After a bit of uncertainty, we now know that Rhea Ripley will challenge Asuka at WrestleMania 37.
The Nightmare made her official main roster debut last week. She made quite the first impression, immediately confronting Asuka and asking for a RAW Women’s Championship match. The champion obliged and they made it official this week on RAW.
Without a doubt, the stakes are high for Ripley going into Sunday night. So, the real question is this: would another WrestleMania loss hurt Rhea Ripley going forward?
Well, the short answer is absolutely. Another loss could easily derail her main roster career before it ever has a chance to begin. Plain and simple, she needs the win more than Asuka.
First off, the RAW women’s division needs a major change and fast. It’s safe to say that WWE has horribly booked Asuka during her reign as champion. Ever since she earned the title, nothing has felt the same. It’s almost like she’s an afterthought to them, and the division has suffered as a result.
Having Ripley win the title at ‘Mania can instantly breathe new life into the division. It opens the door for so many different creative directions that could help shake things up. She could renew her rivalry with Shayna Baszler or take on women she hasn’t faced before. Just imagine her going up against the likes of Alexa Bliss, Naomi,
Reckoning Mia Yim, or even a returning Becky Lynch.
It feels like it’s time for a change, and Ripley has shown she’s capable of leading that charge.
Just look at what she has done since the 2018 Mae Young Classic. She became the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion and held the title for 139 days. Her first loss in NXT UK didn’t come until she lost the title to Toni Storm.
Then, her career really caught fire when she returned to NXT in August 2019. She started going after then-NXT Women’s Champion, Baszler. Then, during that feud, she also took part in NXT’s war against RAW and SmackDown heading into Survivor Series.
At NXT TakeOver: WarGames, Ripley’s team defeated Baszler’s team in the first-ever women’s WarGames match. What made it even more impressive is the fact that, for most of the match, it was a two-on-four handicap match. Dakota Kai turned on Tegan Nox, removing them both from the equation. This left Ripley and Candice LeRae to take on Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, and Kay Lee Ray. However, the duo still found a way to pull it off and walk away with the win.
The following night at Survivor Series, Ripley and Team NXT took on Team RAW and Team SmackDown in a five-on-five-on-five elimination match. She ended up winning the match for her team, pinning Sasha Banks to do so.
To cap things off, Ripley finally defeated Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship on the December 18 episode of NXT. She made history that night, becoming the first woman to win both the NXT and NXT UK Women’s Championships.
So, she clearly has what it takes to be the face of the RAW women’s division. A win at ‘Mania can help cement her status as a star in the company. It could also serve as redemption from what happened last year.
Her NXT Women’s Championship title reign ended at WrestleMania 36 at the hands of Charlotte Flair. She was on an absolute tear going into that match; everything that happened in the months prior was supposed to pay off there. That was supposed to be her star-making moment.
But she lost, and as a result, her momentum disappeared in the blink of an eye.
If she won then, that could have easily propelled her into the stratosphere. Instead, that loss derailed Ripley for quite some time. It took her almost the entirety of last year to build her momentum back up going into this year. Who knows how long it would take this time if history repeated itself.
Simply put, she cannot afford to lose again.
Rhea Ripley has shown that she has what it takes to lead a division into the future. It happened in NXT, and it can happen again on RAW. It could all start on Sunday night, where she can prove that she is a force to be reckoned with.
WWE has a prime opportunity to right their wrong from last spring. They need to put the title on someone new and not set her up to fail. For the sake of the RAW women’s division, they better not make the same mistake twice.