Rachel Evers Talks Mae Young Classic, NXT and Being a 2nd-Generation WWE Star

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterAugust 28, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

As rising star Rachel Evers looks to power her way to the top of the pro wrestling world, the WWE's Mae Young Classic represents the opportunity of a lifetime. 

But not just for her. For women's wrestling as a whole.

The 32-women tournament will be a groundbreaking showcase. It's the first event of its kind in WWE history. Every round, every match is a chance for Evers and the rest of the field to further the ongoing revolution in women's wrestling.

"Girls of my generation, we've been waiting for that platform," she told Bleacher Report.

Evers came to the squared circle from the world of powerlifting. A nimble, powerful athlete, she realized early how difficult her new chosen profession was, one that she has long loved and one that her father did before her.

"It's one of the hardest things anybody could ever do," Evers said. "I knew going into it that it would be a long journey to get to the point where I want to be. But I've loved every single second of it."

For Evers, the Mae Young Classic will be a key part of her journey. She'll be in the same field as well-traveled veterans, international stars and women looking to make their mark in the recent shift that has seen women's wrestling rise to unparalleled prominence.

Fans won't have to wait long to see them all in action. The first four episodes of the tournament will become available on Monday Aug. 28 on the WWE Network. Four more episodes will follow on Monday, Sept. 4. The finals will then air live on Sept. 12.

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Evers certainly appreciated the contributions of the tourney's namesake, Hall of Famer Mae Young.

"She was so committed and focused on making it a better place. And that's all our same goals however many years later," Evers said. "The word trailblazer should always be attached to Mae Young."

Evers will blaze trails of her own. She is one of 32 women competing in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, an event that promises to be a seminal moment for women's wrestling.

First up, Evers has a date with Marti Belle in the first round.


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A Student in the Squared Circle

You wouldn't know it by watching her in the ring, but Evers is only two years removed from graduating from wrestling school. 

In Calgary, Alberta, she learned under the tutelage of former WWE tag champ Lance Storm, who she referred to as "the best trainer in the world." And not long after her first professional match in 2015, Evers began to look like a bonafide star.

She has a magnetic presence and looks mighty comfortable in the ring already. And be it a boot to the chin or a straight right hand, everything she does is china-cup smooth.

Evers believes some of her ability is innate. "All I watch and think about is wrestling. I just have a natural instinct. It's something that you can't teach. You can't sit in a classroom and learn," she said.

Her athletic background has certainly helped her rapid progress in the ring. Before wrestling, she most excelled at powerlifting. She came away with a bronze medal in the 2014 World Powerlifting Championships.

And whether she's deadlifting massive amounts of weight or suplexing an opponent on to the canvas, she hungers to be on top.

"I've always been a competitive person. I've been an athlete my entire life. My goal no matter what I'm doing is to be the absolute best at it."

She's working her way to that point, competing for promotions like Florida-based Shine Wrestling and WrestleCircus in Austin, Texas. Along the way, she's been able to get a taste of working for WWE through its developmental territory NXT.

Evers has made a handful of appearances for the brand, taking on the likes of Ember Moon and Sonya Deville. And she's grateful for all of them.

"It's an honor to be there," Evers said. "You learn so much being in that environment, surrounded by so many great athletes and entertainers, so many great minds for the business. If anybody goes there and doesn't learn anything, they don't have their ears open."

        

Second-Generation Star

Many a fan will take notice of her last name (Ellering) right away. Her father is Hall of Fame manager Paul Ellering, who led The Road Warriors into battle years ago and now serves as the mouthpiece for NXT's The Authors of Pain.

Her famous name doesn't weigh on her like it might some second-generation grapplers.

"I never felt any pressure being second generation. My dad and I are very different people. We have very different talents," Evers explained. "I'm just extremely confident and comfortable in my own skin." 

While her father's specialty was managing and working the mic, Evers has most wowed between the ropes. As she continues to grow as a performer, making her own name remains a key goal.

