WWE fans around the world were handed some horrible news on Friday - at just 25 years-old, former Divas Champion Paige was forced to retire due to neck injuries similar to that of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Edge.
And while the WWE Universe is recovering from the shockl and disappointment of the announcement, now is a good time to reflect on the positives. Even though she was young, Paige had some incredible moments during her run with WWE.
So let's count down Paige's top 10 moments of her WWE career!
First Women's NXT Championship
When WWE rebranded its developmental territory from Florida Championship Wrestling into NXT, it quickly became clear that Paige, nicknamed the "Anti-Diva," would be a standout.
In June 2013, NXT held a tournament to determine the first ever NXT Women's Champion. Paige defeated Tamina Snuka, Alicia Fox and finally Emma to become the title's inaugural champion on June 20, 2013.prevnext
NXT TakeOver: Arrival
Whenever NXT was looking to innovate during its early years, Paige always played a crucial role. After becoming champion, Paige feuded with the likes of Summer Rae, Sasha Banks and Natalya, managing to retain her title against every challenger that stepped up to her.
In Feb. 2014, NXT took a massive step forward in popularity by airing its first live special on the WWE Network, NXT TakeOver: Arrival. In one of three championship matches on the card, Paige defeated Emma by submission to retain her title.
When all was said and done, Paige was NXT Women's Champion for 308 days, giving her the second longest reign with the belt in history behind Asuka's 510-day reign.prevnext
Won Divas Championship on First Night
The night after WrestleMania has turned into one of the most unpredictable nights of the year, and the April 7, 2014 edition of Monday Night Raw was no exception.
After successfully defending her Divas Championship at WrestleMania XXX, AJ Lee came out to gloat on Raw and was greeted by a debuting Paige, who wanted to congratulate her. Lee was suspicious of Paige's intentions, and instead of taking the compliment she challenged the rookie to a impromptu title match on the spot.
But against all odds, Paige won the match in a matter of minutes with her Paige-Turner finisher. Not too shabby for her first night on WWE television.prevnext
The Best of Friends
Despite multiple successful title defenses, fans quickly soured on Paige during her initial run as champion as WWE's creative team gave very little time to put into her character. That quickly changed when Lee returned to Monday Night Raw on the May 19, 2014 episode and challenged Paige to a title match in similar fashion to how Paige initially won the belt.
Lee won the match, but something clearly snapped in Paige as she began acting like she and Lee were best friends. This eventually led to Paige turning heel on Lee and earning a match at the 2014 SummerSlam for the Divas Championship. She won in just under five minutes, marking what would end up being her final reign as a champion in WWE.prevnext
Teaming with AJ at Mania 31
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
That old saying turned out to be true for Paige and Lee. As the two continued to feud into the latter half of 2014, Lee won the title back from Paige at Night of Champions in a triple threat match that involved Nikki Bella.
Bella would go on to beat Lee for the title at Survivor Series a few months later, the start of a reign that would last for 301 days and break Lee's record for longest run with the title. But as the Bella Twins' domination over the division continued, Lee and Paige finally put their differences aside and teamed up to face the duo in a tag match at WrestleMania 31.
The match marked Paige's WrestleMania debut. She helped secure a win by tossing Brie into the ring steps, allowing Lee to lock Nikki in the Black Widow submission to the win.prevnext
Team PCB Debut
By mid-2015 the writing was on the wall when it came to the Divas division.
The bikini and fitness models were being cheered less and less by the crowds, and the more athletically gifted and technical wrestlers were starting to get more fan attention. This finally came to a head in June, when Paige brought out two of her NXT pals Charlotte and Becky Lynch to help her take on The Bella Twins and Alicia Fox. Sasha Banks, another NXT call-up, made her first appearance on the same night aligning herself with Naomi and Tamina Snuka to create three warring factions on the roster.
Paige's group, first called the Submission Sorority and later Team PCB, quickly became the fan favorites as all three women were known from their NXT days as being legitimately good in-ring wrestlers.prevnext
Last Team Standing
The battle between Team PCB, Team Bella and Team B.A.D rolled on for weeks, but it finally reached a breaking point at the 2015 edition of SummerSlam when the nine wrestlers competed in a three team elimination match.
Team PCB was the last team standing when all was said and done after Lynch pinned Brie Bella via a pumphandle slam.prevnext
PTO on the Table
PCB looked to be riding high for the back half of 2015. Following their SummerSlam win, Charlotte managed to finally rip the title away from Nikki Bella at Night of Champions, but in the process caused a riff between her and Paige.
Paige turned heel the following night, starting off the most entertaining heel run of her career. Her promos were often more sarcastic and personal, one time going so far as to remind Charlotte of her dead brother Reid Flair. Paige never manage to win the title back, but she did manage to create some pretty memorable moments along the way.
The standout moment had to be during the Raw before the 2015 Survivor Series, when Paige attacked Charlotte and locked her in the PTO on top of the announcer's table. In reality there was nothing special about where she locked in the move, but thanks to Charlotte and Michael Cole's overselling, it made the moment both memorable and a little funny.
Total Divas Win WM 32
Paige was off television for a few months following her feud with Charlotte, and her return in Jan. 2016 proved to not be very memorable. But to her credit she did get one more big win before going on hiatus.
As part of the pre-show for WrestleMania 32, Paige teamed with her fellow Total Divas cast members Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Eva Marie and Natalya to beat Emma, Lana, Naomi, Summer Rae and Tamina.
Paige was often seen as the black sheep of the Women's Revolution. Her absences didn't help, but even when she was on television she always seemed to be on a lower tier compared than her former PCB teammates and Sasha Banks. Still, she did get one more moment in the sun before things started to go downhill.
By the middle of 2017, it seemed like the chances of Paige ever coming back to the WWE were long gone. She officially went on hiatus at the start of August the previous year and since leaving she received a WWE Wellness Policy suspension, underwent painful neck surgery, had personal photos and videos leak onto the Internet and had a rocky relationship with Alberto Del Rio, a man nearly twice her age.
The idea that the story of Paige's career would have some kind of happy ending seemed highly unlikely. But in September rumors started floating around. Not only had she split from Del Rio, but she was cleared to return to action and was getting back into ring shape. Despite all her public scandals, there was a chance that WWE would let her back in and give her another shot.
On the Nov. 20 episode of Raw, that became a reality. Paige returned to a huge ovation from the crowd, and quickly established her role as a top heel by bringing up NXT stars Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville to make a new faction, Absolution.0comments
We may never know what WWE fully had planned for the trio, but for a moment there Paige was back on top.