After a year away from WWE, Paige's return sparked an excitement that the women's division had not seen in months, maybe years. The Anti Diva has cooled since but given her devoted fan base and near-biblical backstory, Paige is WWE's best option to win the first ever Women's Royal Rumble.
I'll admit, I wasn't sure how the WWE Universe would react to Paige's comeback. Sure, the past year has been controversial, but that's not what gave me pause. I thought with the total overhaul that the Women's Revolution carried, Paige may have embodied the sadder parts of Toy Story. But within the first millisecond of her banshee scream entrance, it was clear that we were witnessing a special moment.
As much as we like to blame booking, creative, Vince McMahon or whatever omnipotent force guides WWE decision making, in the end, it's the fans who decide the fate of WWE Superstars.
"But we've been booing Roman Reigns so hard!"
No, you used to boo Roman Reigns so hard. Since he extinguished The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, WWE initiated a manipulation campaign that would make 1984's Big Brother envious. And now, the Big Dog gets big cheers. I've digressed a tad, but my point is that if you kept rejecting Reigns with months of vitriol (more realistically, years), WWE would have eventually pivoted.
But the WWE Universe, even if just 65% of them, re-accepted Reigns into their hearts. However, when Paige came back her reception was far more absolute. To be honest, that may be one of the biggest reactions a crowd has ever given a female Superstar.
I was really hoping that WWE would let Paige return as a singles competitor. Not good, not bad, just Paige. So when they hitched her to a pair of inexperienced NXT projects, I was a little bummed. While Absolution is playing a role within WWE, I can't help but think it's a missed opportunity.
However, the Royal Rumble is the great equalizer and a Rumble win for Paige would put her right back on track to monopolize 2018.
And spare me the Asuka and Ronda Rousey jabber. I fully support both of their potentials in WWE, but this is the first female Royal Rumble of all time. Do we really think that WWE will hand that honor to someone who's not established in the company?
Wait, Hacksaw Jim Duggan won the first ever Royal Rumble in 1998.
I'll argue that was a much different time and my point still applies. I mean Hacksaw is a WWE Hall of Famer. Would you bet all of your Bitcoin(s) that Asuka will one day be inducted?
My only real concern is that Paige is in a faction. I'm sure WWE has already fashion multiple scenarios where she's and 8 other women are on WrestleMania 34's preshow. But, I'll do my best to bury that thought because Paige is winning this bloody Royal Rumble.
Want more Royal Rumble manifestos? Here you go: