Sources have confirmed that WWE has signed independent wrestler and current AWS Heavyweight Champion Mercedes Martinez to a contract. She is expected to report to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL this month.
Martinez, who is widely regarded as one of the top wrestlers on the independents, has previously wrestled for WWE and their NXT brand on several occasions, including taking part in the first two Mae Young Classics. In the inaugural Mae Young Classic, she made it to the semi-finals where she was defeated by Shayna Baszler.
Martinez began her training under Jason Knight in 2000 and made her professional debut later that year. In 2005 she appeared on the very first Shimmer event, going to a time-limit draw with current NXT assistant head coach and producer Sara Del Rey. In Shimmer she has held their championship on two separate occasions.
On January 26, 2019, Martinez defeated Tyler Bateman for the AWS Heavyweight Championship in South Gate, CA, becoming the first woman to hold a promotion’s highest championship in Southern California in over a decade. She has since made two successful defenses of the title, defeating B-Boy and Nicole Savoy, in a match that was nominated for the 2019 Southern California Match of the Year Award.
AWS promoter Bart Kapitzke advised SoCalUncensored.com that he would likely have a tournament to crown a new champion with Martinez’ signing.
Martinez also appeared at AEW’s pay-per-view event, All Out, on August 31, 2019. She was the final entrant in the Casino Battle Royale and was eliminated by Britt Baker. She made her AEW return on November 5, 2019, on AEW Dark teaming with Big Swole in a loss to Allie and Sadie Gibbs.
Martinez was also named the 2019 Indie Wrestler of the Year by Ring the Belle and Squared Circle Sirens and was listed tenth on the Sports Illustrated list of top women’s wrestlers of the year for 2019.