Monday, June 25, 2012

"Knight" Rises: The Rise of Saraya Knight

Five years. Five years of agony. Five years of pain. Five years of reliving the same moment over and over again.

Five years ago at ChickFight VII, the most controversial ending to her first match that saw Saraya Knight’s head hung in the ropes, Cheerleader Melissa continued to assault her despite being trapped until the referee ended the match and Saraya was stretchered from ringside. Remember, Saraya was the face, and Melissa was the ultimate heel at the time. As Melissa celebrated her tournament victory Saraya reappeared and threatened her. That would be the primary focus in 2012. Revenge couldn’t be any sweeter. But the feud was cut short during a pre-match brawl for Real Quality Wrestling (RQW) in June that saw the two brawl both in and outside of the building and ended with Melissa winning shortly after Saraya was thrown on an already utilized aluminum can, tearing through her ligament and leaving her hospitalized. She was forced to forfeit her ChickFight IX: Our Final Chance match the following day and would not wrestle again for six months. It was the most painful moment in Saraya’s career.

But after all that, no one thought that Saraya would ever just give up. She returned with a vengeance. And seeking to end Cheerleader Melissa’s career, just like she nearly ended hers. Fans still remember Saraya’s terror-filled screams of agony, as well as facing the very real prospect of just witnessing the end of her as a wrestler. As it turned out, the doctors had no idea how driven (or stubborn) Saraya is, and she was back in the ring less than eight months later. The fact that she is still competing five years later shows her toughness and her endurance.

Saraya and Melissa didn’t share a building again until a year ago when the venomous British veteran debuted in SHIMMER alongside her daughter Britani (Now known as Paige in the WWE) on March 26, 2011. The fact that she even made it to the promotion in the first place was a big unlikelihood, as she believed her time for wrestling in the US had somewhat passed, and in her own mind, was only tagging along as part of a showcase for her 18-year old daughter, who was well on the radar of WWE at the time – but something happened. Instead of being in the background, Saraya ended up right in the spotlight due to her surly demeanor, violent tendencies and venom-laced promos – so much so that when Britani turned face and they wrestled on SHIMMER Volume 44 last October, the pair brutalized each other with Britani getting the win, and the wicked witch was finished, just like that. Some thought that would also be the last we would see of the red-haired psychotic menace in SHIMMER.

Boy, were they wrong. DEAD wrong.

Saraya and Melissa’s only interaction in promotion before last weekend was before and after Britani’s match with the SHIMMER original on volume 41, which saw the younger Knight defeated. The two shared a moment of looking at each other, but that was as far as it went. However in March of 2012, the two gravitated towards each other again, as Saraya hired Nicole Matthews and Portia Perez as mercenaries to injure Melissa during their SHIMMER title challenges on volumes 45 and 46 respectively. Both were unsuccessful in wresting the title away, sadly. The Australian athlete and “Everyone’s Favorite Girlfriend” Jessie McKay was also approached by Saraya, but despite wavering in her resolve to play by the rules, Jessie stayed true to herself and defied the Brit’s request, leading to the biggest and most vicious brawl, though not the first time that Saraya had to be dragged out of the Berwyn Eagles Club that weekend – she was disqualified against another Australian Shazza McKenzie and Veda Scott for being overly aggressive, and had to be restrained after repeatedly going into the crowd to slap fans who gave her backchat and criticized her on the SHIMMER forum.

Nobody was safe from her terror. Not even Cheerleader Melissa.

After seeing plan A failed miserably, Saraya’s psychotic antics saw the Champion challenge her enemy with the title on the line, which was an opportunity which the Brit took with both hands, and would go to any lengths…and any depths…to get the belt. She attacked Melissa’s knee before the match on volume 48, and targeted it throughout the match, which was a big throwback to their last match which saw the gruesome injury to Saraya’s leg five years ago. In the end, it was that knee-related offense which saw Melissa tap out while Saraya held the ropes to secure the most unlikely (And the most controversial in my opinion) SHIMMER title change so far.
When I asked Paige about that match on Twitter, she simply replied, “well it’s kinda payback from years ago.” Five years of pain. Washed away that quickly. “I ain’t planning in killing her, just ending her career,” Saraya has said as well on Twitter a few months back.

The ending was unlikely and controversial for many reasons. For one, many fans had anticipated Melissa to hold onto the belt for more than one weekend of tapings, considering her run towards the title was long and challenging. Some have said since the shows that Melissa deserved a longer run, considering the duration of the other championship reigns by Sara Del Rey, MsChif and Madison Eagles. However, it can be argued that another long reign would have been somewhat predictable – so much so that the Berwyn fell into a stunned silence when Melissa was dethroned on defense number four. Melissa’s story in the promotion has been the girl who always was this close, falling short in her attempts to get a title shot on a number of occasions and then falling in her first attempt at the belt against Eagles before securing the belt on volume 44. Her vulnerability is something that endears her to fans, so her quest to regain the title puts her in a more marketable position than being the defending champion. In addition, the top feud in SHIMMER now features the most popular woman against the most hated, making the next weekend of tapings a very promising prospect indeed.

That day will come into play on October of 2012. Saraya has unleashed a monster in Melissa and she will do anything to get her title back. Even if she has to end Saraya’s career. But Saraya had said so herself; “no one bothers me, least of all her!”

But is five years worth all the pain?

Come October, there will be retribution, and payback. But it has to happen on a Sunday night at the Berwyn Eagles Club in Chicago. That’s the only way for this rivalry to reach its final conclusion.

But for now, everything is dark in women’s wrestling, for the moment. But Saraya made it very clear: No one will ever doubt her abilities or toughness again.

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