From adorable underdog to fierce force, Rhea Ripley follows the same kind of formula as Becky Lynch. Could there be more parallels? Let’s see what Steve Cook thinks.
Like many of you, the first time I saw Rhea Ripley in the ring was during the first Mae Young Classic. I immediately saw the potential for great things. Somebody at her age with her athletic ability and look had the opportunity to run things in WWE’s women’s division for years to come. I was definitely looking forward to seeing more.
The main thing that seemed lacking to me was confidence. As a viewer, I didn’t get the impression that Rhea was entirely comfortable with herself in the ring. She was hesitant at times. Her personality didn’t seem properly exhibited. The announcers would talk about how she was a regular in mosh pits & grew up idolizing the Miz, but I didn’t get any of that from watching her. What I saw was a young girl still figuring things out, which is exactly what she was.
Rhea was 20 years old during the first MYC, so it was only natural. How far along were we in our development at the age of 20? You can go to 411mania.com and find some of the columns & recaps I wrote when I was 20, and then you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Lord knows I was a mess back then, and I still am, but I’m a mess that’s more comfortable in my skin.
Not everybody can be Randy Orton & Ronda Rousey and pop out of the box ready with all the confidence in their wrestling skills. It takes most people a bit of time.
Time is on her side.
Rhea went away from WWE Network-aired events for a year, then came back for the second MYC. The Rhea Ripley we saw this time around was completely different than the one we saw in 2017. Rhea had a different look. She looked like somebody you would see kicking ass in a mosh pit. She had a different demeanor in the ring. Ripley was more aggressive, more forceful towards her opposition. She was colder to the fans. She was more confident in her abilities.
When you’re breaking in, sometimes you have a problem expressing yourself. You say what you think everybody wants to hear. That’s what 2017 Rhea Ripley did. She wanted to catch on with WWE. She became what she thought people wanted her to be. The flaw in the plan was simple: you don’t get ahead in wrestling by catering to peoples’ whims. You have to break the mold. You have to be yourself with the volume turned up to eleven. If you’re the Mosh Pit Kid, you have to show that side of yourself. You can’t be all dolled up & dressed to impress. You can’t be sugar & spice & everything nice. There needs to be a chip on your shoulder.
Rhea came into the 2nd MYC with a huge chip on her shoulder. That chip was fully intact when the NXT UK brand was introduced, and she was brought in as part of the women’s division along with a fellow Aussie & other women that fit in well with the British wrestling scene. The New Rhea Ripley (not to be confused with The New Daniel Bryan) was built for that brand.
She met up with the other Aussie in the finals of the NXT UK Women’s Championship Tournament. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Toni Storm fan. There aren’t many women in the business more talented and with more upside than her. It’s going to be Toni Time for a long time to come. However, this was Rhea Ripley’s moment to shine. To stake her claim to the future of women’s wrestling in WWE, NXT, NXT UK, wherever you want to mention.
You’ll be seeing this matchup a lot. Storm is 23 & Ripley is now 21. The future of WWE’s Women’s Evolution runs through these two. When Becky Lynch is ready to vacate her title of “The Man”, it might be Ripley or Storm that’s next in line.
It’s a tough choice, but Rhea might be the favorite.
Ripley is in a really good spot to take that title. One of the things that made Ric Flair “The Man” back in the day was his ability to take another wrestler and make them look like a million bucks. Flair made Sting’s career. He made Lex Luger’s career, along with many others. Ripley has shown the ability to make other wrestlers look amazing.
I’ve talked about Kacy Catanzaro before. I believe she could be one of the top babyfaces in WWE if she achieves her full potential. Her best match so far was against Rhea Ripley, who served as the perfect base for her offense. High-flyers need people that are able to take their stuff & bump properly to make it look good, and Ripley showed in that match that she was up to the task. As important as it is for you to look good, you need to be able to make others look good too. Ripley does that, and it doesn’t diminish her presence at all.
Rhea Ripley will forever be remembered as the first NXT UK Women’s Champion. It’ll be far from the last championship she holds. I’d say there’s a good chance she’s the next “Man”. Or is “The NXT Man” more appropriate?
Greg DeMarco’s Three Stars Of The Night: WWE Raw (5/20/19)
Big night on Raw — who stood out?
WWE Raw returned stateside this week, and we got ourselves a new championship. Who stood out?
The Third Star for WWE Raw: Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman knows how to deliver, and he delivered big time during Raw. He made the show feel like a big deal, and it did. He made both champions feel important, but put Brock Lesnar over in the process. Lesnar is so much more comfortable with Paul Heyman around, and the job done to make this briefcase situation feel unique was really solidified by Paul Heyman. Plus, his line about Rollins sitting through 7 hours of WrestleMania waiting for his girlfriend to main event the show he’s always dreamed of main eventing was clutch.
Elisa looks great in her Chairshot gear.
You can, too!
Be like Elisa and get yours at:
The Second Star: The IIconics
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce really are national treasures. America, Australia, it doesn’t matter. They are the best, and they’ve crafted characters that don’t need to win or lose, they just need to perform their act. That’s what it takes in WWE, regardless of what we want it to be. Their promo during A Moment Of Bliss (full of people perfectly playing their characters, by the way), was outstanding. Hats off to both ladies for getting themselves to this place.
