26/02/2024

Rhea Ripley celebrates her victory at WrestleMania 39 (Picture: WWE)

The last 11 months of Rhea Ripley’s career has all led to a deserving and history-making moment; defeating Charlotte Flair and becoming the new Smackdown Women’s Champion at WrestleMania 39 in a match for the ages.

From joining The Judgment Day last May, to becoming a dominant force on Monday Night Raw and winning the 2023 women’s Royal Rumble as the first entrant, it was the Eradicator’s time to reign supreme on the biggest stage.

Competing against the same woman who defeated her three years ago at WrestleMania 36, Ripley secured her revenge and triumphed over the Queen in a 20-minute war that had 80,000 people on the edge of their seats.

It was an even contest that could have swung either way, until the new champion turned the tables by faceplanting Charlotte onto the post. Ripley’s eyes then lit up, knowing that her opportunity had arrived.

She then solidified her destiny by delivering a riptide from the middle rope for the victory and was ecstatic, while also showing a level of shock.

After the match, the Queen was seen smiling outside of the ring realising that the two had just produced an all-time classic. Ripley’s necessity was to become a star and she ultimately shone bright on the Grandest Stage of Them All.

Speaking to media at the WrestleMania Saturday press conference, the new Smackdown Women’s Champion reflected on her victory and compared it to the tribulations three years ago.

“It’s extremely satisfying”, she said.

“Going into WrestleMania 36, it was my first WrestleMania. I was the NXT Women’s Champion and Charlotte had just won the Royal Rumble and if she wants to challenge me, bring it.

“Unfortunately for me, my first WrestleMania was at a time when the world was shut down. We had zero people in attendance, we were at the performance centre which is where I had trained every single day for the past two to three years.

“It was the one place that I didn’t really want to go to, but at the end of the day, I think Charlotte and I still stole the show that night. So, I’m very proud of that match.

“But going out there tonight at WrestleMania 39 in Hollywood, I’m the Royal Rumble winner. I challenged Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship and I came out victorious this time.

“It is so extremely satisfying and I have to give it to Charlotte. She put up a mean fight and I didn’t expect anything less from her.

“I know exactly how she is in the ring and I knew I had to bring everything I had. So, I did and now you’re looking at the new Smackdown Women’s Champion.”

Rhea Ripley makes her entrance at WrestleMania 39 (Picture: WWE)

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Ripley further elaborated on her experience from WrestleMania 36 and highlighted that an increase in maturity was the difference for her second match against Charlotte.

“I think the main thing is I’ve grown up”, she said.

“I was very confident at WrestleMania 36, but I was also very new and I was still learning who I was as a professional wrestler and human being.

“I feel like three years ago, I was very immature. My confidence definitely overshone everything, when now I am confident but also have the skillset to back it up.

“I’ve done many things here and I feel like every single little thing has built up to this current moment. I feel like growing up outside of work is one of the main things for me.

“I’ve matured so much mentally and also physically that I’m a whole different beast these days and I think a lot of men here in the WWE can testify to that.”

Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair battle at WrestleMania 36 (Picture: WWE)

The Eradicator then outlined her plans as the new Smackdown Women’s Champion, aiming to carry this momentum for a significant amount of time.

“I am now the Smackdown Women’s Champion and I’m not stopping there”, she said.

“I’m going to prove exactly who Rhea bloody Ripley is and I’m going to make my own destiny and my own legacy, when I take over WWE with my fellow members of The Judgment Day that is.”

Finally, Ripley stated that her purpose is to make history and spoke about what it means to achieve grand slam status.

“Growing up in Adelaide, South Australia, I always got told that my dream of coming to the WWE would probably not happen”, she said.

“So, even just making it here is an accomplishment.

“But being the first grand slam champion to have those exact championships is so satisfying. I’m so extremely proud of myself and my journey here to the WWE, and then my journey within the WWE.

“To be able to accomplish all those historic moments, that’s the one thing that I strive for – making history.

“I want my name etched in the history books forever and I’ve gone and done that.”

Ripley’s victory follows fellow Australian, Indi Hartwell’s triumphant win at NXT Stand and Deliver earlier in the day to become the brand’s new Women’s Champion.

She overcame Roxanne Perez, Gigi Dolin, Tiffany Stratton, Zoey Stark and Lyra Valkyrie in a ladder match to mark a memorable day for Australian wrestling fans.

Indi Hartwell sits atop of a ladder after capturing the NXT Women’s Championship (Picture: WWE)

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