Among the rising stars of the National Wrestling Alliance is the current NWA Women’s World champion, Kenzie Paige. At 21 years old, Paige has already accomplished so much in the NWA and is its youngest Triple Crown winner, having claimed the NWA Women’s World Championship with her Pretty Empowered stablemate Ella Envy, as well as being crowned the first NWA Women’s Television champion and recently upended Kamille’s 813-day run to claim The Burke.
Of course, it helps that wrestling has always been in her blood. “I actually come from a wrestling family,” Paige started. “My dad was an independent wrestling promoter. So, it’s always been around in my life.”
Her father, Tommy Henry, runs the Kross Fire Wrestling promotion in East Tennessee. “I would go to the independent wrestling shows that my dad would run every Friday. We ran it weekly,” Paige told SlamWrestling.net. “I just kind of fell in love with it and I’ve seen how much my dad loved it. It really opened up the world of wrestling to me.”
One moment especially stood out for the 5-foot-3 Paige at those wrestling shows. “We had Dustin Rhodes there,” she recalled. Rhodes was under the Goldust persona at the time. “I think it was 2011 or 2012 maybe, and we were running at a National Guard armory in Sevierville [TN],” she said. “I got out of the bounce house and just to watch the Goldust match, and after the match he cut a promo and right as everybody gets silent, I just yell, ‘I love you, Goldust!’, and he goes, ‘I love you too, kid.’ And that’s just something that’s always stuck with me.”
Paige wanted to pursue wrestling, and she started her own training at 14 years of age, in a way. “Me and my dad and my uncle, we set up in the back of this thrift store and we got this little group of people who halfway knew what they were doing and we just went and my uncle taught me [wrestling].”
So, technically, Paige started her own backyard wrestling group.
“Yeah, the first two years I was not professionally trained,” she agreed and then quickly added, “which I do not recommend for anybody. Oh my gosh, I do not recommend that. But that was my circumstances with how young I was.”
At 16, Paige finally received formal training joining JPWA, the wrestling school founded by Dr. Tom Prichard and Glenn Jacobs. “I was the first 16 year old he ever trained,” she said. “He [Prichard] allowed me because of what I already knew into his school.”
She recalled her first thoughts entering JPWA. “I realized very early on the first day I was like, ‘Wow, girl, you were in for it,’ because you thought you knew and you do not.”
Prichard really instilled some things that are important to her today. “He taught me that repetition is key,” she said. “I remember me and this girl who, it was her first time ever wrestling before. She was in her early thirties. She had no prior business to wrestling before this, and we ended up going for like an hour and 30 minutes straight. Just straight wrestling, repetition of drills, for an hour and 30 minutes. Like, that’s crazy, and in the dead heat.
“Early on I knew I can push my body to new lengths. I can do anything,” she continued. “He just taught me a lot; getting my cardio and stuff up was a very big thing that helped me at JPWA, especially with the drills. He molded me into what I am today and I feel like my wrestling is pretty on point.”
Paige started wrestling on December 16, 2016, and then hen made her official wrestling debut a few years after that. “I think it was 2018 or 2019,” she remembered. “I went to a show in North Carolina. It was under a weird name.
“It was like a low-tier indie show that I just picked up because I have some friends there in North Carolina and I wrestled Selena Rose. I just remember going out there and from the beginning of the match, I could tell like, I’m a different wrestler already,” she described. “Like my footwork, the way I was moving. I was moving confidently. I knew in my brain what I was doing and you could tell like this is not the same girl that was here last month or two months ago, you know? So, obviously being around Dr. Tom, you up your gear level, and all that stuff translates especially on camera to a person leveling up.”
Paige continued to wrestle the indies until around 2021 when she came to the NWA. How did she get invited to the promotion? “It’s actually Danny Dealz,” she said. Danny Dealz has been on NWA POWERRR as a wrestling manager and has done commentary on recent shows. “He sent me a message and was like, ‘Hey, there’s an opening. I don’t know if you’ll get to wrestle. There’s just an extra spot,’ and I had a show in Sevierville.
“So right after my match I went and traveled to Nashville,” she continued, “and then one day he came back to me, he’s like, ‘Hey, they want you the rest of the tapings.’”
Paige has worked for NWA for the last two years and you can tell she evolved as a wrestler during that time. She even reflected on her journey since entering the squared circle. “I feel like whenever I first got into the NWA, I was really different. I wasn’t really confident in myself and that’s real life. I really wasn’t confident. So, I feel like it came off as like the girl next door, very quiet,” she said. “I didn’t wanna be just the girl next door, you know? Just the girl with piercings and colored hair. I was gonna make a change in my life.”
Not only was she trying to make a change in the squared circle, but outside it as well. “I actually got sick in 2021. So, I had damaged some sensory glands and it was a really weird time,” Paige explained. “I was like, ‘Okay, I need to get my eating under control. I have to get my weight under control,’ and whenever I got sick, I was scared.”
“After I got sick, I started a new diet. I switched over to an all-vegan diet,” she said. “I lost a lot of weight. I went to therapy and got good mentally; got my anxiety and stuff under control and that’s one thing I feel like is not talked about a lot in wrestling. So, I’m not scared to say it. I’m a world champion that cares about her mental health. I go to therapy; I take care of myself. So, I’m not scared to say that some people don’t talk about mental health and I will definitely be an advocate for that.”
