Most pro wrestling fans met Paige when she debuted on Monday Night Raw on April 7, 2014, and won the Divas championship from AJ Lee in a short match with absolutely zero build up. WWE strategically booked the match for the post-WrestleMania 30 episode in front of its hardcore fan base who would not only recognize her from NXT, the developmental program she came from, but respond well to her arrival on the main roster.
The pop when she won the title was thunderous.
In the time after all this, a few video packages were run to help fans get to know her a little better but none of those provided a real behind-the-scenes look at her actual story. That changed in an in-depth interview posted at WWE.com recently that takes a look at her history, with a fascinating bit on how she failed in her first tryout with the company but was signed the second time around.
WWE.COM: When did you first get WWE's attention?
PAIGE: When I was 17, one of the talent scouts came to a show in England and said to me, "When do you turn 18?" It was in a couple of weeks, so he goes, "Okay, well, WWE is going to be here in November, would you like to come to the tryouts?" Of course I'd be there! An opportunity just to try out was amazing to me. I was freaking out.
WWE.COM: What was your tryout like?
PAIGE: I tried my best to be what I thought they wanted me to be. I went and I tanned, I dyed my hair, I took out all of my piercings, I wore color - I think it was a blue dress - I just wasn't being me. And then I got there, and I'm looking at people that I've been watching on TV my whole life, like, "Oh my God, I'm surrounded by all of these amazing people and now I have to wrestle in front of them!?"
I got a little scared on my tryout, and basically they told me that it wasn't the right time and that I just wasn't being me. They could see right through it. I wasn't being myself, so I wasn't comfortable. They just said that to be more confident, you need to be this, that and the other. So I said, "Okay, cool. I'll do it."
WWE.COM: When did you get your next opportunity with WWE?
PAIGE: I got an e-mail that said WWE would be back in April and they were going to give me another chance. This time, I was going to go as myself. I refused to be just like anyone else. I thought, "I'm gonna be me, and I'm going to be successful as me."
I was pale, I wore all black, I kept all of my piercings in and my hair was black again. I was the only girl trying out and there were 15 guys - one of them being my brother. Dustin Rhodes [Goldust] and Jamie Noble were holding a training camp, and it was like a two-hour session. I was in there for literally half the time. Me and my brother were just beating the crap out of each other, and they loved it! I got tagged out and Jamie goes to me, "Tag yourself in." I was like, "Really?" It was rude of me to do it because other guys were trying out, but ... who cares? This was my time. I was the only girl there, I needed to stand up for myself.
WWE.COM: What did you do?
PAIGE: This big, muscly guy gets backed into the corner and I just tagged myself in. The look he gave me ...ugh! Oh, well. I just got back in the ring and we went from there. I stayed in the ring afterward and Goldust taught me some stuff, and it was really cool to get a one-on-one, even if it was just 10 minutes. We got back into the locker room and the guy goes, "You, you and you are signed." And he pointed to me! I was so speechless. I cried.
That's a truly amazing story, made all the more incredible by the fact that she's just 21-years-old. Yes, the current Divas champion was born in 1992, leaving her all the time in the world to create many more memorable moments on WWE television.
Go read the rest of the Paige interview with WWE.com. It's well worth it.