By now it’s no secret that WWE Superstar Paige has been medically cleared by the WWE and has returned to the ring at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando to begin a short conditioning training to get back into ring shape. WWE announced as much earlier this week.
— WWE (@WWE) September 19, 2017
Since Monday, Paige has been keeping her followers on Twitter updated with her progress, on a journey she’s now calling #RoadBackToMyHouse
Good day today. 🙏🏻😊😉 pic.twitter.com/6hikPrd0zU
— PAIGE (@RealPaigeWWE) September 18, 2017
Day 2 done at the @WWEPerformCtr feeling great. Thanks for all the support. Appreciate it a lot.
— PAIGE (@RealPaigeWWE) September 19, 2017
— PAIGE (@RealPaigeWWE) September 20, 2017
After suffering a neck injury last summer, Paige has spent over a year on the Injured List, following surgery and rehabilitation. Her last match for the WWE was on Monday Night Raw on July 27, 2016. A phenomenal young talent, at 21-years old she was the youngest WWE Divas Champion (which she’s held twice) as well as the first NXT Women’s Champion, a title she held for 308 days before relinquishing the belt following her main roster call-up (like a certain Empress of Tomorrow recently did). The good news, is Paige managed to spend the bulk of the past year away in the public eye while she was away from the WWE spotlight; the bad news, it was generally for all the wrong reasons. Thankfully, Paige has reported to the PC and seems genuinely excited to be back in a WWE ring – she’s also been interacting quite regularly with her WWE co-workers of late, so she seems enthused to be able to join in on the women’s revolution in the WWE that she had a huge hand in helping kickstart.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has reported that Paige already has a return storyline in place and that it will be on the Smackdown Live brand. The question is when and, more importantly, with whom. With that in mind, we look at the women on the Smackdown Live roster and who has the best shot at being Paige’s return storyline.
The current Smackdown Women’s Champion, Natalya is just starting a title feud program with Charlotte Flair. While it’s possible that Paige could be Natalya’s next opponent following the program, they may want to ease Paige into a main event run rather than have her leap frog the other women and go straight to Nattie. Assuming, that is, Natalya leaves Hell In A Cell still the champion. If Charlotte dethrones Natalya, Nattie could possibly be the best possible opponent for a returning Paige, getting a proper ring rust workout against the company’s best technical women’s wrestler.
Paige’s former team mate in PCB at the on-set of the Revolution, Becky Lynch was tag teaming with Paige right before Paige went down with injury last July. A possible scenario could include Paige coming back to help Becky Lynch during a match, only to have one of the two turn on the other to create a feud between the two.
Ms. Money In The Bank may be the sacrificial lamb if WWE decides to go the traditional route of having a returning Superstar go over quickly to begin some momentum. Carmella’s character is very strong right now and her sly demeanor and association with James Ellsworth has managed to shake off any losses with the aura of still having the Money in the Bank briefcase. She could easily lose to a returning Paige and not lose any momentum with the case still in her possession. This scenario most likely wouldn’t be a long feud though, and most likely would be a one-off for her return.
Noami just lost her rematch for the Smackdown Women’s title against Natalya and currently sits without a storyline going forward. She has been working matches against Carmella at Live Events, so that could indeed be her next angle, which may mean that neither Naomi or Carmella are in Paige’s current future plans.
While Tamina could be another martyr to the Paige return, similar to the previously mentioned Carmella scenario, her current storyline is one that is building Tamina up to be a monster about to be uncaged. Under the guidance of Lana, Tamina’s character is slowly building her confidence and seems poised for bigger things. It would be a terrible shame if she was just being built up to be fed to Paige upon return.
And here’s where things get interesting. Charlotte Flair is currently slated to face Natalya for the Smackdown Women’s title at Hell In Cell on October 8th at the Smackdown exclusive PPV. She’s also scheduled to face off against Natalya again for the title a month later at the special live event Starrcade in North Carolina at the legendary Greensboro Coliseum. Much like how AJ Styles won his first US Championship at a special live event at Madison Square Garden, Charlotte could be scheduled to win the Women’s title at this live event, in a tribute to her father, Ric Flair. After all, it was at the inaugural Starrcade in 1983 that her father regained the World title in a steel cage against Harley Race at the same arena, in a match widely regarded as Ric Flair’s official torch passing from the previous generation. With Charlotte and Natalya’s match also taking place in a steel cage, history could repeat itself, with the old school Nattie Niedhart dropping the title to Charlotte. What this means is that Charlotte could become the Smackdown Women’s Champion and then enter into a program with the returning Paige. Last summer, just before Paige was injured, she was actually entering a program with Charlotte. Her final match that Raw in July was a singles match versus Charlotte for the Raw Women’s title (which she lost). Those tag matches with Becky Lynch as her partner, where battling Charlotte and her sidekick, Dana Brooke. Storyline wise, they could easily create instant backstory that it was Charlotte who caused her injury that sidelined her for over a year and that she’s now back seeking revenge. And while we previously said in the Natalya scenario that WWE may not want to rush Paige back into the main event so quickly, on the other hand, the Women’s division on Smackdown could use a main event duo, and Charlotte and Paige could be just that. And with Paige’s biopic already starting preliminary screenings, it would certainly be great marketing for the film’s topical centerpiece to be Women’s champion by the time the film gets its official release in early 2018…
What do you think? Who do you think will be Paige’s return storyline feud? Let us know in the comments below!