Entertainment

WWE rolls into Fresno for Smackdown event, and Diva Paige is ready

• WWE Diva Paige talks about her rapid rise in the tour. She figures to have a starring role in Sunday’s WrestleMania 31 and again when WWE Smackdown stops Tuesday at the Save Mart Center.

• Paige admits she was hesitant to become a wrestler despite a family background.

• Be ready for anything, Paige says: “It’s TV, so they can make changes during a commercial break.”

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Next to this weekend’s WrestleMania 31, the WWE Smackdown stop scheduled for Tuesday, March 31 at the Save Mart Center is one of the biggest events on the professional wrestling circuit for the year.

WrestleMania is where all of the story lines that have been percolating through the year come to an end. And with every ending comes a new beginning that starts to unfold when John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt and other WWE stars are scheduled to roll into Fresno.

Among those attending WrestleMania and scheduled to be part of the Fresno show is WWE Diva Paige (who was born Saraya-Jade Bevis).

“This is my first WrestleMania and I am so excited because this is the biggest show of the year,” the British professional wrestler says. “I have no idea what will happen once we get to Fresno. The story lines can change on a whim.

“It’s TV, so they can make changes during a commercial break.”

Change has become a way of life for Paige. She’s learned to expect anything and everything from the WWE and credits her family training (she’s a second-generation professional wrestler) for helping her do everything from battling in the ring without getting hurt to making a promotional commercial wearing nothing but a towel.

Paige is staying fully dressed for events at WrestleMania 31 on Sunday, March 29, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. It’s expected to match WrestleMania 30 for hysteria: Last year’s wrestling blowout at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans was a sellout with more than 75,000 fans from all 50 states and 37 countries in attendance. It grossed $10.9 million, breaking the record for the Superdome’s highest-grossing entertainment event.

WrestleMania 32 is already booked for the biggest stage in America: AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) in Arlington, Texas, on April 3, 2016.

That’s a big stage for Paige, who made her debut under the ring name Britani Knight in the World Association of Wrestling organization her family runs. Despite her family’s longtime involvement, Paige was worried about the dangers of professional wrestling.

“My mom was blinded for six months because of wrestling. So I was always scared of trying it. But, my father had this training school and he would get me in the ring. I eventually fell in love with wrestling,” Paige says.

The 22-year-old has been wrestling for nine years, and has been on WWE contract since 2011 touring the world.

“Fans are different all over,” Paige says. “In Japan, they just sit quietly. They are watching very closely but they are so quiet.

“The crowds are just the opposite in Europe. They are more insane. Just like with soccer, they are wild and crazy about wrestling.”

Europeans are so into professional wrestling many make the journey to America each year to be part of the days of activities around WrestleMania.

Paige made her debut on the main WWE roster in 2014 and became the youngest Divas Champion winner. She’s been both a good guy and a bad guy on tour. And she’s been part of the “Totally Diva” program on E! that put her in front of cameras for almost three months. The cable series offers a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of WWE Divas including Paige, Alicia Fox and Eva Marie.

“I’m not a typical Diva,” Paige says. “At first, people didn’t realize I was British and wondered why I was putting on a British accent.”

If you can’t go

WrestleMania 31 will be available live on the WWE Network and on pay-per-view starting at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 29.

The USA Network will broadcast a one-hour special highlighting the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony that will air at 11 p.m. Monday, March 30, immediately following “Monday Night Raw.” The ceremony takes place on Saturday, March 28, at the SAP Center in San Jose.

WWE Legends, including “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Bushwhackers and Rikishi, as well as pop-culture icon Arnold Schwarzenegger will be inducted into this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class for their accomplishments and contributions in sports entertainment.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony dates back to 1993, when Andre the Giant was the first person selected.

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