It’s now official — former WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn is returning to the company, and will be competing in this year’s Mae Young Classic as the first confirmed participant, more than four years after she left the WWE and retired from professional wrestling.
The news was first reported by ESPN on Wednesday and confirms weeks of rumors that had suggested Kaitlyn, who is known as Celeste Bonin in real life, might be considering a return to the WWE. She had first made her name in the company in 2010 as the winner of the third season of the NXT rookie search. That season, which was NXT’s only all-female iteration during its rookie search days, also produced Kaitlyn’s fellow ex-Divas champion AJ Lee and current SmackDown Live women’s wrestler Naomi.
Months after a WWE Divas Championship reign that lasted from January to June 2013, Kaitlyn retired from wrestling and left WWE in January 2014 in order to focus on her women’s fitness apparel business Celestial Bodiez and on her marriage to bodybuilder P.J. Braun, whom she had split from in 2017, as noted by Sportskeeda. In February of this year, Kaitlyn made her in-ring comeback for independent promotion Coastal Championship Wrestling, which she admitted helped her prepare for her upcoming Mae Young Classic appearance.
“Since I came back, I had the opportunity to work backward and really nail down the fundamentals and the basics — things that I really lacked during my first run with the WWE,” Kaitlyn told ESPN.
“Now I am bringing these newly honed and developed skills that I have acquired recently and I am combining that with my fearless attitude. And because I don’t have this rookie vibe about me, now I can really concentrate on surprising the WWE Universe with all the things I have learned.”
— Mae Young Classic (@MaeYoungClassic) July 11, 2018
As further noted by ESPN, Kaitlyn will be competing in this year’s Mae Young Classic with a noticeably different look and a new attitude. The publication wrote that the 31-year-old wrestler has made some lifestyle changes since returning to the ring, and is now on a vegan diet, feeling “fitter than she’s ever felt” before. She is also sporting a full-sleeve tattoo and a longer, darker hairdo that ESPN opined “goes well with her persona.”
As it seems, Kaitlyn’s appearance in the Mae Young Classic might be similar to Serena Deeb’s return to the WWE for last year’s inaugural version of the 32-woman tournament, according to Daily DDT. While Deeb parlayed last year’s comeback appearance into a coaching job at WWE’s Performance Center, it’s still unclear whether Kaitlyn’s return will lead to a longer-term role with the company.