In an appearance on Out of Character with Ryan Satin, WWE RAW Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley talked about the difference between her first two WrestleMania appearances. First Ripley discussed wrestling Charlotte for the NXT Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 36 and the lessons she learned from the whole experience.
“It’s funny because I went to Raymond James (Stadium) and I got to work around thinking ‘this is going to be so cool,'” Ripley said, describing the weeks leading up to the show. “And then everything pretty much went downhill and we had to go to the Performance Center and there was going to be no crowd.
“I think the thing I learned most was to still take it in in a way. Because it was still WrestleMania and it was still my debut on the biggest show of the year, and I got to step into the ring with Charlotte Flair, someone I had wanted to wrestle for such a long time and that I had watched for years. So I just had to remind myself every day that this was still a super important moment of my life and my career.
Ripley admits that she was incredibly nervous about working without an audience. More so it was also difficult to get into the right state of mind for a match taking place under such bizarre circumstances.
“It took different sort of confidence in myself to go out here and treat it like a WrestleMania match when there was no crowd,” Ripley said. “That’s so difficult to do cause you really do feed off the crowd. My whole career has been based off crowd reactions. That’s honestly how I’ve gotten as far as I have because the crowd have been there for me. Everyone’s seen it, so they’ve just given me what the crowd wanted, which is fantastic.
“So going out there and having zero people in attendance, it was terrifying for me. I was like ‘is this going to feel weird? Am I going to be in the right zone and right mind space? Am I going to have that adrenaline to get me through it?’ But I still had all of that, which was wild to me. I just had to remind myself that there’s still a crowd at home watching and they’re still going to be going crazy. My parents are still supporting me even though they’re not going to be there. So I think that was the biggest lesson to me. Just staying true to myself and like, just pushing through really.”
Satin then asked Ripley if she had sought the advice of either Vince McMahon or Triple H prior to the match. The former NXT Women’s Champion revealed that she did not.
“I didn’t get to see many people before the match,” Ripley revealed. “Just because like, we only had a limited amount of staff there because of the pandemic and everything that was going on. Like we didn’t want to have too many people around.
“So I actually didn’t get to see many people, which I probably could’ve used. I could’ve used a good pep talk beforehand. But we went through it, we had a killer match and it’s one of my favorite matches, even though I did lose my NXT Women’s Championship. But it’s still one of my favorite matches, especially because there was no crowd and we just went completely HAM and took each other out.”
Ripley’s loss to Charlotte at WrestleMania 36 led to speculation that Ripley would be called up to the main roster. Whether that’s the case or not is unknown to Ripley herself, though she did believe that was in the cards.
“No one told me anything,” Ripley said. “I was just kind of going along for the ride, just doing my job. But I had a feeling that I would be going to RAW, Smackdown on the next callups. It just didn’t happen.
“I wasn’t mad about it. I just got more time in NXT, which is something that I loved. I loved being a part of NXT, I loved being around the people there and having matches with those girls. It’s definitely a real home feeling when I’m in NXT. And I’m glad I got a few more months there, a year pretty much, before I got called up.”
Ripley was then asked about WrestleMania 37, where she defeated Asuka to capture the RAW Women’s Championship. The experience for Ripley was a complete 180 from the previous year.
“It was crazy. Absolutely crazy,” Ripley said. “I thought I was nervous at last year’s WrestleMania. But then it came to this year and I was like ‘oh my God, holy crap. There’s a lot of people here!’ It didn’t even look like 25,000, it looked like 90,000. It was insane. I’m so glad that we had it two nights, because the first night I got to go out on stage and get teary and take it all in and be the emotional wreck I knew I was going to be. And then the second night I got to be all business, and just go in there and bring the brutality.
“And to have a band, have Ash Costello and New Years Day play me to the ring, like that’s a dream of mine, to have an actual live performance. Especially at WrestleMania, that’s a dream for like many people I guess. So it was just so surreal and so special and it definitely did feel more like my first true WrestleMania moment.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Out of Character with Ryan Satin and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription