WWE had this to say about the participants:
- Twenty-eight year-old Kairi Sane, nicknamed “The Pirate Princess” in her home country of Japan, where she is one of the most celebrated women’s wrestlers of the modern era, announced today that she has signed with NXT and will compete in this summer’s global women’s tournament. Formerly known by the alias Kairi Hojo, Sane has wrestled for five years and was a multi-time champion in the Japanese organization Stardom. Her pirate persona is inspired by her elite background in yachting: Before entering the mat game, Sane competed in the yachting world championship and was considered an Olympic hopeful. Though Sane has often carried a spyglass to the ring, it’s her highlight reel-worthy diving elbow drop — thought by many to be the most beautiful in the world — that has navigated her to many milestone victories.
- Auckland, New Zealand’s Dakota Kai, also known as Evie, has held titles not just in her native country, but also in Australia, Japan and the United States (including the SHIMMER Tag Titles with NXT Superstar Ruby Riot). The 10-year veteran, also known as “The Captain of Team Kick,” is famous for her wide variety of strikes, including a running Yakuza kick that, in GIF form, has taken on a life of its own among wrestling fans. She ventured into WWE’s orbit once before, in a 2015 loss to Nia Jax on NXT. Two years later, she is now a recruit at the WWE Performance Center and looking to prove she belongs for good this time.
- Hailing from Ayrshire, Scotland, Piper Niven, aka Viper, is an experienced powerhouse who has competed across numerous promotions, including Shine, SHIMMER and Glasgow-based Insane Championship Wrestling. Drawn to sports-entertainment at an early age thanks to the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Chyna, Niven played contact sports in her youth, setting the foundation for her eventual in-ring debut in 2008. She is revered for her high-impact offense, which includes senton splashes, powerslams and a signature Michinoku Driver.
- Bianca Belair, formerly known as Bianca Blair, of Knoxville, Tenn., qualified for the Mae Young Classic with a recent victory over NXT Superstar Aliyah. Calling herself the “EST of NXT,” Belair claims to be the strongest, fastest and toughest woman on the Performance Center roster. Before joining WWE in 2016, she competed in track and field at University of South Carolina, Texas A&M and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and she is a regional CrossFit competitor who has been featured in RX Magazine. Prior to making her NXT debut, she shined in last year’s inaugural Performance Center Combine, putting up amazing numbers such as a 400-pound trap-bar deadlift and a 2.07-second 10-yard sprint.
WWE have previously announced Toni Storm, Lacey Evans, Sarah Logan and Princesa Sugehit for the tournament. Other participants include Abbey Laith, Alpha Female, Kavita Devi, Taynara Conti, and Tessa Blanchard.
The commentary team will be lead by Lita and Jim Ross. Additionally, WWE Network will also stream an exclusive special entitled, Mae Young Classic: Bracketology immediately following SummerSlam, on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 11 pm ET.
The tournament begins Monday, Aug. 28, with the first four episodes available on demand. Episodes five through eight will be available on demand on Monday, Sept. 4. The final match will stream live from Las Vegas on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 10 pm ET.
What do you think of these new additions? What other names do you think will be added? Sound off in the comments below.