Stunned. Shocked. You can use a hundred different descriptors to try and properly encapsulate the reaction of the crowd on March 18th at the Eagles Club in Berwyn, IL. To the red headed woman maniacally grinning and holding the SHIMMER Championship above her head, I imagine it felt a lot more like redemption.
Saraya Knight was never supposed to get over like she had in SHIMMER. In fact, when she and her daughter came over to the US for their SHIMMER debuts a year earlier, Saraya told us on the WOW Podcast (Episode #19) that she almost felt she was there as an “add on” on the back of her daughter, Britani, who was skyrocketing to fame in her own right. However, much to her own genuine surprise, Saraya was like nothing Berwyn had ever seen – SHIMMER reinvigorated Saraya’s dedication to the business, and as a result, the havoc wreaked by the Knight Dynasty was immense.
After Saraya and Britani had their blowoff match at SHIMMER Vol. 44 late last year, fans wondered if she’d even be brought back this year without her daughter as part of the act. Did Saraya as a solo performer have anything left to offer? Many thought she’d be rotated out or perhaps just not brought back at all. Oh ye of little faith. If you know the Spinal Tap reference of “turning it up to eleven”, Saraya cranked herself up to about seventeen on the belligerence scale. At March’s weekend of tapings, she set the tone for the weekend by physically going for a ringside fan mere seconds after coming through the curtain. She abused ring announcer Joey Eastman and SHIMMER backstage assistant Kevin Harvey repeatedly and after toying with Davina Rose, Veda Scott & Shazza McKenzie, was rewarded by finally getting the match she’d wanted for five years… the rematch with Cheerleader Melissa. It was a battle in every sense of the word, and as someone who’s known Saraya for many years now, it was a match that I always knew she needed, always hoped would happen, but deep down never thought she’d get. It was an incredible scene, made all the more surreal after the show when a tired but appreciative Saraya was approached and congratulated by so many fans for her title win (and being told “you deserve this” by so many of them)
Of course, Saraya’s entire 2012 to date hasn’t just been defined by SHIMMER, as spectacular as it was. I witnessed her hold the POWW crowd in the palm of her hand during a fiery appearance where she wrestled twice (going down in defeat to Nikki St John, and then winning a tag match teaming with Taylor Made to defeat St John and Melanie Cruise) and punted POWW owner Jimmy Blaze in the testicles *twice* for good measure. Domestically she’s been continuing the family business of working for WAW, as well as developing her own WAWW shows, which is still in its infancy but has run two shows this year and has thrown a spotlight on wrestlers from all across mainland Europe. She continues to train wrestlers (both male and female) and has taken the SHIMMER belt around to several countries across Europe, spreading the brand and the worth of the title belt. Even in her old role as a ringside valet, Saraya was able to bring back the old magic by inciting a punter to try to assault her at a recent All Star “Legends” show in Croydon where she once again worked ringside with the duo who broke her into the business over 20 years ago – The Superflys (Ricky Knight & Jimmy Ocean, the latter of whom making his retirement appearance)
Saraya’s 2012 to date has been the story of a quite remarkable late career renaissance – going from someone who saw her daughter’s swift ascent as a sign that her time was nearing its end to all of a sudden being the champion and standard bearer for perhaps the most diverse and talented all female wrestling company in the world. She’s not done yet either, with new potential grounds to conquer going forward and the opportunity to find yet another level as the defending SHIMMER Champion in October. There’s a reason why the majority of the SHIMMER locker room now refer to Saraya as “mum”.
After all, mum knows best.
— Stew Allen