This week the Paige story entered whole new levels of uncomfortable, with TMZ reporting a very public (and very disturbing) argument with her fiance Alberto El Patron. The fallout from this has dominated wrestling news websites, with the couples awkward attempts to back pedal the story only clashing with live accounts from those who saw it all. But where the industry should be supporting Paige, it seems the wrestling industry is paralyzed by inaction. Unable to address the situation – and there’s plenty of blame to go around.
To be fair, it hasn’t been a good year for the WWE Superstar. A neck injury forced her from the ring, while two Wellness Policy strikes all but lowered her stock within WWE. For a woman who’s spent her entire career blazing a path, being forced to sit on the sidelines was never going to sit well. Then came the infamous porn leaks. Not only were the leaks highly embarrassing for her, they also only added to the feeling that WWE would be looking to severe ties quickly. It’s left her adrift of the company at a time when the Women’s Division has been entering a Golden Age.
Right now its unclear what the future holds for her. Engaged to El Patron (Who was arrested for Domestic Battery) it seems she’s trapped in a situation that’s dire at best. A sign perhaps of just how tragic this entire thing is – in the wake of this Paige’s family have emerged on social media; expressing grave concern at the way she’s being treated. Accusations of physical abuse have followed close behind – leading to a tone shift in the entire situation. Where before it was comical and insanely silly, now it just seems incredibly sad and awkward.
Yet the lack of public support also leaves Paige vulnerable. Where the company should have been defending their Superstar, silence reigned. While the images of Paige circulated on social media, the company sat on its hands and waited for it to blow over. Heck, we all laughed during last weeks Smackdown Live when Xavier Woods was burned heavily by The Uso’s in reference to this. Imagine being Paige, watching from home as you realize you’ve become the butt of a joke WWE refused to defend you on. No wonder she doesn’t care anymore what they think of her. A sign of how little WWE care at this stage – the company is willingly looking the other way while one of their contracted Superstars racks up column inches on TMZ.
It’s easy to forget, but Paige is only 24 still. She’s a young woman who needs guidance and leadership. Everyone makes bad decisions, but that shouldn’t result in all bridges being burned. Randy Orton is one great example of a young Superstar being given multiple chances, despite personal demons. His numerous drug infractions are conveniently overlooked when WWE likes to remind you he’s a 14 time World Champion.
That’s the problem with this situation I feel. WWE just haven’t been there for their Superstar. At a time when she needed them, the company has awkwardly remained silent. If anything, it feels like WWE are waiting for the opportunity to cut her loose. They don’t want to help this situation – they just want her to not be their problem. I don’t think that’s acceptable – when WWE have a duty of care to their Superstars. It doesn’t matter how bad the relationship is, the company should be willing to leave the door open – as they’ve done many times in the past (2002 Steve Austin is the king example of this).
But it’s not just WWE that this situation reflects badly on. It’s the whole industry that deserves damning, really. An industry that’s allowed El Patron’s ego to flare up like a supernova. The problem is that El Patron’s name still brings in money. Because WWE gave him World Championships, indie company’s will keep giving him money to show up. Even as he skips indie shows with no regard for their plans. Even if he only turns up to berate WWE. The wrestling industry is so desperate to keep itself above water that it allows men like Patron to behave in this way – a man whose ego has long since run out of control.
Perhaps most laughably of all, Global Force Wrestling have slapped their newly merged World Championship on his shoulder. This is the man Jeff Jarrett and company want to throw their weight behind. A man who’s so bitter about his failures in WWE that he constantly mentions them at every opportunity. Like a jilted ex-lover, El Patron’s bizarre rants at Vince and WWE scream of misinformation and bizarre logic loops. Heck, he even challenged Triple H and friends to a fight this last week – the mark of a true Champion.
Is this how the second biggest US wrestling promotion wants to be seen? Supporting a man who’s been arrested for Domestic Battery (WWE at the very least suspend people who are arrested for this, such as Jerry “The King” Lawler and Adam Rose). Their lack of voice in this issue only adds to the sense that El Patron has been allowed to get away with his actions for the longest time.
Even if he got released from GFW (He won’t), there would still be a slew of indie promotions begging him to show up. Throwing money at him because people would pay to see. It reflects badly on an industry that desperately wants to be taken seriously – but allows this kind of situation to bubble under the surface. The industry needs to change – if only to protect the most vulnerable within it.
If wrestling ever wants to evolve past the current mindset, maybe it’s time to stop slut shaming those who are vulnerable, while handing World Championships to those who cause the most damage.