Intro: The Mae Young Classic for those who don't know was a 32 woman invitational tournament which saw some of the best unsigned female talent from across the globe as well as future WWE superstars like Lacey Evans, Dakota Kai, Bianca Belair, and Rhea Ripley take part in the summer of 2017 and 2018.
The tournament introduced mainstream wrestling fans to athletes who would later become stars in promotions like Ring Of Honor, NWA and All Elite Wrestling.
While some of the names that took part in the tournament like Mia Yim, Tessa Blanchard, and Madison Rayne have become well known thanks to their time in Impact Wrestling the following 10 ladies I'll be mentioning on this list managed to not only take part in the Mae Young Classic, but were also at one point in time signed or appeared for Impact Wrestling.
10. Marti Belle
Like some of the women on this list, Marti Belle first started out in the independent wrestling scene before appearing in TNA/Impact and then later the WWE.
Marti Belle is best known to many fans for her time in TNA when she along with female wrestlers: Rebel, Mia Yim and Taryn Terrell formed the stable known as "The Dollhouse" which ran from 2016-17 and during that time she was involved in a feud The Beautiful People which lead to the Dollhouse competing in the first female Lethal Lockdown match in 2015.
Belle would then go solo following the break up of The Dollhouse and she began feuding with former partner Mia Yim also known as Jade at the time, she also wrestled against names like ODB, Awesome Kong, Brooke Tessmacher, Gail Kim, Allie and Madison Rayne until her contract ended in 2017.
Marti would take part in the 2017 edition of the Mae Young Classic but she was eliminated from the competition in the first round by Rachael Evers aka Rachael Ellering. However she did wrestle in an unaired six women tag team match which included future Mae Young Classic participants and even future Impact Wrestling star, Tessa Blanchard.
As of late, Marti Belle has been seen wrestling in Billy Corgan's version of the NWA promotion where she works with names like Melina, Allysin Kay and Thunder Rosa; Most recently, she as well as a number of other female pro wrestlers will be involved in a project known as "Faces & Heels" hosted by former WWE superstar, Eva Marie.
9. Renee Michelle
Today mainstream fans know Renee Michelle thanks to her marriage to former X Division Champion, Rockstar Spud and her handful of appearances on Monday Night Raw however before all of that she was taking part in the Mae Classic later appearing for Impact.
With a couple of years of experience working in the independent wrestling scene, Renee would later go to Japan where a tryout session was taking place. It just so happens that the tryout was to find female wrestlers who would later take part in the Mae Young Classic Tournament back in 2017.
Renee would participate in the tournament where she would compete in the first round against Candice LeRae and while she didn't win the match she did end up appearing a few times on Raw thanks to her husband.
As of the time of this article, Renee Michelle is just one of a few unsigned female wrestlers who have been selected to take part in a tournament to crown a new set of Knockouts Tag Team Champions on Impact Wrestling.
8. Santana Garrett
During her first stint with the WWE's black and yellow brand NXT, Santana Garrett was given a series of tryout matches which ended up with her losing most if not all of her matches to names like Dakota Kai, Charlotte Flair, Billie Kay, Emma, Asuka and even her appearance at the 2017 Mae Young Classic saw her eat a loss to Scottish born wrestler, Piper Niven also known as 'Viper' before returning back the independent wrestling scene.
Before this however, Garrett would eventually get signed by TNA in early 2014 under the ring name of 'Brittany' where she wrestled an handful of matches mostly on Xplosion before getting involved in two bizarre love angles: one with Samual Shaw and the other with Madison Rayne (spoiler alert neither of them worked out well).
Santana was then released from her TNA contract in December of 2014, but she would make sporadic appearances in TNA where she wrestled a series matches against Brooke Tessmacher and Brandi Rhodes at Knockouts Knockdown 2013 and 2017 respectively as well as losing a match to Rosemary on March the 2nd 2017.
Santana managed to make her way back to the WWE where she was given a contract in August of 2019, despite Ms. Garrett suffering a handful of loses on the NXT brand most notably the time she lost a 45 second loss to Bianca Belair she was able to finally pick up a victory on an episode of NXT in June 2020 over Aliyah.
7. Jazzy Gabert
Also known by her ring name "Alpha Female" (no relation to "The Alpha Male" Monty Brown of TNA Wrestling fame) this German born bodybuilder and pro wrestler took part in the 2017 edition of the Mae Young Classic as Jazzy Gabert where she lost in the first round to 'Abbey Laith' whose best known under her ring name of Kimber Lee.
In late 2017 she was promised a contract with the WWE until that offer was revoked due to the discovery that she had three herniated discs found in her neck and as a result she had to undergo surgery to fix the problem which was successful; Following the surgery she worked her way back up before getting signed and appearing at the NXT: Blackpool event in 2019, however she would be gone from the company a year later after being told the one thing any wrestler hates to hear and that's "the writers don't having anything for you".
Before all of this however, the Alpha Female was seen in Impact Wrestling in 2014 during the company's tour of the United Kingdom during which she served as the female muscle to former X Division and Tag Team champion, Chris Sabin during his feud with wrestler and ex-girlfriend Velvet Sky.
