Wrestling & MMA

Next step in the evolution of a women’s revolution in pro wrestling

WWE SmackDown women’s champ Naomi signs autographs and poses for photos with fans at WrestleMania Axxess at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Women’s wrestling is at a whole nother level these days.
WWE SmackDown women’s champ Naomi signs autographs and poses for photos with fans at WrestleMania Axxess at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Women’s wrestling is at a whole nother level these days. Photo By Jim Varsallone

The next step in the evolution of women in pro wrestling is the WWE Women’s Tournament, a first in WWE.

The event, titled the Mae Young Classic, is July 13-14 at Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. ET Friday, May 26 via www.nxttickets.com.

WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul Triple H Levesque discussed the highly anticipated, single elimination, summer competition, featuring 32 talented wrestlers from around the world.

Levesque said: “The women’s tournament has been something that is a significant project, a passion project for me that I’ve been working on for a long time, and everybody here has been working extremely hard on it. We know when it is and how it’s going to be laid out, and I’m really excited about this. I think this is going to be another one of those magical things that is going to take women in our industry to a whole nother projectery level and really increase the viewing of what they do and people’s acceptance of what they do and everything about it.

“It’s just going to be a positive in every way.”

The event comes on the heels of two other successful WWE Network tournaments -- last year’s Cruiserweight Classic, which focused on competitors 205 pounds and lighter, and January’s United Kingdom Championship Tournament, which spotlighted the U.K.’s toughest grapplers. Both with an international feel.

Levesque said: “We want this to be global. One of the interesting things with the women’s tournament, when we first started to think about this, was we weren’t sure how high end we could make it and how many women we could get to make it high end. It was questionable. It’s a funny thing by nature of what it is. There’s just less women that do what we do out there.

“But as we started to dig -- much like we did with the cruiserweights -- when we started to dig around these countries, we started to find these hidden gems everywhere we went, and all of a sudden those numbers started to [grow]. We went from maybe a 16-women tournament to a 32-women tournament, and now we have actually a lot of talent, and the question for us now is becoming, ‘Oowf, who do we put in this?’

“There’s a lot of women who probably should be in it and won’t be in it, based on the fact that we’re trying to make internationally diverse; we’re trying to make it culturally diverse; we want it to be representative of as much of the globe as possible. We’re looking for veterans. We’re looking for young and new and athletic. We’re looking for veterans who can help lead that. We’re looking at all of it, and we’re trying to find the best balance, much like we do when we did the cruiserweights tournament. Trying to find that right balance and that right mix of talent to make a magical tournament.

“Now that we kind of have everybody identified, it just becomes a process of what’s the best match and what are the best match-ups with all these women. Styles make these matches work. So stylistically who works form what countries and how. That is like putting together a massive puzzle, and that’s where we’re at right now -- putting the puzzle together.”

The WWE Network will carry all the tournament action, and who better to call it than Jim Ross. The WWE Hall of Famer can make an average match good, a good match great and a great match epic.

Women in wrestling

There is an increase in the number of women in pro wrestling today. Credit can go to the Trish Stratus-Lita era of women in pro wrestling. They proved women could main event WWE Raw by doing it. You did not have to be physically imposing like Chyna or Awesome Kong to make it on the big stage.

The number of women training to become pro wrestlers is also on the rise. Credit the likes of Stratus, Lita, Gail Kim, Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Chyna, Awesome Kong, LayCool and The Bellas and more recently The Four Horsewomen (Charlotte, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks).

Evolution of The Revolution of Women’s Wrestling

Mae Young (career spanned 70 years)

Fabulous Moolah (career spanned more than 50 years)

Wendi Richter-Cyndi Lauper (Rock-n-Wrestling Connection)

Chyna era

Trish Stratus-Lita era

Awesome Kong-Gail Kim era

LayCool (Layla-Michelle McCool) era

Beth Phoenix-Natalya era

The Bellas era

Four Horsewomen (Charlotte, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks) era

All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, Bellatrix Female Warriors, NCW Femmes Fatales, Pro Wrestling: Eve, Pro Wrestling Women’s Alliance, Shimmer, Shine, Stardom.

In South Florida

In South Florida, Battling Bombshells featured an all women’s wrestling show a few years ago.

Diamond Division Pro is a new women’s wrestling group, the sister company of Platinum Pro Wrestling in South Florida.

More opportunities for women in wrestling

WWE recently signed referee/wrestler Kennadi Brink, who’s been learning/training at the Dudley Boyz’s Team 3D Academy in Kissimmee, near Orlando. A native of Baltimore, she first trained at Gillberg’s Pro Wrestling Academy. She will be the first female referee in NXT.

Levesque said: “A female referee is something we’ve been working on for a while. I don’t really see any difference why an authority figure can’t be a female. A man can do men’s matches, can do women’s matches. A female can do men’s matches, can do women’s matches. I don’t see the difference. As long as they’re a good referee and can do all the things that referees in this industry do, if that’s the case, then I welcome them having that opportunity.”

- WWE SmackDown in Sunrise/Fort Lauderdale

WWE is returning to South Florida with a WWE live show (No TV) as part of its SummerSlam Heatwave Tour, featuring SmackDown superstars on Friday, June 9 at the BB&T Center, home of the NHL The Florida Panthers in Sunrise, near Fort Lauderdale.

See SmackDown Women’s Champion Naomi, WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, United States Champion Kevin Owens, SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos, Randy Orton, Natalya, AJ Styles, Charlotte, Shinsuke Nakamura, Becky Lynch, The New Day, Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn and more. Talent subject to change.

Tickets: http://www.thebbtcenter.com/events/detail/wwe-live-1

For suite and premium seating, call 954-835-7828.

About WWE

WWE, a publicly traded company (NYSE: WWE), is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience.

WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay-per-view, digital media and publishing platforms. WWE programming reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide in 25 languages.

WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network that includes all live pay-per-views, scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand library, is currently available in more than 180 countries. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Munich and Tokyo.

Additional information on WWE (NYSE: WWE) can be found at wwe.com and corporate.wwe.com.

For information on its global activities, go to





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