Saraya Retired Due To A Neck Injury Before A Miraculous Return

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Hamish Woodward

Saraya had her career cruelly taken away from her in 2018, at the age of just 25.

The women’s legend was arguably one of the most influential women in WWE history. She emerged in 2013 and 2014 as the “Anti-Diva” in NXT. Then known as Paige, she was a completely different style of wrestler than the other women, trading slaps and hair pulls for some proper wrestling.

Her skill was owing to her upbringing. She began wrestling for her parent’s promotion in Norwich as a child. She was already a veteran when she signed with the WWE at age 18, and helped bring about the Divas Revolution in the WWE in 2015.

However, just three years later, Saraya retired.

Saraya Was Injured By Sasha Banks In Her Last WWE Match

Under the name Paige, Saraya wrestled her last match in the WWE on the 27th December 2017. This is where she suffered an injury that forced her into retirement for four years.

This wasn’t a televised bout, but it did feature some of the biggest female stars in the WWE. The match took place at a WWE Live Event in Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, and was a six-woman tag team match.

Saraya teamed with her Absolution teammates, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose, to take on the makeshift trio of Sasha Banks (AEW’s Mercedes Mone), Bayley and Mickie James. This wasn’t a new match. It took place on previous live events, and two episodes of Monday Night Raw in a row.

While the two teams shared victories on the run up to this match, there was no outcome for this bout. It ended as a no contest, due to Saraya suffering a neck injury in the bout. Sasha Banks hit a jumping dropkick from the corner, directly onto the neck of the Englishman.

She went down immediately, clearly in pain. Saraya tried to get to her feet and continue. However, she struggled to keep her balance and collapsed in a heap on the mat. The referee immediately threw up the “X” symbol with his arms. This indicated the injury was real and she needed immediate medical attention.

Saraya Was Paralyzed From The Injury, But Didn’t Blame Mercedes Mone

Saraya’s injury was immediately a huge broken. She was paralysed from the neck down, and knew immediately that she had to retire from wrestling at 25.

During an appearance at Starrcast V in a special panel with Brian Zane, Saraya spoke about the injury. She revealed that she couldn’t feel her body, and her arms and legs were briefly paralysed.

The AEW star knew her career was over, but doesn’t blame Mecerdes Mone. She claimed that with the state of her body, it would have happened eventually. Any bump could have ended her career. The former-Sasha Banks was just unlucky that she was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“I would love to for sure. Having your career taken away from you without wanting to, not retiring, not on my terms is disappointing. I already knew that once my neck got kicked in the middle of the live event match, once I went down, I was just like ‘This is it. This is the end of my career right here.’ I already knew it, I couldn’t feel my body first of all, I lost control of my arms and my legs and I’m just laying there looking up at the referee and I can’t feel my body I’m paralysed right now.”

“So he threw up the ‘X’ and I look at poor Sasha [Banks] in the corner and she’s like, ‘I’m so sorry.’ And I’m like ‘If it wasn’t you, it was going to be somebody else.’”

“I thought I could come back and do exactly the same things that I could do prior to my first neck injury, and so that’s on me, that’s my fault. I did literally the same move with Bayley the day before, and unfortunately timing was just a little bit off and it happens, it is what it is.”

Saraya announced her retirement from in-ring action just four months after the event. She revealed her injury to the WWE Universe on the Raw After WrestleMania in 2018, and was soon placed in charge of Smackdown as the brand’s general manager.

The English wrestler had been on commentary for a women’s match at WrestleMania 34, but cut a depressed figure at the announce desk. She barely said a word, sounding sad and bitter when she did. Obviously, Saraya wanted to be involved in the match, but simply couldn’t. She had to retire, but at that point nobody outside the WWE knew about it.

She Came Out Of Retirement In 2022 With AEW

Saraya’s retirement hit her hard, but just four year’s later, something miraculous happened.

Her WWE contract expired in July 2022, and she revealed that the company had no intention of renewing it. The former Divas Champion couldn’t wrestle or take any bumps, and had previous stints as a manager and general manager in the company already.

She had very little to give WWE in her current condition. Despite this, she was still a big name in wrestling, and was the most Googled wrestler in the US, UK and other countries during this time.

Because of this, she was quickly snapped up by Tony Khan. She secretly signed a deal with AEW, even before she was cleared to wrestle. Without knowing if she could even bump, Saraya made her debut in AEW at Grand Slam 2022, confronting Britt Baker in the ring as the crowd went wild.

She was eventually cleared, with doctors making sure she was “1000% clear” to wrestle. Saraya has gone on to wrestle in some huge matches in AEW, with few neck issues to worry about. She even won the AEW Women’s Championship in Wembley Stadium, showing what WWE missed out on by releasing her.

While the neck injury forced Saraya to retire in 2018, just six years later she is at the top of her game. The English star leads her own faction in AEW, and looks set for another huge match at Wembley in August.

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