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Meet the first NXT Women’s Champion: Paige
Last week, the WWE Divas Championship celebrated its five-year anniversary. It seems only appropriate that one week later, the WWE Universe is marking another historical moment in women’s history: the crowning of the first NXT Women’s Champion, Paige!
In one of the most highly anticipated matches in NXT history, Paige defeated Emma to firmly entrench her presence into WWE’s history books. WWE.com catches up with the “Diva of Tomorrow” and takes a look at her path to NXT Women’s gold.
WWE.COM: How does it feel to be the first Women’s Champion in NXT history?
PAIGE: To be the first NXT Women's Champion is such an honor. It’s so overwhelming that it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. Emma gave me a heck of a match and I have so much respect for her. We made history. I still can't believe I can say that I've made history in WWE. I cried and cried when I won it and the support from everyone has been crazy. I’m getting goose bumps and teary-eyed just talking about it.
WWE.COM: Your emotions are certainly understandable considering you come from a family of sports-entertainers. Tell us about that.
PAIGE: I was born into the business, literally. My mum was seven months pregnant with me before she realized it so she kept wrestling like normal up to that point. I guess it's safe to say I was wrestling as a fetus (laughs). I was always scared of wrestling before I started because I watched my family do it and saw the price they had to pay with injuries and all, but following in their footsteps always intrigued me.
One day my dad came up to me at a show and said that a girl had canceled last minute and that he needed a replacement. My dad already knew that I was half-capable of wrestling a match because my brother and I would wrestle at my dad’s training school during lunch breaks. He said I wouldn't have to do much because there were seven other ladies in it. I said “Yes,” walked out of the curtain and I’ve been hooked ever since.
WWE.COM: So your parents, siblings, grandfather and nephews have all been trained inside the ring. What was that like for you?
PAIGE: It was amazing. What better way to learn an amazing craft than from people you love and trust completely? My family had a strong following so I was always in their shadow, which is understandable. But I wanted to make a path of my own and make my family proud in the process!
WWE.COM: Can you describe how you eventually made it to WWE and NXT?
PAIGE: It was a hard process, but dreams don't come easy. I knew I had to get myself out there to be noticed by WWE so I made résumés and sent them out when I was 14 years old to all the different promotions I could find around the world. All of them came back and said, “No, you're too young,” and “Sorry, we don't hire female wrestlers.” I was upset, but I guess I was running before I could walk.
I kept wrestling on the English circuit until a promoter from Norway came over to train with my dad. He needed another female wrestler at the time and gave me a chance. With that on my résumé, it helped me a lot and it gave me more courage to persistently send out my info to the same companies and slowly they started to bite. I traveled all of England, Scotland, Wales, France, Belgium, Turkey, Denmark, Norway, the USA and Germany. I travelled the world by myself from age 14 onward. Eventually, I did one of the England shows where I was wrestling my dad and my mum in a mixed tag match. A WWE talent scout was at the show and after the match they offered me a chance to try out with the company.
WWE.COM: I understand the first tryout didn’t go as planned?
PAIGE: My first tryout was in November 2010 when WWE was in England. I had a match against another girl who was trying out. I was so nervous! I tried dressing the way I thought a Diva would dress, by wearing a lot of color, spray tanned, etc. I wasn’t me. After the tryout, we stayed for the show, which was an amazing experience in itself. After the show, I was brought into the office and they said to me, “We like you, but you need more of what they have. Please don't give up, come along to the next tryout in April.”
I was thankful for the chance, but I was heartbroken. I tried being what they are and that didn’t work out for me. So I went home sad but more determined. April 2011 came around and I had another tryout. This time, I was the only girl there in a ring full of guys and my brother who had a tryout, too. I felt like it went well, but at the same time I didn’t go there as a Diva, I went there as myself with piercings, black hair, black clothes and pale [skin]. I wanted to be able to prove that I didn’t need what the other girls had; I could be myself. After the match, the scout came in and said that two others and I would be offered contracts.
WWE.COM: What has NXT done for you personally and professionally?
PAIGE: Being young and being part of the best sports-entertainment company in the world is completely life-changing. It’s helped me mature and it’s helped me build confidence. NXT is a land of opportunity. I love my job.
WWE.COM: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind when it’s all said and done?
PAIGE: I want everyone to know that they can accomplish anything they want at any age if they just be themselves. I want to encourage millions to chase their dreams and to never change. Everyone should also know how to throw a good right hook!