“I’m back!” – with these two words, Saraya reintroduced herself to the professional wrestling world, and officially spoke on her position in the AEW Galaxy.
That’s right, after making her surprise debut on the first night of Grand Slam to a massive pop from the assembled crowd and a ner-universally glowing response from fans online, the performer formerly known as Paige was handed a microphone just after the one-hour mark of Dynamite and given carte blanche to address the assembled crowd in North Philadelphia as she so saw fit.
“So you missed me?” Page asked. “So it’s fantastic to be back into the ring, you guys, it’s obviously been a crazy road, but I’m damaged, but I’m not broken at the end of the day, right? No, it’s great to be back here, and the reason I’m here is because I will create change in this division. I was the revolution here, and I’m gonna be the revolution because I am the revolution.”
As the crowd chanted, “this is your house,” Saraya continued on.
“You know, it’s really hard to talk out here, you guys, I’m just so nervous. It’s been a while, but AEW is officially my house.”
After being given time cues to wrap up her statement, Saraya swerved things in another direction, calling out the “ladies from the back,” including Willow Nightengale, who isn’t technically an AEW wrestler, and introduced the performers, which also included Toni Storm, Athena, Maddison Rayne, and Skye Blue. Explicitly shouting out Storm for being the “best champion AEW has ever seen,” Saraya was interrupted by none other than Britt Baker, who walked out with a posse of her own that also included Jamie Hayter, Rebal, and, curiously enough, Penelope Ford, and broke up the love fest.
Baker tore into Saraya for not watching AEW, for being nothing but a gimmick, and for not having a strong enough neck to put the company on her back.
So what came from this interaction? Did Saraya threaten to wrestle Baker in the ring? Did she offer to take care of Hayter, Ford, or even Rebal to prove she can still go? None of the above; the prospects of a match with Saraya were never broached, and instead, the former Divas Champion decided to change the planned match between Storm and Serena Deeb into a lumberjack match featuring the rest of the female performers ringside while she took to the safety of the commentary booth with Excaliber, Taz, and Tony Schiavone.
What gives? Is Saraya not cleared to wrestle, as Dave Meltzer and others have reported? Or does AEW have more of a hybrid player/booker sort of role up their sleeve for Saraya, you know, now that she has a boss who “actually listens” to her?
"AEW is officially MY HOUSE!" @Saraya makes a statement! Watch #AEWDynamite LIVE on @TBSNetwork! pic.twitter.com/3sizoyHL5w
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) September 29, 2022
Saraya’s role in AEW is no clearer after Dynamite.
Handed a headset and a chance to mix things up with the dynamic trio of Taz, Excaliber, and Schiavone, Saraya was largely nonchalant about her present, past, and future. She spoke on shaking things up, on being the revolution, and never actually mentioned the prospects of mixing it up in the ring herself, likely at the direct order of Tony Khan.
So what gives? According to Fightful Select, AEW signed Saraya to a three-year deal that is paying her far more than that of an out-of-ring competitor who helps to push the storylines along on the mic. Was AEW in such dire straights following the fallout from the CM Punk-Elite backstage brawl after All Out that they had to pay up for a pop via one of the most popular former wrestlers of the modern era even if, after five years, she still isn’t cleared to wrestle following a brutal neck injury suffered on a WWE house show that nearly resulted in permanent paralysis? Or could it be that Khan simply wants Saraya to talk and could care less if she is actually wrestling in the ring? Managers can be incredibly valuable in the right context, and having the Saraya stamp on the women’s division undoubtedly makes the on-screen product look better and more prestigious.
Ultimately, Saraya has been #AllElite for eight days. She’s spent about 10 minutes on television at most, and her first appearance didn’t include a single spoken word, let alone a wrestling move. And yet, considering how many tweets have flown off since Saraya took to the ring on Dynamite, it’s clear AEW is getting a ton of traction from their newest female superstar, even if her exact role in the promotion is very much up in the air.
It's just been made official: the #AEW Interim Women's World Championship Match between Toni Storm and @SerenaDeeb will now be a Lumberjack Match! Tune in to #AEWDynamite LIVE on @TBSNetwork! pic.twitter.com/3It0Cgr1Lw
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) September 29, 2022