Pioneers is a series dedicated to the women who pushed forward the evolution in women’s wrestling. Diva Dirt staff will highlight women with spotlight pieces all March, in honor of Women’s History Month.
Sara Del Rey is currently known in WWE by her real name, Sara Amato. Prior to using her real name professionally, Amato blazed through the independent scene. She has been a large contributor to WWE’s women’s division since she joined in 2012. She has served as the first-ever female trainer in their developmental territory, NXT. Since 2015, she has stepped into the position as assistant head coach, which occurred right after the #GiveDivasAChance movement started. Her immense knowledge of the wrestling industry ignited the women’s evolution and it still burns bright.
While growing up, Amato watched wrestling when she was younger. She references herself as being a tomboy, was “too lazy” to participate in sports, but she enjoyed them. While taking a break from college, she decided to enroll in All Pro Wrestling for training.
In an interview from 2012, Amato described to Absolute Intense Wrestling the moment that she wanted to be a wrestler. Although the moment wasn’t exactly a “light bulb” moment, she noted the feeling.
“I remember, I mean, obviously loving wrestling while growing up and there was just never a female role model how I thought women should be. I mean there were Sable and Sunny, and those kinds of girls, which were great in that capacity. Even Sherri Martel to a certain extent, but I really wanted
Amato’s hard work behind the scenes of her current role should not go unnoticed, but her knowledge of the business along with her contributions as an in-ring performer got her to where she is today. She wrestled around the world, including spending her early years in Mexico and Japan. Her most notable work in the United States is her work with the SHIMMER promotion, based out of Chicago.
In 2005, WrestleMania 21 involved one women’s match on the card. The match was for the Women’s Championship, and featured current champion Trish Stratus facing-off against Christy Hemme. The match lasted a disappointing four minutes and 11 seconds. In that same year, the all-female organization SHIMMER opened its doors, and their first event showcased what women can do in the ring. Amato was part of that first event, competing in a 20-minute match against Mercedes Martinez. The match ended in a draw, with neither woman pinning or submitting the other in the time frame allowed.
Amato continued to perform event-after-event in lengthy and challenging matches. She faced the likes of Martinez, Cheerleader Melissa, Daizee Haze, and Lacey, just to name a few. She brought her striking style to every opponent she faced, and participated in a tournament to crown the first-ever Shimmer Champion. The tournament culminated with her facing Lacey in the finals. She fought hard throughout the match and even overcame a Raindrop delivered by Rain, who interfered in the match. Amato became the first-ever Shimmer Champion by delivering a piledriver to her adversary.
Amato had a total of five defenses while champion, including a successful win from a two-out-of-three falls match against Sarah Stock at Volume 16. She held the coveted title as the inaugural champion for 329 days, until she lost the belt to MsChif. Throughout her time in the SHIMMER promotion, she faced many women who would later become WWE superstars. She laced up her boots to face the likes of Jessie McKay (Billie Kay), Nattie Neidhart (Natalya), and even the current SmackDown Women’s Champion Asuka (Kana).
The number of firsts for Amato continued, when she became the first woman to ever hold two titles for the promotion. She became Shimmer Tag Team Champion along with Courtney Rush (Impact Wrestling’s Rosemary) in a four-corners tag team elimination match at Volume 48. She held the title for 111 days until she started with WWE.
Other accolades the future assistant head coach received from the indies include ranking on the Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) list. In 2012, she ranked no. 4 out of the top 50 female wrestlers in the world. She was the fourth woman to rank in the PWI 500 in the same year at no. 430.
Amato has brought her knowledge and skill to WWE, and within a few