Paige returns to the Total Divas cast at the best possible time for the Women’s division and the worst possible time for Paige: Between the Women’s Evolution, a trio of matches at WrestleMania and the signing of Ronda Rousey, the ladies have never been a bigger or more important part of WWE. Unfortunately, the former Divas Champion is nursing a neck injury that is about to force her into retirement, and nobody knows that but her. So, the Season 8 (!) premiere becomes a cautionary tale of sorts about overcompensation, where the ladies — Paige in particular — attempt to solve a problem in such a bull-in-a-china-shop way that two more pop up in its place.
It’s the worst possible time for that, too: The season opens during the week of WrestleMania 34, which is shaping up to be a career-defining night for some of the women in the cast — in particular Nia Jax, who is challenging for the Raw Women’s Title. Nobody has any time for drama, but Paige, who doesn’t have a match, has the opposite problem: She has too much time on her hands. She decides to fill it up with a bunch of touristy activities (swamp tour!) meant to give her some quality time with Jax, who she’s bonded with on Raw. The only problem is Nia’s got her hands full; she wants her match to be as monumental of a moment as Rousey’s debut on the same show, and she’s been training like a madwoman to make it happen. So she misses out on the plans, and Paige isn’t pleased; she thinks Nia has no desire to be friends with someone who’s hurt.
This, of course, is insane, and Nia tells her as much, so their fight is short-lived. But Jax is nothing if not understanding: Paige had seemingly settled her future at 19 by signing with WWE, can’t wrap her brain around the idea that it’s over and is trying to latch on to anything she can. Ironically, Nia’s going through the same thing — WrestleMania is going to be the biggest moment of her career, and she doesn’t want to be in anybody else’s shadow — and, amazingly, so is Natalya, who overpromotes The Bella Twins’ Birdiebee booth by promising meet-and-greets with the twins to anybody who buys their swag.
Of course, everybody has to find a way to get their personal business back under control very quickly. Nia must mend fences with Paige. Brie Bella, who’s now the Birdiebee president (much to Nikki Bella’s skepticism) needs solve the minor PR crisis Nattie causes by telling her friend to chill out. And Paige has to find a more constructive way to cope with her retirement.
Which she does. Paige makes one last-ditch effort that doubles as a tourist activity (she buys a voodoo doll, which puts off the devoutly religious Naomi) and more or less decides to accept that whatever is coming will be coming, and she’ll be okay no matter what. After all, it’s WrestleMania week. There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself.