Rhea Ripley vs. Shayna Baszler: How Was Feud Originally Planned?

Was Rhea Ripley supposed to win the NXT Women’s Title? It seems not…

When Rhea Ripley defeated long time champion Shayna Baszler back in December 2019, it felt like a new star was truly born. On the heels of her stunning well received transition from NXT UK to the Orlando based brand, Ripley was the standout performer on the victorious face team at NXT Takeover: Wargames, defeating Baszler to take the win.

After grabbing the attention of management in the UK, it felt like this ascent to the top of the women’s division in NXT was a long time in the planning and execution. Not so, according to the Aussie grappler herself.

Ripley was a guest this week on Flash Morgan Webster’s ‘Wrestling Friends’ podcast where she revealed her title win was a little more… off the cuff. The now former champion said:

“So Shayna had pretty much gone through everyone in NXT, so I pretty much finished with NXT UK, handed it off to Piper [Niven] and I was coming into NXT to do that promo. So we were supposed to do a match later because everything was pre-recorded at that time, so we were supposed to do a match later on that night [for] a couple weeks after and I was supposed to tap out. That’s what was supposed to happen. It was supposed to be a one-off thing, I tap out, that’s it. So I went out, and as soon as my music hit, the whole Full Sail just erupted so loud. Like it was extremely loud. It was extremely loud! It doesn’t even sound that loud when you watch it back, but if you were there in person, it was insane and then I went into the ring, cut my promo the best that I have, and people popped so loud for that. Shayna left, I left, I came back and everyone backstage was just like, ‘Oh my God, that was really good.’ So anyways, Shayna and I, we go to get changed into our gear. Sara [Amato] comes running into the room, and Sara’s just like, ‘Guys, change of plans. Rhea got too much of a pop, we need to change the ending,’ and I was like, ‘Well, okay… like what are we gonna do?’ Shayna’s like, ‘We’ve been trying to tell you this for weeks. Every time we’re on a road loop, Rhea gets the biggest pop out of anyone’ and Sara’s like, ‘Yep! We believe you now. We need to change the ending.’

“So Shayna had pretty much gone through everyone in NXT, so I pretty much finished with NXT UK, handed it off to Piper [Niven] and I was coming into NXT to do that promo. So we were supposed to do a match later because everything was pre-recorded at that time, so we were supposed to do a match later on that night [for] a couple weeks after and I was supposed to tap out. That’s what was supposed to happen. It was supposed to be a one-off thing, I tap out, that’s it. So I went out, and as soon as my music hit, the whole Full Sail just erupted so loud. Like it was extremely loud. It was extremely loud! It doesn’t even sound that loud when you watch it back, but if you were there in person, it was insane and then I went into the ring, cut my promo the best that I have, and people popped so loud for that. Shayna left, I left, I came back and everyone backstage was just like, ‘Oh my God, that was really good.’ So anyways, Shayna and I, we go to get changed into our gear. Sara [Amato] comes running into the room, and Sara’s just like, ‘Guys, change of plans. Rhea got too much of a pop, we need to change the ending,’ and I was like, ‘Well, okay… like what are we gonna do?’ Shayna’s like, ‘We’ve been trying to tell you this for weeks. Every time we’re on a road loop, Rhea gets the biggest pop out of anyone’ and Sara’s like, ‘Yep! We believe you now. We need to change the ending.’

Legit, I was like, ‘Oh my God, so what’s happening?’ And they’re like, ‘So we’re gonna need to do a DQ so we can continue this some other time.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, cool. That’s cool with me, whatever.’” Rhea laughed. “So that’s why I hit her with the chair so we could continue it.”

Ripley taking the title freed up Baszler to head to the main roster to take on Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania whilst Ripley faced Charlotte Flair at the same event, losing her title to Flair in the process.

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While fans scratched their heads about the losses for both Baszler and Ripley at WrestleMania 36, Ripley at least seems back in the title mix with her return to NXT.

It has been announced today that Flair will defend her NXT Women’s strap at NXT Takeover: In Your House against both Ripley and Io Sharai in a triple threat match.

Quotes in this article have been transcribed by Post Wrestling.

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