Sareee Talks WWE, KAIRI, IWGP Women's Title, Sareee-ISM, And More | Interview

Sareee is back in Japan and making an impact.

Formerly known as WWE's Sarray, Sareee returned to Japan earlier this year and has found instant success as she competes in a number of promotions and hosts here own shows under the name Sareee-ISM.

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Her return match was on May 16 at Sareee-ISM Chapter I, where she lost to Chihiro Hashimoto in a grueling main event. Since then, she's set her sights on Arisa Nakajima's Beyond The Sea Championship and will be challenging for that title on August 25 at SEAdLINNNG's anniversary event.

Perhaps her biggest match, however, since returning will be this Friday at Sareee-ISM Chapter II. Sareee will form a Dream Tag Team with KAIRI, marking the first time the former WWE wrestlers have ever competed in the same match. They'll be facing Nakajima and Takumi Iroha in a huge tag team main event.

Ahead of Sareee-ISM Chapter II, Fightful's Scott Edwards had the chance to interview Sareee. She talked about a wide range of topics including her departure from WWE, teaming with KAIRI, and challenging for the IWGP Women's Championship.

Here's what Sareee had to say!


What was your favorite part of your time with WWE?

Meeting with many staff and talents from around the world. They were all great people and helped me so much in many ways during my time there. All the time there was a great experience for me.

What’s the number one thing you learned in WWE that you’ll take with you through the rest of your career?

The importance of each opportunity. In Japan, I was able to perform at all events. Its automatic booking. But at WWE, only certain people can be on TV. Not waiting for the chance to come by but trying to create the chances and being successful with that chance you received.

You’ve been very open about your connection with Tiffany Stratton after your feud in NXT. Now that she’s a champion, are you proud of what she’s accomplished? Do you hope to meet again somewhere down the line?

I am very proud of her accomplishment. So happy for her. She had strong heart and discipline. Her athleticism was incredible. I knew she would be a champion very soon and she did it. I am so proud of her. I would definitely want to meet her in the ring again down the line. Japan, USA, anywhere in the world. Any ring in the world.

What is your main goal now that you’ve returned to Japan? What are you hoping to accomplish this time around?

I want to show the world my strong style pro wrestling. Also carry on the All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (Zenjo) spirit. The Japanese industry has become more entertainment and losing the history of the zenjo spirit wrestlers now. It's going to become extinct. So I want to help increase the traditional Japanese women’s pro wrestling style again. If there are any opportunities, I would like to travel and show the world the true zenjo strong style of pro wrestling.

What’s the biggest difference for you in terms of when you left Japan to when you returned to wrestle

When I was about to leave, pro wrestling was having a hard time with COVID and many rules for operating the events. Now it's operating like how it used to be before COVID era. But the biggest is the popularity of Joshi pro wrestling. Joshi pro wrestling is much more popular than before I left Japan.

Prior to signing with WWE, you were scheduled to wrestle Mayu Iwatani for the first time ever, The match was eventually called off and you went your separate ways. Is that a match you’re interested in having eventually?

Yes, I am ready but I don’t think Stardom is ready for me yet. We will see. When the opportunity comes, I am interested in it, especially when Iwatani has the IWGP Women’s belt.

At Sareee-ISM Chapter 2, you’re teaming with KAIRI -- marking the first time you’ve ever teamed up. How has the training with KAIRI been? What have you learned working with her? What should fans expect to see from you two as a team? What went into selecting Arisa Nakajima and Takumi Iroha as your opponents?

It was my first time ever to practice with her and I wasn’t sure how it was going to be but ended up being great. We didn’t have to communicate but can feel it with the same vibe. Even though we were at WWE at different times, we both had the same Coach, Coach Amato and she was a tough but great Coach. It was great training with her. KAIRI is very positive and she can brighten up the room. She brings happiness and positive energy. She is a superstar. I think the fans can expect not just the words as Dream Tag, but can probably show them beyond expectation as a combination tag team. For me, Iroha has been another rival for me for years. Same as Nakajima. She has always been a tough opponent. For KAIRI as well. Iroha and KAIRI were in the same organization before. It is the first time for KAIRI and Nakajima. When we decided to do this dream tag, I wanted a dream tag opponent as well. I think these two can match our dream tag bringing in the highest quality and toughest Joshi pro wrestlers as the opponent.

Legend Antonio Inoki passed away at the end of 2022. What does he mean to you in your career and how has he inspired you as a wrestler?

My father was a great fan of Mr. Inoki. He took me to events even when I was a small girl. I woke up to Mr. Inoki alarm clocks and memorized the famous “The Road” poem of Mr. Inoki by kindergarten. The Road Poem is really something that has made an effect on not only myself but many pro wrestlers and fans. It gives the courage to take one step forward when you hesitate. Because of my father being a great Mr. Inoki fan, he took me to pro wrestling events and I was introduced to pro wrestling at a young age. Then I eventually fell in love with Joshi pro wrestling. I like the fighting art of pro wrestling and strong style more than entertainment and comedy pro wrestling. Mr. Inoki has raised and protected the spirit of Japanese pro wrestling. Words can’t describe how much he has done for pro wrestling. He wasn’t just a pro wrestler but a superstar figure that all Japanese can recognize and know. So he is a person I will always respect and a person who will always be in the top of our industry forever.

You mentioned the IWGP Women’s Championship when you came back to Japan. Kairi even recently encouraged you to challenge for it. Are you still interested in challenging for it? What would holding that belt mean to you personally?

