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Debut of Saraya gives Tony Khan, AEW chance to reboot women’s division

Chris Graham
Photo courtesy All Elite Wrestling.

The AEW women’s division is getting another shot at a reboot with the surprise debut of Saraya, the former Paige from WWE, on Wednesday’s “Dynamite.”

Saraya hasn’t wrestled since 2017 after dealing off and on with injuries, her career finally coming to a screeching halt after taking a kick to the back at a WWE house show in December 2017 that forced her into medical retirement.

It’s still at question if and when she will be able to wrestle in AEW, but it’s notable that the company has added her to the roster page on its website, and lists her 2022 record at 0-0, implying that she will eventually, and we can hope soon, be in the ring.

Her introduction to AEW fans came at the end of a four-way match for the interim world title won by Toni Storm, with a rollup pin of former champ Britt Baker, who has been the backbone of the women’s division since AEW’s rollout in 2019.

Tony Khan has been trying to build around Baker, TBS champ Jade Cargill, a green talent getting over, for now, with her look and her mic skills, and Kris Statlander, who had seemed to be in the mix to take the TBS title off Cargill before suffering an ACL injury this summer, putting her on the shelf into 2023.

The current AEW women’s champ, Thunder Rosa, is on the shelf herself with a back injury, and her title reign, dating to March, has been underwhelming, a bit of a shock considering the buzz around her matches with Baker before the title change.

The fact of the matter is, the division only seems to generate energy with the fans when Baker is involved at the top of the card in some way, shape or form.

Enter Saraya, one of the pioneers of the women’s revolution in WWE, helping that company get past its approach to women’s wrestling that focused on T&A into the era of simulated physical combat more akin to what you see out of the men.

As she battled injuries, Saraya also grew as a solid on-the-mic talent.

Khan will want to break her in slowly, considering her long absence away from the ring, but her mic skills can help get her over with fans – if she needs to get more over than she was simply at her music hitting to walk her out to the ring on Wednesday night.

Assuming she can stay healthy, Saraya can give AEW another top women’s star, alongside Baker, to build storylines and title chases around.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].