Paige’s in-ring career came to an end last December after being injured during a house show. She was kicked in the back by Sasha Banks, fell to the mat and struggled to get back to her feet. The referee could clearly see something was wrong so he gave the “X” sign to backstage and immediately ended the match.
It took a while for Paige to come to grips with her career being over, and she described everything that happened from the initial injury to her retirement speech on Lilian Garcia’s latest Chasing Glory podcast.
“I got the kick [to the back of the neck], it wasn’t Sasha Banks fault. My neck just wasn’t as strong as it was before so I ended up getting temporary paralysis on my entire body,” Paige revealed. “So, I am laying there in the middle of the ring, and I could feel it. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to wrestle anymore. I had never had that done to me. I couldn’t feel anything, I just laid there. I wasn’t in any pain but I just started crying.”
A trainer and Jamie Noble then came out to the ring while Paige was lying on the mat, and Paige told Noble that she knew it was over. They wanted to take Paige out on a stretcher but she didn’t want her final wrestling match to end with her being stretchered out so she walked out with assistance from the medical staff.
Even though Sasha Banks was the one who delivered the blow that ended Paige’s in-ring career, she holds no malice towards Banks. She added that Banks stayed with her in the aftermath.
“Sasha Banks was there the whole time. The doctor was really cool about the situation. He said that it could be just a stinger, it could be this or that but we have to make sure just in case so we have to send you home and have you do an MRI,” said Paige. “So, I had did that and then I got to television the next week, [WWE ringside physician] Dr. Amann was there and said that he wanted to be honest with me, but it doesn’t look good. He doesn’t want me to get my hopes up, but with my MRI it doesn’t look good. The x-rays do not look good and I told him that I knew because I could feel it. I know. I know my body.”
Paige was then sent for a second opinion with a neck specialist in Pittsburgh who told her that her spinal cord had the look of someone who was involved in a severe car crash. Paige was given two options: retire now or have another surgery and then retire, but either way he wouldn’t clear her for a return to the ring.
“I had kept my stuff together then and thanked him, and then as soon as I walked outside I called my mom and dad and immediately broke down and was sobbing,” said Paige. “I was just sobbing. Everything I knew my entire life, like literally, for 26 years all I had known was pro wrestling, and for it to be ripped away from me, which is nobody’s fault, but it is part of our business? I remember my dad crying and he said that everything is going to be okay. He said that you are going to be doing bigger things now, and that this isn’t the end of your story. I thanked him for saying that, but I was just devastated.”
Triple H and Vince McMahon then reached out to Paige to make sure she was okay. The WWE then started throwing out ideas as to keep Paige involved even though she could no longer wrestle.
“They were keeping me smiling and upbeat so time passed and I told them that I couldn’t wrestle anymore, but I would love to be back on Total Divas. They told me that they wanted me back on the show. And then WrestleMania came along, so from January up until April I had the time to think about it and realized that it isn’t the end. Yeah, it is devastating, but it isn’t the end. Don’t let this stop you from pursuing what you want to do,” stated Paige.
Paige lost her voice while doing media during WrestleMania Week but she never revealed her plans at that time. Then she and Vince McMahon decided this would be the perfect spot for everything to come full circle.
“[At WrestleMania] Vince McMahon said that I am doing something big tomorrow so please rest my voice. I told Vince that I debuted in New Orleans [Raw after WrestleMania 30], so I would love to retire at WrestleMania in New Orleans, just full circle. They listened which I was really happy about. Not a lot of women get to do their retirement speech in the ring, and now WWE is throwing women completely into the spotlight which I love,” said Paige. “So, for them to give me that opportunity in the ring, how great was that? I told them that this was it, I was done. And I remember walking to the back and Edge telling me that I was going to feel really sad beforehand, but there is going to be so much off of your shoulders afterwards. And I literally walked back through the curtain and I felt this rush of relief like, okay, I did it. Now what? I felt really good about it.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.