The Folly of Youth: Paige's Current WWE Woes Are Far Too Common
Over a decade ago, filmmaker Kevin Smith detailed a period of his life where he attempted to guide friend and consummate co-star Jason Mewes through the process of drug addiction, and subsequent rehabilitation.
Mewes’ struggles with staying clean, all the while being surrounded by the very substances and enablers that were threatening to end his life, were as much Kevin’s story as much as it was of Mewes. In the posts, Smith discusses his own role in enabling his friend, thinking that he was helping the son of an addict and long-time abuser by holding his hand through the process.
Through that period Smith constantly was asking himself if he was the problem and how much of Jason’s inability to get sober was his own fault. In the case of Jason Mewes, he only achieved sobriety -- though not full-time, as Mewes would find himself in and out of rehab centers to this day -- through seeing that the issue was his environment.
Wrestling fans know all too well that the performers in the ring live a style that is conducive to finding any way you can to relax. Likewise, the cult of personality surrounding the professional wrestling lifestyle is one that has not only claimed many men and women, but is repeated time again by the likes of Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Mick Foley among countless others.
Even in a modern-day WWE locker room where the wild days of partying heard about from the 90s and early 00s isn’t immune to issues stemming from drug abuse. Recent examples include Adam Rose, Alberto Del Rio, Roman Reigns, and former Divas champion Paige.
Paige’s story is the most concerning due to the fact that she has a history of making poor decisions that, some would argue, is due to her young age of 24. Brushes with police during the filming of Total Divas, as well as run-ins with fans and even her own current boyfriend Del Rio leave myself and other wondering if Paige was adopted into the WWE lifestyle too soon and too fast.
I must state for the record that I am not claiming with emphasis or evidence that Paige has a drug issue. As with most things in professional wrestling it’s hard to tell sometimes when the fans -- even writers such as myself -- are being worked into a shoot, so to speak.
That being said, I’m a firm believer of “where there's smoke, there's fire.” Paige’s most recent neck injury has left her off television for a majority of the year, and has now made mainstream news in the New York Post, with WWE choosing to comment on statements made by Paige on social media.
My personal observation is that Paige is clearly not well, physically or mentally. After two substance abuse policy violations in a row -- now totaling 90 days in suspension time -- as well as going the Adam Rose route and discussing the suspensions in a less than professional manner on Twitter, one has to wonder what is best for Paige at this point.
I truly believe she’s too immature to handle the rocket of celebrity that WWE strapped to her when she was called up a few years back. Thinking back to myself as a 21-year old, I have no idea how I would have acted being a worldwide television star and becoming a millionaire all at once.
All that said, and with the above examples in mind, it has dramatically affected her in-ring performance, as well as her own well-being. Paige has been absent from the ring for most of 2016, but even before that she seemingly checked out from performing, turning in terrible feuds with Charlotte and Nikki Bella.
So, who is culpable? Is Paige to be given a pass for poor decisions and behavior due to her age, or is WWE to blame for placing so much power and trust in someone who, in my opinion, doesn’t possess the maturity to handle her affairs?
The answer lies somewhere in the middle, but this isn’t the first time WWE has found itself in this situation. The company has a history of helping current and former talent through rehabilitation, both for injuries and addiction.
Former WWE manager Sunny has found herself saved by WWE multiple times, and Goldust notes in his own memoirs of how the company got him healthy after a failed stint and subsequent falling off the wagon after leaving TNA.
Likewise, William Regal has openly discussed how WWE pulled him off TV with a promise that they’d get him clean and return him to his spot on the card, which came during the “Real Man’s Man” period that Regal claims to this day he cannot remember.
The real answer in regards to Paige is that WWE can only do so much. Assuming that the company’s recent claim that Paige was suspended for an illegal substance and not a painkiller taken without a note is true, the onus rests on Paige to sort her life about before it’s too late.
Alberto Del Rio has found himself in the middle of the situation as well, tweeting out -- and immediately deleting -- information supposedly about Paige’s injury. As with most stories, the truth is surely found somewhere in the middle. Paige finally had surgery this past Wednesday, which according to her Twitter account was to fix a herniated disc, as well as placing three bolts into her neck.
Whether this was paid for by WWE or herself has yet to be seen.
Regardless, the soap opera-esque series of events involving Paige and Del Rio marches on, with Paige proposing to Alberto in-ring at a show this past weekend, despite Del Rio’s previous marriage not officially being annulled or ended. Only time will tell if these reality-show shenanigans are part of a downward spiral, another work in the fake, real world of professional wrestling, or something else entirely.
The last thing anyone wants to see if yet another talented performer be their own downfall, but Paige may find that WWE is no longer her house if she can’t grow up, accept help, and take accountability for her own decisions.