Three years ago, many WWE fans expected that year’s WrestleMania 36 to be Rhea Ripley’s launch point. She was the WWE Women’s Champion of the NXT brand, which often serves as a feeder league for the WWE main roster. Charlotte Flair, WWE’s most decorated female star, won that year’s Royal Rumble, winning the title against anyone she wanted. Instead of challenging the champion from the “Raw” or “SmackDown” brands, Flair surprisingly challenged Ripley.
It was assumed that Ripley would win, move up to the main roster and become a major star. Instead, he lost by submission to Flair, and then went back to Australia for a while to deal with work visa issues. He returned to NXT and didn’t make it to WrestleMania 36 until almost a year later. Over the past year, since joining Judgment Day, she has become arguably the most popular female on the roster, despite being a heel. . With his goth look and power moves (even the occasional power punch), there’s a definite buzz when he steps into the arena.
Everything ended where it was three years ago. This time Ripley won the Royal Rumble and challenged Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Title in the main event of Night 1 of WrestleMania on Saturday. We recently spoke to Ripley about her journey.
Q: Three years ago, it looked like you were on the verge of becoming one of WWE’s top stars, but you fell short and your promotion was delayed. Do you look back on that night with any disappointment?
Ripley: Charlotte and I wrestled in front of zero people at WrestleMania (note: WrestleMania 36 was held in an empty arena due to the Covid pandemic). It’s a historic moment there. And we completely demolished the house. We went out there and left everything we had in that ring. Although there was no adrenaline, there was no noise, there was nothing. So I was not disappointed in that game. Of course, the result makes me want to win. But that game doesn’t disappoint me at all. It’s actually one of my favorites. It was a very difficult time for many of us. And I think we’ve grown a lot in that time.
Q: It seems like you’ve come a long way in the last couple of years. Do you feel that?
Ripley: I think it’s a confidence thing for me. Finding confidence in myself is such a rollercoaster situation. Some days I’m the most confident person in the world. And some days I have absolute confidence, it really depends on me as a human being outside of work. And it shines through what you see in WWE, where I have to represent myself with confidence every day. And sometimes it’s very, very difficult. Where I feel like I’ve grown in a way now is how the fans are going to react, I know what they like and what they don’t like. And I’ve been here long enough to put my name in front of them, and react the way I want them to react. So it’s a lot easier for me to go there and I’m having fun at the moment. I’m saying what I want to say and doing what I want. And they enjoy it. Of course, they also block me. Like they don’t like it, but they like it in a happy way. I’m here to entertain them, but they want to make fun of me and I thrive on that. I love.
Rhea Ripley is a dominant force in the ring.
Q: I’ve seen your video at home shows where you interact with people in the hallway and as you know, your main character is trying to scare people or interact in different ways. And if that gives you a boost, you seem to move on from there.
Ripley: Yes. And it’s funny because that’s not just Rhea Ripley, it’s me as a person. As I do that scenario here too. I’m constantly scaring people. Sometimes people walk by and I’ll usually just walk and jump up to them. And they say: “Why? Why did you do that?” I think the fans see that I’m going out and having fun. But I feel like home shows are definitely where I’ll be leaving. And it’s really cool because that’s where a lot of people connect with your character because it allows them to interact with you more because you’re not just focusing on the camera. So you can do things like you can freak people out, you can go high five and then take it off, you can untie people’s shoelaces. But we’re having fun.
Q: Even though you play a badass, you are a role model for many young girls. They see that you present yourself as a confident, badass woman. I imagine that’s a blessing and a curse in a way because, if you’re in public, you’re trying to have a day off. But should you still stick to this persona you’ve developed, especially when you’re interacting with children?
Ripley: It really depends on the environment. Like, if I’m working, then yes, I’ll stay in character for a bit. But if I’m outside of work I’ll be nicer to them, and I’ll encourage them to do what they want, obviously because I want people to feel comfortable in their own skin. And I want them to know that it’s okay to be themselves and look how they want to look. Not everyone has to look the same. Not all girls have to have long hair, they can have short hair, they can have tattoos, they can have muscles, they can do whatever they want. And that’s what I want to represent to them. I’ll still throw Rhea Ripley in there, as Rhea Ripley is my 10x version. So it’s my natural way, I mean charm, because people like it. But I’m going to be cheeky and call out someone with a Liv Morgan shirt on if they’re wearing a Liv Morgan shirt. “You want to be my fan, but you’re wearing a Liv Morgan shirt?” But I’ll still make them feel good about themselves at the same time. Because I want them to know that you don’t always have to please people in your life. Be you, that’s what life is all about.
Q: Let’s talk about you Dominik Mysterio for a minute. Because that’s an amazing pairing. When you and Dom joined Judgment Day, were you surprised by the two of you playing alongside each other? Because you guys have quite the chemistry together.
Ripley: Built from scratch. Before that I hardly spoke to Dominik. We were in different groups. But our pairing just clicked, the connection was smooth and easy. And it’s been great watching him grow up too. He was now the biggest baby face in all the smiles of everything. It’s been fun watching him evolve and grow into the Latino Heat he is today.
Q: You’re whispering in my ear a lot on Raw. Do you ever try to break character? What’s going on there?
Ripley: Everyone wants to know what I’m talking about. But that’s a little secret between me and Dom. It often makes you smile. And that’s what intrigues everyone, because they don’t know what I’m talking about. But I don’t want to spoil it too much. But I will get a few things out.
Q: I’ve been to a lot of live events and there are certain fighters that have a different buzz when they step into the arena, you feel in the arena “this fighter can do whatever he wants and no one else will”. say nothing.” It makes it so much easier to suspend your disbelief. You have that buzz now. Do you feel that when you go out?
Ripley: It’s at an all-time high right now. In my introduction I did not leave at the beginning of my song. But as soon as my song plays, the crowd explodes. And it’s great to hear. It helps me before I walk in front of everyone. Just walking there and not having to do anything but eating out of my hand. It is definitely a very nice feeling. And I feel like all the hard work has paid off in a way because I’ve twisted their minds to react the way I want them to. It definitely fires me up. It prepares me, it excites me. And at that particular moment I’m really excited about everything I’m doing in that ring.
Q: One day, you will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. You still have a long career ahead of you, so this answer may change in five years. But today, if you are going to enter, who would you like to enter?
Ripley: Oh, I’ve never been asked this question before. So I never really thought about it. It is very unusual to receive different questions. I think right now I would like Dom Dom to penetrate me. I think that would make sense.