She opened about about her experience at WWE and living overseas.
Coming up on May 16th is Sareee’s in-ring return. She’ll be going one-on-one with Chihiro Hashimoto and it’ll be Sareee’s first match since August 2022.
In March, Sareee f.k.a. Sarray opted to leave WWE as her contract expired. She opened about about her time with the company and living in the U.S.A. in a two-part interview with web Sportiva. In part two, Sareee revealed that before her time with WWE came to an end, there was talk of renewing her contract.
I didn’t fight on the main roster, but I felt that I had learned enough in WWE. I was able to absorb the spirit of entertainment that I had been missing. There was talk of renewing the contract, but I wanted to do wrestling that I believed in, and at 27 years old, I was at my most physically active, so I thought, I will regret it if I don’t do the wrestling I have wanted to do for a long time now.
She spoke candidly about adjusting to life in the U.S.A. and how tasking it was. She touched on being alone at times but credited Shinsuke Nakamura and his family for being there for her.
She said they were very open and Nakamura told her that if she was ever lonely, she could be with them. There were times when Sareee would be with Shinsuke’s family even if he was not around.
There were many difficulties (life in the USA). Many wrestlers who went to WWE from Japan came to the U.S. with their spouses or families, but I was alone. I had no idea about everyday shopping or the detailed procedures for renting a house… Naturally, I was surrounded by American wrestlers, and it was not always easy to get the same ideas. For example, Japanese athletes are very attentive to isolated foreign wrestlers, eating together with them, etc., but American athletes are ‘people are people and I am me.’ It is not that they are cold, it is just natural, but it was difficult for me to get used to it.
They (Japanese talent in the U.S.) were very helpful to me. The star athletes that I would have never met or talked to if I had not gone to the U.S. cared about me. In particular, Shinsuke Nakamura and his family, including his wife and children, were very close to me. When I met him for the first time, he said, ‘If you are lonely and alone, come to me anytime. There will be food for you.’ Eventually, I started going out with the children on my days off, even when Nakamura was not around (laughs). There were also Asuka, IYO SKY, (Akira) Tozawa and KUSHIDA. In NXT, which I belonged to, Hideki Suzuki and Ikemen Jiro were with me until about halfway through (the run). At that time, there were quite a few Japanese wrestlers, which was encouraging.
While she was part of the NXT brand, there was a change in her on-screen presentation and she took on the persona of a character who would transform into her in-ring form. She said that was a suggestion from WWE and thinks they had high expectations for her.
That was a suggestion from the company, and I became a character who appeared as a high school girl and transformed. I felt that they had high expectations for me.
Looking back at the overall experience of being in WWE and in the USA, she does not regret it. Sareee feels everything she did and learned was a positive.
I think I have absorbed many things in my own way in WWE, and no matter what anyone says, I have no regrets about going to America. I think that everything I have learned in the past two years has been positive, and I want to show everyone a new, more powerful Sareee.
Circling over to part one of the conversation, Sareee recounted when she was first contacted by WWE and that was in the summer of 2019. She was asked if she was interested in being in a Mae Young Classic tournament which has not happened since 2018.
Initially, Sareee was not interested in going to the U.S., but she was encouraged to give it a shot.
I don’t remember the exact timing (when WWE first reached out to me), but I think it was around the summer of 2019 when I started to gain momentum. At first, it wasn’t a contract, it was more like, ‘Hey, would you like to participate in the WWE Mae Young Classic tournament?’ And as we were talking, he asked me, ‘Are you interested in working in the U.S.?’ I was invited to join the WWE Mae Young Classic.
Of course, I knew that WWE was the number one organization in the world, so I was happy. However, at the time, I wasn’t very interested in working in the U.S. and didn’t really understand the situation. I talked to various people about it, and they encouraged me by saying, ‘You should definitely go, because opportunities like this don’t come to just anyone,’ and I made the decision to come to the US.
Speaking about her return show, ‘Sareee-ism’, she chose the wrestler she is going to face and made the offer to Chihiro Hashimoto. When it comes to Hashimoto, Sareee feels she’s the strongest in the women’s pro wrestling world.
Yes, I did (choose my opponent for Sareee-ism). I made the offer. My opponent is Chihiro Hashimoto. It is a singles match. After I decided to return to Japan, I thought, if I am going to fight, there is no one else but Chihiro Hashimoto.
Hashimoto is a pro-wrestler no matter how you look at her. She is the pillar of the organization Sendai Girls Pro Wrestling, and I believe that Hashimoto is the strongest in the women’s pro wrestling world today. I also want to be a pillar of the women’s wrestling world and I think I should be one, so I cannot lose to Hashimoto. It has been about three years since I fought her in a singles match, but I would like to have a ‘conversation’ with her in the ring.
Earlier in the conversation, Sareee looked back on the days when she was trying to make her way into the wrestling business. She suffered a transverse process fracture while training. She viewed the injury as a test because she knew pro wrestling was not easy.
One day before the (pro) test, I fell out of the ring in a strange way and hit my lower back hard. The diagnosis was ‘second lumbar vertebra transverse fissure fracture.’ But I had been reading Weekly Pro Wrestling since I was little, and I thought, the world of pro wrestling is not that easy. You have to do it even if you are in some pain or injured, so I took the professional wrestling test as it was.
As expected, I could not do passive wrestling, so Kyoko-san (Kyoko Inoue), who knew what was going on, told me, ‘If you do 1,000 squats, you will pass the test.’ My senpai had me wrap a sarashi around me, and I took painkillers to clear the test (laughs).
In her several years with WWE, Sareee wrestled in a total of 23 matches.