WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young, who will long be remembered as one of the most successful and enduring female wrestlers of all time, has passed away at the age of 90, according to a press release from WWE.com:
WWE is greatly saddened by the news that WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young, beloved member of the WWE family and oldest living squared circle personality, has passed at the age of 90.
Johnnie Mae Young was truly one of the greatest female competitors to ever lace up a pair of boots. A proud competitor for three quarters of a century and valued part of WWE to her last day, Young truly blazed a path for future female grapplers beginning in the 1940s.
From the moment she first stepped through the ropes, Young established herself as one of the most active and successful female Superstars – including becoming the first U.S. Women's Champion, carrying out one of the most storied rivalries of the time with the legendary Mildred Burke in 1954 and being among the first female competitors to tour post-war Japan.
The entire WWE Universe offers a standing ovation to a true queen of the canvas and bids Mae Young a heartfelt farewell.
Vince McMahon added his thoughts as well (via WWE's Director of Public Relations and Corporate Communications Adam Hopkins):
There will never be another Mae Young. Her longevity in sports entertainment may never be matched, and I will forever be grateful for all of her contributions to the industry. On behalf of WWE, I extend our sincerest condolences to her family and friends.
WWE's Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon was quick to pay her respects to Young:
WWE announcer Jim Ross added:
The legendary Johnnie Mae Young has passed. The Oklahoman lead an amazing life. Her mental/physical toughness is an inspiration to all. RIP— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) January 15, 2014
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson also passed along his thoughts:
It was initially reported by Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc.com on Dec. 31 that Young had been hospitalized and moved to Hospice care after being scheduled to appear on the Jan. 6 Old School edition of Raw.
A number of people involved with the business sent their thoughts and prayers to Young and her family after the news officially broke, including former WWE Diva Mickie James:
Forever live Young in our hearts and memories. Go easy my friend... Give Moolah a headlock & hug for us all. All my love. Xoxo #ThankYouMae— Mickie James (@MickieJames) January 9, 2014
Current WWE announcer and former WWE Champion JBL offered his condolences as well:
A great legend and icon of pro wrestling has passed away. RIP Mae Young. Enjoyed years of working with and friendship with Mae.— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) January 9, 2014
WWE Superstar Zack Ryder shared a great moment that he had with the incomparable Young:
RIP Mae Young pic.twitter.com/UeHHzGpRCm— Zack Ryder (@ZackRyder) January 9, 2014
The outpouring of thoughts regarding Young didn't come only from the WWE family, though, as TNA owner Dixie Carter had some kind words too:
RIP Mae Young A true trailblazer in our industry. She paved the way for every woman in the pro wrestling business.— Dixie Carter (@TNADixie) January 9, 2014
Former WWE Superstar and current ROH wrestler Matt Hardy was extremely complimentary of the legendary female trailblazer:
God bless Mae Young, who lived a very full life. Mae was tough as hell, sweet as hell, but now moves on to wrestle in heaven. #RIPMaeYoung— Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) January 9, 2014
Even the normally outrageous Iron Sheik was saddened by news of Young's passing:
Mae Young die she break my heart. I love her forever God bless her— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) January 9, 2014
Young's wrestling career began in 1939, and she remained a visible figure within the business until her passing. She continued to make sporadic appearances for WWE well into her golden years, and she became beloved by the fans for her spunk.
When Young faced Team Laycool in a handicap match in 2010, she earned the incredible distinction of being the first person to compete in a match nine different decades. Most fans know Young for what she has done over the past 15 years, but she was a top-notch grappler during her prime.
In fact, Young was an NWA fixture as she captured the NWA Women's Florida, United States and World Tag Team Championships.
She was also inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004 before being honored with an induction into the prestigious WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
Most wrestlers would be content to hang up the boots at the age of 76, but that wasn't the case with Young. Against all odds, she resurrected her career in 1999 at the height of the Attitude Era and developed a cult following of sorts.
She and fellow WWE Hall of Famer The Fabulous Moolah began to get involved in angles with the likes of Jeff Jarrett and The Dudley Boyz. Rather than simply doing a little bit of talking, though, Young made her presence felt physically.
Most famously, Young was twice powerbombed through a table by Bubba Ray Dudley, which solidified her reputation as the toughest female wrestler of all time.
Proving her toughness is something that Young always took pride in. According to Young during an interview with Ryan Nation of SLAM! Wrestling prior to her induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, Young was well-schooled in wrestling from a young age.
"My brother and I went to school together, and he was on the boys' amateur wrestling team," explained Young. "He taught me all of the amateur wrestling holds so I was a good wrestler. When we went to school, he would go down the street and say, 'I bet my sister could whip you.' So, I was wrestling all of my life."
Young also expressed a willingness and desire to wrestle for as long as she was physically capable during the interview with Nation in 2008.
"I live to wrestle for the fans because they keep me going," continued Young. "I'm 85 years old, and I still plan on wrestling when I'm a hundred. I look forward to seeing all of the fans. When I look out from the ring and see the fans cheering, hollering, booing, whatever; it's always exciting to me."
Unfortunately, Young won't accomplish her ultimate goal, but she did more within the business of professional wrestling than most could ever hope to. In fact, she redefined longevity by remaining relevant for as long as she did, which is something that many can learn from.
Young was one of a kind, and it is highly unlikely that any female wrestler will be able to replicate the impact she had on professional wrestling.
Young more than earned the label of wrestling legend, and she will forever be fondly remembered by fans because of that.
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