It was only a matter of time, really…
Paige and Sofia Cortez made their debut on WWE’s NXT show as part of its first evening of tapings at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL last night. They appear in the third taping, but for those of you who don’t want to know what happens, we won’t tell you.
We welcome this advancement for the self-titled Anti Diva Army, as both the former Britani Knight and Juliet the Huntress are the best female wrestlers on Florida Championship Wrestling‘s roster. 24-year old Cortez was the first of the pair to arrive in FCW, having been on last year’s revival of Tough Enough under her real name of Ivelisse Velez, but was cut from the competition on the May 10 episode after injuring her leg. Despite being the most talented of the female contestants, she was the last of the TE women to be offered a WWE developmental deal following Ariane Andrew (now Cameron Lynn, one of Brodus Clay‘s dancers) and Christina Crawford (now Caylee Turner, who had a developmental contract before auditioning for TE anyway). Debuting as Sofia Cortez on November 11 last year and first appearing on TV on the Christmas Day episode, things ambled along, with Sofia forming a partnership with Raquel Diaz – but then Paige rocked up.
Joining FCW in early January, the 19-year old left the UK and reported to FCW in Tampa, FL, debuting under her real name of Saraya mere days after her arrival in the country, though that moniker was altered to Paige for her TV debut on February 26 in a backstage segment with Seth Rollins. Proclaiming herself an “Anti-Diva” due to her unwillingness to be glamourous or even getting a tan like the other women, Paige was strikingly different to your perception of a Diva, and it made her stand out from the pack. An on-screen (and off-screen) friendship with Cortez followed, and the two started to gather some momentum as a team, leading to where we are today – the Sofia Cortez and Paige on the rebooted NXT, just five months and three months respectively following their first TV appearances. Impressive, to say the least.
How their match will be received by the audience at Full Sail is still up in the air, as it came in the third taping of the evening. As a consequence, the crowd may have been weary from seeing a large number of matches involving a number of wrestlers who have not had much TV exposure, as a number of FCW wrestlers appeared on the show. Also, the show can still only be seen online in the US at the moment, as has been the case since NXT left the SyFy network in September 2010 – though the programme is still show on TV in other countries. So domestically, it’s not the perfect situation – but no doubt, it’s an opportunity that has been extended to Paige and Sofia, and we will see in a few weeks when the show is broadcast if they capitalised on it.
– Lee Burton