Rhea Ripley’s Career So Far – WWE Bookmarks


Demi Bennett, better known to the wrestling world as Rhea Ripley, has always shown that she was ready for greatness. Ripley first entered the business in 2013 at the age of 16, performing for Riot City Wrestling, an independent wrestling promotion based in her home city of Adelaide, Australia. She immediately rose to success, becoming a two-time RCW Women’s Champion.

Ripley's Indie


Ripley continued to hang around the independent circuit through 2017, competing against the likes of former WWE superstars, Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm. She also competed in intergender matches during her independent career. Ripley competed in her final match for RCW, where she successfully defended her women’s title. From there, Ripley would receive the biggest opportunity of her young career thus far.

WWE: Mae Young Classic 2017

Ripley's first Mae Young ClassicIn 2017, Ripley officially signed with WWE. The South Australian superstar would go on to make her debut, participating in the inaugural Mae Young Classic. This is where the ring name Rhea Ripley was born, ditching her old name (Demi Bennett). The Mae Young Classic was obviously a major chance for Ripley to prove herself to a wider audience. The 2017 edition featured recognizable names such as the aforementioned Mercedes Martinez, Shayna Baszler, Tessa Blanchard, and the eventual winner Kairi Sane. We also saw names that were brand new to the WWE universe as well, such as future WrestleMania main eventer Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Mia Yim, and the previously mentioned Toni Storm, to name a few. Needleless to say, the pressure was on for Ripley to make an early name for herself.

Ripley caught the eye of the WWE universe very quickly. Her tall frame, her look, and her likability made her an early fan favorite. In the first round, she defeated Miranda Salinas in quick succession. Unfortunately for Ripley, that was her only victory of the tournament, as she suffered a loss in the second round, at the hands of WWE’s own, Dakota Kai.

The newcomer didn’t expect to win the inaugural Mae Young Classic. For one, she was not nearly as popular or well-known than the many other names mentioned before. And two, despite all of her early positives, her character was what needed work the most. If there was a criticism, it was that she came off a bit bland, someone whose biggest issue going forward would not be their in-ring ability, but instead what makes Ripley different from all of the other women. Well… I present to you her sequel performance, the Mae Young Classic 2018.

Mae Young Classic (2018)

Ripley's second Mae Young Classic

The Mae Young Classic rolled around again in 2018, with Ripley once again taking part in the women’s showcase. Things were different this time though. Besides the Mae Young Classic in 2017, Ripley didn’t appear on television much, only wrestling in a battle royal on an episode of NXT. The 2018 edition presented another chance for Ripley to expand her horizons in the ring, be different, be unique. And wow, was the difference between Ripley in 2017 compared to 2018 drastic or what? It was a good drastic though, one that made her stand out, one that provided the foundation to the Rhea Ripley we all have grown to love.

Ripley’s new look was intimidating, dressed in leather, a dog collar, among other “emo” type of attire. She displayed a much more aggressive personality, dominating her opponents with her great amount of strength, and using her height to her advantage as well. This was no longer the nice girl who is just so happy to be in WWE anymore. This was a completely different character than the year prior. It was better. She established herself as a heel as well, running through opponents such as MJ Jenkins and Kacy Catanzaro, moving on to the quarterfinals.

In the quarterfinals, she defeated fan favorite Tegan Nox, but not without its fair share of controversy. During the match, Nox was seriously injured, therefore granting Ripley the victory via referee stoppage. Ripley’s run ultimately ended in the semifinals against Io Shirai, another fan favorite. Ripley’s heel character was presented well, and she easily made the crowd dislike her. As a heel, that is always the goal. The goal is to turn the crowd against. Have them hope and pray that you never win another match in your career. Ripley succeeded in doing that.

First Championship (NXT UK)

Ripley in NXT UK

After the Mae Young Classic, Ripley positioned herself as one of the top stars in the newly formed NXT UK brand. Ripley was poised to make a major impact right away for its women’s division, and she sure did make an early impact on the brand. She went on to become the first-ever NXT UK Women’s Champion, defeating Xia Brookside, Kai, and Storm en route to her first crowning achievement in WWE. She made even more history, by becoming the first-ever female Australian superstar to become champion in WWE history.

