Examining Paige's Strengths, Weaknesses and Long-Term Potential

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Examining Paige's Strengths, Weaknesses and Long-Term Potential
Credit: WWE.com

There are prospects in NXT that will have WWE officials arguing over whether or not they can make it at the next level and then there is Paige whose talent glows like a bonfire.

The NXT women's champ is as close as you can get to a sure thing. A brawler, a grappler, a predator and a badass, Paige is a blue-chip prospect bristling with potential.

At only 21, she's already main-roster ready. 

WWE may not be ready for her, though. Its history is not filled with examples of embracing female gladiators like herself. The company can either make her the centerpiece of the Divas division or a tale of wasted opportunity. 

When she defends her title against Emma at NXT: Arrival, an even bigger audience will witness the greatness her fans have been soaking up her entire career.

 

Strengths

Paige forces fans to take notice of her from the moment she walks out onto the entrance ramp.

Her look is memorable, unique and eye-catching. Being beautiful certainly helps, but there's more to it than that. The striking contrast of her pale skin and raven hair make her stand out much the way that Sheamus' look does for him. 

Once she steps into the ring, she thrives.

A great striker, top-notch mat wrestler, Paige also possesses a natural talent for showmanship. From the intensity she shows in her offense to the pained expressions she wears, her ring work is already heavy with WWE-style drama.

When she won the NXT women's title against Emma, those skills seared through the screen. She roared as she clamped on holds and showed powerful emotion in her face after the victory.

There is no Diva at either NXT or WWE who is as effective as making a headscissors look torturous or who throws a more convincing elbow smash.

While most main-roster Divas have a few moves they excel at it—for Brie Bella it's the dropkick, for example—Paige's toolbox is entertainingly varied.

Like William Regal, she manages to make submission holds even more intense as she does with the Ram-Paige, a Cloverleaf where she drives her knee into the back of her opponents' head.

Paige showed off many of those holds in a bout against Alicia Fox.

Here her mat wrestling abilities are on display, as she moves smoothly from move to move. What is more noticeable, though, is her aggression.

When she gets Fox into the corner, she unleashes a flurry of elbows that would make Mitsuharu Misawa proud.

In addition, she has the rare talent to bring the best out in her foe. When is the last time fans have seen a match that good from Fox? Emma's best outing so far has been the NXT women's tournament final against Paige.

That's something WWE officials expect to continue once Paige makes it to the main roster. Her ability to both brawl and wrestle makes her compatible with just about any opponent.

Her electric energy is also likely to inspire her foes the way that Ray Lewis' teammates must have felt when he exploded with emotion before and during his games.

As for her skills outside of the ring, Paige will immediately be one of the best mic workers in the division. She is direct, confident and charismatic in her promos. 

In a division hampered by bad acting, how genuine and believable she is will have her challenge AJ Lee as the best talker of WWE's females. 

She funnels her emotions well, able to slip into focused anger in an instant. And if WWE wants her to be goofy, she's proved she can rock that too as she showed in a segment with Bayley.

 

Weaknesses

Finding a weakness in Paige's game is an exercise in nitpicking.

Fans not used to hearing such a strong English accent may have some trouble understanding her. That might only add to her charm, though. Besides, a strong accent hasn't kept Alberto Del Rio from reaching the company's upper rungs.

Another area where WWE might have some hesitation is her look.

Paige is plenty pretty and in fantastic shape, but she will be an odd fit for all the photo shoots WWE likes to have their Divas do. Try to imagine Paige being comfortable attempting to be casually sexy lounging on her bed in short shorts.

Credit: WWE.com
Brie Bella in a "Divas Day Off" photo shoot

She's too much of a badass for junk like that. You just can't make an eagle a peacock.

Trouble fitting in may apply to her time in the ring as well. Will WWE ask her to tone down her pitbull-style offense against the Barbie doll women that comprise much of the roster?

Pitting Paige against Eva Marie or The Bellas is going to be such a disparity in styles and talent that WWE may wish instead to have "The Anti-Diva" sit on the bench too often.

GIF from WCW GDR Wrestling

The last intimidating bruiser in the Divas division, Kharma, waited around for opportunities that never came. WWE has failed to capitalize on the talents of great wrestlers like Aja Kong, Bull Nakano and Gail Kim.

There's a real danger that Paige's story ends up a lot like theirs, one of what ifs.

 

Long-Term Potential

Where Paige heads once she makes the main roster will depend on how WWE chooses to showcase her.

Should company officials embrace her strengths, her barroom demeanor and not try to turn her into something more prissy, WWE has the next Lita at its disposal. She is the kind of talent to greatly alter the Divas division, to make it a far more palatable part of WWE's programming.

Like Lita, she can break through the traditional limitations for females and work cage matches and headline episodes of Raw as Lita and Trish Status a decade ago.

She will need at least one great rival to succeed and AJ can certainly serve in that role.

WWE's women's wrestling history is lined with down periods that shift upward when a once-in-a-generation talent comes along. Fabulous Moolah, Wendi Richter, Lita, Chyna and Trish are all in that category and so is Paige.

Beyond being a great wrestler and a compelling talker, she is blessed with the elusive "it factor." From her early days working for British Pro Wrestling to her current flourishing at NXT, it's been clear that she is a star teeming with potential.

Given a true opportunity, the Divas title, classic matches and the Hall of Fame are all waiting for Paige on the horizon.

 

Be sure to check out previous installments in this ongoing series:

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