Saraya – who WWE fans have known for the last decade or so as Paige – debuted last night (September 21) for AEW Dynamite Grand Slam. When we last mentioned her on our screens, she was working as a manager or talking head on studio shows. That’s because she was forced to pull out of the ring due to neck problems that culminated in her loss of sensation in her legs after a spot on a house show in December 2017.
But the scene at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium certainly resembled the rollout of a wrestler, not a manager. Saraya told the heels she pushed out of the ring that this was her home as she gestured toward the ring. Announcers Taz, Tony Schiavone & Excalibur spoke about how the landscape of the AEW women’s division had changed and how the second-generation artist was able to “get out”.
Still, even though she’s been talking about a comeback for over a year, there was some disbelief and concern among fans online. We’ll see in the coming days and weeks if it escalates or disappears, but it seems pretty clear that the 30-year-old has signed a contract with Tony Khan as a wrestler.
Why else would they quickly add her to their selection page? And if she didn’t have any matches, why would she have win/loss records?
We’ll see how this plays out for the first-ever NXT Women’s Champion. If this is the direction she and AEW are taking, she has clearly 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 be criticizing wrestlers like Edge, Christian Cage and Bryan Danielson who made similar decisions.
Saraya has been through a lot in her young life. I hope she can have some fun while reminding people what a key figure she is in 21st century pro wrestling.