WWE Royal Rumble Winner Rhea Ripley Chooses WrestleMania Opponent
Ripley wastes no time in announcing which women's champ she'll challenge at Mania.
If you were among the many who saw Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair sharing that momentary glance backstage a few months ago and got giddy at the thought of the two of them squaring off at WrestleMania, we've got some news for you:
You got got.
Ripley announced Monday night on WWE Raw that she would use her Royal Rumble title shot to challenge Charlotte Flair at Mania 39, deciding to battle for the SmackDown Women's Championship rather than try to capture Belair's Raw title.
BREAKING: 2023 #RoyalRumble Match winner @RheaRipley_WWE has chosen to challenge #SmackDown Women's Champion @MsCharlotteWWE at #WrestleMania!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/lcdInCK0Fk— WWE (@WWE) January 31, 2023
While the conventional wisdom said that pitting the two newer stars against each other would yield a tremendous match, Ripley does have a history with Flair. After Charlotte won the 2020 Rumble, Rhea, then the NXT Women's Champion, came to Raw to dare the Queen to challenge for her title... which she would oblige.
At the often-ignored WrestleMania 36, Flair defeated Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship. The loss seemingly would derail Ripley's momentum for a good while. Even a call-up to the main roster and winning the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37 didn't completely right the ship.
Lately, however, Ripley has been riding high as the Eradicator of the Judgment Day. This could be a really interesting dynamic, as Rhea is clearly a heel, but she's far more likely to be cheered against Charlotte. We'll have to see if that gets worked into the story in the coming weeks.