When Mae passed away on January 14th at the age of 90, it was not unexpected. Due to various stories of ill health and an erroneous report of her death a few days earlier, the wrestling community had already begun to say their goodbyes. It was the fact that this tough-as-nails woman could possible be mortal that stunned most fans. As she often spoke of her wish to compete at the age of 100, most of us thought that the legendary female grappler would be around forever.
Although she competed in nine different decades, much of the existing career of Young is from her WWF/WWE career that began in 1999. As the tag team partner and companion of The Fabulous Moolah, Young's appearances on Raw, Smackdown, and various pay-per-view events catapulted her from an unsung legend to one of the most beloved characters in the history of the company.
The stories told by Young herself and those who were around in her earlier career certainly paint a picture that mirrors her later years. Wild, unflinching, and even pioneering seem to best describe Mae's days on the road, and we'll probably never begin to hear the craziest tales surrounding her life and times. If ever a wrestler's life could translate into an entertaining motion picture, it just might have been Mae's.
Her wild past aside, Young seemed to truly enjoy the admiration of her peers and fans. It has been said that her 2008 induction into the WWE Hall of Fame was one of the greatest days of her life. Showing off her ring recognizing that honor, as well as her ring from the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, was something that she loved to do. Though some observers may only view her induction as reliving her often hilarious WWF/WWE exploits, the educated fan recognizes that this honor was for a woman who succeeded at her craft at a time when it was not a popular vocation for her gender to participate in.
Every wrestling entity and even some mainstream news outlets have paid their respects to Mae Young in an outpouring not seen since the passing of Paul Bearer in 2013. While it is undoubtedly a testament to her famous WWF/WWE role of the past fifteen years, it also gives hope to myself and many other true wrestling fans that her earlier contributions to the business will continue to be learned. Godspeed, Johnnie Mae Young, and "Muah!"...