Former WWE star Paige revealed to BuzzFeed News' Profile how she worked to change the culture around professional wrestling for women — including taking a stand against the "bikini contest."
Paige, who is from England and whose parents and brothers were wrestlers, said when she began her career as a teenager, "a lot of the crowd just— They didn't take to the women very easily, like, they thought of it as a restroom break."
"And and they thought of it as TNA," she added.
Paige joined the WWE circuit in 2011 and tapped her experience wrestling with her brothers when in the ring.
"Like I walked in, I was pale, I had piercings, didn't know how to do makeup and hair — still don't — but I give a good old-fashioned. And I came in with a little bit of wrestling experience, and I just wrestled like a man because I grew up with my brothers wrestling," she said.
The bikini contest ended after she "kicked off one day," Paige told Profile host Ashley Ford.
"I remember I was just like, there was a bunch of kids in the crowd, and I just remember having to take my shirt off in a bikini, and I'm just like, 'Oh— This is so, like, I just didn't feel comfortable about this,'" she said. "I was like, 'I wanted to be here because I want to wrestle, not because I have to take my shirt off and wear a bikini in front of children.'"
Paige — who is promoting Fighting With My Family, her upcoming biographical film that was executive produced by and features Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson — said that women have increasingly won more opportunities to "train harder and train with the guys."
"I'm so proud of where it's gone," said Paige, who left the WWE in 2018 after a neck injury. "Like, it is just— It gives me goose bumps again, because I just love that there's a women's revolution and it's just going to get bigger from here. And I'm so glad I get to watch it."
The wording in this story has been updated to clarify that Paige is a former WWE wrester and general manager and that she still plans to work with the organization. A previous version said simply that she was a "former WWE star."