5 Rhea Ripley matches you’ve gotta see before WrestleMania

Apr 11, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Asuka (green/yellow attire) and Rhea Ripley (black attire) during the Raw Women's Championship match at WrestleMania 37 at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Asuka (green/yellow attire) and Rhea Ripley (black attire) during the Raw Women's Championship match at WrestleMania 37 at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Rhea Ripley has become synonymous with powerhouse wrestling matches. Match to match, Ripley has more than proven she is deserving of her WrestleMania 39 spot, in which she will face SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair.

Today, we’ll be looking over Ripley’s past. Specifically, we’ll look at some of the matches that brought her to this doorstep. By watching her rise amongst the ranks, we can see how she carved out a spot for herself at the very top of the business.

Ripley’s rise in NXT was one to behold. As she stated, her matches told a story of their very own, a story of a woman who meant to wrestle her very own style, her very own way, and make a few brash statements along the way.

Ripley isn’t one for finesse, but it is in her power that she delivers one heck of a beautiful match. Paced, accurate, and absolutely brutal, her matches can be compared to those of legends like Chyna and even Beth Phoenix, having a run-in with the latter at Elimination Chamber in Montreal just last month.

It was in 2013 that she started wrestling for Riot City Wrestling. She was only 17 at that time, but it didn’t take her long to make a statement. She would sign with WWE four years later, and it was at the Mae Young Classic where she would alert one and all to who the heck Rhea Ripley was.

In this piece, we’ll be looking at those matches she’d have in the MYC, NXT UK, NXT, and the main roster.

It’s been one heck of a ride for Ripley, but it’s been an equally thrilling, nightmarish ride (and I mean that in a good way) for her fans and those covering the sport, too. Let’s take a look at some of the action that brought her to the WrestleMania main event picture.

Rhea Ripley vs. Piper Niven – NXT UK – July 3rd, 2019

Thankfully, Piper Niven, a powerhouse wrestler herself, recently got granted permission to use her old name again (after an unfortunate stint as Doudrop). Niven and Ripley had some epic battles in the ring, but perhaps none were as entertaining as this one.

The match is a study of what good old-fashioned conviction can do. It helps tell the story, and unfortunately, too many talents overlook the importance of acting in pro wrestling. Selling, as it’s known in the business, is key, and here the women deliver big time in that department, as they so often have throughout their careers.

Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair – For the NXT Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 36

Unfortunately, the pandemic era often gets a bad rap. I’ve written this before, but for me, WrestleMania 36 still holds up as one of the better WrestleMania events from the last eight years.

It was during the pandemic that a lot of the younger wrestlers learned new ways in which to engage an audience watching at home, as they had no audience to play off of in attendance anymore.

They had to get creative during that time and many performers did, big time. These two women did an impeccable job at selling that match. It came off beautifully, as did so many other matches on that card.

Royal Rumble 2023

This has to be mentioned and not just because it’s leading up to this year’s WrestleMania. She broke records, lasting longer than any other woman in the Rumble match’s history — 61:08. Here’s some of what she had to say about this year’s Rumble win at the Royal Rumble press conference:

"“I think it’s really, really cool that I’m the one that gets to make this sort of history. And going in at number one and sticking it out until the very end, and going that whole distance with someone like Liv Morgan as well, like, she needs to get credit for that as well. She put in so much effort, and she was going, and she did not give up. She was very, very resilient. Lucky for me she got misted by Asuka.”-via firstsportz.com (transcription)"

Dakota Kai vs. Rhea Ripley – 2nd Round Match at the Mae Young Classic – Sept. 5th, 2017

Kai, yet another epic talent in the industry right now, has had her fair share of tremendous matches as well, but this one from the Mae Young Classic is a standout.

Quite a few matches from those tournaments really shone a light on so many other epic female wrestlers, and those matches have been well-documented over the years; this one here is no different, and belongs at the top of the list as well.

NXT War Games – Team Ripley vs. Team Baszler

Ripley is no stranger to War Games. She’s been in many of these matches — even this year’s War Games match that made it to the main roster and shaped the, hopefully, new direction for Survivor Series.

Survivor Series was a great event and Rhea Ripley delivered in her role on that platform. But I decided to shine a light on this memory from NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2019, which held the first women’s War Games match.

She and several other ladies revolutionized the War Games match. The event would never be the same again, and as Ripley has often said, the competition between the men and the women will always be on to see which group of athletes would have the better match of the night.

On that night, statements were made and big ones at that…statements that are never forgotten.

Will Ripley make the same kind of statement at WrestleMania in her match against Flair? Time will tell, but Ripley fans would do well to keep their fingers crossed.

Next. 2 things that went went right on the March 10 WWE SmackDown. dark

One thing is for sure. No matter the outcome, we’re in for one heck of a ride when Rhea Ripley’s involved. Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, folks.