Sareee, known now on the cusp of her WWE NXT debut as Sarray, is a Joshi wrestler from the Itabashi-ku district of Tokyo, Japan. Born on March 13th, 1996, Sarray is a ten-year veteran, making her professional debut in April 2011, at the age of fifteen. At just over five feet tall and just over 60kg, Sarray wouldn’t be looked at twice among other Joshi talent of her generation. She wouldn’t, except for her respected history among Joshi greats, having been trained and tested by the Joshi world’s most legendary talents. This is a special Joshi Spotlight & Before the E on Sarray on the eve of her NXT debut. It will give readers and newcomers a look into her fantastic journey so far.
“I’ll stand up here
Bathed in golden sunrays
As long as the sun rises
So will my endless dream.”
Shimatani Hitomi – “Taiyou Shin”
Originally interested in joining the NEO Japan Ladies Pro-Wrestling organization, Sarray quickly changed gears and trained with NEO alumni and founder Kyoko Inoue. Inoue would sign Sarray to World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana in 2011. She was given the name Sarreee, which is a combination of her given name and the J-Rock group Greeeen. Sarray was scheduled to debut just before her 15th birthday. But her match was cancelled following the Great East Japan Earthquake, which devastated Fukushima’s nuclear power facility. Instead, she would make her debut on April 14th against Meiko Satomura. Less than a month later, she would have her first brush with legendary talent in the form of Aja Kong. While she was able to last over ten minutes against Kong. It was when she kicked out of Kong’s vertical drop brainbuster which earned her respect from the crowd.
Sarray would brush against other legends including Jaguar Yokota, Kyoko Inoue, Meiko Satomura, and even Manami Toyota. She would team with, against, and have singles matches with these legends throughout her early career in Diana. Sarray would steadily pick up wins and improve her style until 2014. It was then when she would win her first championships in 2014 at JWP Mania-X. After several tries against the Diana tag team championship, Sarray managed to wrestle JWP regular Manami Katsu to the bitter end. It was in just over twelve minutes to win both the JWP Junior title and the Princess of Pro-Wrestling Title.
It would be an understatement to call 2014 Sareee’s breakout year. After capturing her first two singles titles in the same match and capping off the year by winning the Diana Tag Team Championship with her mentor Kyoko Inoue’s trainer Jaguar Yokota, no one would argue Sareee had not arrived as her own wrestler. However, she would end up losing the JWP Junior and Princess of Pro Wrestling championships in August 2014 and would announce in February 2015 that she would be taking a leave of absence from Diana due to her poor health.
Her reign as tag team champion with Jaguar Yokota coming to an end was devastating, but the stalling would continue. After her return in August 2015, Sareee would challenge DASH Chisako and Sendai Sachiko with Meiko Tanaka for the tag belts she vacated with Jaguar Yokota. In just over sixteen minutes, it was over, and Sareee had not reclaimed her lost momentum. Though she would win a one-night tournament in December 2015, she would not challenge for another championship until January 2017. It was then that Sareee would once again challenge for the tag team belts against CRYSIS (Chikayo Nagashima and Megumi Yabushita). Once again, she would fail to capture the belts, this time with Kaho Kobayashi by her side.
Sareee, who had been taking bookings outside of Diana, including with JWP, WAVE, SEAdLINNNG, and OZ Academy, announced mere days after losing her chances at tag team gold to join SEAdLINNNG full time. Her time in SEAdLINNNG would also not amount to much, aside from some semi-final finishes in the Ultra U-7 Tournament. She would eventually return to Diana.
World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana
Upon returning to World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana, Sarray would fight a lot of old ghosts, including Jaguar Yokota, Megumi Yabushita, and Kyoko Inoue. Sarray would lose five straight matches until finally defeating Mio Momono. 2018 would start with Kyoko Inoue testing Sarray in a five-minute exhibition match, but by July, Sarray would have her head back in the game and earned enough victories to face her mentor on July 22nd, 2018. Her second shot at Kyoko Inoue’s World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana World Title. Four years since her first shot at the title against Manami Toyota. Two months after losing to Kyoko in a title match. This was it.
In the end, Sareee was able to put down her mentor just before fifteen minutes, and the long drought of her successes was broken. Though she would only hold the belt for 151 days, this was the start of the self-proclaimed Sun God. She would lose her belt to Aja Kong. But she would challenge for the Sendai Girls World Title and for the Diana World Title at the start of 2019. The year’s first quarter would yield promise. But it wouldn’t be until spring that Sareee proved once again that she could deliver with or without a championship. Her match against Meiko Satomura in April 2019 is highly rated among Joshi wrestling fans and was recognized as Sareee’s arrival as a talent worthy of the legacy which forged her skills.
A Renaissance for Sareee
In the end, 2019 would be a renaissance for Sareee, as in May 2019, she would once again challenge Aja Kong for the belt Kong took from her; the Diana World Title. After a hellacious battle in February 2019, there was much anticipation as to the intensity Sareee would be able to bring. This was especially after her match with Meiko Satomura.
In the end, despite the brutality of Aja Kong, Sareee was able to overcome her this time, and once again, Sareee was at the top of Diana.
The Sun God would not stop there. Indeed, by the end of 2019, not only would Sareee challenge for the Sendai Girls World Championship, but she would also put her own World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana World Title on the line. After successfully capturing the world title she lost at Kouruken Hall, Sareee sought to tempt fate against Chihiro Hashimoto of Sendai Girls.
In the end, Sareee would walk away a double world champion. She would not lose the Sendai belt until October 2019. Sareee would hold her Diana world title until January 4th, 2020. Soon after her loss to rival Ayako Sato, Sareee announced that she would leave Diana again to head to the United States. In the end, the COVID-19 pandemic would put a delay on her arrival in the United States, but after a false start at the beginning of her career, the Sun God knew that it was only a matter of time before the sun would rise in WWE NXT.
Sarray is coming to WWE.
In the meantime, with the blessing of WWE to continue to work in Japan, Sareee would capture the SEAdLINNNG tag team championships with Yoshiko. They would hold them until January 22nd, 2021. Once again, Sareee would leave no unfinished business in Japan before NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, when she would appear in the crowd alongside WWE’s Stephanie McMahon. At last, Sareee, now known as Sarray, would rise as the Sun Warrior in NXT.
Sarray is not like Joshi talents who have come through the halls of NXT before. Sarray, though young, is veteran trained and tested. Among her peers in Diana, Sendai Girls, and JWP, she is adversity tested. While talents like Io Shirai, Asuka, and Kairi Sane have achieved greatness before coming to WWE, none of them have stood with giants of Joshi like Sarray has. It will be exciting to see how Sarray brings her veteran instincts to the table in NXT.