Saraya Is Ready To Help Build AEW’s ‘WrestleMania Moment’

When Saraya showed up in AEW, it wasn’t clear from the outset what her role would be in the promotion. She’d been successful as an onscreen voice since suffering what was deemed a career-ending injury nearly five years prior in WWE. But all doubts over whether she could wrestle again evaporated when she defeated Britt Baker in her highly-anticipated return match last November.

Her arrival in AEW has helped catapult the women’s division at just the right time. The promotion has set ambitious goals for the coming year starting with CEO Tony Khan’s decision to go global, bringing All In to Saraya’s home country and the iconic Wembley Stadium in London this August.

“I haven’t performed in the UK in years. And then to be on one of the biggest stages you can get over there, Wembley Stadium, it’s just a very wild opportunity,” Saraya told Uproxx Sports. “It does have that WrestleMania 1 vibe where this is something really special. I feel so fortunate that I get to be a part of history.”

WrestleMania is reserved for some of the most anticipated matches of the year, and while Saraya would love for her family or fellow Outcasts members Toni Storm and Ruby Soho to be involved, she has two dream matches for the historic event top of mind.

“I would love to face Jamie Hayter. That would be amazing, because she’s also from the UK — I’ve had the opportunity to be in a tag and triple threat, but not a singles match, and I would love that opportunity,” Saraya said. “Do we open that Forbidden Door? Mercedes Moné, I would love to face her there. That would be such a full circle moment. There’s so much opportunity there.”

Regardless of where Saraya lands on the card, she’s proud to be part of the growing women’s division within the promotion. She makes it a point to praise Baker as a pillar of the company who isn’t getting her recognition during the ongoing tug of war over the AEW World Championship between fellow pillars MJF, Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara, and Jungle Boy.

As the women’s division has seen an influx of talent, Saraya highlights the balance of homegrown wrestlers and star power that makes up the roster, highlighted by the likes of Jade Cargill, Skye Blue, Willow Nightingale, and others. For the newcomers, she compares what many of the women are experiencing to how she built her career in the early days of WWE NXT.

“They’re in the room before the shows, they’re training with Dustin Rhodes, and they’re just working their asses off. It is a difficult journey, especially when you get thrown onto TV like that, where I was really fortunate enough to go to a development center and hone my craft a little bit more,” Saraya says. “But these wrestlers get thrown in the deep end and they have to learn how to swim very quickly. They do such an incredible job, but it is harder for them than it would be for me or Toni or Ruby or Taya (Valkyrie) to come in. I do commend them because they do work really hard and they deserve their time.”

Saraya’s return to wrestling has been difficult in its own right. Wrestling evolves and changes over time, and she’s found herself sitting back, learning and watching, experiencing the feeling of a newcomer again.

Time away from wrestling allowed her recover, and she credits her partner for getting her in the gym, eating healthy, and preserving good mental health — even if that meant taking a break from social media here and there. But the bruises of wrestling since 2006 have taken a toll on her, and this time, she’s doing what she can in the ring to maintain her health.

“I was out for a really long time, so I’m a lot more cautious about what I do. People that have been in business a lot longer than me would always be like, you don’t have to bump so much, you don’t have to do all that crazy stuff,” Saraya says. “I never understood until I busted my neck twice. And then (I decided) I’m going to limit my bumps a little bit and be a lot smarter about what I do and how much I do to my body.”

At this stage in her career, Saraya is happy, healthy, and the number one priority is capturing the AEW Women’s Championship. Whether winning the belt actually happens or not, she’s just thrilled to be along for the ride as AEW goes on to do “bigger and better things.”

“(Tony Khan has) done such a great job already,” she says. “The company’s still in its baby stages and he’s done such a wonderful job already, along with obviously Kenny (Omega) and the Young Bucks and all the girls and guys that are involved behind the scenes. But I just want to continue being a part of history with this company. I feel very fortunate to be here, I love my time in AEW, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds here.”