Those changes outside the ring began to translate for Paige in the ring as well. “At first, I was the ‘next door girl’, like people didn’t really know what to think of me. So now I don’t even give them an option. Now it’s, ‘She’s confident. She’s in your face. She’s funny. She’s silly at times, but she’s gonna get the job done at the end of the day.’ And I feel like that’s what I wanted to portray, and I feel like that’s what people get from Pretty Empowered and our reign as champions and our faction as a whole.”
Pretty Empowered comprises Paige, Envy, and her sister Kylie Paige. Paige talked about the beginnings of her tag run. “Me and Ella lived together basically in 2021. She stayed with me a lot,” she said. “We traveled the indies a lot, so to be able to take our friendship and everything we learned together to the NWA and to see it pay off for both of us because we were there for each other at a really low time for both of us.
“Like I said, 2021 I got sick and a lot of things happened, a lot of things happened on her end. We were there for each other and I remember we just buckled down one night and we wrote down everything we wanted to accomplish,” Page said, “and I’ll be damned if within the next few months, we didn’t accomplish everything we put on that list. So, it was a very big payoff for not just our wrestling, but in our lives. We were like, ‘Okay, we’ve made it this far. We can keep going.’”
The 19-year-old Kylie joined the group thereafter. “Kylie was like that missing piece. Like me and Ella had the funny dynamic but, you know, three is better than two,” a proud older sister said. “Kylie filled that for us and Kylie is always there with us anyway. She was traveling behind the scenes with us before she got into wrestling. She was always there. We always had that dynamic but people never got to see it on screen because she wasn’t trained yet or in wrestling yet. When she came on screen, it all kind of mapped out perfectly.”
After her tag run, she went back to singles action and was involved in the tournament to crown the first Women’s Television champion. “It was a great experience. It was a hard-fought battle, of course, but I had one of my favorite opponents that I got to wrestle with Kylynn King in that tournament and then it ended with me and Max [The Impaler]. They are no walk in the park, obviously,” she chuckled. “I had to do what I had to do to get that championship and that’s what happened. Then, of course, we meet later on down the road, as you know, and things didn’t work out in my favor.”
Paige is referring to Night One of NWA 75 when she lost the TV title to Max. But as in life, so in pro wrestling, another door opened, and that was when on Night Two she faced Kamille for the NWA Women’s World title and won in stunning fashion. There is a moment after the match Paige is looking up at the sky filled with emotion after claiming The Burke. This writer, who was there at the title win, asked her what her thoughts were at that moment.
“I remember I just went down on the mat and I was trying so hard not to cry. I was like, ‘Girl, you’re Pretty Empowered. You better not cry right now,’” she said. “I sucked it up for a second and as soon as I rose up, the first people I saw was my dad and my little brother in the front row. So, the tears just started pouring out, just started pouring the tears down.
“It was a really emotional night like I said. It was moments like that, especially coming from a wrestling family is not just a payoff for me, right?” she continued. “It’s a payoff for my dad and my mom who lost so much for wrestling and they probably never got their payoff, but they got to see not only me win a championship but Kylie won a championship that same night and it’s her first time ever holding gold.”
Paige noted that she had unsuccessfully faced Kamille for The Burke previously, and she explained the other reason why that tile win was so important to her. “The first time I wrestled Kamille for the title and obviously I lost, but I missed my nanny’s funeral for that match,” she said as her voice quavered a moment. “Right after I won, I remember just looking up and just telling my nanny, ‘OK, I did it. It’s here. I accomplished it. It was for something.’”
But that wasn’t the only accolade she received that night in St. Louis. “I came in and she had a bouquet of flowers for me and she said that she was proud of me,” she said. “To have someone like Kamille, [and] people don’t get to see it, but she is very much a leader to us. To have her hand me those flowers and be like, ‘OK, I’m proud of you, this is yours now.’ It felt like she was passing the torch to me and that of course, is why at this next pay-per-view, I have to keep the momentum going.”
Paige will have a title match coming up at the Samhain PPV on Saturday, October 28, where she will put up The Burke against Ruthie Jay in Cleveland, Ohio. Considering everything we talked about with the NWA Women’s champion, how does she plan to forge her own path considering Kamille’s title reign?
“I think of Kamille and I think of the dominant champion and her long 813-day reign, right? So, in my brain, I’m like, ‘She has history backing her. What do I have backing me?’” she asked rhetorically. “‘Oh, I know! I’m the youngest NWA World Women’s champion and I’m the first Triple Crown champion in the women’s NWA history.’ It’s like I have history backing me and those things mean something, and not only do I have those things backing me, I am the woman who pinned Kamille.”
“So that sends me with momentum into the next PPV automatically, right? I think that I’m just gonna keep forging our own way like you said, and I feel like I’m gonna do it the Pretty Empowered way and I don’t wanna do it any other way. Me and my girls are gonna make our reign dominant and you’re gonna remember it. This is not gonna be the new era, it’s gonna be the Pretty Era.”
TOP PHOTO: Kenzie Paige after winning the NWA Women’s World title. Photo by NWA/Hiban Huerta