Saraya doesn’t wrestle a lot of AEW, but even the handful she has since Full Gear 2022 are a lot more than many of us ever expected to see.
That’s because, back when most of us knew her as WWE’s Paige, she was retired for the past five years after experiencing an issue with her surgically repaired neck during a house show match in late 2017. WWE used her in a variety of non-wrestling roles until her contract expired last summer, and we heard different stories about whether the company would consider letting her return to the ring considering her history.
In a recent interview with Inside The Ropes, Saraya talked about her decision to join AEW, and shared a new detail from the end of her time with WWE.
While she was considering signing with AEW, Tony Khan offered to have neck checked out to see how it had healed over the years. Apparently, prior to her exit that was something the medical team at WWE told her they would no longer do:
“My neck was feeling pretty good, and he [Tony Khan] was like, ‘Do you want to take a look at it, see like what your neck progress is?’ And I was like, ‘I would love to do that.’ Because WWE — I asked to see my neck a few times and the medical said that the book was closed on that and that they weren’t gonna keep checking on it which was really disappointing.
So if I wanted to check on my neck, it would have to come out of my own pocket. Her name was Stacy — that was was her who said that, by the way, so it wasn’t anything to do with Hunter or anything. It was just that medical department which I thought was a little unfair but it’s okay. But Tony right away was like, ‘Let’s set it up.’”
Looking at the org chart, “Stacy” is likely WWE’s Senior Director of Talent Medical Stacy DePolo.
It’s worth noting how Saraya makes sure to point out that she doesn’t think Triple H was involved in the decision to “close the book” on her neck and therefore any chance of an in-ring return at WWE. One of those reports we heard last year claimed Vince McMahon & John Laurinaitis were behind the decision to not renew her contract, and that Trips & the team that took over after a sex scandal led to Laurinaitis’ ouster and McMahon’s temporary retirement then tried to re-sign her — and to help her resume wrestling.
Assuming the messaging about Saraya needing to pay out of pocket to have her neck checked came while Vince was still unquestionably in charge, it was based on thinking she wasn’t going to be with WWE much longer anyway. So it’s kind of cold, but that’s how it often is when you’re working for a bottom line-motivated corporation.
You can check out Saraya’s entire conversation with Inside The Ropes’ Kenny McIntosh here.