Injuries happen all the time in professional wrestling, to the extent some fans see them merely as a side effect of the business. Even so, when a wrestler is stricken with a severe injury at what otherwise looks like their peak, or simply at a young age, the entire wrestling community can recognize their misfortune. During the final moments of a house show match in December of 2017, Sasha Banks kicked Paige in the back with such force the Anti-Diva could no longer stand, apparently having reinjured her neck and/or spine in a major way, thus evocating those exact feelings in the WWE Universe.
Almost immediately, the PWInsider reported that this mishap was very likely going to cause the end of Paige’s in-ring career, followed by Sports Illustrated and Fox News running similar stories. WWE has yet to officially speak on the subject, and Paige herself has been suggesting fans shouldn’t necessarily believe the hype on this one. However, the fact of the matter is that this is her second serious spinal injury in a relatively short period of time, and another one could paralyze her, or worse.
If only for Paige’s own safety, retirement from in-ring competition should definitely be something she starts to consider. Of course, the Raven-Haired Renegade also has millions of fans begging for her to do the exact opposite and make a bombastic return one day, and it’s not like their arguments are without merit. To hear both sides, keep reading for 8 reasons we’d be sad to see Paige go and 7 explanations why she should probably retire anyway.
15 SAD TO SEE HER GO: WWE Now Lacks Visual Diversity
Proudly calling herself “The Anti-Diva” from her arrival on the scene, Paige was well aware of the fact she wasn’t like the other women in WWE. Sure, she lacked the same athleticism and desire for victory, but in terms of her look, she was almost wholly unique.
In contrast to the mostly tanned blondes with their flashy ring gear, Paige is quite pale and generally dressed in all black.
Unsurprisingly, this is exactly why a good number of her man fans were so quick to support everything she did just because it meant she had more screen time. Obviously, there’s a whole lot more to Paige and female wrestlers in general than what they look like, but this is WWE we’re talking about. Every woman they hire is going to do a modeling shoot or two eventually. Then again, she can still have her picture taken even if she retires, so maybe this one isn’t that big a deal.
14 NEEDS TO RETIRE: She’s Too Injury Prone
No matter how much it may pain the WWE Universe to even consider letting Paige go, the whole point of this list is that they have two very important reasons to do so. The first was in October of 2016, when she underwent much necessary neck surgery, for which she needed a full year to recover.
Barely one month after she made her return, Paige suffered another serious injury in the same area, initially leaving her unable to even stand.
Either one of these injuries sounds like the sort of thing that would make any athlete think about calling it quits, regardless of their age or desire to continue performing. Only in WWE would someone thing to look the other way on their health, and it may be the company’s policy of forcing wrestlers back into the ring too soon that contributed to Paige’s second incident. Should they do this again, she only serves to hurt herself more, and their could be an even worse tragedy in the near future.
13 SAD TO SEE HER GO: She Just Started A Hot Angle
Truth be told, it has been such a short time between Paige’s recent return to WWE and her subsequent second injury that it’s hard to say this is necessarily her “peak.” She’s only wrestled a handful of matches and given a few promos, all of which were fine, albeit not necessarily game changing. That said, the whole ordeal with her making a shocking comeback alongside NXT call ups Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville could have been something big for women in wrestling if only it had a little more time to develop. Chances are, Paige will still stick around for those two in a managerial role no matter what, and her presence alone should keep the angle in a relatively high profile. Still, it’s very unfortunate she won’t be able to capitalize on this momentum in the way everyone hoped she would.
12 NEEDS TO RETIRE: The Industry Is Changing For The Better
Most of the time, when an article discusses how the wrestling industry is changing in regards to the career of an individual female wrestler, the focus is about how women are getting more screen time and attention than ever before.
This time, though, when we say sports entertainment is becoming a better place, we’re talking about how WWE and other companies are starting to handle the idea of injuries.
For a long time, company policy has always been for wrestlers to work through the pain whenever possible. Even Paige may have done this a little bit by returning as soon as she did. However, recent counter examples like Daniel Bryan and Corey Graves prove WWE is slowly becoming able to recognize when a wrestler is too hurt to perform, even if they’re willing to step in the ring anyway. Considering Bryan was a far more valuable asset than Paige was, it’s almost unthinkable they’d let her get in the ring despite risks and not him. For the wrestlers own sakes, this is probably a good thing.