Rachel Evers (Rachael Ellering) during an appearance on NXT.
Rachel Evers (Rachael Ellering) during an appearance on NXT.Credit: WWE.com

"It's always been so important for me to pave my own path in wrestling. And I've tried to do that since the day I started," she said.

In her mind, Evers and her famous father are on different paths, the stories disparate.

The Mae Young Classic will be a key point in her career. The event offers her a chance to be a part of WWE history and to do what she does best in front of more eyes.

When she told her father that WWE invited her to the event, he surprisingly didn't have much to say. "My dad is a man of very few words, believe it or not," Evers said.

He was proud and happy, of course, and disappointed he couldn't be there in person. As for the advice he had to offer, it was quite familiar to her.

"Whether that was when I was on Team USA and won a bronze medal or high school sports, he always tells me to focus and do what I do, do what got me to the dance," she said.

For now, that dance is the Mae Young and the independent circuit.

Beyond that, Evers is intent on continuing her learning process. She knows that ultimate success won't come right away. And neither will mastering the mat game.

"I'm trying to become an expert," Evers explained. "It will be a lifelong journey."

        

Making History at the Mae Young

WWE originally selected Evers as an alternate for the historic tournament, but she was buzzing after getting the news regardless.

"I was just so thrilled. I'm such a fan of women's wrestling. It's so historic. When you can be a part of something that's a first, it's incredible," she recalled about her reaction to WWE reaching out to her.

WWE later informed her, though, that it needed to replace one of the competitors, and she went from alternate to entrant. She was already primed to jump in.

"I was there ready to go. You prepare as if you're in it. I was prepared and ready for that moment," Evers said.

She soon found herself standing alongside stars like Mercedes Martinez, Mia Yim and Toni Storm during the Parade of Champions that preceded the tourney. The wrestlers all lined up at ringside, stepping between the ropes one by one as an announcer introduced them.

Evers soaked in the moment.

"When I looked around the room and saw the other 31 girls that were going to be in it, it was extremely humbling. So many of those girls have wrestled all over the world and have wrestled for so many more years than me," she recalled.

"It's so cool to stand side by side with girls like Kairi [Sane] and Toni [Storm] and Mercedes Martinez and Jazzy Gabert. They've done so much."

The crowd roared for her that night. The energy and enthusiasm, the magic of the moment got to her.

"I had goosebumps from the second I walked out there," she said.

Having wrestled at Full Sail before, knowing the NXT coaches and some of the brand's talent already, Evers entered the event with a bit of a comfort level. She was appreciative of the opportunity and ready to make the most of it.

She's only been doing it briefly, but wrestling has been on her mind for a long time. She grew up watching the best women's wrestlers in the business.

"Trish [Stratus] and Lita were the main reason that I got into wrestling," Evers said. "I saw them and I knew that this was what I had to do. It's everything I love, everything I'm good at, all in one beautiful package."

She cited Natalya and Beth Phoenix as wrestlers who influenced her, as well as Japanese stars like Manami Toyota, Aja Kong and Bull Nakano. 

And now it's her turn to impact the next generation of women's wrestlers. It's Storm, Sane, Martinez and the rest of the field's turn to represent women in the ring. And Evers is excited to show off what she and her peers pulled off.

"We're so thrilled that people are going to get to see this," Evers said.

The fans at Full Sail University have already seen some of it, watching WWE tape the early rounds of the tourney. Evers' experience in front of that audience spoke to the passion the audience has for women's wrestling.

"You could feel it when we were at Full Sail. The crowd was so genuinely happy that this moment was here," Evers explained. "We as performers have been waiting for this moment, but I think the fans have been genuinely waiting for just as long."

          

Rachel Evers is an independent pro wrestler, bronze medalist powerlifter and the current Revolution Pro Wrestling women's champion.

Ryan Dilbert is the WWE Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand.