Former two-time Divas champion Paige made her return to WWE programming on Raw Monday night, appearing for the first time since June 2016.
Paige interrupted a tag team match involving Sasha Banks, Mickie James, Alicia Fox and Bayley. WWE showed her return:
Paige also boasted of having company on Raw, which prompted the arrivals of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, both of whom made their main roster debuts after previously wrestling for NXT.
Paige, Rose and Deville proceeded to lay waste to those in the ring, with Fox making a hasty retreat before she could receive a beatdown. Paige ended the attack by delivering the Ram-Paige to Bayley:
After Del Rio came to terms on his release from the company in September 2016, rumors from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc.com) surfaced that Paige had either been fired or quit as well.
In response to that, Paige posted the following statement on Twitter and insisted she would be back in action after an injury she was dealing with healed up:
Paige's road back to the ring hit another snag in October 2016, though, when she was suspended 60 days for her second violation of WWE's wellness policy.
The Norwich, England, native's father, Ricky Knight, said on Facebook that the violation was due to painkillers prescribed by doctors to treat neck pain Paige was dealing with.
WWE then provided the following statement to Ryan Lazo of the New York Post regarding Paige's suspension: "Saraya-Jade Bevis [Paige] tested positive for an illegal substance, not a prescription drug. In addition, WWE is providing world-class medical care for her in-ring injury."
Following Paige's second suspension, Del Rio tweeted what appeared to be a doctor's explanation of the neck injury she was hampered by:
It wasn't until Sept. 18 that talk of Paige's return to WWE truly picked up steam, as she tweeted about spending time at the WWE Performance Center:
While the likes of Charlotte, Sasha, Becky Lynch and Bayley have received much of the credit for spearheading the Women's Revolution in WWE, Paige helped usher in a greater emphasis on women's wrestling as well.
She was the first NXT women's champion, and her match against Emma at NXT Arrival in 2014 offered a glimpse of things to come in terms of women receiving ample time and opportunity to perform in the ring.
The Anti-Diva made an instant impact on the main roster by defeating AJ Lee for the Divas Championship in her first match, but when an influx of talent arrived on Raw and SmackDown last year, she started to get lost in the shuffle.
Paige is talented, however, and has likely only scratched the surface of her potential, which bodes well for her future prospects.
Although Raw arguably boasts more top-end women's talent than SmackDown with Asuka, Sasha, Bayley and Alexa Bliss headlining the division, depth is an issue, which is why Paige's return should be helpful in terms of building multiple storylines of interest at the same time.
Potential rivalries with Asuka, Bayley, Sasha, Alexa and Nia Jax promise to pique the interest of wrestling fans and help raise the profile of women's wrestling even more.
One can argue that Paige's WWE tenure has been somewhat disappointing thus far despite a pair of title reigns, but with more talent around her than ever before, she has a golden opportunity to reach the next level, and her return was a huge step in the right direction.
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