Saraya —- who WWE fans have known for the last decade or so as Paige — debuted for AEW last night (Sept. 21) at Dynamite Grand Slam. When we last say her on our screens, she was either working as a manager or a talking head on studio shows. That’s because she was forced to retire from the ring due to neck issues that culminated in her losing feeling in her legs after a spot at a house show in Dec. 2017.
But the scene in New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium certainly seemed like the rollout of a wrestler, not a manager. Saraya told the heels she chased from the ring that this was her house as she gestured to the ring. Announcers Taz, Tony Schiavone & Excalibur talked about how the landscape of the AEW women’s division had changed, and how the second generation performer could “flat out go.”
Still, even though she’s been talking about a comeback for more than a year, there was some disbelief and concern among fans online. We’ll see whether than escalates or dissipates in the days and weeks to come, but it seems pretty clear the 30 year old signed with Tony Khan as a wrestler.
Otherwise, why would they quickly add her to their roster page? And if she wasn’t going to have matches, why would she have win-loss records?
We’ll see how this plays out for the first-ever NXT Women’s champ. If this is the direction she & AEW are headed in, obviously she’s been given the green light by medical professionals. If people are concerned about her health, that’s fair. WWE seemed to be. But if they’re going to criticize, they should have the same criticism for wrestlers like Edge, Christian Cage & Bryan Danielson who’ve made similar decisions.
Saraya’s been through a lot in her young life. Here’s hoping she can have some fun while reminding people what a key figure she is in 21st century pro wrestling.