One of South Australia’s rising wrestling talents in the WWE, Rhea Ripley has had a memorable year in some of the toughest conditions in professional sport.
She speaks with The Inner Sanctum about her journey since WrestleMania.
Jack Hudson: How has it been in the world of wrestling since WrestleMania for you?
Rhea Ripley: It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions to be completely honest, after WrestleMania, I was upset as I didn’t have my NXT Women’s Championship any more, but I was also happy as I was able to compete at WrestleMania against someone who is amazing in this business in Charlotte Flair.
I’ve felt every single emotion you could feel in the last few months.
JH: How has been wrestling in front of no crowds?
RR: It was very strange to start with.
My first match without a crowd was WrestleMania, so I had to get used to it straight away.
Apart from that, having the NXT talent who have yet to appear on TV in the crowd to start with has also been strange, because you go out there and do your entrance and you’re so into it and you look to the side and see your friend, and think it’s very strange.
It’s not the same as having an actual live crowd there with the WWE Universe and seeing the fans you see regularly.
It’s very, very strange going out there seeing people you see every day.
Now we have some people in the crowd, and I cannot express this enough, I absolutely love it, I love seeing familiar faces and I love putting on a show for everyone to see.
JH: Is it a bit of satisfaction being able to see the faces and how they react to your matches?
RR: Yeah of course, wrestling is all about reactions.
To get something out of the fans and you’re doing your job right.
JH: The Raquel Gonzalez rivalry was remarkable to watch, how have you enjoyed it?
RR: I have loved it, even though Raquel and I have a lot of history, we used to tag back in the day, so I know her very well and she knows me very well.
I’d never wrestled someone like Raquel, and she’s actually bigger than me.
JH: When you were younger as a fan, how did you get around watching PPVs, because they’re usually Monday mornings here?
RR: It was really difficult for me to see it, most of the time I chucked a sickie at school and try and watch it.
Other than that, we had family friends and they would record it for me and then I’d get a VHS or a DVD by the time afterwards of the PPV and I’d sit there on a day off and watch it.
It was difficult to watch PPVs.
I remember one time there were a few PPVs showing at a movie theatre and they had dress ups and everything, and one time I dressed up as Rey Mysterio and I won the dress up.
The next one I thought was a dress up and I dressed as Jeff Hardy, dyed my hair black and it wasn’t a dress up and it was permanent black and I didn’t realise.
JH: How has it been being around those stars you once dressed up like as a fan?
RR: It’s insane, it’s wild to think I grew up watching these people wrestle and I was absolutely in love with all of them.
They’re superstars to me and now I get to see them every now and them and I have to come to the fact that I’m a superstar as well, which is really difficult for me because I feel so normal.
I see these amazing people I grew up watching, and wonder if I’m really here and if it’s real.
I need to remember I’m not the little kid I used to be, I need to be an adult because I work with them now.
JH: With the COVID-19 situation, how do you prepare for match?
RR: Once were at the shows, I prepare the same.
We have testing before the shows, at the shows, there’s always tests going on, I’m always getting the swab up the nose and as annoying as it is, it’s better safe than sorry.
Once I’m at work, I know everyone around me is in the clear and we’re all good to go.
I prepare like I normally do.
See Rhea Ripley in action each Thursday Morning at 11am AEDT on WWE NXT on FOX8.