Paul “Triple H” Levesque has issued a public apology after making an off-color joke about retired WWE star Paige.
Ahead of a wrestling event in England over the weekend, Triple H — a former wrestler and the current Executive Vice President of talent, live events and creative for WWE — made a remark about the former star, born Saraya-Jade Bevis, whose life story was depicted in the 2019 film Fighting with My Family.
While speaking with reporters, Triple H — whose real name is Paul Levesque — addressed the possibility that Paige, 27, and fellow WWE star Edge — who are both retired following neck injuries — might be making a return to the ring.
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“When you’re talking about people as talented as Edge and Paige, who wouldn’t want them to return? I’m a fan, just like everyone else. Yeah, I’d love to see them step in the ring and compete,” he said. “More importantly than that though I’d like to see them live long healthy lives.”
“Edge has kids, you know, Paige — she probably has some she doesn’t know of,” he said, prompting laughter from the room.
Paige, who has dealt with negative comments and slut-shaming since intimate photos and videos of herself were leaked in 2017, went on to speak out about his remarks.
“Even my boss jokes about me.. no wonder you guys still do it too,” she wrote on Monday alongside a clip of his comments.
Sisters Nikki and Brie Bella, who competed under the name the Bella Twins before retiring last year, seemingly responded to Triple H’s words, and noted that changes in the way women are treated in the industry need to come “from the top.”
“We will never see the true change in equality if we just see them as storylines. Change in a company starts from the top. Our leaders help set the example,” they wrote. “For us women we need all the help we can get. Help with respect from our co workers and fans. We are all one. One love.”
WWE on-air personality Renee Young also spoke out, writing: “Big love to Paige. She’s been to hell and back but still some people wanna make jokes. We need (and she deserves) real change.”
We will never see the true change in equality if we just see them as storylines. Change in a company starts from the top. Our leaders help set the example. For us women we need all the help we can get. Help with respect from our co workers and fans. We are all one. One love. ❤️N— Nikki & Brie (@BellaTwins) January 13, 2020
Big love to Paige. She’s been to hell and back but still some people wanna make jokes. We need (and she deserves) real change. https://t.co/vqdkWNyLMa— Renee Young (@ReneeYoungWWE) January 13, 2020
Following the backlash, Triple H publicly apologized on Wednesday.
“I’ve reached out to @RealPaigeWWE to apologize,” he wrote on Twitter. “I made a terrible joke and I’m sorry if it offended her or anyone else.”
I’ve reached out to @RealPaigeWWE to apologize. I made a terrible joke and I’m sorry if it offended her or anyone else.— Triple H (@TripleH) January 15, 2020
Although Paige has yet to issue any further remarks on social media while speaking with reporters in the U.K. she did admit she was “perplexed” and “taken aback” by his comments.
“I just feel like he got caught up in a joke but I just don’t think it was appropriate to joke about. It’s just something I’m not going to continually talk about,” she added, noting that “people on the Internet have done a pretty good job at it.”
Continuing, she added: “He’s definitely reached out and we’re gonna be talking about some things.”