Saraya details process of getting cleared, texting Sasha Banks, doctor suggesting she should start with one match a month

Saraya details the process of getting cleared, her mindset about her in-ring style and contacting Sasha Banks about the clearance

Photo Courtesy: All Elite Wrestling

Details about Saraya being cleared for in-ring competition. 

At AEW Full Gear, for the first time since December 2017, Saraya will compete in a sanctioned match. On the 11/9 episode of Dynamite, Saraya confirmed that she is 100 percent cleared to compete and she’ll be taking on Britt Baker in her return bout. 

Afterwards, Saraya shared a photo of the doctor’s note she received which verifies her clearance. 

She returned to Renée Paquette’s ‘The Sessions’ podcast to discuss all things related to her being cleared. Saraya was officially notified about it on Halloween. Initially, the conversations between her and Tony Khan about wrestling again were along the lines of her suggesting doing something similar to what Stone Cold Steve Austin did at WrestleMania 38

Saraya shared that when she and Britt Baker brawled at the anniversary show in Washington D.C., she was not cleared to bump and did not tell Dr. Sampson she was going to get physical but he was fine with it as long as it was not a bump. 

Stone Cold had that match with Kevin Owens but he didn’t bump very much. It was very limited but they still had an amazing match so that was inspiring to me and I’m like, man… I probably could pull off doing a Stone Cold match, right? And it was just in my head and I was just like, you know, because the match, you wouldn’t think that there was a crazy amount of bumps because the story they told was so fantastic… I was like, maybe we can do something like that so I remember throwing that idea at Tony [Khan] and then he was just like, you know, ‘With Sting coming in, we did tag matches so maybe we can do some tag matches’ and I was just like, ‘Eh. If I was to come back, I would want it to be a singles match.’ So I remember talking to the doctors and they were like, ‘Okay, you can do this but we’re not gonna clear you to take a bump’ and that’s the whole misconception with how the internet works is, ‘Oh, she talked to like 25 doctors and AEW’s doctor, Doctor Sampson cleared her.’ He didn’t clear me for anything. First of all, I went out there with Britt [Baker] and we did our own thing. I didn’t ask clearance from the doctor there, I’m gonna be honest and he was cool with it. He was just like, ‘Please don’t take a bump,’ right? ‘Not ready to take bumps yet.’ So anyways, he was like, ‘If you actually wanna have matches, we have to get you completely cleared. That means MRIs, C.T. scans, everything.’ So I was like, ‘Okay. I don’t wanna go to a doctor which is associated with wrestling, right? Because I feel like there’s a little bit of bias there’ and I’m just like, I don’t wanna make the same mistake where I came back and then I was wrestling every single day and just doing all these crazy things. I’m like, no, I really want to be aware and careful of my neck this time around. I really want to get to the nitty-gritty of what my neck looks like and how much I can do and if I’m even gonna be paralyzed because that was the bigger scare was that if I did wrestle, I could potentially get paralyzed. So, Halloween, a perfect day, I went to the doctor here in California, one of the best doctors around. He did a bunch of NFL, NBA, all these huge acting stars like celebrities, actresses and all that kind of fun stuff. I was like, well if anyone’s gonna know, this guy’s gonna tell me no because he’s fantastic and his job is on the line if he just lets someone go back to work. So yeah, I go get my x-rays done and he’s just like, ‘These look great. We still have to triple check’ so I got C.T. scans, MRI, he managed to squeeze them in the same day. So I went downstairs for the MRI, I went across the street for the C.T. scan. I brought them back all within the same hour or so. It was very quick and then he sat there and went through them all and he was just like, ‘You’re cleared’ and I just bust into tears. I’m like, ‘Are you serious!?’ So I just start asking questions like, ‘What about the fluid around my neck?’ And I remember seeing my last MRI with the fluid, I’m not saying I’m a f*cking doctor or anything but I’ve seen a few MRIs and I’m like, there seems to be fluid around that area so that’s why I asked. I’m like, ‘What’s the deal there?’ And he was just like, ‘Well the fluid’s back. The fusions look perfect. There’s no fractures above and below. There’s no issues.’ I was like, ‘Okay. Let’s talk about paralysis though’ and he was like, ‘It’s rare.’ If I get kicked there, ‘You have some cushion now.’ He was like, ‘And if you ever feel like you’re not feeling too well, take some time off. You know your body’ and he was just like, ‘But, I will clear you to get back in the ring again’ and I was just like, ‘All right. Well how many matches can I have?’ And he was like, ‘Let’s take it easy. We’ll do like one match a month and then gradually start building it up.’ But yeah, long story short, Halloween is when I got the full clearance. I called my parents, I was crying my eyes out which I screenshotted a picture. I think I sent it to you [Renee Paquette]. 

