Since losing the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship a few weeks ago on Raw, the dynamic between Rhea Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. has shifted. Prior to and throughout their 63-day reign as champions, much of Ripley and Nikki’s interactions centered around their stark contrasts personality-wise.
Now, most of Ripley and Nikki’s on-screen time has been dedicated to highlighting Nikki’s extended losing streak, which is what ultimately cost them the championship. In the process, heels such as Zelina Vega and Carmella have taken every chance possible to chide Nikki for losing matches and being carried by Ripley.
Slowly but surely, it seems like WWE is building to an eventual dissolution of a team that was born out of the company’s creative deprivation.
It’s time to split up Rhea Ripley and Nikki A.S.H.
When WWE paired these two up following their loss to Charlotte Flair in a triple threat match at SummerSlam 2021 to satiate the company’s ever-bothersome “we don’t know what to do with these wrestlers after they lose to Flair” and “let’s team these random people up” itches, few expected the partnership to last long.
Even after they beat Natalya and Tamina for the tag titles in September, picking the over on whether this team would last for six months — let alone a year — seemed like a shaky bet to make.
Fast forward to December, and it appears that — to steal a phrase from Paul Heyman — those predictions have turned out to be spoilers, and given how the lack of singles depth in the Raw women’s division, it’s probably for the best.
Aside from current Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair, the red brand’s distaff ranks are too thin for a show that runs for three hours a week. The current women’s tag team champions, Carmella and Queen Zelina, have goofy opening act gimmicks and aren’t presented as legitimate threats either as individuals or as a team.
Doudrop received a bit of a bump in TV time during her program with Belair, but she may see less not that the feud is over. Alexa Bliss is out with an injury. Current top contender Liv Morgan has suffered from inconsistencies with her scripted material, booking, and in her promo delivery since her first big push in WWE started.
Dana Brooke was/is framed as such a non-factor in the division that she’s now in 24/7 Championship skits, though it is nice to see her getting regular screen time. And if Tamina isn’t chasing Brooke and the 24/7 Title, she’s counting the lights in the ring.
Even if Asuka and/or Bayley get added to the roster once they return from their respective injuries, this is still a talent pool in desperate need of credible babyface AND heel singles stars. Depending on how this Ripley/Nikki story plays out, the two could fill either or both of those spots.
Ripley and Nikki have excelled as fan favorites and rule breakers at the upper midcard and main event levels in NXT and the main roster, and while their seperate waves of momentum were tempered in service of padding Flair’s world title tally, both still have passionate enough fanbases to revitalize the ripples in those waters, and a split would be a good catalyst for it.
It doesn’t even need to be a contentious split; something as simple as having Nikki tell Ripley that she wants to so off on her own, figure things out, and prove that she can string together some wins could work, and it would allow WWE to team them up again down the line, a nice compromise for those who like the team (and like both as babyfaces) and those who think this duo has run its course.
Now, to be fair, there are good reasons for ignoring all of this and keeping Ripley and Nikki together. The two have developed a fun chemistry as a team since uniting in late August. Plus, keeping the two together longer would make an eventual separation more impactful and earned.
Also, a story where Nikki regains her confidence, goes on a winning streak, and wins the tag titles again with Ripley would be more rewarding that doing another tag team split, especially so soon after the AJ Styles/Omos break-up.
Most importantly…..well, Carmella and Zelina need someone to feud with as tag champions, and WWE literally has no other women’s tag teams on the main roster.
Even with those caveats, though, WWE has probably tarnished too much of whatever mystique the women’s tag titles could’ve had to make any of those scenarios work, but the promotion still has time to restore some of the luster they chipped away from Ripley and Nikki earlier this year, and having the two do different things as singles stars could be the way to accomplish that.