Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair were two of the standout names from NXT in recent history. While Bianca never held the NXT Championship she did clash with Ripley over the top spot on NXT.
Their paths would cross again during the finale of the 2021 Royal Rumble where they were both the final combatants in the match fighting for the right to potentially headline WrestleMania. Ultimately, Bianca Belair would get the nod but upon debuting on Monday Night Raw, Rhea Ripley finds herself in the exact same position as Bianca only on the opposite brand.
Ahead of both attempting to capture a championship at WrestleMania, Rhea Ripley spoke to Sports Illustrated about the Royal Rumble finale this past January being the perfect bow on their story and how happy she is to see Bianca reaching this level of success.
“That tied together our whole story, going back to our NXT match together in Portland,” Ripley says. “Then Charlotte came in for the WrestleMania match, and she knocked us both down. We never overcame Charlotte, until we both eliminated her in the Royal Rumble. That was a great moment, and then it came down to me and Bianca in the end.
“Man, that was incredible,” Ripley says. “As it was happening, I could feel it. I knew it was going to be a fight. If you watch, I was so frustrated on the outside, but on the inside, I was so happy for Bianca.
“Bianca is someone I completely and fully respect. I know her story, what she’s been through, and I know how big a star she is going to be. She is going to be the face of the women’s division. I am so happy and thankful to share that moment with her.”
Rhea Ripley will challenge Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women’s Championship on the first night of WrestleMania 37, Saturday, April 10. Rhea Ripley will challenge Asuka for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship on the second night, Sunday, April 11. WrestleZone will have live coverage of both nights of WrestleMania 37.