In just over 2 years Paige has gone from being one of WWE’s brightest stars to being a source of major concern. Meanwhile WWE hands out more suspensions.
When Saraya-Jade Bevis signed her development contract in September 2011 WWE probably didn’t imagine that the 19 year old from Norwich would become one of their biggest stars and kick start a massive change in how women’s wrestling was viewed by fans. While in WWE’s developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (now rebranded as NXT) Bevis was given the Paige name and the gimmick of being the “anti Diva” as she was a vast contrast to WWE’s ‘Divas’ who were increasingly being hired from modelling backgrounds and then being taught to wrestle.
By September 2012 Paige was gaining massive momentum in the new NXT thanks in part to the more hardcore wrestling fans who were drawn to NXT who appreciated wrestling over gimmicks and it was no surprise that she became the first NXT Women’s Champion on June 20th 2013. On the April 7th 2014 Raw after Wrestlemania XXX Paige defeated AJ Lee for the WWE’s Diva Championship becoming the youngest woman to win the main WWE women’s title in the history of it’s varying forms since it’s creation in 1956, the only woman to win a WWE Chamionship in her debut match, the only woman to simultaneously hold the NXT and WWE women’s titles and still holds the record for longest NXT Women’s Championship reign. Paige had hit the big time.
Just over two years later and Bevis’ future in WWE seems in jeopardy as she was suspended on August 17th (her 24th birthday) for failing a WWE Wellness Test after months of erratic behaviour and worrying incidents.
Bevis had earned the respect of the roster and management during the early part of her career as she was known for mingling with the roster but as a newcomer stayed away from the bigger names and veterans while out in bars and also abstained from drinking. While of legal age to drink in the UK, Paige wasn’t legally allowed to drink in the US so would stick to soft drinks which was commended and handled herself really well when interacting with fans which made her an ideal champion as she was the perfect ambassador for WWE. In 2012 WWE allowed Channel 4 to make a documentary on Paige and her meteoric success in 2014 led to her being added as DLC to the WWE 2K15 game (her success came after the game developer’s cut off point so she wasn’t included in the initial release) and despite still being the anti-Diva she was added to the Total Divas “reality show” to capitalise on her popularity and was a regular at fan interaction events. When the massively hyped appearance of Hulk Hogan on ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin’s podcast had to be changed due to Hogan’s firing Paige was the star chosen to replace him. Paige was the bankable reliable public face of the company and was seen as a great role model for younger female fans as she openly discussed having A cup breasts and no desire to get implants, a huge contrast to the rest of the roster, and issues like being bullied for her dark body hair noting that she has hairy arms and moustache which she has to regularly remove. Paige also revealed that she had low self esteem.
From August 2015 Paige seemed to be making news regularly and not always for the right reasons.
Her faction The Submission Sororiety had to be renamed after it was discovered there was a porn site of the same name and at the end of the month quickly deleted a Tweet where she ripped into the Raw audience for being disrespectful.
On September 9th Paige and Alicia Fox were thrown out of Baltimore’s Supano’s Prime Steakhouse after an incident with a fan. The WWE stars had been singing karaoke when a fan started to film and refused to stop, the fan then threw a drink at the wrestlers who responded in kind. A week later Paige announced she was engaged to boyfriend Kevin Skaff. September 19th saw Paige openly criticising WWE creative and giving numerous examples of issues she had with the company at a Wizard World panel. On the September 21st Raw Paige delivered a worked-shoot promo about other women in the WWE which lead to her being the top trend on Twitter. However on a live Facebook video chat for WWE on September 29th 2015 Paige replied to a fan with “hey fuck you right back” leading WWE producer Scott Armstrong to tell her from off camera that she couldn’t say the f-word. WWE didn’t take issue with the incident and she appeared on The Conan O’Brien show soon afterwards but 3 weeks later during a Seth Rollins podcast interview Paige greeted Rollins and the host with “Hey motherfuckers” before receiving a telling off from Rollins.
Things were then quiet for a while with the only incident being November’s Twitter argument between Lana and Paige when Lana accused Paige of bullying her in NXT. Rob Naylor the former creative assistant for NXT Tweeted that Lana wasn’t bullied but that Paige had been given the hardest time.
During this time there are various mumblings about Paige developing an attitude backstage. Whereas she was known for being candid that slowly seems to be developing into a reputation for being mouthy and arrogant which seems to be backed up by Paige Tweeting Chris Jericho and chastising him for applying a submission hold on the announce table as that is her thing. Jericho replied noting the infamous Triple H torn quad match and telling her to brush up on history.
Starting in May Paige’s behaviour started making news again starting with May 13th as she and Alberto Del Rio went public with their relationship. The internet was abuzz over the sizeable age difference between the two but went into total meltdown on May 22nd when she gets ‘Papi’ tattooed on her finger representing Del Rio. On June 19th Paige is arrested following the Money in the Bank pay per view when a member of the public flags down a passing police car to report Paige running through traffic. She was released without charge but the WWE launched their own investigation into the incident which was alleged to have been a confrontation between two members of the public and Paige & Del Rio. Paige starts posting loving messages on her Instagram about Del Rio which causes concern amongst officials as the two are not an on screen couple.
July is not a good month. Paige is out of action with shoulder and back injuries but continues to post sentimental messages on social media about Del Rio, specifically missing him during his promotional trip to India, apparently angering WWE officials. A topless picture of Paige starts to circulate online along with a still alleged to be from a sex tape of Paige with ex boyfriend Brad Maddox, luckily for her very few outlets pick up on the story following the Gawker/Hogan lawsuit settlement. Paige and Del Rio are sent to different brands by the Raw draft which means they won’t be on the same tours, also Paige is a late draft pick which is somewhat sad as it shows that WWE’s stock in her is falling. On July 20th she deletes all references to Del Rio from her social media accounts but on July 28th restores them while posting a message about “needing him” in her life.
August 17th Paige and Del Rio are both suspended for 30 days as both fail Wellness Tests though the substances both fail for are not confirmed.
Paige is still an incredible talent but it seems that her association with Del Rio has not been a positive one. If she can return and stay healthy she can still get back into WWE good books through hard work and being more careful about what she puts on social media but concerns seem to be growing for her future and she’ll have to be 100% dedicated.
As noted above, Alberto Del Rio Was suspended on August 17th for failing his first Wellness test. Del Rio has been very unhappy since the brand split and has an option to leave WWE in September which he could well activate. Del Rio and Triple H don’t have a good relationship and the current heat on Paige hasn’t helped matters.
Eva Marie has also been suspended for a Wellness violation and will miss this weekend’s SummerSlam event which she was scheduled to compete at.
Gawker will cease operations next week following it’s loss in court to Hulk Hogan. Gawker’s other sites have been sold off to Univision.
King Konstantine has been released from NXT,
With Ryback commanding $4,500 per appearance on the independent scene it seems that a number of talents close to signing with WWE have decided not to as the offers they were received were low and Ryback’s sum shows that there are opportunities for talents to earn more money than the WWE is offering them.