Four years gone, and here’s what remains.
Those crossed out are not dead. I repeat, they are not dead. They are out living their best lives somewhere other than WWE, that’s all. WWE just happens to be the company that put on the tournament and where the thirteen not crossed out still are, that’s the line of consistency this ranking is drawn up on.
In 2018, when I first did this list, there were thirteen lasses. The year after, there were a banging twenty-two! Last year, that had dropped down to sixteen, and this year, four years since the first MYC got us hoppin’ and boppin’, we are down to our lowest tally. Like the Cruiserweight Classic, we are left with - twelve.
The other twenty are obviously off having a great time at Alton Towers, drinking pop and eating Wotsits, but these twelve have spread their roots throughout WWE for the past four years, so let’s see what harvest brings.
The list last year looked like this.
16. Kavita Devi
15. Vanessa Borne
14. Santana Garrett
13. Piper Niven
12. Xia Li
11. Toni Storm
10. Mercedes Martinez
9. Lacey Evans
8. Kay Lee Ray
7. Reina Gonzalez
6. Mia Yim
5. Bianca Belair
4. Candice LeRae
3. Dakota Kai
2. Shayna Baszler
1. Rhea Ripley
So the bottom three have been released, almost as if my list last year was prophetic… Or someone in hiring and firing reads it… Oh no.
Number ten has joined them after being involved in a list just a few weeks ago as well…
Tentatively, let’s rank the remnants of the 2017 Mae Young Classic… Four years on.
12/ MIA YIM
Retribution could have been good, man. It really could have been. But it seemed that as soon as they weren’t white-hot right off the bat and they renamed the members using a blind dictionary point (yes, Slapjack is in the dictionary), they immediately lost faith in them.
Which was dumb. And that’s what hurt everyone involved. Yim, along with the others, committed and were ready to make it a success I’m sure, but it wasn’t to be.
Why she hasn’t come back yet, I dunno, but I hope it’s fair soon, like.
11/ LACEY EVANS
Off at the moment, but when she was here, she was bouncing around doing… Stuff. It was random, it was largely non-linear, but gosh darn if she weren’t entertaining while she was doing it. She’s a gift and she lights up whatever she’s involved in. Can’t wait to have her back, but I ain’t gonna ask her to rush hersel, ‘cos I’m sure she’s doing great work there too.
10/ PIPER NIVEN
A frustrating but memorable NXT UK run has turned into a RAW roster spot and a story that was quite cracker, but was then told as if it was falling down the stairs. It should have been an easy story and a great way to introduce Piper to the big stage, but instead they bungled it, ended it, and now she’s just… There.
We all know she’s good enough to get to the very top, and I’m hoping we get to see that gaan forward.
9/ XIA LI
Yeah, new personality’s got her going, even if we’ve only just moved onto the dual carriageway after quite a bit of back road. There’ve been a few stumbles with story and injury, but she’s part of something now and has made her place. She hasn’t hit top gear yet, and when she does, the world could be her mollusc.
8/ SHAYNA BASZLER
There’s this commitment issue again — not from Baszler, who has done everything that’s been asked of her with aplomb that proves her quality as one of the most reliable performers on the roster (in the world?). But the story with Nia Jax has seemed like a placeholder ever since they paired up, and they’ve bounced around the entire time. They’d break up one week and then be back together the next, they brought on a sommelier so Nia had someone to go shopping with but Shayna didn’t like him, but he’d still be there.
These aren’t storylines. These are just things that are happening.
And I think they’re still going on.
7/ TONI STORM
A cracker NXT run in which she did pretty much everything bar winning a championship was ‘rewarded’ with ‘promotion’ to the ‘main roster’. She rocked up on Smackdown after being hyped for a few weeks, showed off a flashy new finisher, and then…
Smackdown has been screaming for more depth in their women’s division and then they get it in the form of a star just waiting to shine, and they sit it backstage. Like, we know she’s there ‘cos she rejected Dolph Ziggler that one time, but, and do correct me if I’m wrong here, I don’t think that’s her best quality as an employee.
