WWE Superstar Paige has announced that she will be leaving WWE when her contract expires in July.
After joining the company in 2011 at the age of 18, she turned the perception of women’s wrestling in WWE on its head.
During the early part of her WWE career especially, the women’s division was a far cry from what it would become. Despite often being capable of more, and creating matches that could have stood up against their male counterparts, they were heavily restricted in what they were allowed to do, and how they were supposed to look.
Enter a pale, goth teenager with bags of charisma, a unique look and a sharp attitude. When she rocked up on television she stood out instantly and would continue to do so throughout her career.
She sported an entirely different presentation to the rest of the women’s roster. Pale skin, piercings, jet black hair and a fierce wrestling style rarely seen from women in WWE.
These attributes gave rise to the Anti-Diva and saw her quickly gain great popularity with fans outside the ring, and tremendous success inside it. Upon making her main roster in April 2014, she made history becoming the youngest Diva’s Champion in history, having already been the youngest NXT Women’s Champion ever. She is also the only woman to hold the two championships simultaneously.
Despite only a few years in active competition, she made a huge impact within the company and the women’s division as a whole. It’s not too bold to say that Paige changed the way women were presented and perceived in WWE, helping pave the road that the likes of Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Charlotte would follow to superstardom.
Paige set records, changed perceptions and help introduce a profound change in women’s wrestling. To celebrate we take a look back at her top five WWE moments.
5. Returning from retirement as SmackDown Live General Manager
On the April 9th, 2018 edition of Monday Night Raw Paige cut an emotional promo officially retiring from in-ring competition, due to a series of serious neck injuries. However, she wasn’t gone for long. The following night on SmackDown Live, Shane McMahon introduced her as the new General Manager of the brand.
She had an entertaining run as GM on Tuesday nights. During her eight-month tenure, she asserted authority and controlled the programme with her no-nonsense approach to the role.
She was fun to watch and a breath of fresh air when it came to the on-air authority role. She brought youth, counter-culture and a contemporary outlook to the part. She clearly enjoyed her time as GM, which added to fan investment resulting in the brand thriving under her care during this period.
4. “I’m Back…”
In November 2017 Paige returned to Monday Night Raw for the first time in more than a year to a heroes welcome. While cutting a promo on the stage, she revealed herself to be the leader of a new faction featuring Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville which would later be known as Absolution.
The trio looked to be a force to be reckoned with but it was the name that resonated the most, especially for the Anti-Diva.
Paige had returned to WWE after a tumultuous period in her life and the faction name seemed to echo that. In 2016 she was off television due to a neck injury and controversy after controversy followed.
She fell foul of WWE’s Wellness Policy on two separate occasions resulting in suspensions from the company. Her relationship with Alberto Del Rio spiralled into domestic abuse allegations among other controversies and a leaked sex tape added further distress and turmoil to her life.
Her comeback began when The Rock’s Seven Bucks Productions announced they were turning her life story into a movie called Fighting With My Family. The positive news led to her on-screen return as leader of the new faction and a prominent spot in the women’s division.
Her role as leader, proved that WWE still had faith in her as Superstar and backstage mentor to newcomers like Rose and Deville. Unfortunately, her second chance would be short-lived, as a recurrence of her neck issues caused her to retire just once month later at the age of just 25.
3. Paige’s Pipebomb
On the September 21st 2015 edition of Monday Night Raw, Paige had enough of Charlotte Flair getting the spotlight and let her, and the rest of the women’s division know all about it.
Charlotte was celebrating her Diva’s Championship win in the ring alongside fellow PCB stablemates, Paige and Becky Lynch. The Anti-Diva interrupted the champ during her acceptance speech and dropped a verbal onslaught before claiming responsibility for the “Divas Revolution.”
In a supposedly heel promo, which blended fact and fiction, Paige opened fire on Flair and numerous other female members of the roster. She reminded fans of her accomplishments, pointing out that she was forging her own revolution long before the second generation star arrived on the roster.
She verbally skewered Lynch, claimed Flair was only there because of her father and fired some hefty shots at Natalya, questioning where she even was. Despite the fact the promo was intended to turn the star heel, she earned considerable cheers from the audience.
The promo marked a memorable heel turn for Paige and another level-up for the diva’s division.
2. Becoming the youngest and first-ever NXT Women’s Champion
On June 20th 2013 Paige made WWE history when she became the youngest and first-ever NXT Women’s Champion.
The win cemented her as the top female star in NXT by defeating Emma in a great match that ushered in a new era not just for the brand, but for women’s wrestling.
The match is often cited as the beginning of the “Women’s Revolution” and with good reason. It changed how female wrestlers were perceived in WWE and laid the groundwork for the likes of the Four Horsewomen to follow just a couple of years later.
The bout was a huge moment, and the crowd in attendance knew it. Duelling “Let’s go Emma. Let’s go Paige” chants bellowed throughout the arena. The two athletes put in brilliant performances and delivered a thrilling and emotionally charged match worthy of the occasion.
As she emerged victorious the women’s locker room came out to celebrate as Triple H raised her hand in a great scene. It was a crowning moment for the young superstar and one that put her on the path to success.
1. Winning the Diva’s Championship on her Raw debut
The Raw, after WrestleMania is synonymous with debuts, shocks and surprises and the night after WrestleMania 30 featured one of the biggest in WWE history.
On April 7th, 2014 Paige made her surprise debut to a huge reaction and defeated AJ Lee for the Divas Championship.
Having made quite a name for herself in NXT, fans and more importantly top management saw bright things in her future. After dominating the NXT women’s division she was given the keys to WWE’s women’s division on her first night on the main roster.
Lee, who was the longest-reigning Diva’s champion at the time, stood in the ring gloating about her achievement. Paige’s music hit and the NXT women’s champion made her way to the ring.
Lee took umbrage at the youngster’s presence and slapped her across the face before brazenly challenging her to match with the title on the line.
This cockiness was Lee’s undoing as the newcomer defeated her for the championship in a shock move that brought a new era to the Diva’s division.
The Anti-Diva being inserted into the top of the division on her debut was a surprising choice by WWE and one that showed a shift in women’s wrestling on the main product. The two would go on to have a watershed feud over the title and Paige had more memorable moments, but winning the championship on her Raw debut was easily the best.