Before the journey began for a number of WWE talent, their skills were being honed in gymnasiums, auditoriums and in front of crowds of a few hundred people. They never wavered in the pursuit of their goals, and those roads they traveled helped them achieve the success they have today. This is the newest series to be found here on Pro Wrestling Post, titled “Before the E”. ‘The E’ is inspired by a common nickname for WWE. In order to understand where talent is today, it is important to understand how they came to be part of the Entertainment side of World Wrestling Entertainment. This week we present Rhea Ripley.
With a background in sports, Ripley’s training and strength development consists of martial arts, rugby, and swimming to build her overall endurance. These qualities would become crucial in what Ripley would later use for her emerging professional wrestling career. That increased flexibility with the diversity in her training was telling about her future.
Days of Demi Bennett
Although fans in the WWE have come to know her as the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion, Rhea Ripley began to carve a path for herself as early as seventeen. As Demi Bennett, she first began to compete in her native home of Australia for Riot City Wrestling. It was during that time where she became a two-time women’s champion under her given name Demi(ti) Bennett. Her time competing in Australia also saw her excel in promotions such as Melbourne City Wrestling, Newcastle Pro Wrestling, and New Horizon Pro Wrestling. The following year as part of Newcastle Pro Wrestling she debuted against a current NXT signee in Mercedes Martinez. A few months later she challenged for the IndyGurlz Australian Title.
By 2015, Ripley was competing for different promotions and in the process, she was competing in different countries. This was evident in her matches with Sendai Girls and ZERO1 in Japan. In 2016, Ripley worked a much lighter schedule. During that time she continued to show her commitment to Riot City Wrestling. By 2017, Ripley competed for Riot City Wrestling for the last time. In a match against Kellyanne, Demi Bennett retained her title. After an over 300 day reign as champion, Bennet’s title was vacant. Riot City Wrestling provided her with such incredible opportunities and was there with her along her journey since day one.
When she came to the WWE, Ripley complied and was made to initially look and be a certain way. It wasn’t true to herself and who she was as a competitor. She came to WWE with long hair and a look that wasn’t reminiscent of who she was. The first step was cutting her hair but her look was all her own.
If it doesn’t work then you guys can make me do whatever you want, but right now I’m doing me. So I was just myself. The person you see in the ring is me in a mosh pit, pretty much. I am that character, I don’t even like calling it a character. It’s just me. So I had to tune into that when I pull back the curtain, which is why I always have to have a theme song that I can get into and behind as well. Luckily Ash Costello sung my theme song, so it’s really easy for me to turn into Rhea Ripley. – Ripley about her character’s look.
When she joined the NXT UK roster she was immediately thrust into the position as champion. After defeating Xia Brookside, Dakota Kai and Toni Storm, Ripley became only the second Australian-born WWE star and the first Australian-born female to win a championship. In August 2019, Ripley was transitioning from her time in NXT UK to NXT. When the all too familiar lines of THIS IS MY BRUTALITY rang loud on the overhead speaker it signaled the arrival of Rhea Ripley to NXT. Upon her arrival, Ripley walked right up to Shayna Baszler and challenged her for the NXT Women’s Championship.
THIS IS HER BRUTALITY
With their first match being less about the future and more about the present, the result was a washout with it being a disqualification. It became important to lay down breadcrumbs for what would soon be between the two women. The meanest women in NXT UK facing the meanest women in NXT. The result would be fireworks for all to see.
“I was ready for that moment. I knew I had her exactly where I wanted her. She’s on my lap, I’m thinking I got this, but then the fear of slipping came into my head when I stood backwards. I tried to ignore that and just go with it, and that’s when I knew it was mine.” Ripley regarding her NXT Women’s Championship win.
Ripley credits Cesaro with helping her to execute the Riptide finisher on Baszler from the middle rope. Her win was a culmination of what an incredible ride 2019 was for her. She was successful in the ring, led her team over victories at NXT TakeOver: Wargames and Survivor Series. From her wins there, Ripley defeated Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship. That success has carried over with what would be a featured match against former NXT Women’s, Smackdown Women’s and Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. Win or lose the matchup is a marquee battle between the present and the future of the WWE.
Regardless of whether or not that match takes place the idea of where Ripley has ascended to in the WWE is remarkable. As Becky Lynch once said, what happens when all your dreams come true? For Rhea Ripley make up new ones.