On this past Monday, the first Monday Night Raw after Wrestlemania, the WWE Universe had to say goodbye to Paige. After a match where her stablemate Mandy Rose took on Sasha Banks, Paige took to the mic and informed the fans that the rumors that have been swelling since December are in fact true.
In December, Paige broke her neck at a house show, and since then it has been reported she wouldn’t be allowed to return to in-ring action. Since then she has been managing Absolution, a stable that includes herself alongside Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Since the injury, Paige has had to sit out of the first Women’s Royal Rumble, the first Women’s Elimination Chamber, and Wrestlemania 34. Having known that her career was coming to an end, she opted to end it where it began, New Orleans.
Four years ago she debuted there, and that’s where it concluded, to thundering chants of “This is your house.” For a woman who is only 25 years old and has spent just four years on the main roster, Paige has had a dynamic career. Here are five highlights from her time with WWE.
First Ever NXT Women’s Champion
Paige was first hired by WWE’s developmental brand Florida Championship Wrestling in 2011 making her debut in January 2012. FCW would be rebranded soon after into what we now know as NXT. Initially losing her first match on the new brand, Paige quickly became a crowd favorite and began going on a tear. In June 2013, Paige entered a tournament to determine the first ever NXT Women’s Champion. She would meet Emma, now Tenille Dashwood in Ring of Honor, in the final match of the competition. In a hard-fought match, one that some have said helped kick-start the women’s revolution, Paige became the first ever NXT Women’s Champion at only 20 years old. She would hold on to the title for 274 days before relinquishing it to move to the main roster.
Youngest Ever WWE Diva’s Champion
Paige made a surprise debut on the Raw after Wrestlemania XXX. People were especially shocked to see her since she was still the reigning NXT Women’s Champion. She would challenge the reigning Diva’s champion, AJ Lee, for her title on her first night. Another shock awaited the crowd because the 21-year-old NXT Women’s Champion went on to defeat Lee and win the Diva’s Championship. This made her the youngest ever Diva’s Champion as well as the only women to hold both the main roster and developmental women’s title simultaneously. She would have to relinquish her NXT title but would go on to hold onto the Diva’s title for 84 days with a second 35-day reign shortly after the first. It was a monstrous and iconic way to announce her presence on the main roster.
The Women’s Revolution
Paige is a major player in what is now known as the Women’s Revolution to WWE Universe. For years the Women’s Division was treated with a less than ideal amount of respect. For years, from the late 90’s well into the 2000’s, the women were relegated to short, and often degrading, matches. Often they would be put in bouts that would exploit them, such as bra and panty matches. WWE’s criteria for finding women for their roster often was based more on looks than ability.
Now that’s not to say that the women who signed with the company didn’t work incredibly hard. Look at superstars like The Bella Twins and Hall of Famer Trish Status who didn’t have any wrestling experience before joining the promotion but became significant players. Paige helped usher in a new era of women’s wrestling. Starting with her work with NXT and how she became the crowd favorite despite not having the “quintessential” WWE look, Paige showed that you didn’t have to come from a fitness or modeling background. You could come from a rough and tumble unique background and excel. Paige wasn’t just out for herself either, after gaining success and notoriety she turned around and threw the rope back down to the immense amount of talent waiting behind her in NXT.
Team PCB and Charlotte Rivalry
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When an actual “Women’s Revolution” was called for, the woman who had already been a driving force behind the one happening naturally answered the call. Paige was called upon to take on the three-person team that was a metaphorical representation of the “old ways” in The Bella Twins and Alicia Fox. When she revealed her allies, it made the WWE universe happy to see the debut of two of NXT’s Most talented women. Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch came out to fill out what would be Team PCB.
After spending a couple months with the pair, she turned on them leading to a feud with Charlotte. In a promo that some thought went a little too far, Paige claimed that Charlotte would be nothing without her father. She would go on to challenge Charlotte for her Diva’s Championship, losing to her and in doing so, making her a legitimate performer in the fans eyes. In a time where the crowd wasn’t sure what Charlotte could do, Paige served as a vessel for us to really understand how good she would be. The division was more important than personal gain.
Absolution and Retirement
After a lengthy and somewhat awkward hiatus from the WWE from August 2016 to September 2017, Paige was cleared to return to in-ring work with the WWE. After two wellness policy suspensions, surgery, and a somewhat public tumultuous relationship with former WWE Superstar Alberto Del Rio, fans were beginning to believe they would never see Paige in WWE again. In November 2017 those fears were silenced when she appeared on Raw with fellow new-comers to the main roster Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville creating the stable Absolution. Unfortunately, she was injured just a month after she reemerged to the WWE Universe. She continued to manage the two less experienced women, both of which would go on to take place in the first Women’s Royal Rumble and the first Women’s Elimination Chamber. She continued to mentor the two newer stars to help jump-start their careers, even though Paige was looking at the twilight of her career at the age of 25.
After a Mandy Rose win on the April 9th edition of Monday Night Raw, the three members of Absolution stood in the ring together, and Paige took the mic. She would confirm what all the news outlets had been saying for months, she could no longer be an in-ring performer in the WWE. She thanked Daniel Bryan for his inspiration. Bryan just had his first match at Wrestlemania 34 after being told he’d never wrestle again just a few years ago. She also thanked Edge, a former WWE Superstar, and Hall of Famer who had his career ended in a similar way and was on hand to talk Paige through what was happening. She stood tall and thanked all the women who she had helped build this fantastic division and cried as the crowd chanted “this is your house.” A tribute to the phrase she would yell, “This is my house!” during her matches. She took one last stride up the ramp as the fans who love her cheered her on. Then she was gone.
Fast forward one day to the April 10th edition of SmackDown Live. With the reinstatement of Daniel Bryan to an in-ring talent, the GM position of SmackDown was up for grabs. In an almost serendipitous moment, a wrestler who once thought they would never wrestle again makes way for someone who can’t anymore. It will be exciting getting to see what the young GM has in store for the self-appointed “land of opportunity” in the WWE. She can bring a new dynamic and flare to the position, and it will definitely be a major juxtaposition from her low key predecessor.
On September 14, 2018, the film Fighting With My Family will be released. It stars Lena Heady and features other names such as Nick Frost, Vince Vaughn, and the former WWE megastar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It details the life of the Bevis family, all wrestlers, and drama that arises when their daughter Saraya gets signed by WWE and becomes the woman we know as Paige. A trailer was recently released featuring the Rock and Florence Pugh as Paige. I for one am incredibly excited for it, and it is befitting the woman Paige became to have her story told. Check out the trailer below.