While Ripley’s reign as champion was not long, she did successful defend her championship against the likes of Isla Dawn and Deonna Purrazzo. Ripley would drop the title at the new brand’s first major show, NXT UK Takeover Blackpool, losing in a rematch to her old rival, Toni Storm. Her reign lasted 139 days.

Off the success in NXT UK, she made her first main roster appearance at the Royal Rumble in 2019, competing in the titular women’s match. Ripley was impressive, eliminating three other competitors before being thrown out. The rest of her NXT UK run was inconsequential, taking part in feuds with Niven, Jazzy Gabert, and Jinny. Ripley’s final match in the UK took place in early October, a match that she ended up victorious in.

Eyes on NXT

NXT's Rhea Ripley

A couple months before her departure from NXT UK, Ripley appeared on the main version of NXT in the United States for the first time. On August 28, 2019, Ripley confronted the then NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, turning babyface for the first time since the original Mae Young Classic, and setting her sights on some new gold. While the feud between Ripley and Baszler began to slowly build, Ripley saw herself in another prime position to showcase her talents to the main roster once again.

A Star is Born

NXT's Women's Champion Rhea Ripley

The 2019 edition of Survivor Series was unlike no other, with the theme of brand warfare going one step further and including NXT. It all started on the first day of November where Ripley and many other NXT talents invaded SmackDown. Later on in the month, November 22 episode of SmackDown to be exact, Ripley made a major statement by defeating two household names in WWE, both Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks in a triple threat match. That was only the beginning of what was a game-changing weekend for Ripley.

Firstly, Ripley took part in the first ever women’s WarGames match at NXT Takeover: WarGames. Ripley captained her own four-woman team against Baszler’s. Against all the odds, a heel turn mid-match from her own team, making the match 4-on-2, Ripley prevailed by pinning Baszler. The match was fantastic, and Ripley showcased why she was one of the brightest stars in WWE to date.

The following night, she wrestled at Survivor Series as apart of Team NXT, recognized as the leader of said team. Team NXT competed in the 5-on-5-on-5 women’s elimination match against Team Raw and Team SmackDown. Ripley impressed once again, leading her team to victory with the deciding pinfall over Banks. The crowd were loving Ripley, justifiably so. She showcases her incredible athleticism for her size, and showed the WWE universe that she was already primed for a main roster call-up.

Ripley’s star-making 2019 didn’t end there however, as on the December 18 episode of NXT, Ripley’s dream of holding gold in NXT came true, as she defeated Baszler, becoming the first person to win both the NXT and NXT UK Women’s Championship.

The Stage is Set

WWE's Rhea Ripley

The NXT Women’s Championship reign for Ripley was… lackluster, not by her doing though. Ripley was put in a tough position from the jump, having to carry the weight of a women’s division that was ran through by Baszler. Also, Baszler just had a year-long title reign, and it was a very good one. There was pressure on Ripley to continue that recent success of the women’s title. But, after a little over a month, Ripley confronted the 2020 Royal Rumble winner, Charlotte Flair.

Ripley was consumed with Flair for her entire reign. Even her big title defense at NXT Takeover: Portland against Bianca Belair, was overshadowed by the looming threat of Flair. Before that as well, Flair had inserted herself into the Ripley and Belair feud, not giving Ripley a proper chance at carrying a feud for her championship. Flair eventually declared that she would challenge Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship at the aforementioned Takeover: Portland, setting the stage for the first-ever NXT match at WrestleMania 36.

First WrestleMania

WrestleMania's Rhea Ripley

The feud leading up to WrestleMania was your typical, “you haven’t beaten me yet” and “there’s no one better than The Queen.” It wasn’t bad, but the only thing anybody really cared about was if Ripley would get the huge rub of beating Flair at WWE’s biggest event.

WrestleMania 36 didn’t turn out the best for Ripley for many reasons. For starters, the Covid-19 pandemic completely disrupted plans, resulting in WrestleMania being held at the WWE Performance Center. Now still, competing at WrestleMania is an accomplishment in its own right, but competing at WrestleMania in front of thousands and thousands of fans, would have been so much sweeter.

