Last week on NXT, Rhea Ripley unsuccessfully challenged Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Championship. While she put up a heck of a fight, Shirai was just that much better. Unfortunately, that might have been her last chance to capture the title for the second time in her career.
So, what’s next for The Nightmare? There are several options for her after this latest setback, but two stick out to me the most.
First and foremost, Ripley’s next move could take her into familiar territory: WarGames. Last week, Shotzi Blackheart and Candice LeRae were named team captains for the second annual women’s WarGames match. Later in the night, Toni Storm and Ember Moon defeated Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. However, LeRae and Indi Hartwell helped Kai and Gonzalez attack their rivals and laid them out.
It’s easy to see who will make up the WarGames teams. Team LeRae will surely include Hartwell, Kai, and Gonzalez. On the other hand, Team Blackheart will likely have Storm and Moon. They are going to need another member to even the odds, and Ripley fits the bill perfectly.
She’s no stranger to fighting inside the cage; her team defeated Shayna Baszler’s team in the first-ever women’s WarGames match last year. Bringing Ripley into the fold could be what Blackheart needs to help give her team the upper hand. But once WarGames is over, it’s not hard to figure out where the former champion is going next. In the very near future, we are going to see Rhea Ripley join either RAW or SmackDown.
Like I mentioned in my previous article, it makes the most sense for her to join the red brand. They are in desperate need of some new competition for RAW Women’s Champion Asuka. Not a single woman on that roster right now is booked well enough to believably challenge her for the title.
The only exception is Baszler, but she is currently still one half of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions along with Nia Jax. Until they drop the titles—and also stop picking on Lana—then we won’t see a Baszler and Asuka showdown for a while. Having Ripley join the RAW women’s division immediately gives Asuka a legitimate challenger. However, if they don’t choose to go that route right away, there are a few different options for her.
For starters, she can renew hostilities with Baszler. The two feuded in the latter half of 2019, while Baszler was still NXT Women’s Champion. Things culminated on the December 18 episode of NXT, where Ripley dethroned The Queen of Spades to win the title.
I’m sure Baszler is still bitter over losing, so these two going at it again makes sense. It could be one of the more brutal feuds the women’s division has seen in quite some time. Another option is having her step up to Jax. For months now, The Irresistible Force has labelled herself the most dominant woman in the company. Who better to knock her down a few pegs than Ripley?
This wouldn’t be the first time she established dominance amongst worthy competitors. Ripley defeated Mercedes Martinez and Raquel Gonzalez earlier this year to prove just who the badest woman in NXT really was. She isn’t afraid of anyone on any roster, and Jax would be no different. The two also haven’t faced off before, so it would give fans a fresh and new matchup. Needless to say, if it does happen, Jax might just meet her match.
Also, if the timing was right, Ripley could once again go toe-to-toe with Charlotte Flair. She certainly hasn’t forgotten losing the NXT Women’s Championship to The Queen at WrestleMania 36. Ripley would love nothing more than to exorcise those demons and gain some retribution at the expense of Flair.
It feels like Flair is set to return at any time now, so this could potentially happen in the near future. They stole the show at ‘Mania, so a future rematch will surely not disappoint. Regardless of where Ripley goes from here, she will certainly show why she’s one of the brightest stars in the company. At 24 years old, she has already accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. The sky truly is the limit for her.
Only time will tell what’s next for Rhea Ripley. But wherever she ends up, everyone better get ready to deal with The Nightmare.