Inception is the commencement, the beginning, the birth or debut of an event. In the WWE, nothing can be as impactful and telling as a Superstar’s debut. When you have one chance to make an impression in the always evolving landscape of WWE, you have to put it all on the line to steal the show and be memorable. A debut can often be the precursor of success, or footnote on an otherwise illustrious career. This week covers the Main Roster debut of RAW superstar, Paige.
Before there was a revolution there was an Anti-Diva, and she wore pale skin and raven hair. News first broke wind of Indy standout, Britani Knight, signing a contract with WWE in late 2011. Hailing from Norwich, England we knew we were in for something different just from her look. In a time where a majority of the WWE women’s roster looked handpicked from a catalog, their newest signing had a unique edge and perhaps more importantly, the talent. Paige’s developmental run landed her on the rebranded NXT where she eventually became the inaugural NXT Women’s Champion. Having outlasted all of her challengers in NXT, the WWE had bigger plans for the Anti-Diva.
On April 7th, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana, a rumbustious post-mania crowd looked on as AJ Lee and her bodyguard, Tamina, took center stage. AJ had just come off of an unlikely victory after she defeated 13 other women in the first ever, Vickie Guerrero Diva’s Championship Invitational match at Wrestlemania XXX.
With mic in hand, AJ bragged that her title reign lasted for 295 days, the longest reigning Diva’s Champion at the time. AJ exclaimed “At Wrestlemania it was ‘AJ Lee vs The World’ and yet again she overcame the odds.” AJ’s cocky promo continued as she called herself the Best Diva in the world, and continued on to say “I’m the savior of your diva’s division. I AM the Diva’s division.”
A thundering shriek filled the Smoothie King arena. It was unmistakably the NXT’s Women’s Champion, Paige! The crowd erupted into a frenzy as the most promising woman WWE had under contract was strutting down to the ring. Paige enters the ring standing across from AJ and Tamina. It was then that a Paige chant breaks out, and before she can let out a word AJ asks Paige, “What the hell are you doing here?”
Paige exclaimed that she was out there to do what no one else would, and that was to congratulate AJ. In a hilarious moment, AJ Lee called Paige a “sweet little crumpet” and bopped her on the nose. AJ followed up by claiming she would do to Paige as she did every other women and beat her. Paige insinuated she wasn’t ready for a match, but AJ wasn’t having any excuses as she slapped her across the face, bringing Paige to her knees.
Paige is shown clutching the side of her face as AJ Lee mockingly asks Paige, “Are you ready now?”
Realizing how special the night is, AJ makes an announcement that “As a special post-Wrestlemania treat she’s putting her title on the line!”
AJ calls for a referee and proceeds to berate Paige one more time. “Ready or not, this is my house, I’ll tell you when you’re ready”, AJ scolded.
With a crazed look in her eyes, The Black Widow AJ waits for the bell to ring before charging at a vulnerable Paige, plastering her with lefts and rights. AJ lifts Paige up sending her into the ropes, laying her out with a back elbow to the face.
AJ executes her trademark skip, circling Paige before she lifts her up and hits her with a spinning back kick to the gut. AJ bounces off the ropes and attempts her finisher the Black Widow spinning around Paige, capturing her arm.
Paige fights AJ’s momentum as she prevents her from fully locking in the maneuver. Paige flips AJ out of the Black Widow setup and onto her feet capitalizing, as she sweeps AJ’s foot with her free arm and sends AJ crashing to the mat with the Paige-Turner. The newcomer Paige covers AJ as the referee counts to three.
The crowd popped huge as Paige, only 21, makes history on her very first night on the main roster by winning the Diva’s Championship. Paige is in an emotional frenzy, SHOCKED that she just ended AJ’s historic title run. Paige screams in joy as she holds her newly won title in the air.
Not many superstars, male or female, can lay claim that they’ve won a championship on their debut night. Paige had one of the most groundbreaking debuts in WWE history. Her victory signified that there was a changing of the guard in the WWE’s Diva’s division. Paige was thrust as the centerpiece of the division, a result of her groundwork in NXT and her promise to lead the future. This trust that management bestowed upon her at such a young age encapsulates how talented Paige is, and how vital she is to the WWE product.
Paige became the first ever woman to not only hold the NXT Women’s Championship, and Diva’s Championship, but to do so simultaneously. Since debuting, Paige would become a 2x Diva’s champion, member of the Total Diva’s cast on E! Network, and would remain a staple of the Women’s division for the better part of two years. Is this all that Paige will accomplish in her WWE run? Only time will tell.