During this time she fought against names like Madison Rayne and ODB before the company offered her a contract with the promotion but she refused and instead decided to go and wrestle in Japan; It was later revealed that the crazy backstage and working conditions that the company had at the time was a possible motive for her refusal.
6. Kimber Lee
A seasoned veteran with almost tens years of experience under her belt, Kimber Lee rose to stardom thanks to her work in promotions like CZW, Shine, Simmer and Chikara where she competed against both men and women during her tenure and she was even tag team champion in Shine and Simmer with former Knockouts Champion Allie as part of "The Kimber Bombs".
Kimber would soon appear on WWE's NXT brand where she wrestled names like Ember Moon, Asuka and Liv Morgan before being signed to contract which allowed to take part in the Mae Young Tournament.
Under the ring name of 'Abbey Laith' Kimber participated in the 2017 tournament where defeated names like the aforementioned Jazzy Gabert and Rachel Ellering before getting eliminated by Mercedes Martinez in the quarterfinals. Kimber would make a couple of more appearances on NXT until she was released from her contract in March of 2018.
On May 5th 2020, Kimber Lee resurfaced on Impact after appearing on Madison Rayne's talk show segment 'Locker Room Talk' where she confronted her old rival from the indies, Jessicka Havok and about a week later the two faced off in a match which Kimber won thanks to use of brass knuckles.
Three months later, it was reported by new outlets and Impact's website that Kimber Lee had officially signed with the promotion and in her short time on the roster she has become a valuable asset to the company's Knockouts Division and she's even been chosen to take part in the previously mentioned Knockouts Tag Team Title Tournament.
And who is Kimber Lee's tag team partner in the tournament, well that just so happens to be...
5. Deonna Purrazzo
Deonna Purrazzo has the distinction of being the only woman on this list to have wrestled in all three of the major wrestling promotions in the United States at the time (ROH, TNA/IMPACT and WWE).
Like a lot wrestlers, Purrazzo would compete in the independent wrestling scene before she appeared in Ring of Honor and wrestling in the promotion from 2015 until 2018.
She first appeared in TNA when she lost a match to Brooke Tessmacher in May of 2014 but she would make more appearances with the company wrestling against names like Tessmacher, Madison Rayne and Laurel Van Ness unfortunately despite the company still being the #2 promotion in the U.S. at the time, Purrazzo never signed with the company whether it was the ineptitude of management or Deonna's decision to not sign with Impact is unknown.
Finally, she would appear for the WWE in 2014 where she would be one of many wrestlers to be one of Adam Rose's rosebuds before competing and losing to names like Bayley, Emma, Nia Jax Alexa Bliss, Lacey Evans, Bianca Belair and Asuka.
In 2018 Deonna signed with the WWE and took part in Mae Young Classic where she wrestled names like Barbi Hayden, Priscilla Kelly and Xia Li before losing to future NXT star Io Shirai; Ms. Purrazzo would soon become a resident of the NXT roster before giving herself the nickname "The Virtuosa".
Deonna would wrestle a number of NXT stars until she was released from the WWE in April of 2020 due to the mass firing that is known as "Black Wednesday", thankfully it didn't take longer for her to rebound as she would appear on the June 9th 2020 episode of Impact Wrestling via video package; She would sooner afterwards thrust herself into the Knockouts title picture against then champion Jordynne Grace and at Slammiversary Grace would lose the belt to Purrazzo who would go on to feud with names like Susie, Kylie Rae and Su Yung eventually becoming a two time Knockouts Champion at Turning Point 2020.
She along with former Mae Young Classic alumni turned Impact Wrestling Knockout, Kimber Lee have formed a partnership in the last couple of months and the two are set to take part in the up-and-coming Knockouts Tag Team Title Tournament on Impact where their scheduled to take on former Knockouts Champions, Taya Valkyrie and Rosemary.
4. Rachael Ellering
Rachael Ellering is the daughter of Paul Ellering, who is best known for being a well renowned manager to teams like the Road Warriors from the 1980s until the late 90's as well as the Authors Of Pain in NXT from 2016-18.
She first appeared in NXT losing a number of matches to names like Alexa Bliss, Aliyah, Liv Morgan, Ember Moon and Sonya Deville before she took part in the 2017 Mae Young Classic; During this time she went under the name of Rachael Evers where she defeated Marti Belle in the first round, only to be eliminated after losing a match to Abbey Laith/Kimber Lee.
Realizing they had a future star and the daughter of legend on their hands, the WWE decided to put Rachael in the 2018 edition of the tournament however unlike her previous showing she was defeated in the opening round.
But before she took part in the 2018 tournament, Ms. Ellering made a few appearances in Impact Wrestling in 2017 during which she took part in the One Night Only Knockouts Knockdown 2017 PPV where lost a match to Laurel Van Ness.
The most memorable part of her time in Impact Wrestling saw Rachael taking on Allysin Kay aka Sienna on the March 2nd 2017 edition of Impact, which saw Sienna picking up the victory.
