Absolution's Rise Is Paige's WWE Redemption Story

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

Absolution's arrival to WWE Raw may appear, on the surface, like a major opportunity for Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville to make names for themselves on the main roster. But in reality, it is a redemption story for leader Paige, who shook off controversy and injury to return to a women's revolution she sparked some three years ago.

The self-proclaimed Anti-Diva returned to the division she was once an integral part of on the November 20 episode of Raw, flanked by her fellow NXT alumnae, and immediately put the roster on notice.

It was the right step in repairing a career that was in turmoil just months earlier and setting up a renaissance of sorts for one of the most talented and decorated performers of this era.

              

The Fall

In 2016, it was revealed by both Dave Schearer or PWInsider.com and her mother Saraya Knight that Paige had suffered an injury that resulted in her disappearance from WWE television.

During her time away from the squared circle, she underwent surgery and had a roller coaster ride in her personal life, as Dave Meltzer detailed in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc).

There was the video in which she appeared along with then-boyfriend Alberto Del Rio, who ran down Triple H and WWE. There were the two violations of the WWE Wellness Policy that resulted in 30- and 60-day suspensions. Throw in a sex-tape scandal, and things were looking dismal for the former NXT women's and WWE Divas champion.

Threatening her job with the company was a domestic dispute in which Paige and Del Rio got into an altercation in an airport, leading to speculation that the raven-haired competitor may be the first female suspended by WWE for violating its zero tolerance policy in relation to domestic violence.

TMZ Sports reported, though, that Paige was off the hook and that no charges would be filed, perhaps preventing the complete implosion of a once-promising career.

About the only positive to come out of Paige's time away from the bright lights and squared circle was the revelation that her life would be turned into a motion picture by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Seven Bucks Productions.

A Superstar who once debuted to tremendous fanfare, defeating AJ Lee on her first night to capture the top prize in women's wrestling, Paige appeared to be lost and spiraling out of control.

Then came the opportunity to refocus herself and prepare for a return to the squared circle.

         

Absolution

Absolution's on the November 20 episode of Raw was met with considerable excitement by WWE fans. Not only had Paige returned to WWE television after more than a year away, but she had immediately been positioned as a top contender to the Raw Women's Championship and the leader of a trio that appears poised to be a major player in the women's division.

The Anti-Diva lent credibility to Deville and Rose, who had not had enough exposure on NXT television to arrive on the main roster themselves and benefit from fan excitement and enthusiasm.

Paige's presence helped those women make an immediate impact and set themselves up for a run on WWE's flagship show without the stumbling blocks that would typically accompany them.

It was proof of WWE Creative's faith in Paige as a performer and on-screen presence.

Management clearly still saw Paige as an engaging and engrossing character fans would welcome back with open arms and believe in that role. After a year away and many questionable decisions, it still brought her back to its most storied television program and put her in the position to thrive.

It remains to be seen how long Paige will be associated with Deville and Rose or if this is merely a star-making vehicle for those NXT exports. Either way, the second-generation Brit will be essential to those women achieving whatever early success they do, with her star power rubbing off on them. The association is key to their acceptance within the WWE Universe.

          

Redemption

Not only does Paige have the opportunity to make stars of Rose and Deville, but she also has a shot at redemption that some were not so sure she would receive.

That tumultuous year away from the ring threatened her ability to bounce back and be the performer so many had pegged her as early in her career. If the reception from fans in Houston upon her return was any indication, though, her legions of fans are willing to forgive and forget in the name of seeing their favorite badass back between the ropes.

Paige returns to a women's division vastly different than the one she left.

Yes, Sasha Banks is still a staple, but since Paige left, Bayley, Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss have all become key players. Longtime rival Emma is gone. Mickie James is back. And Asuka has made a dominant debut.

The wealth of talent for her to work with in order to re-establish herself as an elite performer in WWE is at an all-time high. Fresh matches, renewed determination and fan interest will benefit Paige in ways we have yet to see.

One of the best workers on the roster before her injury, the only question left to answer is whether she can rediscover that same level of in-ring performance or whether she will have to alter her style to protect herself.

Will she be a less-physical worker who relies on more strikes and less bumping to tell her stories, or will she shrug off conventional thinking and return to the incredibly intense style that has long been her bread and butter?

With a match against Sasha Banks announced for Monday's Raw, fans should find out sooner rather than later.

One thing is for certain: Paige has the opportunity to redeem herself, to be the all-time great everyone has long expected her to be. Renewed dedication to the sport her family has devoted itself to for decades will only help that process.

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