By Haydn Gleed
The women of WWE and NXT have been in the news recently with the announcement that the Diva’s division on the main roster is now the WWE Women’s division. The move is long overdue, but the woman who many thought would be the reason for such a change has seemingly being pushed to the background. What exactly has gone wrong for Paige?
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two years since Paige debuted on the main roster with a bang, by winning the Diva’s championship against AJ Lee on her first night. With a firm wrestling background, obvious skills in the ring and a kick ass attitude in NXT and FCW before that, people saw the introduction of Paige as a sign that the powers that be were going to push the “Divas”, and with Paige previously playing an Anti Diva character, there was hope that the term Diva would also come under the spotlight.
But since WrestleMania this year and the mega announcement of the change of the division, we haven’t seen anything of Paige other than a brief standing role as part of the renaming ceremony. This is a woman that WWE seemed to be very high on. They put her on the Total Diva’s television show. She was trusted to do a live edition of the Stone Cold Podcast with Steve Austin. She was also a judge on the panned Tough Enough reboot. It’s obvious that management thinks highly of Paige, but all of those accolades may tell the problem – they have overexpoed her.
When you read the paragraph above and saw that she’s only been on the main roster for two years, did you think I made a mistake? For a long stretch of time it felt you couldn’t turn on a WWE affiliated show and not have Paige on your screen. After all the heel and babyface turns, the reality tv shows, the WWE Studios movie, and everything else they have pushed Paige into, doesn’t it feel like she has been around longer than two years?
The problem is she hasn’t come across as particularly likable and her character hasn’t been defined enough for us to care and want to see her all the time unlike Bayley. On Total Diva’s she comes across as immature, lacks the ability to take responsibility and not at all likable. We didn’t get the Tough Enough reboot here in the UK, but by all account she didn’t particularly come across well on that show either. I’m not saying that this is Paige the person, but the way she’s been produced hasn’t led to fans wanting to see more of her either as a likable babyface or want to see her get her comeuppance as a heel, she’s just not been particularly likable.
From the first night she debuted it seems that WWE have been so eager to get her to the same level she was at in FCW and NXT that they have missed some crucial steps along the way – from the title win on the first night depriving the fans of being on a journey towards that level and getting to know her along the way to being thrust onto reality TV shows before she has had a chance to establish her character. WWE has to take a large chunk of the blame for this, and if any silver lining can be gathered from what has happened to Paige, I hope WWE have learnt from this before their next big ladies call up from NXT *coughBayleycough*.
So what now for Paige? At her age, she is in no way of becoming an afterthought. I listened to the Q&A show that Jason Powell hosts for members on Mondays. Ironically enough, he spoke about Paige and brought up the idea of sending her down to NXT for a stint which I think would be a great move…..if done right. You can’t have her go down to NXT to have a quick feud with any of the established ladies, because if she wins it defines the ladies in NXT down, wheres if Paige loses in a quick feud you are left again with the UK girl having no momentum or traction. To fantasy book, you could have Paige go down as a heel, and take on all of the not quite NXT ready ladies to prove that she is still the best (in her mind). After two months of screaming about NXT being her house, this would lead to Asuka putting the belt on the line, and allowing Paige and her to show what they can do in the ring. Ultimately, Asuka would win and get the rub of beating a former main roster champion, but Paige has gained some traction by beating the “lesser” females in NXT and developing a persona she can take with her, while also giving main roster viewers a break without just burying her in the background.
So it’s not all over for the Anti Diva who ended up on Total Divas. There is a lot that can be done with her, but when WWE showcases her again, I hope they remember the mistakes they made with her the first time around. More importantly, I hope they don’t try take two steps forward instead of taking it one step at a time. As we have seen, she will end up taking three steps back if they make the same mistake again.
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