Although Paige's month-long suspension for violation of the WWE Wellness Policy ended more than a week ago, she was somehow absent from the last two editions of Monday Night RAW. And now we know why, as the 24-year-old "Anti-Diva" said in a tweet Thursday afternoon that she will be undergoing neck surgery. This comes two weeks after an earlier tweet which dispelled rumors of her potential exit from the company, while promising her eventual return from injury.
Since July's WWE brand draft that saw Paige heading to the RAW brand, the 24-year-old English wrestler has not been seen on television. But prior to that, the English wrestler had seen her relevance in WWE storylines decline rapidly. With Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch dominating Women's Division storylines ahead of the brand split, Paige had seemingly become a female jobber to the stars, and many didn't know what to make of her absence in the weeks that followed the brand split.
While Paige's absence in early August was confirmed to be injury-related, rumors of her departure ran rampant a few weeks later when she and real-life boyfriend Alberto Del Rio were suspended on the same day for Wellness Policy violations. These rumors fired up even more when Del Rio successfully negotiated his release from WWE, citing several grievances with his push and the creative direction of his character.But even with Paige assuring fans that she wasn't going to follow her boyfriend out of WWE, the end of her suspension didn't coincide with her return to RAW, as she had spent the past two episodes backstage, not appearing in any angles or matches.
After several days of silence on social media, Paige took to Twitter on Thursday afternoon to explain the reason for her absence – neck surgery. In a photo attached to her tweet, Paige explained that her doctor gave her "two great surgery options," and that her current situation reminded her of the risks associated with being a professional wrestler.Prior to her announcement on Twitter, Paige was believed to be suffering from nerve problems in both her arm and her shoulder. But with the wrestler confirming that her issues are related to her neck, that at least provides some clarity on her status within the WWE, even if it means she may be out for an extended period of time. According to Top Rope Press, Paige's doctor, Juan Uribe, had previously performed neck surgery on Nikki Bella earlier in 2016. Bella ended up missing 10 months of action, and returned to WWE in August as part of SmackDown's Women's Division.
Keeping in mind the timeline of Nikki Bella's recovery, there's a very good chance we won't be seeing Paige in the ring for the next several months, and that she may miss the rest of 2016 due to her surgery. But where will she fit in once she gets to return to in-ring competition? Could she regain, or even come close to the push she had when she was a two-time Divas Champion?
Though anything can happen between now and Paige's return, the RAW Women's Championship picture is crowded, as Sasha Banks and Bayley continue to challenge for Charlotte's title. The SmackDown Women's Championship is currently being contested by reigning champ Becky Lynch and challenger Alexa Bliss, while Bella and Carmella's secondary feud continues to heat up. Regardless of brand, this all points to Paige likely coming back as the same midcard-level women's wrestler she was at the time of her last TV appearance, though she still has youth on her side, and is talented enough to make her way back up the card once she returns from surgery.
[Featured Image by Ian Gavan/Getty Images]