ScreenCritics Shaun explores the current state of affairs between Paige and WWE – asking if the two can ever work together again?
Without question, WWE’s Paige is one of the most talented female wrestlers in the world. Her technical ability and difference from the women around her have made her an ideal lightning rod for fans to latch onto. Her success and rise in the past few years through the NXT and WWE ranks have all but cemented her place as one of the more popular Superstars on the entire roster.
Yet as we enter 2017, things couldn’t be more awkward for the WWE Superstar. Sitting on two of the company’s Wellness strikes and out with a serious neck injury – Paige’s WWE career couldn’t be in more doubt. Her fans are worried and they have every right, but that worry has turned into open hostility in some quarters. You don’t have look far in to the comments whenever she Tweets or posts on Instagram to find fans berating her life decisions.
2016 was far from her best year. Paige didn’t feature prominently for much of the year and even when she did, it was more in fleeting glaces. She did appear on the Wrestlemania 32 pre-show in a multi-women match, and did have a very brief program against then-WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair – but outside of these it was her out-of-ring antics that brought her the most attention. A whirlwind romance with former WWE Superstar Alberto Del Rio turned awkward when he abandoned WWE in a very public manner. Paige still remains with the company but for all intents and purposes, she might as well not be right now.
The problem for Paige’s fans is that her descent comes against what was promised. She was the youngest WWE Divas Champion, and was at the head of the division alongside AJ Lee in 2014. The future promised much, and with Paige’s momentum helping to define the future Women’s Revolution – it was easy to believe she had a long and fruitful WWE career ahead. Now though things are less clear. How can WWE invest so much stock in a Superstar that’s seemingly imploded?
So the question that needs to be asked, what next for the British wrestler? When she returns it’s very likely that she won’t be allowed near the Championships. WWE has a history of holding back Superstars who’ve failed Wellness multiple times and for Paige, it likely means that she won’t be given the chance to helm the division again. Not only this but in her absence other Superstars have moved in to claim their spots on the roster. WWE has managed to create a roster of highly popular women, and while their technical ability is varied, there’s no denying that they’ve raised the profile of women’s wrestling within the company. Paige can’t just walk back in and claim her spot as she pleases, as much as her fans would like that. The truth is that she’s currently in a position where one more strike will see her removed from the company for a year – why would WWE want to invest the best screen time in her?
Instead I hope that Paige is willing to return and show fans that she’s still committed to the cause. They haven’t kicked her off E! Network’s Total Divas yet – which is a strong sign that she’s not entirely been cast out. That show is important to WWE and they wouldn’t allow her airtime if they didn’t want her to be given exposure. She’s also still under contract reportedly until 2019 (WWE can extend Superstars contracts if injured for prolonged periods) – breaking that would be a minefield for Paige and her legal team. No Superstar has ever endured that third strike, so it would be uncharted territory for both party’s.
Not that all blame falls to Paige. I feel WWE weren’t using her to the best of her ability in early 2016. During a time when they were talking about making all Women’s wrestling better, they seemed fixated on a few individuals. It’s easy to see why someone of Paige’s talent began to feel frustrated. WWE need to use their talent better and should treat their top talent as top talent, not afterthoughts that get shafted onto the Wrestlemania card in awkward pre-show matches.
I want to believe that Paige has a long future in WWE. As one of her long-time fans, I’m hoping that Paige can turn her relationship around with WWE. It would be a terrible shame to see yet another major part of why the Women’s Revolution took place in the first place being phased out of WWE history – AJ Lee is a good example of what happens when WWE likes to pretend Superstars don’t exist.
Do you think Paige can turn around her current WWE career path? Do you want to see her back in WWE?