Rhea Ripley is the star many expected her to be, but WWE needs to create a top challenger for her to continue growing.
Rhea Ripley has been one of Judgment Days’ top stars, alongside her onscreen partner Dominik Mysterio. Even though she has held WWE’s Women’s World title for months now, Rhea Ripley needs a real challenger to cement her reign officially. Winning the title from Charlotte in what may have been Match of the Night at WrestleMania 39 was a star-making moment for the young champion. Since WrestleMania 39, her list of opponents has not included any genuine contenders.
Furthermore, Ripley has barely been involved in the women’s division as of late, underusing her credibility and momentum. Fans rightly said that Ripley is phenomenal and a star in the making. However, at the moment, potential can feel like the real deal. If WWE can’t capitalize on her recent run, she could get left behind when Judgment Day falls apart, which may happen soon.
The Raw Roster is Light, But WWE Hasn’t Tried
The Raw roster has a lack of credible women’s challengers right now. In fact, the top two stars available are feuding with one another instead of fighting for Rhea’s new title. While not having a lot of credible options due to ongoing storylines and injury is not WWE’s fault, the issue is that WWE isn’t trying. Most of Rhea’s memorable moments since winning the title are as the muscle for Dominik Mysterio. While that has done wonders for his career and is an excellent role that gets a ton of television time, it is not a champions act. That means her title reign diminishes every moment she helps him grow.
The Judgment Day content across Raw and NXT has been excellent. In fact, it is probably the most exciting act in WWE outside of the Bloodline, surpassing even the incomparable hero Cody Rhodes at the moment. But, in the buildup to WrestleMania, Rhea Ripley was the heart of that act. She beat Asuka, Candice Larae, and Roxanne Perez in excellent bouts. Additionally, Rhea was mixing it up with the men feuding with Judgment Day, even scoring an official victory over Akira Tozawa in a big step for WWE and intergender wrestling.
Now she is just another part of the act. WWE booking her to be the arm candy and equalizer for the breakout “Dirty Dom” character has kept her involved with some major acts, but it has yet to do much to build her reign. The story is essential, especially in WWE. However, matches are required, good matches at that, to be a credible champion regardless of your character. WWE needs to get Ripley back in the ring in matches that matter to start and build this into a credible title run.
Rhea’s a Star and WWE Needs to Book That
Rhea Ripley needs a real challenger, and if none is available, WWE should make one. The star power of Ripley and Judgment Days momentum means she doesn’t need Alexa Bliss or Becky Lynch to have a credible challenger. Rhea Ripley is a big enough star to carry the feud provider. Her opponent hasn’t spent years being neglected like Natalya or Dana Brooke. No disrespect to either performer; both have had some memorable moments in fantastic WWE careers. They are just not perceived as champion caliber. Feuding with the champ doesn’t help anyone in that scenario. A performer with potential, face or heel, could easily find herself in a compelling feud with Rhea, and her Judgment Day popularity could make a new star. Also, WWE would show her fans that they are invested in Rhea at the top, which could keep fans engaged.
Look at where Zelina Vega is now after her match with Ripley at Backlash. Despite having no shot at overcoming the champion, her stock has risen since that loss. Booking new talents against Ripley is just as solid as booking established stars, so long as they haven’t been treated like “a jobber” for most of their recent career. WWE seems geared to try this with Raquel Rodriguez. However, the lengthy run without a credible challenger will make that a much harder sell to fans. If Rhea needs a real challenger, and none are around, it is incumbent on the promotion to create one. It will only help to boost their roster and help Rhea reach her potential.
Rhea Ripley Needs a Real Challenger to Prove Herself
Although Rhea, Dominik, Finn Balor, and Damian Priest are all collectively rising up the Raw ranks as part of Judgment Day, each has a different path to walk. Finn Balor has already been at the top of the card, briefly, anyway. On the other hand, Dominik has never been on his own; he is still very new and developing. Rhea Ripley is somewhere in the middle. She is a young performer with a ton of momentum and excellent abilities. However, her win against Charlotte was not the first shot she had in the main event. Before joining her stablemates, Rhea was quite stale.
After a lackluster Raw Women’s Championship reign, Rhea was stuck in a deluge of bland tag teams feuding for the Women’s tag team titles. Since winning the title this time around, Rhea has remained immensely popular because of Judgment Day. If WWE wants its fans to see Rhea the way they are presenting her now, forgetting about her past, Rhea needs to succeed where she failed before. That requires her to be a fighting champion, even as a heel. It may not be totally fair, but producing more matches like her WrestleMania 39 bout is a must to remove her previous failures and cement her spot at the top of the division.
Who Could Fill Rhea Ripley’s Needs for a Real Challenger?
WWE has a few options for Ripley that they can consider. Since Rhea Ripley needs a real challenger, the easiest thing to do is give her one of WWE’s best. Becky Lynch, Bayley, Trish Stratus, Charlotte Flair, Bianca Belair, or Asuka will all likely put on an excellent match, and each will be seen as a credible challenger for Ripley to overcome. Most of those stars are busy now, but that doesn’t mean WWE has no shot. Looking to NXT, stars like Meiko Satomura and Roxanne Perez have the skills to feud for the title should they be called up, and none of the baggage of being misused that talented performers like Shotzi have.
Likewise, if WWE wanted, they don’t need to find her a title match at all. They can actually give Rhea a real chance to showcase what has made her special with fans without worrying about moving another woman out of her current feud to lose a title match. Rhea has squared off with her male counterparts quite a bit. Fighting against men, not to squash somebody like R-Truth or Akira Tozawa, but an actual match to showcase her ability, perhaps against a legend or part-time performer like John Cena. Also, Dominik and Rhea could even challenge the tag team titles and win them off her power and skill. Rhea Ripley is a talented champion still looking to establish her place on the roster. Giving her nothing to do and hoping she stays popular is setting her up to fail like last time despite her improved standing, and it would be a shame for WWE to drop the ball again.