Paige Defeating AJ Lee for Divas Title Ushers in New Era for Division

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterApril 8, 2014

Credit: WWE.com

Paige snatched the torch and the WWE Divas Championship from AJ Lee the night after WresteMania 30, transforming the division.

Just when it seemed like WWE was set to hand over everything Diva to the cast of Total Divas, it inserted NXT's most promising prospect into the main roster. Paige alone can't be a savior, but she can lead a division that boasts talented women from NXT and skilled storytellers like AJ and Natalya.

The future is bright for the women if WWE wants it to be.

The Raw after WrestleMania has developed the reputation for featuring a major surprise. Last year, it was Dolph Ziggler cashing in his Money in the Bank contract. The year before, Brock Lesnar returned after a seven-year absence.

WWE went with a barrage of smaller surprises in 2014.

That included Paige making her way to the main roster for the first time. As talented as she is, it was an unexpected move, mostly because Paige still holds the NXT Women's Championship.

The longest-reigning champ in that title's history came out to congratulate AJ, the longest-reigning Divas champ ever—greatness recognizing greatness.

Paige tries to congratulate AJ Lee.
Paige tries to congratulate AJ Lee.Credit: WWE.com

Things quickly turned tense, as AJ took offense at an NXTer trying to give her props. She slapped the woman William Regal calls "Miss Hell in Boots."

AJ cockily challenged her to a title bout.

It was a brief match where the story had little chance to develop. The result was far more interesting than the action leading up to it. Paige slipped out of the Black Widow, slammed AJ to the ground with Paige Turner and pinned her to win the championship.

Paige, a badass, warrior and well-rounded wrestler, holding up the Divas Championship was a stirring image.

When Vickie Guerrero announced that AJ would have to defend her title against every female on the roster, it seemed to mark the end of the champ's run. With Total Divas being such a success, having one of the women from that show winning felt like a certainty.

Sure, the diehard wrestling fans would roll their eyes at Eva Marie emerging from that crowded field with the title, but it would make for great TV once it aired on the reality show. Elevating Eva or any of the cast members to champion status would raise the profile of the show.

WWE instead chose to give the championship to a wrestler who had been thriving on NXT. It was there that she put on a fantastic performance against Emma on NXT Arrival.

This is the kind of action NXT fans are used to seeing. WWE's women matches are much more like fast food offerings—hurried and with little substance.

Suddenly, both Emma and Paige are a part of the main roster, where they can transfer the work they were producing to a bigger audience.

Promoting them is a sign that WWE recognizes and values their talent. The move says that the company is ready for improvement, for evolution. Making Paige champion in her first match was an even louder statement. 

The Divas division certainly doesn't get a fair share of the spotlight, but it is at least now bursting with talent.

Paige is the blue-chip prospect that changes the dynamic of a team like few others can, someone who had Dusty Rhodes raving.

She gives off an aura of intimidation, is a compelling brawler and made the ring her second home long ago. Promoting her as the woman to finally dethrone AJ shows that WWE isn't just content with models-turned-wrestlers. It is at least allowing for the possibility for a division that gets more attention and features bigger matches.

With her now on the team, WWE creative's job is a lot easier.

The options for her are plentiful. WWE can pit her against AJ in a rivalry that has the potential to remind fans of Trish Stratus vs. Lita. She would also make an intriguing option as either an ally or enemy for Tamina Snuka. We already know she can produce excellence opposite Natalya.

A few months ago, AJ had no one to push her. Once Kaitlyn left and she survived Natalya a few times, there were few worthy challenges ahead. She now gets a potential archenemy—Batman meeting Joker for the first time.

Paige highlights a recent influx of female NXT talent that also includes Summer Rae and Emma. With those women on same stage as Natalya, Tamina and AJ, there's a renewed hope that WWE will shine more of the spotlight on them.

The female talent pool is improved after Monday's Raw. The division's new kingpin is a future megastar.

WWE only needs to follow through with what it started and allow its women to reach their potential.