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Hey everyone! It’s been a minute since I posted anything. I was in New York last week for AEW Grand Slam. It was an incredible night of matches! If you missed my match reviews, you can catch up on Toni Storm vs Serena Deeb vs Athena vs Britt Baker from Dynamite and Jade Cargill vs Diamanté from Rampage. You can bet I had a good time.
Yup. This was me.
But by far the highlight of the event for me was the debut of Saraya! I had absolutely zero idea that she was even en route to AEW! We all knew that someone was coming out though. Just a little “inside baseball” for you if you’ve never been to an AEW event: When someone is going to come out “unexpectedly”, a cameraman will go up the ramp and lock his shot of the entrance. Given the situation in the ring between Toni Storm, Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter, I was anticipating it being Thunder Rosa. Saraya coming out totally shocked me. An unforgettable moment.
Let’s talk about that segment
Saraya’s first speaking segment in AEW was… mixed, I think it’s fair to say. Maybe even too fair, as I saw a lot of people panning it. I even saw YouTube thumbnails describing the segment as “disastrous” and the like. Now I’m not going to say that it was all that good. Even Saraya by her own admission said she was “a little rusty”.
But I think more than anything, fans wanted Saraya’s segment to be something that was a clear beacon of hope for AEW’s women’s division and would also give them a tantalizing prospect to sink their teeth into. Instead, I feel like we got a 2-second peep through a keyhole and, as far as prospective developments, we were left with more questions than answers. First and foremost on a lot of fan’s minds…
Is Saraya going to wrestle errrrr?
So here’s something kind of funny (well to me, anyway). Back in July, I had written a Pitch Please! Creative pitch article entitled, Pitching A New Stable, where I fashioned a women’s stable in AEW modelled after the stable ‘Evolution’. As the “Ace”, it had to be Britt Baker. As the up-and-coming phenom, Ashley D’Amboise. And while Jamie Hayter would initially be the group’s “Heater”, she’d eventually be replaced by Megan Bayne. And then as the “Legend”, I went with Mickie James but before that had considered Saraya but concluded that it’d need to be someone who could actually wrestle. What I found funny about all this is that when I looked up Saraya’s age, to have her playing Ric Flair’s role as the grizzled veteran of the group would be especially funny when she’s actually younger than not only Britt Baker but the “up-and-coming phenom” Ashley D’Amboise! I forget just how young Saraya still is!
This entire preamble is all to say: I can’t blame any AEW fan for having their doubts and simply wanting the question answered: Can Saraya wrestle? Even in a recent interview with Renee Paquette, Saraya spoke pretty ambivalently about returning to the ring. Although, Saraya would tweet that Renee knew all about her signing with AEW so maybe this was a red herring to throw fans off the scent? As evidence pointing towards Saraya wrestling, the one line from commentary during Saraya’s debut that is seared into my mind is when Taz said “Saraya can flat out go!” Not used to be able to. And a report from Fightful seems to indicate that the terms of her contract would imply that she will be an in-ring talent. So why not subdue fan’s curiosity right away on that Dynamite in Philadelphia by proclaiming her status as a wrestler? Well, I have a couple thoughts…
Full Gear isn’t until Nov. 19th
There are 7 Dynamites before Full Gear. When I first saw the graphic from AEW’s official Twitter account that Saraya was going to speak, I had accepted the possibility that we may be left guessing as to what a first feud may look like. Unlike CM Punk who immediately drew up plans to face Darby Allin for All Out 2021, that was 2 weeks before the PPV. But assuming that Saraya can indeed “flat out go”, it’d be a safe assumption that her first match since 2017 would be on pay-per-view. So with 7 weeks to get through, maybe Tony Khan wants to pace this. Another reason for the ambiguity may be…
Establishing the Women’s Re-Revolution
Going into All Out, Tony Khan had said he was looking forward to shaking up and refreshing AEW’s women’s division. He had to have known at that time that AEW had Saraya under contract and while a lot of us thought that maybe the “shake up” was coming in the form of a Toni Storm title reign or maybe even Athena ending Jade’s streak, he had other designs.
Now, given that Saraya’s first and only interactions in AEW thus far have centered around Britt Baker, I think we’ve all made the same deduction that it’s going to be Saraya vs Britt Baker at Full Gear. And the day that match is announced will be headline news for AEW.
So I think Tony Khan is taking these 7 weeks before Full Gear and has 2 things he wants to accomplish:
- Establish a clear “turning point” for AEW’s women’s division
- Hype up Saraya’s in-ring return for pay-per-view buys
And if I’m right about this, I believe Tony would (correctly) be concerned that announcing the match would overshadow this establishing of an “AEW Women’s Revolution”. Speaking of which, let’s go back to that segment again…
Back in 2015, we got the segment on WWE Raw where Stephanie McMahon heralded in The Diva’s Revolution. If you watch it back, Jesus Stephanie is cringe, the whole thing is contrived, but at the same time you can’t help but marvel at this being the main roster debuts for Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks. And remembering back to watching this at the time, it was a thrilling development. It was a can’t miss segment.
I think this type of keystone moment is what Tony and Saraya were going for but fell well short, at least immediate present. But it’s well within recovery and a follow up could make Philadelphia look like just a first baby step.
And maybe it’s a bit lazy to have AEW try to capture that lightning in a bottle that WWE found in 2015 but retreads in wrestling often work. They’re usually not as good as the original but we’re just looking for a kickstart here. And to be honest, I can’t tell you what the booking of WWE’s Diva’s division (yes, it was still called that) looked like and it doesn’t really matter.
In Saraya’s tweet that I mentioned earlier, she boasted having a good portion of the roster out on Dynamite, having the first ever women’s lumberjack match, and we had a lengthy match. These brags feel so hollow. So I actually wish Tony Khan had gone in more two-footed on this “AEW women’s revolution” with some serious and easily manufactured wins. Here’s a free Pitch Please!:
October 12th in Toronto (I’m picking this one purely for selfish reasons because I’ll be there), book two women’s matches on Dynamite. First one, maybe a Toni Storm match but the second one, make it Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter vs Willow Nightingale & Skye Blue. Book a long enough match that Willow & Skye can get all their shit in and even tease a big win but ultimately lose. After the match, have Saraya come out and say she’s talked it over with Tony Khan and since Skye Blue has been such a great talent for AEW… Up on the tron pops a “Skye Blue is #AllElite” graphic.
This will get a great POP but will quickly turn to “WILLOW!” chants. Saraya plays coy, asking the crowd if they want AEW to sign Willow too. Crowd pops huge. Up goes the “Willow Nightingale is #AllElite” graphic on the tron. YUGE PAHP!
Like, there’s nothing standing in the way of AEW doing this. There’s nothing really to arrange, it just has to be booked. And the AEW women’s division needs some big wins. They’ve finally got the figurehead, in Saraya, to institute these things and have them register as a sea change to the AEW audience. And to be honest, I’ll be disappointed if they don’t do something at least this good. It’s kind of an indictment if they don’t.
As much as I’m looking forward to seeing Saraya back in the ring, when she walked out that tunnel in Arthur Ashe Stadium, my mind first and foremost was on what this meant for the women’s division as a whole. I’d hate to look back in a year and be soured by seeing it as a missed opportunity.
That’s it for me, for now. If you haven’t already, please look up our channel on YouTube. Somehow we’ve reached over 100 subscribers! And hit me up on Twitter at: AEW_ONE. Thank you for reading and, as always, make sure you let the women in your life know how much you appreciate them!