Xia Brookside is a 19-year-old from England, while Mercedes Martinez is 37 from the United States with Puerto Rican roots.
One is an up-n-comer, just cutting her teeth in the business, while the other is a well-established and respected talent, who’s been there, done that.
Different, yes, but also sharing something in common -- the honor of being selected for the second annual WWE Mae Young Young Classic.
For Brookside, this is his first foray in the prestigious women’s wrestling tournament, which features some of the top talent from around the world -- like Martinez, who is making her second appearance in the Classic (2-for-2).
Each took some time to discuss the Mae Young Classic, their wrestling journeys and the evolution of women’s wrestling.
Brookside said: “England is such a small country, and now we have so many incredible wrestlers coming from it.”
Because of that, WWE will be introducing NXT UK (men and women wrestling), another step in the growing process of the company and the business.
Honored to be in the Mae Young Classic, she said: ““Wrestling has changed a fair bit. Obviously, you’ve got the British style which is what I grew up with, which is what I like to get out there. I love the British style. I love the technical wrestling, but it’s evolved so much now, and you can mix it all together. It’s incredible. This is sports entertainment. This is what we’ve all worked toward.”
Brookside -- whose father, Robbie, proudly watched her compete in the Classic from ringside -- hugged her dad behind the seats near the rampway after her first tournament match. A touching moment for father and daughter. She watched him wrestle in England during his standout in-ring career, and now he had an opportunity at the Classic to do the same.
“I loved it. I was so into it [watching her did wrestle when she was younger],” Xia Brookside said. “I would be like every other child should be in the crowd. I was shouting. I was booing. I was chanting. I was so into wrestling.”
As an adult professional, Robbie kept his composure while watching his daughter in the Classic. He is currently a coach at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, near Full Sail University which houses Full Sail Live, home to the Mae Young Classic in Winter Park.
“My biggest inspiration is my father Robbie Brookside,” she said. “After that, there were numerous inspirations, when I was growing up, when I was younger -- watching people go in the business, watching them go out of it. So there were a lot of names, big people.”
Now Brookside is working toward becoming a big name herself. The Mae Young Classic is a step in the right direction.
For my video interview with Brookside at the Mae Young Classic, click below.
Where Xia is entering the world of women’s wrestling at a very opportune time with the evolution of the revolution making big strides, Martinez is one of the talents who paved the way for that bigger and better.
To be in the Mae Young Classic again, Martinez said: “I’m shocked actually to be honest with you. When you have this caliber of young female talents here...I’m so excited not just for me but for everyone who’s involved.”
She continued: “This is a good crop of girls that they got this year. You’re looking at Meiko [Satomura]. You’re looking at Io [Shirai]. Nicole Matthews now, and Deonna Purrazzo. All these girls who weren’t here last year, it kind of brings it up a notch. So I’m really excited to be back and to put my talent to the test once again.”
Martinez debuted in 2000, training in her hometown Waterbury, Conn., under the direction of Jason Knight, ECW’s Jason the Sexiest Man Alive. She trained mostly with men, because at that time few women conveyed an interest in becoming pro wrestlers. That experience helped make her tougher.
“When I first started training, it was all men, and I think now what it comes down to is being considered as athletes, and that’s the big thing. We’re not just a diva or a valet. We’re now considered athletes and superstars, and we’re being treated as equals, and that’s all we ever wanted -- was to be treated as equals and show our talent and skill.
“We work just as hard as the men do; so this is a great opportunity for anybody, any female who wants to be in pro wrestling [sports entertainment]. To be up there and show what we’ve got, because there is no equality, unless we’re grouped together...It’s just a great thing.”
For my video interview with Martinez at the Mae Young Classic, click below.
South Florida ties in the MYC
Martinez has wrestled on the South Florida indies as have other 2018 Mae Young Classic participants, including Aerial Monroe, Rachel Evers (Rachael Ellering), Mia Yim, MJ Jenkins, Kaitlyn (Celeste Bonin) and Lacey Evans (Lacey Lane).
How to watch the 2018 the Mae Young Classic
The single-elimination tournament will continue each Wednesday until only two competitors remain. The finalists will then battle for the Mae Young Classic trophy at WWE Evolution, the first WWE all-women’s pay-per-view, on Sunday, Oct. 28, live on WWE Network.
- My Pro Wrestling on the Web and Social Media
YouTube: jim varsallone (jimmyv3 channel)
NOTE: The Miami Herald is now offering a digital sports-only subscription for $30 per year. This is unlimited access to all Herald sports and sports stories, thus allowing you to comment in the section below as many times as you wish. Click Here To Subscribe.