Raw was pretty jam-packed this Monday night and there wasn't much time for WWE to even slow down and smell the roses as they put on the final flagship show before heading into Survivor Series this Sunday. The first match of the night was a triple threat between Bayley, Dana Brooke, and Mickie James. The winner of the bout would become the final member of Raw's Survivor Series team. That's all well and good, but thanks to some rumors floating around at the weekend—talk that only intensified as Raw got closer—many people were expecting this match to mark the return of Paige. The triple threat came and went though, and sadly, there was no Paige. An Instagram post from the former Divas' Champion proved that she was in fact backstage though, so why did WWE decide not to use her?
Surprises used to be common in the world of professional wrestling. Even if a handful of fans did see a returning Superstar slipping in through the back door of an arena building it didn't matter. Before the internet took off and social media became widely adopted, there was no real way for a regular fan to get word out about what they had seen, at least not to the masses. Nowadays though, trying to surprise fans with a return is a very big ask. It requires hiding them in a bus, covering them as they enter the building, even flying into a different city to avoid fans lurking at airports. Somehow, some way a rumor began over the weekend that Paige would return on Raw. Maybe that was the plan, but because fans got wind of it WWE decided to switch up their plans.
Believe it or not, Paige hasn't wrestled in WWE since before the draft. Her last match was a tag that saw her team up with Sasha Banks to take on the team of Dana Brooke and Charlotte Flair on June, 2016. Although she hasn't been present since, Paige was still drafted to Raw. As WWE demonstrated with other things though, that happened long enough ago that they may simply ignore it. Plus, the brands are a little bit more fluid at the moment, especially with Survivor Series less than a week away. AJ Styles wrestled on both brands recently and John Cena freely skips between the two. Maybe SmackDown Live managed to capture the services of Paige upon her return.
In the months before Paige began her long absence from the ring, WWE was hardly using her as the big deal that she is. The likes of Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks were still relatively new additions to the roster —compared to Paige anyway—and the two-time Divas' Champion had took a back seat. That, coupled with some of the things she has been up to in the almost year and a half she has been away, would make it understandable if WWE didn't view her as too big a deal upon her return. Maybe they do though, and merely bringing her back on Raw isn't good enough. Perhaps Paige does still have a big role to play at Survivor Series, and we will see her do something shocking this Sunday.
It's nice to think that Paige was kept off of TV on Monday night because WWE has something much bigger planned for her return, but the fact of the matter may very well be that the company doesn't actually have anything for her at all right now. On Raw, they went with Bayley for the final Survivor Series spot and pretty much the entire Raw women's division was out there for the match. The same thing goes for SmackDown Live. It would be tricky to insert Paige into either show at this point and have her randomly align with certain stars. Maybe we will have to wait until after Survivor Series to see her in-ring return.
There is an outside possibility that Paige's absence from television last night has nothing at all to do with booking decisions or rumors of her return leaking out. Even though she has been training at the Performance Center for a number of weeks to once again ready herself for in-ring competition, it's possible that Paige hasn't been given the final go-ahead to actually compete. The British Superstar did undergo neck surgery after all—which is no joke. WWE will want to cross every T and dot every I before they let her back between the ropes, and making sure that Paige is 100% before she officially returns can only be a good thing.
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