Almost a year following her appearances in Impact and the Mae Young Classic, Rachael Ellering signed with the WWE in January of 2019 where she wrestles under her real name, unfortunately she has had to undergo surgery due to injuries she suffered including a torn ACL during a NXT live event in the summer of 2019 as well as injuries she sustained when she was the victim of a hit-and-run car crash in May of that same year thanks to a drunk driver.
In April of this year, Rachel was fired from the WWE along with various others wrestlers. As of the writing of this article it's unknown where she will appear next, but a tweet she made sooner after her firing may hint at her possibly going to Impact but will have to wait and see.
3. Serena Deeb
A seasoned veteran in the world of women's wrestling, Serena Deeb has been in the wrestling business since 2005 and she's wrestled in various different promotions including Shimmer and Ohio Valley Wrestling.
In 2008, Serena made her pay per view debut at TNA's Slammiversary event when she accepted an open challenge to face Awesome Kong for the Knockouts Championship and $250,000 but she was unsuccessful.
Her most memorable time in mainstream wrestling saw her as the female disciple for CM Punk's Straight Edge Society where Punk shaved her head bald in front of a live audience and she became one of Punk's messengers of destruction when it came to spreading the word of Punk's philosophy of living a drug and alcohol free life.
After that storyline ran it's course, Serena would return to Shimmer for a couple of years before returning to TNA in the mid 2010's where she competed in a few high profiled matches with Mickie James.
Serena would talk part in the 2017 edition of the Mae Young Classic but she wouldn't last too long; She refused to wrestle in the 2018 edition of the Tournament but she would sign with the WWE in January of 2018 where she became a coach for the company's performance center until she was released/furloughed from her position in the WWE in April of 2020 thanks to you guessed it...the mass firing known as "Black Wednesday".
Since her departure she has become apart of All Elite Wrestling even won the NWA Women's Championship from Thunder Rosa and later defended the belt at the Full Gear PPV against former Knockouts Champion, Allysin Kay.
2. Sage Beckett
This Florida native took part in the 2017 Mae Young Classic where she was defeated in the first round by future NXT star, Bianca Belair; Not too long afterwards she was signed to the WWE on January 4th 2017 where she began training in the performance center before she became the bodyguard for the WWE's resident valet, Lana and wrestled in a small number of matches.
But, like many on this list Beckett's time in the company didn't last long as she was released from the WWE less than a year after signing with the promotion; Now you may not recognize the name Sage Beckett but if you were a fan of Impact during the early stages of the Hogan/Bischoff regime then you might remember her for a completely different reason.
In April of 2010, Beckett was first seen by mainstream fans in TNA as a very large and very inexperienced wrestler by the name of Rosie Lottalove; During a dark match, Rosie using her other ring name 'Betsy Ruth' had a dark match with TNA Knockout Daffney and it didn't go well for the scream queen of TNA Wrestling.
The final moments of the match saw Rosie actually applying all of her weight onto Daffney's upper body area before slamming her with a dangerous looking powerbomb which may of resulted in Rosie's victory, but it also resulted in Daffney being taken to the hospital where it was reported that she suffered a deeply bruised sternum, a neurological injury known as a stinger and one heck of a concussion.
Because the company was under the control of morons at the time, Rosie was signed to TNA and began her career wrestling against Roxxi in her first official match before transitioning into a feud with Madison Rayne and The Beautiful People over issues of body shaming...and considering this all happened under the Hogan/Bischoff regime with Vince Russo as the head booker you can imagine this angle had about as much subtlety as a pro wrestler telling you that everything will be fine before hitting you in the face with an actual steel chair.
Rosie never injured anyone else but that mostly has to do with the fact that she didn't stick around for that long as she was released from the company in August of 2010.
Thankfully this story does have a happy ending, following her release from the company Beckett would soon go into semi-retirement before losing 127 pounds and returning to the ring under the name Andrea; She reappear in TNA five years later on February 14th 2015 during the One Night Only Knockouts Knockdown Pay Per View where she had a much safer looking match with former TNA Knockouts Champion, Awesome Kong.
1. Kay Lee Ray
That's right, Kay Lee Ray the current and longest reigning NXT UK Women's champion (as of the writing of this article) did indeed wrestle in Impact Wrestling before joining the WWE. After making a splash in a number of companies in the European circuit, Kay Lee took part in the second season of TNA's British Boot Camp show which looked to find the next top European wrestler.
The competition would be won by future NXT UK star Mark Andrews aka 'Mandrews' and despite wrestling in a number of matches against names like Madison Rayne, Gail Kim, Nikki Storm (aka Nikki Cross in WWE) and Angelina Love the company failed to sign Kay Lee Ray to a contract, a move that must baffle the minds of a lot wrestling fans today.
Following this, Kay Lee would wrestle and lose a match to Nia Jax in 2015 before wrestling in the Mae Young Classic in 2017. Kay Lee would lose in the first round but she would appear alongside Jazzy Gabert at the NXT Blackpool event and not too long after this she would sign with the WWE in 2019.
Ray has predominately been featured both on NXT UK and it's American version where she's wrestled names like Toni Storm, Piper Niven, Candice LeRae, and Rhea Ripley; And as previously mentioned, Kay Lee Ray is still the NXT UK Women's Champion with her reign lasting almost an entire year.
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