In 2017, Australian up and comer, Rhea Ripley arrived in the WWE competing in the inaugural Mae Young Classic. As one of the youngest competitors and signees in the WWE at the time, Rhea was evidently an exciting prospect in the company and a year later, she has climbed to a strong position on the roster. 2019 looks to be the year of Rhea Ripley but what exactly do the next twelve months hold for her? What can the WWE universe expect in terms of the future of one of the women’s divisions rising stars? And why is she destined to be a part of one of possibly the biggest storyline of the year for the WWE Women’s Division?
What We Know So Far
Arriving on the scene only last year at 21 years-old, Rhea entered a stacked a women’s division looking to make an impact and that’s exactly what she did. While not advancing very far in the first ever Mae Young Classic she did indeed turn heads with a dominant in-ring performance. The size advantage saw her towering over opponents and her strength, agility, and speed made her an interesting part of the tournament. Over the next year fans wouldn’t see all too much of Ripley, she, of course, competed for NXT live events but was never given a spotlight on the weekly network product and during that time underwent a change in attitude and appearance.
In September of this year, Ripley arrived back on screens taking part in the second MYC and it was here the WWE universe could see a star was truly before them. Ditching the babyface image and basic attire Rhea now sported a completely different attitude. The role of a heel has allowed her to standout far greater with a more mean and tougher exterior. Heavy entrance music, all black ring gear, and a dangerous and dominant character, Ripley grabbed the attention of fans everywhere for her makeover was one of the most memorable of the tournament. Not only had the image of Ripley changed but in the ring performances, she showed far more character, depth, and general skill competing in memorable bouts throughout the tournament including opponents such as Kacy Catanzaro and Io Shari. Again, she may not have walked out the MYC winner, but she was a massively talked about talent standing out for being the most improved and impressive of the tournament.
This next section contains spoilers from the NXT UK Tapings.
Earlier this year the WWE introduced their NXT UK Brand in which saw Rhea Ripley added to the women’s division there. Taking part in tapings news soon broke that Rhea had been crowned the new and first ever NXT UK Women’s Champion. The decision to give Rhea such a historic and major victory was one that shocked many. With names including Dakota Kai, Jinny and Toni Storm topping the list as favourites for the very win many were surprised to see Ripley who has had very little exposure in comparison take home the historic victory. As of right now its difficult to comment on Rhea’s performance for the NXT UK Brand considering the little we have seen however it clear she has impressed backstage and after her standout performance in the MYC two years running the future is looking very bright for this Aussie.
The Biggest Women’s Division Storyline of 2019
This year’s MYC and the news of Ripley breaking out big time in the NXT UK scene creates an opening for an extremely strong year ahead. During the MYC, Ripley took part in a singles bout against Tegan Nox which saw Tegan suffer a devastating Knee injury for the second year in a row taking her out of the tournament and out of action for several months. Since then Ripley has played the role of a perfect heel across social media keeping in character and making sure everyone is still talking about her.
Taunting Nox for her injury and mocking her Ripley uploaded an Instagram picture with her knee in a brace and leaning on crutches aimed at Tegan and very soon more fans were discussing the new attitude from Ripley. With the former MYC competitor keeping this alive and pushing a rivalry between the pair even more (despite Nox still being out of action) its safe to assume future work between them is inevitable. The story has been created, Rhea found herself in the semi-finals of the MYC because of Tegan’s injury, she has continued to discuss it online boasting, and targeted Knox while also breaking onto the UK Brand and becoming champion.
Next year, a standout rivalry not only for Ripley but also the WWE women’s division course, of course, be a major feud between the two superstars. With Rhea holding onto the title for a solid year and having a very dominant and impressive run as champion remaining in the role of the top heel struggling to find good competition to take her down Rhea being confronted by a returning Tegan Nox makes for the perfect storyline. A feud and a series of matches are inevitable for these two up and coming stars and with the seeds firmly planted there truly is no better way for Tegan to make a return and no better storyline to end a hopefully dominant run from Rhea Ripley.
One of the Brightest Stars of the Future
At such a young age, Rhea Ripley really is an exciting prospect in the WWE today. The changes made to her character over the last year have been vital and brought out the true star she has always been destined to be. A convincing heel, a consistent character, and an impressive amount of in-ring skill it’s exciting to believe we haven’t even seen a fraction of what’s to come from Rhea. The next year we can expect more in-ring work, longer matches, more promos, and the chance to showcase what she can do in terms of telling a story all of which are very much exciting! It’s clear the WWE a very high and confident on Ripley and with fans only gaining more of an interest there is no denying 2019 could see Rhea Ripley as its breakout star in the WWE.
All Pics Courtesy of WWE.COM