In an emotional, lengthy letter to her fans and peers, Paige - or Saraya, as she'll be referred to as of tomorrow - has penned her official goodbye to WWE. For those who missed it, the Brit revealed last month that WWE would not be renewing her contract when that expires on 7 July 2022.
Via the Player's Tribune, the inaugural NXT Women's Champion covered plentiful ground as she reflected back on a tenure with WWE that dates back to 2011.
Amongst the key comments made by the real-life Saraya Jade-Bevis, those receiving gratitude from the 29-year-old include AJ Lee, the Bella Twins, Natalya, Tenille Dashwood, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, Dusty Rhodes, Dr. Tom Prichard, Norman Smiley, Joey Mercury and Steve Keirn - not to mention the broader women's locker-room of today.
In terms of specific standout parts of an excellent piece from Saraya, one opening paragraph covered changing the perception of women's wrestling in WWE.
"When I first got to WWE, we weren’t very far removed from the time of bra-and-panties matches. A lot of people still considered the women’s match on every show to be the ‘pee break.’ And I’ll always feel such a kinship with the women of my era, because we worked so damn hard to prove ourselves. To prove that we couldn’t just wrestle — we could wrestle our asses off."
The soon-to-be-former Paige also praised WWE for supporting her following her enforced in-ring retirement and some of the personal issues she's had to deal with.
"They never lost faith in me — they never once threw me off to the side. They got me the help I needed when I needed help, and they gave me the time and space I needed when I needed time and space.
They even gave me a full segment on Raw to announce my in-ring retirement. I’ll cherish that for the rest of my life. Not just getting to make the announcement like I did, but also the respect it showed on WWE’s part, that they viewed me as worthy of that kind of treatment — the kind normally reserved for an Edge, or a Daniel Bryan, or an HBK, or a Hunter.
AdvertisementThat they viewed me as someone who’d built a legacy of her own."
Concluding by discussing Stephanie McMahon's words of encouragement ahead of her return to the ring in 2017, the one-time Divas Champion ended her farewell with:
"Stephanie was right (as usual). I went out there … and it was the most amazing feeling. No one hated me!! They were actually glad I was back. I was still Paige. The connection was still there.
And in a lot of ways, that story is my time with WWE in a nutshell. It was far from perfect. There were some brutal setbacks. And to be honest, I was a bit of an ass for a couple of years. But they always believed in my will to survive, and in the person I could grow to become.
So I wanted to say thanks.
And I want to thank YOU ALL — truly, anyone who might be reading. From my bosses to my coworkers to my friends to my fans. For the past 11 years, you’ve let me live out my dreams. More living to come. I’ll see you down the road."
That return to the ring was ultimately short-lived, with further damage to her neck forcing the Anti-Diva to formally announce her retirement the night after WrestleMania 34. Following that, WWE utilised Paige as the General Manager of SmackDown, as the manager of the Kabuki Warriors, and as a regular presence on The Bump and various other Network content.
What lies ahead for Saraya remains to be seen, but she has previously made it clear that she intends to wrestle again somewhere.