WWE: Rhea Ripley needs to be out from under Charlotte Flair’s shadow

WWE NXT, Rhea Ripley Credit: WWE.com
WWE NXT, Rhea Ripley Credit: WWE.com /

Back at the end of 2019, Rhea Ripley was the hottest wrestler in NXT and she was rewarded with the NXT Women’s Championship. Her win was so big that she actually brought a ton of fans with her into the ring to celebrate with a mosh (this was pre-COVID times).

Fast forward to WrestleMania 36 where she faced Charlotte Flair. The match was supposed to elevate the NXT Women’s Championship to the same level as the RAW and SmackDown’s Women’s titles. Vince reportedly handpicked the match and picked “The Queen” to win, halting all of Rhea’s momentum. Most of us knew when it happened that this was a big mistake and we were right. Ripley hasn’t been booked properly since.

A condensed history of Rhea vs. Charlotte

After weeks of vignettes, Ripley finally debuted on the main roster in late March of this year to challenge Asuka for the RAW Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 37. Ripley was successful in her challenge. The following night on RAW, the two had a rematch that ended in a no-contest when Flair interfered.

This led to several more matches involving Flair and Ripley. After just 98 days as champion, Ripley dropped the title to “The Opportunist” at Money in the Bank. Flair lost it the next night when Nikki A.S.H. cashed in on the battered champion. Why they didn’t just have Ripley retain against Flair and lose to A.S.H. only makes sense to WWE creative.

Ever since Vince picked Flair to face Ripley at WrestleMania 36, the Aussie has constantly been in Flair’s shadow. Ripley is very good. She is over with the fans. She has a different look, but she is not what WWE typically pushes to the forefront of their women’s division. While blonde, she isn’t platinum. She marches to the beat of her own drum and is unapologetically herself. This is one of the things that draws fans to her. Her authenticity connects with people all over the world.

And yet, RAW creative can’t help themselves. They constantly pit her against the 14-time women’s champion. WWE does the same feuds to death, so that isn’t an anomaly. Because of this habit, Ripley was never really ever to eclipse Flair.

Asuka always in the shadow

This isn’t the first time it’s happened with an opponent of Flair’s. The same thing happened with Asuka. Asuka dominated the NXT Women’s roster during her historic 523-day reign.

When Asuka moved to RAW, she brought her undefeated streak with her. This streak lasted an impressive 914 days. The woman to end her streak? You guessed it–Flair.

“The Empress of Tomorrow” won the SmackDown Women’s Championship in 2018 and lost 100 days later to her nemesis.

At TLC 2020, Asuka and a returning Flair teamed up to face Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. The former rivals became tag team champions for a brief period. They quickly lost their titles at Royal Rumble. During this time, Asuka was also the RAW Women’s Champion. She faced Ripley for the title at WrestleMania 37 and lost. The following night, their rematch was ruined when Flair attacked them both.

It’s long been rumored that Vince doesn’t like Asuka and one of the biggest reasons is because of her accent. Asuka doesn’t have the usual look of many women in the division either. See a pattern here?

WWE needs to create new stars

Flair is a great wrestler and no one is denying that. She is one of the top women’s wrestlers and should be held to a certain standard, but not at the expense of other women.

Asuka is one of the best wrestlers on the entire roster. She deserves to be elevated to the same status as Flair. Her run as RAW Women’s Champion last year was laughable. She barely defended her title and WWE practically made the title meaningless. It is absurd how terribly they have booked Asuka.

They have done the same to Ripley. Ripley isn’t on the same level as Asuka, but she has a lot of upsides. If they start building her up now, she could be a big name in the women’s division within just a few years. WWE should be elevating her instead of dragging her down with crappy booking.

Don’t look now, but it appears that they’re putting the current RAW Women’s Champion in Charlotte’s shadow already. A week after winning the title in surprise cash-in, Charlotte dominated Nikki A.S.H. in the main event on RAW. This comes after Flair opened the show by trashing her gimmick. They’ve already set up a rematch next week on top of a triple threat match at SummerSlam that involves Ripley too.

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Eventually, they’re going to have to book other women strongly. They’re going to have to book them on Charlotte’s level or at least where she isn’t overshadowing them. The women’s divisions in WWE have been struggling for a long time (outside of a few stories). WWE needs to make some big changes or it’s just going to keep regressing. It’s time to build new stars and use the veterans to help elevate them.