11 SAD TO SEE HER GO: She Helped Usher In The Women’s Revolution
At this point, just about every woman in wrestling has staked some sort of claim at inspiring, spearheading, predicting, launching, or at least being somehow integrally involved with the women’s revolution. In all fairness to them, it’s not like anyone is lying, as every single female in wrestling did indeed play some small part in the role their gender plays in the sport today. That said, Paige was especially influential as an athlete who debuted on the main WWE roster just before the term “women’s wrestling revolution” existed, and yet already exhibited all qualities that term would come to represent. This is in part due to her training in NXT, where she developed as a worker alongside Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and other luminaries of the field today. Because Paige played such a big role in the revolution coming to be, it’s a real shame she might miss out on truly benefitting from the results.
10 NEEDS TO RETIRE: The Controversy Was Too Much
Notwithstanding her long history of injuries, the elephant in the room whenever discussing why Paige should leave WWE is the fact her entire career has been filled with some terrible controversies. Before she even went on hiatus, there was an especially horrible promo where Paige insulted Charlotte Flair’s dead brother, and that seemed lightweight in comparison to her later problems During her yearlong absence from wrestling, Paige was embroiled in a highly controversial real life relationship with Alberto Del Rio, who had recently left WWE by choice due to issues with Triple H. Not only that, but Del Rio regularly called out Triple H and WWE executives on social media, sometimes with Paige happily seated at his side. That's a pretty direct example of crossing the boss, so she might have been on the chopping block regardless of injury issues.
9 SAD TO SEE HER GO: The Women’s Royal Rumble Will Feel Her Absence
There’s never a “good time” for a wrestler (or any human) to suffer a serious injury, yet Paige was especially unlucky in that her latest mishap came at the absolute worst time of all. Not only does it put her at a great disadvantage personally, but it’s possible all of WWE will immediately feel the effects of her absence with the fact she’s no longer able to participate in the historic, first ever all-women’s Royal Rumble.
Paige was so excited for the match she was one of the first to announce her entry, only to sadly have to take back that promise several weeks later.
Critics have already suggested WWE might not have enough women to fill the match, let alone those with a high enough profile to actually win the thing. Losing Paige means they have one less viable contender for both categories, and fans have one less wrestler to root for during the big match.
8 NEEDS TO RETIRE: The Writing Has Been On The Wall For Some Time
Although it was only the recent injury in December of 2017 that made multiple resources report the potential Paige could retire from WWE, the reality is that plenty of people have expected this would happen for some time now. Even before her first injury was public knowledge, Paige was suspended twice in a row for violating the Wellness Policy and was not happy about this on social media. When she spent a full year on the shelf after this, many speculated her icy relations with the company had more to do with the absence than any health issues. The whole time she was gone, speculation ran rampant that WWE might want her back in the first place, either for personal reasons or those related to her health. Now that WWE has yet another reason to severe the relationship, it may be inevitable simply given how long the subject has been on people’s minds.
7 SAD TO SEE HER GO: Dozens Of Great Potential Feuds Have No Chance Of Happening
Ultimately, the reason wrestling fans are always sad to see any performer forced into retirement is that they’ll be missing out on countless potential future matches and feuds. With how rapidly women’s wrestling is evolving in the modern era, this is especially true for an athlete like Paige. The Anti-Diva has thus far only been able to compete against a small handful of the current crop of female wrestlers in WWE, with a solid half dozen making their debut during her year-long absence alone.
Just to name a few, Paige has never wrestled in a televised match against Alexa Bliss, Asuka, Ruby Riott, or any of the newcomers in NXT.
It’s also been a seriously long time since she had a singles match against Sasha Banks, Bayley, or Charlotte Flair. The potential was almost limitless, until this retirement talk came along and may have permanently cut it off, a true shame to the many fans who would have been ecstatic to see any one of those matches.
6 NEEDS TO RETIRE: She’d Have To Completely Change Her Style
In all fairness to Paige or the many fans who wish she’d stick around forever, it’s worth admitting all the talk about her retirement is speculative, and we don’t have any inside information on the subject. However, even if reports of her demise have been highly exaggerated, the fact remains two serious spinal injuries put a major toll on a person’s body. For Paige to continue as a wrestler, she’s definitely going to need to tone down her ring style significantly.
While not exactly a high flyer, Paige does use plenty of contorted submission maneuvers that require a great deal of flexibility she may not have any longer.
