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Reviewing Saraya's AEW Debut

WWE's first-ever NXT Women's Champion makes her All Elite Wrestling debut at the Grand Slam special episode of Dynamite

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 4 months ago 5 min read
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Saraya's anticipated AEW Debut at Grand Slam

All Elite Wrestling had their highly promoted Grand Slam edition of Dynamite; seriously, I love these special Dynamite episodes. It's basically a pay-per-view for free, similar to WWE's special episodes of NXT. These episodes often have loaded cards, a big fight feel, and most of all, huge surprises. Grand Slam was no different, and the surprise came after the end of one of its premiere matches: the four-way match for the Interim AEW Women's World Championship.

AEW has an interim champion (honestly, an idea that needs to be adopted by other promotions, especially WWE) because the actual champion, Thunder Rosa, suffered an injury just moments prior to her anticipated title defense against her "ThunderStorm" ally, Toni Storm, was set to take place at All Out. As a result, an interim champion was crowned at the event, with Toni Storm defeating former champions Britt Baker and Hikaru Shida, as well as Jamie Hayter in a four-way match. Grand Slam served as Toni's first title defense, and while she had to deal with Britt Baker again, she had two different challengers this time: Athena and Serena Deeb.

The chaotic match saw Britt bloodied (something she is no stranger to), but it ended with Toni victorious in her first defense of the title. However, Toni would pay for it, as Britt and later Jamie Hayter attacked Toni, while Serena was busy assaulting Athena. The villainesses celebrated their deeds, but they received a very big and shocking surprise.

It was at that moment that the big shocker emerged: in the form of Saraya, formerly known as Paige in WWE. It had been documented for several months that there was some interest between Saraya (that's her real name: Saraya Jade-Bevis) and AEW, with stories written as recently as the night of Grand Slam. Even so, I figured I and other fans would have to wait a few months for Saraya to become All Elite, but that would not be the case. As far as Saraya's debut, her very appearance stunned the heel triumvirate, to the point where they merely exited the ring as Saraya embraced Athena and Toni; an absolutely epic moment!

We all know Saraya's story; she is the daughter of wrestling royalty from her birthplace of Norwich, England: Saraya and Ricky Knight. She had been wrestling since her late pre-teen years, and had been teaming with (and even competing against) her mother Saraya Knight, while competing under the name Britani Knight. The duo came across the pond in 2010 and competed as The Knight Dynasty, doing so under the managerial services of Rebecca Knox, aka "The Man" herself, Becky Lynch.

Paige won the WWE Divas Championship in her Raw debut

WWE ended up being in her future in 2011, and Britani Knight signed with the big promotion and debuted in FCW (later known as NXT) under the name Paige. In her tenure, Paige won a tournament to crown the first-ever NXT Women's Champion, but the elevation didn't end there. The first week of the then-named WWE Network launch saw Paige and Tenille Dashwood (who worked as Emma at the time) steal the show at NXT's first Network special, NXT Arrival. It didn't even end there! During her reign as NXT Women's Champion, Paige debuted on Monday Night Raw on the night after WrestleMania XXX, and answered an open challenge against WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee, which resulted in Paige defeating AJ for the title on her first night--ending AJ's 295-day reign.

Paige added a second Divas Championship reign later that year, and she spent the following years as a key part of WWE's Women's Revolution. During this period, she formed an alliance with former NXT women Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, but would turn on them after the former won the Divas Championship. Paige engaged in a feud with Charlotte that actually ended with a double turn between both women, but she would be sidelined due to issues with her neck. She returned in late 2017 as the evil leader of a trio known as Absolution, which also consisted of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, but the angle came to an abrupt end when she suffered a neck injury that forced her to retire as an in-ring competitor. Paige returned as the babyface General Manager of SmackDown, and her final on-screen role in WWE was as the manager for the Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane), which ended when the duo turned heel on Paige.

In 2019, Saraya's life and wrestling career were profiled in the big-screen film, Fighting With My Family, which starred Florence Pugh (later of Black Widow fame) as Saraya. Without question, Saraya has had a long and storied wrestling career, and here's the kicker: she just turned 30 last month! That's what I find the most fascinating about this: Saraya is a seasoned wrestling veteran who has basically competed for nearly all of her life, and that young age means she is definitely not even close to done. Many fans have heard that Saraya has been on the road to recovery and possibly returning to the ring, and with what we've seen with Edge and Bryan Danielson in recent years, it is definitely possible that Saraya's debut in AEW leads to a long awaited return to in-ring competition.

If this happens, one has to believe that Saraya will be the very woman who ends Jade Cargill's unbeaten streak and run as TBS Champion. Or, we could see her go straight for the Women's Title, most likely after Thunder Rosa returns and we get that match to crown an undisputed champion. In any event, Saraya is an immensely epic and welcome addition to AEW's loaded women's division, and I am excited to see what she will bring to the proverbial table in All Elite Wrestling!

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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

Born on March 18, 1985. I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also love movies--especially comedy and horror--and among my favorite TV shows are The Simpsons and Family Guy

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