Yesterday, a WWE social media account from New Zealand announced that recently signed independent standout Evie had a new name and was entering the upcoming women’s tournament show, the Mae Young Classic (MYC).
EXCLUSIVE: New Zealand’s own Dakota Kai set to take part in the #MaeYoungClassic as our first ever Kiwi Competitor! https://t.co/3yHZoQ2pQq pic.twitter.com/ePgn7Xeiqw— WWE New Zealand (@WWENZ) June 29, 2017
The lack of an official announcement (and a blue “verified” checkmark by that Twitter account’s handle) led to some questions about the veracity of the report, but it turns out the company’s main online entities were just waiting to announce Evie-as-Dakota Kai for the Classic along with probably their biggest signing for the tourney.
In Tokyo this morning, Kairi Hojo appeared with video message during the WWE Live show from Ryōgoku Kokugikan to reveal she is now Kairi Sane - and she’ll compete in the MYC.
Kairi Sane announces that she will take part in the historic #MaeYoungClassic! #WWETokyo pic.twitter.com/LleJ4P9XHN— WWE (@WWE) June 30, 2017
In a feature story on WWE.com announcing both women (who, considering their championship pedigree around the world, have to be considering serious possibilities to go far in the tournament, if not win the whole thing), two other names are also revealed for the MYC.
Scottish wrestler Viper, now going by Piper Niven, is in. Niven, like Kai and Sane, is a veteran of Japan’s Stardom promotion in addition to working with several United Kingdom companies.
Finally, WWE’s spoiled the result of a qualifier filmed at the last NXT taping, which may mean they won’t be airing the match (shot along with a second qualifying bout - spoilers here if you want them), in revealing Biana Belair for the field. The college track star and Crossfit competitor had been working under her real surname of Blair.
That brings the field to 13, and with only a couple weeks to go until the taping on July 13 - 14, 19 more names still to come.
Here’s who we know is in:
Excited? Ready to call a winner?