Rhea Ripley is a central part to The Judgement Day story, but as women’s champion shouldn’t she have a big angle in the women’s division all her own?
The Nightmare. The Eradicator. The 2023 Women’s Royal Rumble winner. A Grand Slam Champion. Mami. Rhea Ripley has accomplished a lot in her tenure as a WWE Superstar. From her debut in the 2017 Mae Young Classic until now, Ripley has blasted through the competition and taken risks before reaching the age of 30. Now, she has reached another pinnacle by becoming the inaugural Women’s World Champion and being the de facto leader of The Judgment Day. But Ripley seems to have her card full with her level of loyalty to the crew.
Fans and critics wonder if her title reign is taking a backseat to her cleaning up the men’s messes. She has been the wild card in multiple opportunities for the other members of the group. With as much energy as she is giving to the purple and black faction, will Rhea have enough for herself? Is Rhea being the center of a men’s angle a good or a bad thing?
Rhea Ripley as the focal point of the angle is a good thing
Though The Judgment Day began as the brainchild of WWE Hall of Famer and new AEW star Adam Copeland (FKA Edge) last year, the dominant faction had grown to stand on its own. All of the members leaned on each other for support, but more recently, Rhea Ripley has stepped up as the general of the group.
When Finn and Damien were not getting along, it was Rhea rallying them together to defeat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the Undisputed Tag Team titles at Payback. On any given Raw, you can find her sitting in the Judgment Day lounge calculating their next moves as the men panic about their obstacles. Seeing Dom, Finn, and Damien listen to her as an equal is revolutionary in its simplicity. It is an upgrade from the average formula of a male wrestler having a female valet that guides him until he decides to push her aside. Watching her make The Bloodline’s wise man Paul Heyman squirm last Friday on SmackDown was shocking and empowering at the same time.
As women in television and movie roles become more nuanced, it is important to see them be respected as leaders and intellectual equals to the men in wrestling. In a world where Princess Leia can become General Leia in the Star Wars universe and Harley Quinn can lead her Birds of Prey outside of the shadow of The Joker, Rhea Ripley can strategize for a group of her male counterparts.
Why it is a concerning issue that Rhea Ripley is the central focus
With Rhea’s star rising as the formidable queen of The Judgment Day, there are some negatives to her reign as “Monday Night Mami.”
Ripley has been SmackDown Women’s Champion and Women’s World Champion since her star-making match against decorated icon Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania. Though she is a favorite in the wrestling community, fans have decried her title reign due to her lack of competition. Let’s paint a picture: Since WWE has made the effort to make the women’s and men’s titles equal to each other in design, why hasn’t Rhea had the same amount of challengers that Seth Freakin’ Rollins has had? Why hasn’t Rhea defended her Women’s World title on NXT the way Seth defended his against two-time NXT Champion Bron Breakker? Outside of her fighting a non-title match versus Lyra Valkyria, the most Rhea has done on NXT is assist Dominick in both of his reigns as NXT North American Champion.
With her being the sun of Mysterio’s life, she burns everyone else with her lack of participation in the women’s division. The tide seems to be changing with the likes of Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler beating on Ripley this past Monday, but before then, only Raquel Rodriguez, Natalya, and Zelina Vega have made efforts to dethrone her. As she seeks to assert her dominance over the Raw women’s locker room and the Judgment Day, her thirst for power has overtaken her desire to be a substantial champion. She will use that beautiful belt as a weapon for cheating more than she will jump to defend it. That keeps a muzzle on the Zoey Starks and Indi Hartwells who want to pursue a larger goal.
Rhea Ripley being the mastermind of Judgment Day also shows her cleaning up the messes of the men in the group. In the previously mentioned Undisputed Tag Team title match at Payback, Ripley speared Owens through the timekeeper’s area in order to assist their victory. This also happened after she threatened them with “changes” if they did not secure the win. Which begs the question: Why hold a consequence over their head if you are only going to help them? It is inconsistent. Why can’t these grown and capable men handle their business without her interference? Why can’t Dominick ever trust his own abilities? It probably speaks more to their weaknesses than hers. Eventually, this could lead to Rhea getting burned out from being the crutch they depend on. Even nightmares have a breaking point, and one can only hope that she sees the light and be her own woman.
Since joining the Judgment Day, Rhea’s WWE career caught a second wind. Gaining new fans and keeping older ones intrigued, she has crossed the threshold of appeal. Her evolution from a smiling blonde bombshell to a gothic missile of toughness has been a sight to behold.
Whether she is in the ring slamming an opponent or cooking up alliances with longstanding factions, Ripley’s presence is undeniable. Though her championship reign leaves a little to be desired, more women are stepping up to her and that means progress can be made. With her strongest character work to date, Rhea being at the center of a men’s angle is a good thing. She has become the brains of the operation and that makes her dominant in a refreshing way. The future is bright for the Nightmare as long as she doesn’t forget herself.