Yes, I am interested in IWGP. IWGP is the belt which Mr. Inoki made and is icon of strong style. I give the fighting spirit into my matches and show the strong style of pro wrestling. So I want to become the champion of IWGP. I think IWGP belt will shine the most on the pro wrestler who can show the fighting spirit.

Sareee-ISM has been a huge success already. What went into making the decision to hold these shows after your run in WWE?

After WWE, I have the choice of returning to the organization from the past or a new organization. But either way, I won’t be able to do what I vision to do all the way. The only way to show my vision and have the freedom to show my strong style was to start my own event. That's why it's Sareee-ISM .Fighting for the pro wrestling I have believed in and love.

In the first two Sareee-ISM shows you’ve put together some of the most fun cards in all of pro wrestling. What has been the thought process when constructing these match cards?

Thank you very much. It is nice to hear that. I wanted to get the message of Sareee- ISM. Strong style, fighting spirit, the traditional Joshi wrestling side and stick with that as the theme or the baseline. I wanted to pick the opponent who I thought would be able to show that message, which I thought would be Chihiro Hashimoto. The toughest girl from the start.

For Sareee-ISM on Aug. 4th, I wasn’t even planning to do this event so soon after the first one. But when things are meant to be, things happen. Media and fans wants to see the next one soon, date of the venue is open, KAIRI and other talents are available, things happen for a reason and just one thing after another just happens which I thought was meant to be.

I see many fans requesting about a tag team with KAIRI. A tag team that has the connection of both worlds. Both being formerly WWE but also linked to Mr. Inoki. First IWGP Women’s Champion Kairi and myself with the Strong Style Fighting Spirit admitted by Mr. Inoki. Something that can be exciting which has never been done before. A Dream Tag Team. So I really wanted to do this for the fans.

Do you have a goal to eventually hold a Sareee-ISM even in Korakuen Hall?

Yes, eventually, I would like to do it. If possible even at bigger arenas too one day.

You have a history with Chihiro Hashimoto who ended up being your first opponent back. What went into making that decision?

I wanted to go up against the strongest Joshi pro wrestler. The toughest opponent for me and I thought it was her. She was one of my rivals in the past and we had several title matches. By going against the toughest strongest Joshi pro wrestler, I thought I can also measure my growth as a pro wrestler too.

In your first move since your return match with Chihiro Hashimoto. You decided to set your sights on Arisa Nakajima and the Beyond the Sea Championship. Was it simply for the belt? Or was it because it was Arisa Nakajima who was holding the belt, and made it appealing for you to go after it?

If I am mentioning strong style, Nakajima is definitely a person who I cannot avoid. It's a path that I will have to take and go against her. She happened to mention my name and I was also thinking about wanting a match with her. So the timing was great. She is also one of the toughest opponents out there. This time, she happened to be the champion. The timing just happened to be right.

When your career first began, you competed against wrestling veterans frequently which helped you grow into the wrestler you are today. Do you have any desire to act as that veteran to help younger competitors grow today?

Yes, definitely. I would like to go against young wrestlers and become this tough wall like how the veterans were for me. Want to show and teach them in the matches. I have faced Chi-Chi from Evolution Girls who just started pro wrestling. I really enjoyed teaching her in the match. I hope to do more in the future too.

What wrestler in Japan do you feel improved the most while you were living in America?

Mio Momono from Marvelous. She was a good wrestler before I left for America but after she became a Champion, I felt her level just increased so much. Her fighting spirit in the match when I faced her was incredible.

Are there any young competitors that jump out to you that you believe fans should be paying attention to?

Chi-Chi from Evolution Girls. Like I mentioned, I had a match with her. She reminded me of Tiffany from NXT. Not just the Barbie Doll but also the strong heart inside her. She just started but has been wrestling against tough opponents. That's why I booked her for my Sareee-ISM Chapter II event.

Would you ever consider becoming a trainer to pass on your knowledge and skills to new wrestlers?

Definitely, for sure. I taught several at Diana before leaving for America. If there is anyone who would like to learn from me, I am ready anytime. I also want to give back to the industry as well.

You’ve been able to have some great matches already since returning. Is there anyone you haven’t faced yet or discussed in this interview that you still want to face in the future?

KAIRI. Yes, she is my Dream Tag Team partner this time. But I never had a match against her so definitely want to see her as my opponent in the future.


A huge thank you to Sareee for taking the time to answer all these questions and giving us some insight into her future. We look forward to speaking with her again down the road.

Make sure to follow Sareee and the official Sareee-ISM account on Twitter/X:

Sareee: @Sareee_official

Sareee-ISM: @Sareee_ISM

This Friday, August 4th is Sareee-ISM Chapter II! The main event will see the Dream Tag Team of Sareee and KAIRI team up for the first time ever.

You can purchase the show now and watch it live on sareeelive.com

Here are your official start times:

  • 7 p.m. JST
  • 6 a.m. ET
  • 3 a.m. PT

Here's the full match card for the event:

  • Ibuki Hoshi vs. Chi Chi
  • Jaguar Yokota & Kizuna Tanaka vs. Kaoru Ito & Kohaku
  • Mio Momono vs. Miyuki Takase
  • Sareee & KAIRI vs. Arisa Nakajima & Takumi Iroha

For more from Sareee, you can check out her store at sareee-mania.com

For more exclusives from Fightful, check them out here. Make sure to check out our latest interviews with Joshi like Saori Anou and Rika Tatsumi.

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