered by WWE officials during a scouting trip to the region in 2017.