As they say, the show must go on, and both Ripley and Flair put on a good match. However, the end result left a sour taste in many fans, including mine. Flair picked up the victory, becoming the new NXT Women’s Champion, and ending Ripley’s reign at a modest 108 days (actually 98 or 99 days but you know, tape delay). Needleless to say, the wrong decision was made. A win by Ripley would’ve cemented herself as a top name in the industry. A win by Ripley would’ve showed that WWE was fully on board in pushing “The Nightmare” to the top of the mountain. Despite the loss, fans were still optimistic that Ripley would turn things around and reach the top of the division once again. I mean, duh, a bonafide star at such a young age…what could go wrong?


NXT's Rhea Ripley

After losing her title at WrestleMania, Ripley began to go down a slow downward spiral in terms of relevancy. Ripley failed to regain the NXT Women’s Championship at In Your House, losing in a triple threat match to Flair, and the eventual winner and new champion, Io Shirai. People, me included, thought that this triple threat match would be designed for Ripley to either regain the title, or not get pinned and still look strong. That was obviously not the case as she not only didn’t win back her championship, but she also got pinned by Shirai in the process. Not the best start to her post-champion era.

Ripley spent the next bunch of months on and off of NXT television, winning matches here and there but never sniffing the top of the card. It wasn’t until November where Ripley got another one-on-one match for the NXT Womens Championship. Once again, it was believed that this would be the chance WWE would right their wrongs and propel Ripley back to the spotlight again. It wasn’t though, as Shirai retained.

Goodbye, NXT

NXT's Rhea Ripley

Ripley closed out her inconsistent 2020 with competing in the second women’s WarGames match, losing once again. To start 2021 off, Ripley took on Raquel Gonzalez in a Last Woman Standing match at New Year’s Evil. Another marquee match for Ripley turned out unsuccessful, losing to Gonzalez in what was her final match in NXT.

Her run in NXT will always be recognized as one that could have been. If Ripley didn’t lose to Flair at WrestleMania, what would’ve happened for the rest of 2020? How would it have changed plans for the following year? Still to this day, it is a huge disappointment that WWE never capitalized on Ripley when she was the hottest act in all of WWE’s women’s division. And to this day, she has never been this over with the crowd. Despite her struggle though, WWE attempted to rescue her falling career, but getting another opportunity at WrestleMania, this time in front of a crowd.

Main Roster Call-Up

Raw's Rhea Ripley

On the road to WrestleMania 37, the Monday Night Raw women’s division had difficulty building up a respectable challenger for the Raw Women’s Championship. Enter Rhea Ripley, bailing WWE out of a title challenger situation. Ripley answered the call and would go on to face Asuka for her women’s title.

Unlike the previous year’s WrestleMania, Ripley was victorious in her title match, becoming the Raw Women’s Champion and firmly inserting herself into the main roster for good. However, similar to her NXT women’s championship reign, her run at the top of the women’s division was lackluster. She continued to face Asuka and then Flair once again inserted herself into the title picture. She successfully defended her championship against the two in a triple threat match, eliminating Asuka from the equation and feud with Flair one-on-one instead.

At Money in the Bank, Ripley dropped her championship to Flair, ending her reign at only 98 days. Once again, WWE dropped the ball with Ripley. She fell victim once again to The Queen for a second and convincing time. The impression amongst fans, was that she would never be able to leapfrog Flair as the top woman in the company. In her first Summerslam appearance, she competed in a triple threat match at Summerslam. She failed to regain the title, thus ending the long feud.

Tag Team Division

WWE's Rhea Ripley

Ripley would then turn her attention to the Women’s Tag Team Championship with Nikki A.S.H. The pair would become tag team champions in September, defeating Natalya and Tamina. And once again, a title around Ripley’s waist didn’t matter, as both women dropped their tag titles after a disappointing 63 days.

