Match Point is an ongoing series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. Today’s edition features an intergender showdown between “The King of Dong Style” Joey Ryan vs Saraya Knight, the matriarch of England’s Knight family (and WWE Superstar Paige’s mother) this Friday at RISE 7 in Berwyn, Illinois.
RISE has become one of the United States’ fastest rising women’s wrestling promotions, acting as somewhat of a NXT to other promotions in helping groom the women’s wrestlers of tomorrow, while working alongside some of the industry’s veterans, both in the ring and at their invaluable seminars with the likes of Madusa/Alundra Blayze, Bull Nakano, Mercedes Martinez, and Gail Kim. Founded in 2016 by former Ring of Honor employee Kevin Hervey, RISE recently announced a partnership with Impact Wrestling in furthering their development of new women’s talent from around the world. This Friday, RISE holds RISE 7: Sensation at the Berwyn Eagles Club in Berwyn, Illinois, just outside Chicago, featuring such matchups as Phoenix of RISE Champion Delilah Doom facing Deonna Purrazzo, Mercedes Martinez vs. Taya Valkyrie, a rematch of SHIMMER 100‘s tag match between Fire & Nice (Chelsea Green & Britt Baker) and Team Blue Nation (Charli Evans & Jessica Troy), and many more. But one match that sticks out is the confrontation between the event’s only male participant, Joey Ryan, faces one of the toughest women in wrestling for the past 30 years in England’s Saraya Knight.
Joey Ryan is no stranger to intergender wrestling. As one half of The World’s Cutest Tag Team with NXT Superstar Candice LeRae, the two broke barriers for intergender wrestling that had long since been established, facing men and women alike and showing that opposing sexes can make credible opposing wrestlers with the right story and respect. He’s also worked intergender matches with his wife, wrestler Laura James, and in singles competition has faced the likes of Santana Garrett, Scarlett Bordeaux, LuFisto, Chelsea Green, Mia Yim and Nixon Newell. But he’s never faced anyone quite like Saraya Knight.
Saraya Knight met her future husband Ricky Knight in 1990, who joined Ricky as the manager of his tag team, The Sensational Superflys, along with Jimmy Ocean. In 1993, Ricky encouraged Saraya to enter the ring herself, which has lead to a 25 year career as a women’s wrestling icon, not only in her native United Kingdom, but around the world. A year later in 1994, the three founded World Association of Wrestling (WAW), which still runs today as one of England’s most respected promotions and schools (although Ocean left the business shortly after it’s formation). Together, Saraya and Ricky have two children, WWE Superstar Paige and Zak Knight, while she’s also step-mother to Ricky’s other sons, Roy and Ricky Knight Jr. (Zak and Roy also team as The Hooligans). A multi-time Women’s Champion in the UK, she debuted with SHIMMER in the US in 2011. A year later, she won the SHIMMER Championship, holding it for over a year (384 days). A smart tactician who can brawl with the best of them, Saraya Knight may finally be the match to Joey Ryan’s “secret weapon”.