WWE NXT/Japan: Who is Sarray? An Introduction to a Joshi Sensation

It looks like the NXT women’s division is going to get even better. Last week, they announced that Japanese sensation, Sarray, is coming soon. She signed back in February 2020, but the pandemic delayed her arrival to the United States. However, she is here now and officially part of the brand.

In her only nine-year career, she is already considered one of the best joshi wrestlers today. But who really is Sarray? Let’s look at NXT’s newest signee!

Sarray’s Early Career

Sarray, formerly known as Sareee, was trained by Kyoko Hamaguchi, Kyoko Inoue, and Karou Ito. Inoue signed her to the newly formed World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana promotion in February 2011. She made her debut at just 15 on April 17, 2011 at Diana’s inaugural show, losing to Meiko Satomura.

This began a 17-match losing streak for her that spanned almost four months. Her first win came on September 4, where she and Inoue defeated Aja Kong and Andrea Mother. However, her first singles win didn’t come until April 20, 2012 against Nana Kawasa.

For the rest of the year, she continued to wrestle for Diana. She also appeared for Japanese Women Pro-Wrestling Project, Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling, and Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling, among others. During this time, she faced the likes of Mia Yim, Mima Shimoda, Kagetsu, and Arisa Nakajima.

Sarray got her first title opportunity on January 28, 2013. There, she and Inoue teamed up to face Ito and Tomoko Watanabe for the vacant Diana Tag Team Championships. Sadly, they were unable to capture the gold.

Championship Pursuits/Health Issues

Her first championship victory came on April 20, 2014, finally dethroning Manami Katsu for the JWP Junior/Princess of Princess Championship. Her first title defense came a little over three months later, where she retained against Kaho Kobayashi. However, she lost the title to Rabbit Miu less than a month later, ending her reign at 119 days.

She quickly rebounded and won three out of her next five matches. Sarray earned a shot at the Diana World Championship on October 5. She and then-champion, Manami Toyota, battled it out for over 20 minutes, but Toyota emerged victorious.

After that, she started teaming with Jaguar Yokota. The two started picking up wins and earned a shot at the Diana Tag Team Championships. On December 23, the duo defeated Kaoru and Shimoda to capture the titles.

They held the gold until February 2015, when Sarray announced she had to go on an indefinite hiatus due to health issues. Her last match came on April 5, when she and Yokota successfully defended the titles against Command Bolshi and Eri. Afterwards, she became inactive and the titles had to be vacated.

Two months later, she returned to the ring at Yokota’s 38th Anniversary Show. There, she, Toyota, and Ito lost to Meiko Tanaka, Yumiko Hotta, and Shimoda. She got an opportunity to reclaim the Diana Tag Team Championships three months later, this time with Tanaka. However, they were beaten by Dash Chisako and Sendai Sachiko for the vacated titles.

Even after losing, Sarray and Tanaka stayed together as a team. That December, the two entered Pro Wrestling Wave’s Young Oh! Oh! Tag Team Tournament. They won it all, defeating Kobayashi and Rina Yamashita in the finals.

Transfer to Seadlinnng

On February 1, 2017, Sarray announced that she was leaving Diana to transfer to Seadlinnng. She debuted for the promotion on March 16 in a losing effort against Yoshiko. She entered Seadlinnng’s Ultra U-7 tournament in August, advancing to the semifinals before losing to Takumi Iroha.

Unfortunately, her time with the promotion didn’t last long. After only seven months, she announced she was leaving to return to Diana.

Return to Diana

She returned on October 20 against Ito. During the match she injured her clavicle and was expected to miss almost a year. However, she returned on January 28, 2018, only three months after her injury.

This kicked off her rise into Diana’s main event scene. After picking up numerous wins, she challenged Inoue for the Diana World Championship on May 5. While she lost, she immediately demanded a rematch, which Inoue granted. The two clashed again on July 22, where Sarray captured her first Diana World Championship.

Her first defense came on December 20, but unfortunately, she lost to Kong. This ended her reign at 151 days. She got her rematch on February 11, 2019, but she failed to recapture the title.

Third time was the charm for Sarray; she finally defeated Kong on May 12 to become a two-time Diana World Champion. Shortly after, she called out Sendai Girls World Champion, Chihiro Hashimoto and challenged her to a winner-takes-all match.

Hashimoto accepted and the match was set for June 8. Sarray defeated her and became a dual champion. The following month, she successfully defended the Sendai Girls World Championship against Chisako. But that October, Hashimoto defeated her to win back the title, ending her reign at 127 days.

Luckily, she was able to hold onto the Diana World Championship a little while longer. Her 237-day reign ended on January 4, 2020 after losing to Ayako Sato. It currently stands as the seventh-longest Diana World Championship reign in history.

Signing with WWE/Final matches in Japan

On February 22, she announced that she was leaving Diana to sign with WWE. However, due to the pandemic, she was unable to move to the United States. In the meantime, WWE allowed her to continue working in Japan until she could come overseas.

That November, she and Yoshiko defeated Arisa Nakajima and Tsukasa Fujimoto to win the Seadlinnng Beyond the Sea Tag Team Championship. They successfully defended the title a month later against Nanae Takahashi and Ryo Mizunami. Their reign ended on January 22, 2021 at the hands of Nakajima and Takahashi.

With her pedigree, Sarray’s addition to any women’s division is a huge plus. The fact that it is NXT’s is a great sign for the black-and-yellow brand. Adding someone that talented to the already stacked division should make NXT fans very excited for the future.

Regardless of when she arrives, Sarray will certainly make an immediate impact.

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