Honorable Mention: Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans, Becky Lynch, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston, the entire 24/7 crew, The Usos, The Revival, Baron Corbin (yup), Bobby Lashley (I miss Lio), Drew McIntyre, and Shane McMahon
So many great performances tonight, and I am positive I’m leaving deserving folks out.
The First Star for WWE Raw: The Miz
The Miz is on fire right now, and it comes at a time where both world champions are babyfaces. He’s world champion caliber, and needs something to sink his teeth into if the issue with Shane truly is done. Drew McIntyre is a fine option, but I really want a top flight program for Miz. Maybe he’s the guy to elevate Drew? I’m not sure. I don’t feel like we turn Miz, but the best options for him (to me) are AJ Styles and Seth Rollins.
In hockey, a game’s “Three Stars Of The Night” represent the top three performers of the night. For more clarification, I defer to this Pittsburgh Gazette explanation:
“The tradition dates to the 1936-37 season, when Imperial Oil became the principal sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada radio broadcasts and was seeking a way to promote one of its products, Three Star gasoline. The idea of doing so by selecting the top three performers in a particular game purportedly came from a Canadian advertising agency.
Many clubs do recognize the player with the most three-star selections with an award or trophy, usually in conjunction with a corporate sponsorship, at the end of the season (or sometimes, each month). All six Canadian franchises, for example, have an affiliation with a well-known brewery.
The NHL keeps track of its own Three Stars Of The Night selections, but that is done on a league-wide basis. The league employs a system that awards 30 points to a first star, 20 to a second star and 10 to a third – a running total can be found on the league’s website – but it does not present an award based on them.”
In hockey tradition, the first star represents the best of the three, but all three are considered to be receiving a high honor.
7 Best Candidates To Win New Japan Best Of The Super Juniors 26
Who is the front runner?
Abe takes a look at the New Japan Best of the Super Juniors tournament and who is on pace to pick up the overall win.
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament kicked off just last week and plenty of quality wrestling has already taken place. For the first time ever, twenty total men make up the tournament field. That means a few more sleeper candidates could potentially sneak their way into the finals.
Best Chance of Winning The New Japan Best Of The Super Juniors
At the time of this being written, Takagi is still undefeated since making his debut in NJPW. That includes the matches he’s already competed in during this year’s tournament. I don’t believe they’ll pull the trigger on him going the whole tournament without a loss but it’s definitely something to monitor. He’s been an incredible addition to Los Ingobernables de Japan as well as to the company as a whole.
Takagi has already taken shots at current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Dragon Lee for overlooking the field and only thinking about impending return of Hiromu Takahashi. Dragon Lee and Shingo are the favorites in their block. Takagi’s reason for winning the block could be that Lee was too focused on the future.
After winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in Madison Square Garden, there is nobody in the tournament with more momentum. The current champion winning the tournament is very uncommon but there is already a story in place as I mentioned. If the current champion wins the entire BOSJ tournament, he will get to select who challenges him for the championship at Dominion. Hiromu Takahashi is the man he wont stop talking about. Almost a year ago, Dragon Lee was the guy that put his biggest rival on the shelf. Hiromu had to vacate the title as a result of the injury suffered in that match. If Takahashi is cleared to compete, there is no better person to accept the challenge.
Who Else Has A Chance?
He hasn’t won the tournament in three years and is competing with the heavyweights more and more. Among the current field, Ospreay almost certainly has the most high-profile matches under his belt. He’s the clear betting favorite to make it to the finals in his block. If there’s anything that’ll stop him, it’s that NJPW may already be trying to transition him into a heavyweight.
Ishimori made it to the finals of the BOSJ tournament last year but only finished as the runner-up. He was also the most recent IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Since his official rebranding as Bullet Club’s “Bone Soldier” last year, he’s maintained a spot near the top of the junior division. If they want to continue his recently-formed feud with Dragon Lee, the opportunity is right there.
The newest member of the NJPW roster is in a similar position to the one Taiji Ishimori was in last year. El Phantasmo was introduced as the newest member of the Bullet Club mere days before BOSJ. The aforementioned Ishimori did actually end up going all the finals and Phantasmo is off to a 3-0 start this year. The only man in the B Block that’s a real threat to his path there is Will Ospreay but that’s going to be a tough ask.
Most fans think of him as a comedy wrestler but if you’ve seen him in longer, more competitive matches, you know that he’s one of the most talented guys New Japan has. It’s rare to find someone that can balance entertainment with in-ring skill the way he does. Taguchi is a two-time Junior Heavyweight Champion, former BOSJ winner, leader of his own faction, and one of the veterans of the locker room. It sounds strange but I wouldn’t put my money on Ospreay or Phantasmo as long as Taguchi is hovering near the top of the standings. He’s my dark horse in this year’s tournament.
This definitely wont happen but he is worth mentioning. SHO isn’t going to win the tournament as long as he’s attached to YOH and Rocky Romero as a part of Roppongi 3K. However, with three matches in, SHO has already wrestled the two longest and best matches of the tournament. He’s only 1-2 so far but that could make things more interesting. Watching him storm back and go on a serious winning streak would be something amazing to see.