Mia Yim Is Ready to Make the Most of Her Second Chance in the WWE's 'Mae Young Classic"
In the WWE, second chances of any kind are rare. However, Mia Yim is hoping to make the most of hers as she has another opportunity to impress decision-makers on a grand scale in the second Mae Young Classic.
The Korean-American and African American is among the field of 32 battling it out for a slot in the finals at first-ever all-women’s Pay-Per-View Evolution on October 28. She knows getting there greatly increases her chances of securing a WWE contract. Yim, who advanced to the final 16 last year, is approaching the tournament with renewed motivation. The “Blasian Baddie” is looking to go all the way.
“I feel like the game has been upped,” she said. “There was a lot of good women last year, but now this year they are bringing in girls like Meiko Satomura. “There are a lot of good girls in this year’s competition. I’m actually happy for that people may think they know what to expect, considering what I did last year. I learned so much new stuff… I don’t want to be specific with it. I’m hoping people underestimate me and have an expectation of me from last year, so I can surprise them that much more.”
For the well-traveled athlete, the Mae Young Classic continues a rebirth. The former Impact Wrestling Knockouts champion was sidelined for four months, thanks to an injury suffered the day after Thanksgiving during a family visit in Washington D.C.. Yim originally thought she tweaked her foot, but X-rays revealed a broken leg. The experience served as a reality check and a challenge to overcome.
“The hardest part of the recovery was the mental. Going to physical therapy, learning how to walk again and run again, rolling around in the ring — it was all easy compared to the mental part,” Yim detailed.
She continued, “I’m so used to traveling every weekend. For the first time since I started wrestling, I’ve had this long length of time of not doing anything and being home while everyone else is traveling. It was depressing. It felt like I was forgotten. Thankfully, I had my best friend Blake [Thomas] at the time to keep me uplifted and telling me, ‘This is the perfect time to work on the things you didn’t have time to work on before because you were so busy traveling.’
“Whether it be learning to up my makeup game or learning how to fix my hair... even Shelton [Benjamin] would tell me, since I wasn’t doing anything, to maybe go on Accutane to fix my skin. Work on new gear, character work. Both of them were telling me, since I had a lot of down-time, to work on my character.
"It’s my time. I’m going to make sure people notice me. That’s when the ‘Blasian Baddie’ character was created. Blake helped me stay on track and make sure I didn’t get in a hole," she concluded.
She also credits roommates, current NXT Women’s champ and fellow Mae Young Classic alum Shayna Baszler and WWE's newly-signed Jessamyn Duke, for pushing her through. Moving in a mere one or two months before the injury occurred, Yim saw what genuine people they were from the support they showed during a hard period of her life.
“Thank God I had Shayna [Baszler] and Jess helping me around,” she said. “Taking me to the gym, making sure I was on top of my PT and being around me when I felt like I was alone. Having them here, making me laugh... Both of them made sure all my business was handled. Even helping me take care of my dog. It really made us a family."
With Yim back in the ring, their bond has gotten stronger. During free nights they would all come home and watch each other’s matches.
“Even now they are pushing me telling me, ‘You’re going to get signed next. We want to help you get there next,’” she shared. “We all try to support each other no matter what it is. With my family being in D.C. and California, best friend in Baltimore, it’s nice to have family here."
Yim feels confident and empowered heading to Orlando for the tournament. A domestic abuse survivor and Safe Horizon advocate, she is constantly looking for ways to inspire. And she has an opponent in mind for the big day.
“I’d love to go to the finals of the Mae Young Classic facing Io Shirai,” she revealed. “We wrestled each other in California, and it was awesome. When I started wrestling I looked up to the Shirai sisters. I finally got to meet Mio earlier this year... I wrestled Io two, three years ago. I feel like both of us have improved our game greatly. So wrestling her again this time around would be good.”
The second Mae Young Classic tapes August 8 and 9 from Full Sail Live in Orlando. The tournament will stream on the WWE Network starting 9/8c on September 5.