Ripley continued to hang around the tag team division for the remainder of the year, and in early 2022. She was no longer teamed with Nikki though, as Nikki A.S.H. would turn on Ripley. The two entered a feud with one another, which Ripley won, thus leaving Ripley directionless for WrestleMania 38. Low and behold, she formed another “temporary” tag team, this time with Liv Morgan. The two competed in a fatal four-way match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship at said WrestleMania. However, the pair failed to capture the gold.

The mystique and appeal of Ripley died down considerably after becoming Raw Women’s Champion. Stuck in the tag team scene basically means creative has nothing for you. Creative just wants you to be somewhat relevant, but nowhere near the top. Ripley desperately needed a change of character. She had become so wooden on the mic and boring to be completely transparent. And a change sure happened.

The Beginning of The Judgement Day

WWE's Judgement Day

Ripley desperately needed to switch up her character, and the best way to change it, was to go in an even darker direction. Ripley first joined The Judgement Day, originally consisting of Edge and Damian Priest, at WrestleMania: Backlash, where she cost AJ Styles his match against Edge. Her joining The Judgement Day was highly anticipated, with her just a few weeks prior, turning on her tag team partner, Liv Morgan.

The Judgement Day started off strong, defeating Styles, Morgan, and Finn Balor at Hell in a Cell. However, a questionable decision was made, as just shortly after the faction even being formed, Priest and Ripley turned on edge, and brought in Balor to become the new leader of the group. The decision, whilst not bad considering Balor needed a character change as well, was head-scratching and surprising. Many believed that this group was already doomed, with rumors swirling that they would incorporate supernatural abilities to their gimmick. This was something that no one truly wanted to happen.

Ripley though, was still booked strong with her new persona. She became #1 contender for the Raw Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank. Things were finally looking up. Until, she had to pull out of said match, due to legitimately not being medically cleared to compete.

Judgement Day Struggles and Dominik Mysterio

WWE's Judgement Day

After her injury, The Judgement Day began to struggle. They would win their meaningless six-man tag team matches on Raw but would then lose in the big PPV contest. Every time they lost however, they would continue to attack the same group of people, with their feuds going on for way too long. That group of people, Edge, Rey and Dominik Mysterio.

One of the major parts of their feud took place at Clash at the Castle. The Judgement Day once again lost, but gained another member when Dominik turned on his father Rey. The faction was now four members, with Ripley now feeling like an afterthought, once again.

It wasn’t until she started playing the role of “mami” to Dominik. She was dominant, beating up men, using her strength, and playing a role that was equally entertaining but also captivating. Ripley quickly became the main focus of the group, thankfully. She instigated the feud with Edge to stretch on even longer but forcing his wife Beth Phoenix to enter the fray.

Everything Ripley did, and has done, with The Judgement Day up until now, has been mostly good. She not only looks intimidating, but WWE has built her up as a star of the women’s division. And she justifiably so should be at the top. I mean, just look at her. There is money with Rhea, and WWE was finally catching up with the overall census of the WWE Universe.

Royal Rumble Winner

WWE's Royal Rumble

The final chapter of this story ends with Ripley winning the women’s Royal Rumble for 2023. She was the overwhelming favorite heading into the match, and she thankfully won. She also last eliminating her old partner, Liv Morgan, a fitting end. Her win was celebrated. She had finally got what we had been waiting for. All that promise, all that potential, was finally coming to fruition.

Ripley’s two options to challenge for WrestleMania were Belair and Flair. And of course, she chose her old rival Charlotte Flair. It’s funny how things work out. The woman who singlehandedly created the downward spiral of Ripley’s career. Flair is now once again in line to do it once more. This storyline only makes this match much more intriguing. Will it happen again?!

But there is hope. There is true belief that this will be the star-making moment that Ripley has been waiting for. It’s not even about the SmackDown Women’s Championship. It’s about writing her wrongs, showing that she can be the main draw of the women’s division. That she can prove that she is not a flash in the pan, but in fact, she is a nightmare waiting to do positive damage to the WWE history books?

What do you think of Rhea Ripley’s career? Will she get her defining moment at this year’s WrestleMania? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment down below!

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