Rhea Ripley recently came face-to-face with NXT Women’s champion Shayna Baszler. The Australian Superstar and first-ever NXT UK Women’s champion interrupted Baszler and her fellow Horsewomen in the middle of the ring, as the live audience voiced its approval.
That confrontation did not get physical, but it was immediately obvious that WWE was onto something. For the first time since Baszler’s reign over the women’s division began, she had truly run into a roadblock. So is Rhea Ripley the one who will finally take Shayna Baszler down?
The reaction from the Full Sail crowd during this segment is proof positive of just how effective WWE booking can be when done correctly. Baszler has run roughshod over every woman put in her path and she’s done so with the arrogant brutality that only she can deliver. Fans respect her toughness and they recognize her confidence, but they also want to see her fall.
The desire to see her lose is directly tied to how she’s been presented, as well as her work to get over. Shayna has no redeeming qualities as a character and she’s been nearly unbeatable as champion. When both of those facts are combined with her penchant for using Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke as backup, Shayna automatically becomes public enemy No.1.
She’s done an excellent job of playing her role and making fans hate her in the process. The worse she is, the more they want to see her put in her place. Baszler has drawn comparisons to Brock Lesnar in the past and with very good reason. As good as she is, the WWE faithful can’t wait for the moment when she meets her match. Is that what’s happening now?
Indeed, Rhea Ripley is unlike anyone Baszler has worked to this point. Ripley is not the typical babyface challenger and she’s not exactly a fan favorite. She’s known as a punishing heel in her own right and she’s decimated her fair share of opponents in NXT UK. But Ripley and Baszler simply cannot coexist without going to war.
Rhea is the Alpha Female every time she’s in the room. Much like Baszler, Ripley must be on top and she takes pride in being the toughest woman on the roster. But Rhea’s self-confidence is tested by Baszler, simply by virtue of the fact that the two share the same space. Ripley doesn’t like another woman taking the spotlight and she made that abundantly clear.
By contrast, Baszler feels that no one is a threat to her and that includes Rhea Ripley. Shayna has every reason to believe that Ripley will crumble like all the rest and why wouldn’t she? No one has been able to withstand Baszler in the long run, especially with Shafir and Duke waiting in the wings. The trio is fully capable of destroying everyone in their way and they do it all the time.
The fact is that Rhea Ripley is the one with something to prove. She is walking into Baszler’s territory, which means she’s the outsider. Shayna is the one calling the shots and she is in full control of the situation. But unlike Ripley, Baszler has everything to lose. If she goes down to Rhea, she loses her championship. But will WWE go this route?
Just as many fans want to see Brock Lesnar lose in the end, they also know that it rarely ever happens. The only man that has decisively beaten Lesnar besides Roman Reigns and lived to talk about it, is Seth Rollins. The current Universal champion took the title from Brock on two separate occasions and Seth’s most recent win over The Beast Incarnate was the most decisive. WWE seems to have finally exposed Brock Lesnar as being human after all.
So is Rhea Ripley Shayna Baszler’s Seth Rollins? Is Ripley the one who will meet Baszler on her own terms and raise her game to that of the champ’s? Or is Ripley the Samoa Joe to Baszler’s Brock Lesnar?
Like Samoa Joe, Ripley is tougher than leather and has a massive chip on her shoulder. Neither Superstar backs down and that makes them popular with fans as a result. But in the end, none of that made a difference for Joe. The Samoan Submission Machine lost to Brock Lesnar and The Beast rampaged on to his next opponent. Will Rhea Ripley share that same fate?
WWE has a very intriguing feud in the works with Shayna Baszler versus Rhea Ripley. It’s the kind of rivalry that can wrap up the run of a dominant heel champion, while making a new star in the process. Both women could benefit from this and if it happens, fans may see the crowning of a new NXT Women’s champion.