William Regal spoke highly of two women he believes helped kickstart the Women’s Evolution in WWE.
Before the Four Horsewomen and before NXT TakeOvers came into fashion, Paige and Emma (Tenille Dashwood) helped establish the NXT women’s division as something to watch. After Paige was crowned the inaugural NXT Women’s Champion after facing off with Emma in the finals of a tournament, the two became the talk of the town with their February 2014 rematch at NXT ArRIVAL in the first women’s match to be aired live on the WWE Network.
Paige was again victorious, but Emma proved her talent as well, even eliciting chants of “better than Batista” when she delivered a sitout powerbomb to her opponent. In a time when Divas’ matches on the main roster rarely went longer than three minutes, the two drew eyes to the NXT women’s division as a place where women were given the chance to properly wrestle.
A few short months later, the enchanting raven-haired lady arrived on the WWE main roster when she confronted AJ Lee the night after WrestleMania 30 and won the Divas Championship in just a few second, ending Lee’s record-breaking title reign.
Speaking on his Gentleman Villain podcast (available early via AdFreeShows), William Regal praised both NXT ArRIVAL participants for their contributions to women’s wrestling in WWE, speaking about the anti-Diva’s debut on the main roster and
“Paige came into the ring as the WWE Divas Champion at the time. And, you know, I’m going to, so we don’t have to go into this again, I’m gonna have to give Paige an Emma the highest compliment I can give them is that they were the two people before the four horsewomen and everybody else they, Paige and Emma were the people, the two ladies that set all that in motion as far as being where everything went from then onwards.
“And it’s weird to see that TakeOver, because if you’d have asked me, I wouldn’t have thought Paige had gone to the main roster by then. You know, it’s just, that’s how quick all the time goes. And I remember being there the first night she debuted, we were in New Orleans and I remember talking to her afterwards and going oh this is it. But you know, the rides about to start whatever you’ve just done in NXT the rides about to start now.
“But we’re probably not gonna get to that until another episode but I’m saying it right now. Paige and Emma were the foundation of whatever came out of the incredible run of ladies that came through NXT and all that the happenings afterwards. They were the two starting ladies that sort of got attention on everybody.”
Continuing, the former NXT General Manager made note of the incredible fact that neither woman took part in any of the NXT TakeOver specials as NXT ArRIVAL took place before the advent of TakeOvers to the brand.
“And they never got to do a TakeOver. You think they would have done right? You think they were part of that but it was before their time? I mean, sorry, it was after their time was before the TakeOver started. But Paige was actually on the main roster as the Divas Champion. That’s incredible.”
Because Paige won the WWE Divas Championship in her main roster debut, she was soon forced to relinquish the NXT Women’s Championship as then-General Manager JBL didn’t believe she could properly defend both titles. The first ever NXT TakeOver on May 29th, 2014 and saw Charlotte crowned as the second NXT Women’s Champion when she defeated Natalya in the finals of a tournament.
Paige took to social media on June 10th, 2022 and confirmed that her time with WWE had come to an end. Now going by her real name of Saraya, she is already announced to make an appearance at Starrcast as well as returning to her family’s promotion, World Association of Wrestling.
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Gentleman Villain and link back to this article with a h/t to Inside the Ropes.