Is Rhea Ripley Being Primed for Major Main Event Stardom?

Is Rhea Ripley Being Primed for Major Main Event Stardom?

Right now, the WWE’s writers should be preparing for a busy second half of the year that takes in SummerSlam, the build towards Survivor Series and, of course, the Royal Rumble in January.

Narratives will already be on the whiteboard ahead of the 30-person over-the-top-rope battle royale, but the number of available angles in the women’s division has been decimated by a raft of injuries and unsettled superstars.

First, Shayna Baszler was removed from TV tapings throughout June and July. That’s apparently at the behest of Vince McMahon, with reports suggesting the former MMA star doesn’t ‘check his buttons’ as an in-ring performer. She has since been honing her craft in the WWE Performance Center and, while Baszler surely has a future with the company, this is a long road back for a superstar that fought Becky Lynch high up on the Wrestlemania 36 schedule.

A further spanner in the works comes with the news that Charlotte Flair will undergo an unspecified surgery in the near future, keeping her from our screens for a matter of weeks. Her planned rivalry with Raw champion Asuka will be put on ice for a while, perhaps leading to a locking of horns later in 2020.

To add insult to injury, it has now been confirmed that Kairi Sane, who was building a decent storyline as Asuka’s sidekick, will return to her native Japan. Rumours suggest that she won’t return to WWE when her contract runs out, and the loss of the former NXT champion and Mae Young Classic winner will hit the women’s division hard.

There is, quite clearly, a vacuum for fresh female talent to shake up the main roster. Bayley and Sasha Banks continue to dominate the gold and the mic, really upping their game since joining forces, but it seems likely in the future that one of them will turn heel and attack the other.

Elsewhere, Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss are stagnating as a duo, while the likes of Lacey Evans and Nia Jaxx are yet to make the leap to genuine main event status. Lynch is pregnant with her first child and will spend much of the next year promoting her first movie, Rumble, which will be released by Paramount Pictures.

McMahon will presumably be casting a glance at the talent in NXT as he looks to reinvigorate the women’s division ahead of the business end of the calendar year. Perhaps he already has a star in waiting who can hit the ground running on the main roster?

Believe It Or Not, Ripley’s Ready

When the premise of Survivor Series 2019 was announced, you just hoped that the writers wouldn’t stuff up the NXT invasion angle.
Here was the perfect chance to get a number of the leading second-tier superstars over with a mainstream crowd that may not have seen them work in the past. All told, the event was a success, with NXT well represented.

Indeed, Rhea Ripley stepped out of the shadows to become one of the MVPs of the whole show, with her Team NXT defeating the groups from Raw and SmackDown. The 23-year-old herself landed the winning pinfall – just a matter of weeks after defeating Flair and Banks in a triple-threat match on SmackDown.

She took on the Queen, Charlotte Flair, at WrestleMania 36, and all the signs suggest that Ripley is being primed for the main roster – if not now, then when?

The NXT champion is clearly well respected behind the scenes in the company, and her ascension is perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets in wrestling. She is already the favourite in the latest Royal Rumble 2021 betting odds, who, as of July 16th, make her a 9/2 market leader. That goes to show how many pundits expect Ripley to make an immediate impact on the main roster when she gets the call.

Incidentally, fourth in the same betting market is Ronda Rousey, who has been away from WWE since March 2019, when she lost her status as the unanimous women’s champion to Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 35. Do the sportsbooks know something we don’t? After all, the former UFC champion has reiterated a number of times that she has now retired from the ring following surgeries on her hand and a desire to start a family. Could Ronda be set for a shock return at the Royal Rumble in 2021?

Either way, with dwindling TV ratings, WWE is in dire need of a shot in the arm right now. That could come from an injection of NXT’s finest talents, and Rhea Ripley is surely at the head of the queue.


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