Outside of her family, one of the first people Saraya texted about the news was Mercedes Varnado (Sasha Banks). Varnado delivered a kick to Saraya in 2017 which put her on the shelf. Saraya said Varnado was over the moon for her getting cleared. 

And then the first person I texted as well was Mercedes, Sasha [Banks]. 

So I text her, she was one of the first people I text because I’m like, of all that stuff, that can mentally f*ck someone up to end someone’s career and a lot of people pit us against each other after that. All her fans would attack me, all my fans would — well not all my fans. There’s a very small percentage. But they would tag each other and they’re always the loudest, right? So they would just go at it and they still go at it and then, you know, they still send me tweets being like, ‘I’m so happy Sasha broke your neck’ and then people tweeting at her being like, ‘How dare you end someone’s career. You’re being unsafe.’ She’s not unsafe. It’s an accident. It happens in wrestling. That’s what we sign up for but I told her, ‘I just wanna let you know…’ I’ll probably read the text actually. She was so sweet too. I just said, ‘Hey sis, I just wanna let you know since this whole thing was really tough on you mentally but my doctor just cleared me and told me my neck is 100 percent ready to go. I haven’t told anyone else but I know this will make you feel good. I’m back. Haha’ and she was just like, ‘I’m so happy.’ Like over the moon and stuff like that and I just said to her, ‘I don’t want you to feel bad anymore.’ I had that period of time away and actually, it was for the best in the long run because I had time to really focus on myself, get healthy, get sober so I could start branching out and doing other things and so yeah, I just felt like it was meant to be and you know, my neck healed in record time. It’s five years and I’m officially back and I think that’s pretty f*cking inspiring. 

Later in the conversation, she spoke about her Full Gear opponent Britt Baker. Saraya spoke highly of Britt and her rise in AEW. She feels Britt does not get her flowers for being thrust into the position she’s in and finding her way with three years of television experience. 

I feel like people forget, before the three years [of AEW], she [Britt Baker] was wrestling and stuff like that but she kind of got thrusted into this spotlight or it’s like if someone just got signed to WWE and instantly got put on the main roster without going through the, okay, how you work these hard cams? How do we do these promos? You know, that’s what people in NXT have to go through so the fact that she was able to jump in and she was learning as she was going too, I find that really f*cking cool and I feel like she doesn’t get her flowers enough when it comes to that kind of stuff because you know, she said to me before, she was just like, ‘I’ve been learning these promos on the spot. I’ve been asking the guys how to do certain things, like inflections, facials, everything.’ Because she’s just like, ‘I was not used to working the cameras and doing promos to this big of an audience’ and just, so, I just feel like that’s really cool and inspiring that she kind of got thrust in there and she’s doing such a great job and you can tell she’s comfortable in her role now. She’s really comfortable in her shoes of where her character’s going and what her character should and shouldn’t do and it takes people a long time to do that. It’s only been three years. 

The fact that Britt came in and got shoved into the deep end and was like learning as she went but got really comfortable really quick of who she was, that’s talent and a lot of people don’t have that confidence that she does after a couple of years.

As far as what she can do in-ring, Saraya stated that she’s never been ‘wild’ per se. She has been working on flat back bumping and getting used to the feel. 

She added that one thing she is not comfortable doing is getting hit from behind to an extent. She mentioned that she’s fine with a forearm to the back but anything along the lines of getting kicked in that area or taking a move that she was not made aware of is no-go for her. 

I wasn’t too crazy before when I wrestled, right? I would do a lot of mat work and all that kind of stuff. I did love taking a bump, that was my favorite thing was to take a bump. I’m not gonna be bumping like crazy. There are gonna be bumps. If I’m just going into a match with zero bumps, you know, but I’m fully aware of stuff I can’t do when it comes to anything from behind. That’s more of like a P.T.S.D. thing too, where I’m just like please don’t do anything from behind. That’s something I would absolutely not tolerate. That would piss me off. Until I’m fully comfortable with something, don’t do anything from behind where I’m not aware of it. If there was something you’re gonna call, I mean a f*cking forearm across the back and stuff like that. I’m just talking about f*cking kick or something like that. Something that can easily, you could lose control over. I’m just like, that’s the thing I’m a little cautious of. For the most part, there is the bumping and stuff like that. I’m doing some training and stuff around California right now. The bumping and stuff is a little bit different. I have to adjust the way I did it because I was a person that just used to sling my body back and it would be mostly neck so I have to learn how to flat back bump properly without absolutely creaming myself, or killing myself.

There’s a clip on the POST Wrestling YouTube channel during which John Pollock and Wai Ting dive into Saraya’s forthcoming in-ring return. 

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit The Sessions with Renée Paquette with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions. 

About Andrew Thompson 8722 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.