Mae Young Classic field widens with addition of international standouts, “American Ninja Warrior” pioneer
Three international standouts — Japanese phenom Io Shirai, Canadian ring veteran Nicole Matthews and British up-and-comer Jinny — and former “American Ninja Warrior” competitor Kacy Catanzaro are the latest competitors confirmed for this summer’s Mae Young Classic 2018.
Shirai (pictured above) was recently introduced as WWE’s newest signee at a Live Event in Tokyo. One of the most decorated wrestlers in the modern history of Japan, “The Genius of the Sky” has captured countless titles in her home country and was named the top women’s wrestler for the past three years by Tokyo Sports, a national newspaper. Shirai is renowned for her incredible suplexes and high-flying attacks.
Perhaps best known for her groundbreaking performances on “American Ninja Warrior,” Catanzaro — who was recruited into the WWE Performance Center earlier this year — looks to make an impact in her WWE Network in-ring debut. Though she may not have a wealth of wrestling experience, Catanzaro has been earmarked as a prospect to watch, given her otherworldly athletic abilities. A former Division I gymnast, she was the first woman to scale “American Ninja Warrior’s” “warped wall” and has twice been listed on Sports Illustrated’s “Fittest 50” list of the world’s best female athletes.
“It’s cool to be in the ring and use some gymnastics flair and style, and also be able to think of the ring and my opponent as that obstacle course and figure out different ways to get around or through them,” Catanzaro told USAToday.com, which broke the news of her participation in the tournament.
A 12-year ring veteran from Vancouver, Matthews has established her name around the globe, having competed in Canada, the United States, England, Japan and Australia. Matthews has faced the likes of Becky Lynch, Asuka and WWE Performance Center trainer Sara Amato. She boasts an aggressive, bullying style of wrestling and likes to finish opponents with a devastating rolling cutter she calls the “Vancouver Maneuver.”
Rounding out this set of competitors is London’s Jinny. Less than three years into her career, Jinny journeyed into a WWE ring for the first time at the 2017 WrestleMania Axxess. Known for her hard-hitting style inside the ring, Jinny is the reigning women’s champion of the U.K.-based PROGRESS Wrestling and holds the distinction of being the first female graduate of PROGRESS’s wrestling school.
Stay tuned to WWE.com in the coming weeks for more Mae Young Classic 2018 competitor announcements.