WWE analysis: Why WWE and Paige need each other
By Jefferson Lake, WWE Editor
Last Updated: 25/11/17 8:12am
Paige's father probably said it best this week.
His daughter's return to WWE television was met with widespread acclaim by the fans, in an angle which was billed as an invasion but is actually more of a refresh of the women’s division.
Paige has not had a match since June 2016 but her appearance - combined with a near-identical 'invasion' angle on SmackDown the following night - has dominated much of the post-episode conversation.
It could, of course, all have been quite different for Paige, and her father Ricky Knight acknowledged that with a bang-on-the-money post on Twitter written the day after the show aired.
"So proud of my daughter for fighting back from a year of injury and massive problems," it read. "To see her back on TV brought tears to my eyes and sense of pride beyond description. Thanks to the WWE for sticking by her, it would have been so easy to give up on her."
So proud of my daughter for fighting back from a year of injury and massive problems to see her back on TV brought tears to my eyes and sense of pride beyond description thanks to the WWE for sticking by her it would have been so easy to give up on her.— Ricky Knight (@RickyKnightWAW) November 21, 2017
The company had no real obligation to either support or bring back Paige. NXT is providing a steady supply of stars in the making, both male and female, and they could easily have released her and moved their focus to one of those emerging talents.
That they did not is to their credit but it also communicates a wider truth - that WWE needs Paige just as much as she needs them.
In in-ring talent terms, the women’s rosters on both Raw and SmackDown are as good as they have ever been; in the past fortnight, Charlotte Flair has delivered high-quality matches with both Natalya and Alexa Bliss, while Raw has a ready-made program with the excellent Bayley and Sasha Banks on the shelf for whenever they require it. The red brand also recently acquired the electrifying Asuka, and Nia Jax is improving by the week.
There is always the risk, however, that contests could become repetitive when the same participants are involved.
The re-introduction of Paige, her two acolytes and a further three new faces on SmackDown (who may or may not be aligned to one another) serves as a resetting of the division and will provide some new combinations of angles and matches. It should also generate some fresh interest.
The picks from NXT are curious. For the first time, the main roster has called up superstars who have not yet reached the peak of their popularity, despite speculation that the Iconic Duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay would make the grade this week.
There is a logic to that. Either of those two or an Ember Moon or a Kairi Sane, for example, would have taken some of the gloss from Paige's return - and their own debuts - and diluted the impact of her being made to look like a true star returning home.
Because that is exactly how she came across. And both the WWE and Paige herself needed that.