Rhea Ripley finally has a challenger for her world title


The Aug. 21 episode of WWE Raw made significant inroads into formulating the upcoming Payback card. The company added some intrigue to the World Heavyweight Championship via an excellent Shinsuke Nakamura promo. We also got good mic work from Trish Stratus and Becky Lynch ahead of their steel cage match. Oh, and we finally found out who Rhea Ripley’s next challenger is.

For months, the company has teased a potential Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez match, using a storyline injury to Rodriguez to hold off on the showdown until the right time. Apparently, WWE feels that Payback is that time.

After running through Candice LeRae, Ripley was confronted by Rodriguez, who hobbled down the ramp on crutches. However, this was a ruse, as Rodriguez chased Ripley to the ring, overpowered her, announced that she was cleared for competition, and said that she will face Ripley at the upcoming pay-per-view.

WWE has finally given Rhea Ripley a formidable challenge.

WWE received some warranted criticism for the lack of in-ring time it gave the women on Monday’s show — the Ripley squash and the Chelsea Green and Piper Niven vs. Katana Chance and Kayden Carter tag match lasted a combined two minutes and 39 seconds — and for using the talented LeRae as enhancement fodder.

Indeed, it’s shameful that WWE couldn’t find more time on a three-hour broadcast for women’s wrestling. Surely, the promotion could’ve cut a couple of those Judgment Day segments (particularly the ones with JD McDonagh) and a few of the video packages to make room for some substantial ladies’ action.

Putting LeRae in the jobber spot also exposed WWE’s woeful efforts when it comes to building up babyface opposition for Ripley. Fans understand wanting to keep Ripley strong for the match with Rodriguez (and, presumably, a future match with Lynch), but having Ripley beat a myriad of worthy contenders accomplishes the same goal with the added benefit of elevating other women on the roster.

In isolation, though, it’s not hard to see the booking logic of the Ripley blowout win. Aside from generally making her look dominant, the squash match was an apt setup for Rodriguez to show up and match Ripley’s strength. And Rodriguez, thankfully, left her seemingly permanent grin backstage and replaced it with some decent intensity to enhance the perception of her as a threat to Ripley’s reign.

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With Payback roughly two weeks away, WWE doesn’t have a lot of time to add more to this feud, but the foundation it has laid might be enough.