She was ready to explode onto the stratosphere after the NXT run and all this waiting is gonna do is start sucking the hype out.
6/ CANDICE LERAE
Any other year, LeRae would be right up there. She has been a part of the most entertaining angles and segments of the year (and continues to be so), and her work in-ring has been nowt short of chef’s kiss stunning. She got a much deserved title run in there, and she always feels like a big deal — which goes along with her getting a lot of folk over.
She’s done some god-tier work over the past year, and she’s got more to do in the near future. Good luck.
5/ KAY LEE RAY
Held down the fort on NXT UK with massive performances and tremendous character. The forever champion was nearly just that (not really, but you get me), holding onto the title when it seemed as if time was gonna be called before eventually dropping it to the aptly named ‘Final Boss’.
She’s just dawned on the black and gold and could easy be ready to step right up to the plate before the year is out ‘cos she’s a hot contender right noo.
4/ DAKOTA KAI
As soon as she came back from that baaaad injury, she was ready to step up. And she did, in a big way.
It’s been some of the best character work in the company, and some of the most innovative yet blended wrestling as well. It all came to a head quite recently when she finally got a title shot after dramatically turning on her best mate, and though she was unsuccessful, the future is nowt but bright for Cap’n ‘Kota.
3/ RHEA RIPLEY
She was pretty much untouchable in NXT when she stepped out. And then she rocked up at the Royal Rumble a few weeks later and reminded everybody why that was so.
After being a runner-up there she set her sights on Wrestlemania and the RAW Women’s title, so she won it. ‘Cos she tends to complete what she sets out to do. The path there was paved with inconsistencies and strange decision-making, but, well… She made it — and that’s all that matters to… Some.
She’s milling right now but stories are abound if someone could only just open a book.
2/ REINA GONZALEZ
The steady ascent has been so fun to watch and the now Raquel has turned into such a unique presence across the company.
There’s something kinda fresh about the attitude she gets across and her matches are one-of-a-kind right now — she’s a spectacle now and could be a real draw going forward.
Here’s to hoping.
1/ BIANCA BELAIR
I mean, what a year.
The Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, championships, accolades, awards — it’s been ‘feckin aces. And this is just the start.
On the ‘main roster’, I mean.
Something seems to have clicked though. The potential was fierce and obvious in NXT, but there seemed to be something just stopping her short of being the best — her big matches were ‘just okay’. But she got better, she excelled everywhere, and then she got to Smackdown and she hasn’t put a foot wrong since, swiftly placing herself at the top of any card and any division.
She belongs at the top.
So let’s just forget Summerslam, yeah?
BIGGEST MOVE UP: +5 — Reina Gonzalez
BIGGEST MOVE DOWN: -6 — Shayna Baszler, Mia Yim
There’s a changing tide across WWE, and specifically in NXT where their recruitment is focused. Though a lot of the speculation has been focused on the male roster.
What a new direction means for the lasses is anyone’s guess, but if the folk handling the ‘transition’ are smart, they’ll continue to let them shine just as they are ‘cos that locomotive is moving and anyone in the way of that’ll get flattened no doubt.
But of course there ain’t just WWE.
The twenty lasses not on this list have been meandering around the world doing their own thing and are just as much a part of that steam train as anyone on it.
Those names are Tay Conti, Zeda Zhang, Marti Belle, Ayesha Raymond, Jazzy Gabert, Kavita Devi, Kairi Sane, Princesa Sugehit, Abbey Laith, Mercedes Martinez, Miranda Salinas, Nicole Savoy, Rachel Ellering, Renee Michelle, Sage Beckett, Santana Garrett, Sarah Logan, Serena Deeb, Tessa Blanchard, and Vanessa Borne.
Get your tickets now, ‘cos it’s gon’ be feckin’ reet on, mate.
Keep it streets ahead,