Editorial Columns

Can Rhea Ripley Eclipse ‘The Man’ Becky Lynch?

Shalene Hixon looks at Rhea Ripley and whether she could eclipse the success of Becky Lynch.

This past weekend, we may have caught a glimpse into the future of the WWE women’s division.

Rhea Ripley was easily one of the top stars at both NXT TakeOver: WarGames and Survivor Series.

It all started on Saturday night, where she and Candice LeRae overcame the odds and defeated Shayna Baszler, Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai, and Bianca Belair in the first ever women’s WarGames match. What made it even more impressive was the fact that Ripley pinned Baszler, one of the most dominant women in NXT history.

She then took that momentum into the following night in the women’s Survivor Series match, where she brought the win home for the black-and-yellow brand, by pinning Sasha Banks after Shirai and LeRae returned from “injury” .

It’s safe to say that Ripley is red hot right now, and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. But how far can she go in WWE? Could we go so far as to say she could someday replace “The Man” herself, Becky Lynch?

Honestly, I believe she can. Just look at everything she has accomplished so far in her short career. She immediately turned heads when she debuted in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, even though she was eliminated in the second round. The kind of athleticism she possessed for someone her size was seldom seen, and she would only get better as time went on.

Then she returned the following year for the tournament, sporting a whole new look and attitude that fit her to a T. She went from a happy-go-lucky newcomer to having a brash and cocky attitude that takes many years to perfect. This helped her advance all the way to the semi-finals, defeating MJ Jenkins, Kacy Catanzaro, and Tegan Nox, before losing to Io Shirai. If the bracket was configured differently, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Ripley made it to the finals.

After that, she was chosen to be a part of the women’s roster for the newly-announced brand, NXT UK. She then was announced as a participant in an eight-woman tournament to crown the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion. Ripley went on to defeat Xia Brookside and Dakota Kai to advance to the finals.

The only woman standing in the way of her and the title was the heavy favorite, Toni Storm. But The Nightmare was not intimidated, and went on to pull off the massive upset to become the first ever NXT UK Women’s Champion. This was also the first time a WWE women’s championship was held by an Austrailian.

Ripley held the title for 139 days, defending it against the likes of Dakota Kai, Deonna Purrazzo, and Isla Dawn. Her reign came to an end at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, losing the title to Storm.

She didn’t let the loss phase her, however, and several weeks later debuted on the main roster as a part of the women’s Royal Rumble match. She entered at number 24, eliminating Dana Brooke, Kacy Catanzaro, and Zelina Vega before being eliminated by Bayley.

Then, after feuding with Piper Niven in NXT UK, Ripley made her return to NXT in August 2019. She interrupted the NXT Women’s Champion, Shayna Baszler, and declared that while the champ may have beaten everyone in NXT, she hadn’t beaten her yet.

This marked the start of a change in Ripley; she became more of a confident, cocky face, a character that very few people can pull off believably, but one that once again fit her perfectly.

Not only was she named team captain for the women’s War Games match, she also took part in several NXT invasions of both RAW and SmackDown. She even picked up a win last Friday over Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks, before leading her teams to victory that weekend.

The crazy thing about all of her success is that she’s only 23 years old. In fact, she just turned 23 last month. It completely blows my mind, especially since I’m older than her by about five months. To show just how much of her career she has ahead of her, if she competes on the WrestleMania 50 card, she would still be younger than Shayna Baszler is at this very moment.

That shows you how much faith WWE has in her at such a young age. For example, they could have easily made Toni Storm the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion instead. Hell, everyone expected it to happen in the first place, but that’s the potential Triple H and company saw in her and continue to see.

If this is what she can accomplish now, just imagine what she’ll do if and when she moves to RAW or SmackDown. Having her take on the likes of Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Sasha Banks has the potential of creating numerous instant classics and match of the year candidates.

It’s going to be extremely exciting to see where Ripley’s career goes in the future. I think it’s safe to say that it’ll only get better and better as the years go on.

While I could say that she’ll eventually become one of the company’s top women, her performance this past weekend proved that she already is.

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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Shalenehixon21. Thanks for reading!

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