Let’s take a trip back to last month. I wrote an article about five potential challengers for Shayna Baszler and the NXT Women’s Championship after she defeated Mia Yim at NXT TakeOver: Toronto.
I talked about how Baszler could possibly meet her match if those two were to ever go face-to-face, and if she would be able to handle someone who was just as cocky and confident as she was.
One of those women I picked was the hard-nosed Aussie, Rhea Ripley.
Lo and behold, two weeks ago on NXT TV, The Nightmare herself appeared at Full Sail and interrupted the champion. She made quite the statement, declaring that while Baszler had supposedly beaten everyone, she hadn’t beaten her yet.
The two clashed on this week’s edition of NXT, and if Ripley won, she would be added to the fatal four-way match between Mia Yim, Io Shirai, Candice LeRae and Bianca Belair to determine the #1 contender for Baszler’s title.
While Ripley was up to the challenge, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir made their presence known once again. Baszler tried to use a steel chair, but ended up on the receiving end of it after Ripley countered. The Queen of Spades may have won by disqualification, but it was her opponent that was standing tall.
Due to the outcome of that match, it looks like the fatal four-way will remain just that once NXT goes live on the USA Network next week. However, not only do I think that Ripley should have been included in the match, I also believe she should be the next NXT Women’s Champion.
First off, look at each competitor in the fatal four-way match; all of them have been unsuccessful in challenging Baszler on several occasions. While LeRae hasn’t had a title opportunity in quite a while, she’s had her run-ins with Baszler, starting in the quarterfinals of the inaugural Mae Young Classic.
Belair came up short twice, once in a one-on-one title match at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix and once in a fatal four-way match at NXT TakeOver: New York. Then she lost twice to Yim, which derailed her momentum further.
Shirai has had the most opportunities out of the four. She was also a part of the fatal four-way match at TakeOver: New York, along with a singles match at TakeOver: XXV. Her final opportunity came on the June 26th episode of NXT, where she once again unsuccessfully challenged Baszler for the title in a steel cage match.
Yim was the most recent challenger for the title. She was first defeated by the champ on an episode of NXT TV back in March. Then she, as mentioned above, couldn’t capture the title at TakeOver: Toronto.
At this point, none of them are believable challengers. I originally predicted that Yim would be the one to dethrone the champion, but now that ship has definitely sailed.
If you take a look at Baszler’s opponents as a whole, none of them have felt like legitimate threats to her title reign. Most have been seen as underdogs and not challengers that could give the champion a run for her money. Aside from Yim, I haven’t looked at any of her opponents and thought, “Oh yeah, this is definitely the one.”
Then we have Ripley, who was the first NXT UK Women’s Champion and has torn through its women’s division for quite some time now. If Toni Storm wasn’t getting a push at the exact same time, she could have easily held the title for a lot longer than she did. She has basically been to NXT UK what Baszler has been to NXT.
When I said that Baszler might have her toughest challenge yet if she faced Ripley, I wasn’t saying it just for kicks. She barely survived this week and came moments away from potentially losing if it weren’t for Shafir and Duke’s interference.
In just two weeks, Ripley has done something many women before her have failed to do: feel like an immediate threat to Baszler’s title reign. If NXT wants to continue to have a dominant champion whenever Baszler moves up to the main roster, she is the only logical choice.
She has the cockiness and the confidence that can either continue to make her a great heel, or eventually make her a badass anti-hero good guy.
Baszler better be prepared, because Ripley has her sights set on the title and will do whatever it takes to make it hers. While that might be a welcome change to the women of NXT, having a champion as imposing and dominant as the last one would be far from a reprieve.
It might only be a matter of time before we see The Queen of Spades’ stranglehold on the NXT women’s division come to an end at the hands of The Nightmare, and rightfully so.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Shalenehixon21. Thanks for reading!