After more than four years away from WWE, Celeste Bonin — popularly known as Kaitlyn in WWE — will make her in-ring return next month when she competes in the Mae Young Classic.
The news, which was first reported by ESPN, makes Kaitlyn the first official participant to be revealed for this year’s 32-woman tournament.
Bonin, 31, retired from WWE in January 2014, five months after winning the Divas Championship. She rose to fame after winning the third season of NXT in 2010, her first year with WWE.
She made an in-ring comeback in January 2018 in the indie circuit, and after six months of training and getting in shape, Bonin is looking to surprise fans with her new skill set.
“The thing that got me through [as a rookie in WWE] and the thing that allowed me to achieve my level of success was my attitude, and looking back now, I am coming back with experience,” Bonin said. “I am certainly nervous because the level of competition is so much higher and there are so many different women from around the world and they bring skill levels. But it’s just so exciting.”
A WWE comeback was in the back of her mind ever since she returned to the ring this year.
“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,” Bonin said. “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.”
Bonin realized she missed wrestling when she made her comeback in February at a Coastal Championship Wrestling event.
“The highs and lows and the adrenaline rushes and the quick thinking on your feet — it came rushing back to me,” Bonin said. “Anytime you step back in the ring, it’s the same rush and you never get used to it. There is always this fear and this question of ‘Oh, my gosh, can I do this?’ And to me, that’s part of what makes it amazing.”
It was reported last month that Bonin was backstage at WWE’s NXT television tapings in Orlando, Florida on June 22 and that there was talk of her returning to the company.
She’s also keeping busy with her new athleisure line and her YouTube vlog, where she talks about her struggle with addiction, going through a divorce and evolving as a human being.
“It’s about finding things that drive you and fuel you,” she said. “And you can work 18 hours a day or however many hours a day and still want to go back to the ring or do lifts in the gym. As long as you’re passionate about it, you feel happy, and to me, that’s the balance.”
The Mae Young Classic will be taped on August 8 and 9 at Full Sail Live in Orlando, Florida. According to WWE.com, the 32-woman tournament will premiere on the WWE Network “later this summer.”