Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Obituary: Mae Young

Westling Legend passes at landmark ninety 
years shaping way for female wrestling

In this Obituary, Wrestling Wonders celebrates the career and influence of one of it's most decorated performers. As a tribute, we look back at the glorious times of the sporting delight that will forever be Mae Young, wrestling's most unforgettable wrestling diva.

Mae Young proved to be an influential force for good in the industry of Women's Wrestling. Taking up her position in the wrestling business at the age of sixteen, Young would cast a guiding light on the change in appreciation of female wrestling.

At the age of fifteen, Johnnie Mae Young, the youngest of her family, Young was placed onto her high school wrestling team integrated with the boys. Unafraid to mix it up and prove her strong will for the sport, Young began honing her skills with huge determination.

Coming from a background affected by poverty in the Great Depression, Young's family troubles increased with the absence of her father and siblings in times of strife.

Young appeared at a professional wrestling event challenging standout wrestler Mildred Burke, champion at that time on a trip to Tulsa. She later battled Gladys Gillem proving popular with a victory in mere seconds. It was here she met notorious agent Billy Wolfe who convinced her to become a professional wrestler. Mae then spent two years training forcing her to leave home.

One of Young's most defining moments came when she would inadvertently become an ambassador for female wrestling. On December 7th 1941 Young entered a match, as this day is now know as Pearl Harbour. During the Japanese attack the United States entered World War II. During the war Young was instrumental in the fight for female acceptance. Young focused her attentions and rose among the adversity to strengthen the bond of the sport and females among male interactions also.

After the war ended Young and Burke, who established a strong relationship to boost female grapplers were the first to tour Japan easing tensions. Shortly after this Young was catapulted through the National Wrestling Alliance with flying colours as its first recognised NWA Florida Women's Champion. She also joined an infamous Battle Royal five years on in 1956 to crown a new NWA World Women's Champion, won by her close friend The Fabulous Moolah.

In 1968 Young became the first NWA's first United States Women's Champion.

It was a long while until Young joined the WWF on the September 9th Smackdown. Jeff Jarrett invited Moolah, seated with Young in the audience to the ring. After accepting, Jarrett smashed his synonymous guitar over her head. Here, Young attempt to intervene only to be locked into a figure four submission hold. Thereafter Young and Moolah were inseparable on WWE television in numerous appearances and skits helping advance the careers of growing future stars. 

Always up for a laugh and good sport Mae often endured some comedy skits which were terrible. However, the majority, even the bad one's were made pleasant by Young's attention to detail and transforming the situations into her own. Young was stripped to her bra and panties by Ivory on Raw and also named Miss. Royal Rumble 2000 winning a bikini contest to the current divas' disapproving. Though many divas intended to embarrass Young on the national stage, Young revelled in her sexuality. Feeling confident, empowered and tenacious, Young refused to be upset by her exposed body. Turning the tables on the calculating females, she would lure them into a false sense of security. Comfortable with her near nudity shocking other ladies, she struck down her foes instead to rise above victorious.

Young's most infamous skit involved then boyfriend Mark Henry. She also endured a shocking powerbomb in WWE history which is now the most renowned and extraordinary act ever. Young was previously announced as pregnant beforehand, now posing concern for the seventy-seven year old. Giving birth, fans and Henry were shocked when Young's birth was nothing more than a blood stained hand. Fans were meant to believe the powerbomb had torn her child into fragments, remaining inside Young's womb. Naturally the angle received upset debate from certain fans. A tricky subject to address, Young praised enthusiasm for the stunt. At that time in wrestling and able to work with any scenario thrown her way, Young still made the scene compelling today.

Young appeared on Raw 1000 in the dressing room backstage next to her son. With a young guy in a hand, Young addressed her "son" with adoration. Her son loved her back proud of one another. The divas locker room were somewhat perplexed. Fans found the segment in acceptable taste, given the time passing. 

Young's final appearance with WWE was on the Old School Raw edition. She celebrated her ninetieth birthday. Backstage Young received a gracious gift presented by Triple H and Chairman Vince McMahon with a divas championship replica. The idea was implemented by Stephanie McMahon, to which Young respected. 

On New Year's Eve 2013 Young was drastically rushed to hospital. Disgraced publication The Charleston Post & Courier quickly reported Young had died. Highly inaccurate and shaming themselves sparking outrage and fear for fans, the post attempted to make a cheap cash in on the WWE legend. Despite the tasteless appeal for flocking readers, Young sadly passed away shortly after on January 14th 2014. On the January 17th episode of Smackdown WWE dedicated a fitting tribute to Young. Shamefully Impact Wrestling attempted to 'get in first' for publicity and give a tribute to Young on the 16th. Young had no involvement or wrestling detail with TNA. It was seen as a completely tasteless disregarded move by clueless TNA President Dixie Carter for publicity and mocking the WWE's impending tribute, to which Young was highly notorious with in her later years.
 TNA invaded and embarrassed themselves with such a shameful move which had no involvement on their part. It was not their place and could have made a mockery of the legend's name if it weren't for such strong following from fans and industry experts.  
Young made such notorious headway in her career that she was inducted into the Professional Hall of Fame in August 2004 and the WWE Hall of Fame in the class of 2008. Wrestling Wonders has also respected Mae's accomplishments over 2013.
Moolah and Young, Women's Wrestling pioneers. 
With her natural bond with close friend The Fabulous Moolah and a pinnacle for female wrestling, Young helped the movement strive forward. In times of unappreciation Mae's accomplishments alongside others will continue on in a positive manner. Delivering exemplary standards and precision in her in ring talent, appearances and publicity where counted Young held prominence. Now, in 2014, Young and others have laid a foundation that has allowed female talent to strive for a real  chance at a future in the business.

Unrivalled with her comedy skill and natural warmth, Young will be one of wrestling history's most respected females making it as a nonagenarian veteran. Wrestler. Woman. Friend. Young has added a huge definition to the label of female wrestler that has been highly valued. May one of wrestling's finest divas truly rest peacefully.

©  Max Waltham 19th February 2014

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