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Sasha Banks was the first person Saraya contacted after getting cleared

Four-and-a-half years after she told the world she had to retire due to neck & spine issues, last night (Nov. 9) on Dynamite Saraya told the world that she’s cleared to wrestle again.

A match with Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. at Full Gear isn’t the only thing AEW had lined up in anticipation of that announcement. The former Paige was her friend Renee Paquette’s guest on an episode of The Sessions that dropped today. The 30 year old Englishwoman shared her journey to getting cleared on the podcast:

“I came to terms with not being able to wrestle anymore and that’s fine, although a couple of years ago I did do some x-rays and they were looking great but I didn’t do the full MRI.

“I just did the x-rays because I was a little nervous about doing the MRI a couple of years ago so I was just like, okay, they’re looking good, maybe in a couple of years it starts getting better but I’m not going to rush it because Edge was out for like nine years, Stone Cold had that match with Kevin Owens but he didn’t bump much.

“I was like, ‘I could probably pull off doing a Stone Cold match.’ It was just in my head because in the match, you wouldn’t think that there wasn’t a crazy amount of bumps because the story they told was so fantastic.”

Saraya says AEW owner, president & booker Tony Khan suggested they handle her return similar to how the company’s used Sting (the 62 year old also retired after getting a spinal stenosis diagnosis). But she didn’t want to be limited to tag matches.

“I remember talking to the doctors and they were like, ‘Okay, you can do this, but we’re not going to clear you to take a bump.’”

“I went out there with Britt and we did our own thing. I didn’t ask clearance from the doctor there, I’m going to be honest. He was cool with it, he was just like, ‘please don’t take a bump, you’re not ready to take bumps yet.’ So he was like, ‘If you want to actually have matches, we have to get you completely cleared, that means MRIs, CT scans, everything.’”

She chose a doctor who isn’t typically associated with wrestling to have those tests done and that evaluation made.

“Halloween, 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 action stars, celebrities, actors & actresses, and all that fun stuff. If anyone is going to tell me ‘No’, this guy is going to tell me ‘No’ because his job is on the line.

“I got the x-rays done. ‘These are great, but we have to triple check with CT scans and MRI.’ I did the CT Scan and MRI within the same hour. It was very quick. He sat there, we went through them all, and he went, ‘You’re cleared.’

“I burst into tears. ‘Are you serious?’ I was still asking questions like about the fluid around my neck. It was just the fluid was back. The fusion was perfect, there were no fractures above or below.

“I was like, let’s talk about paralysis. He said, ‘It’s rare and if you get kicked there, you have some cushion now. And if you ever feel like you’re not feeling too well, take some time off. You know your body but I will clear you to get back in the ring again.’

“‘How many matches can I have?’

“‘Take it easy, do one match a month and gradually start building it up.’

“Long story short, Halloween is when I got the full clearance.”

The “if you get kicked there” and paralysis concerns stem from the spot that, up until now, we thought could be the last we saw the former Divas champion take. That was from Sasha Banks (real name Mercedes Varnado) on a house show in December of 2016. Some fans blamed Banks for Saraya’s career ending, and Sasha & Paige fans often clashed online supporting their faves.

It’s one of the reasons The Boss was one of the first people Saraya reached out to after getting the good news.

“The first person I texted as well was Mercedes, Sasha. She was one of the first people I texted. All that stuff, that can mentally fuck someone up to end someone’s career.

“I just said, ‘Hey sis, I just want to let you know since I know this whole thing was tough on you mentally but my doctor just cleared me and told me my neck is 100% 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 over the moon and stuff like that.”

As she discussed in her promo last night, Saraya is proud of the challenges she’s overcome, and thinks they’ve all been leading to this:

“I had that period of time away, and that was actually for the best in the long run because I had time to focus on myself, get healthy, get sober, stop rushing out and doing other things. I felt it was meant to be, and my neck healed in record time. It was five years, and I’m officially back. I think that’s pretty fucking inspiring.”

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