Her opponents will have it even worse, needing to be extra careful when competing against her in their every match. There’s a chance Paige could revamp her career in epic fashion, in the vein of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels before her, but the odds aren’t quite in her favor.
5 SAD TO SEE HER GO: She’s Been In Wrestling Her Entire Life
Whatever the reason, each time a person can no longer complete a certain aspect of their job, they need to start thinking about alternatives for financial reasons alone. Assuming Paige is truly at a point where doctors won’t ever clear her to get in the ring again, this could be a serious problem, as pro wrestling is pretty much the only thing she’s ever known. Her parents, Ricky Knight and Sweet Saraya, are both pro wrestlers who own an independent promotion in England to this day, where Paige worked from the young age of 13. Aside from wrestling, the only other jobs she’s ever mentioned were bouncing and bartending, both for her parents bar, which doesn’t exactly suggest she’ll land on her feet just fine if wrestling is over for her. Theoretically, WWE could absolutely still keep her around as a manager or authority figure like Daniel Bryan, but it’s still a shame her one passion in life might be taken away.
4 NEEDS TO RETIRE: She Peaked Way Too Soon
In the immortal words of Neil Young, “it’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Naturally, the songsmith was talking about rock and roll, but the same tenets apply everywhere in entertainment, including professional wrestling. The longer a wrestler stays in the ring after their peak, the more their legacy suffers. Unfortunately for Paige, it could be argued her peak was her very first match in WWE, when she won the Diva’s Championship. At that moment, Paige defeated a long-reigning champion in AJ Lee, became the only woman to simultaneously hold the NXT and Diva’s Championship, and earned recognition as the youngest female to hold a title in company history. Sure, the next few years were solid, but nothing has matched that accomplishment, nor could it. If Paige leaves now, there’s more chance she’ll be remembered as a young talent who did amazing things before being forced away, rather than someone who had one great moment followed by a bunch of mediocre ones.
3 SAD TO SEE HER GO: She Might Refuse To Accept It
When all the news about Paige potentially being “done” as a wrestler broke the internet, both the wrestler in question and WWE at large chose to be relatively quiet. Presumably, this was because no final decisions had been made, but Paige herself suggested a second possibility through two cryptic messages she eventually posted online. The first was seen on Instagram, reading that “the comeback is always greater than the set back.”
A few days later, she took to Twitter and wrote “2018 WILL be my year,” undoubtedly in reference to the rumors about her retirement.
Both of these posts strongly suggest that even if WWE doctors never clear Paige to wrestle again, she may end up in the ring either working for her parents in England or whatever other independent promotion will allow her to do so. This could be disastrous for her health and those around her, and sensible fans should hope she just accepts it’s over rather than go down that path.
2 NEEDS TO RETIRE: She Could Get Seriously Injured... Or Worse
In all honesty, were Paige herself to read this list, we’d tell her to ignore everything else we’ve written on it and focus on this entry specifically.
Easily the most important issue surrounding her potential retirement is that the alternative is a lifetime of further injuries, pain, and possibly even passing away.
Early reports indicated her more recent injury was very similar to the one that forced Hall of Famer and multiple time WWE Champion Edge into retirement, and in that case, the Rated R Superstar said he had no choice on the matter, fearing a single bad bump could literally kill him. If Paige is truly suffering from a similar injury, the same must be true about her own chances of survival should she get back in the ring. Sure, we all want to see her keep wrestling, but when the risk of death is a genuine concern at all, it’s pretty clear a wrestler needs to hang up the old boots.
1 SAD TO SEE HER GO: She’s Only 25
When a person truly loves their job, they never want to retire. For an example in wrestling, look no farther than Vince McMahon, who remains the CEO of WWE at the ripe age of 72. Actual wrestlers like Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, and Hulk Hogan similarly kept hitting the ring into their 60s, and they’re hardly alone in refusing to call it quits despite their bodies starting to feel the toll of life in the ring. Clearly, wrestlers don’t like leaving the sport until they absolutely have to, and it’s a real shame when that moments comes way, way earlier than usual. As reports Paige may need to retire have become commonplace, she’s only 25 years young, and thus could have had as many as 40 more to give if only it were possible. At the time of her original injury, Paige was only 23, and considering she hasn’t really done anything of note since, that only makes her early retirement all the more unfortunate.