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Rhea Ripley

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Rhea Ripley
Rhea Ripley 2020 (cropped).jpg
Bennett in 2020
Birth nameDemi Bennett[1]
Born (1996-10-11) 11 October 1996 (age 24)[1]
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
ResidenceOrlando, Florida, United States
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Demi Bennett[2]
Rhea Ripley[3]
Billed height1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)[3]
Billed fromAdelaide, South Australia[3]
Debut29 June 2013

Demi Bennett (born 11 October 1996) is an Australian professional wrestler. She is currently signed to WWE, where she performs on the Raw brand under the ring name Rhea Ripley. She was the inaugural NXT UK Women's Champion as well as a former NXT Women's Champion and a former Raw Women's Champion, making her the only person to have held all three titles, as well as the first female Australian champion in WWE history.

After competing on the independent circuit under her real name since 2013, Ripley joined WWE as part of the inaugural Mae Young Classic in 2017. After reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 edition of the tournament, she was part of the original roster of NXT UK, becoming its inaugural women's champion in August 2018. After a run on the NXT brand from 2019 to 2021 which saw her win the NXT Women's Championship and become the brand's first member to defend their title at WrestleMania, WWE's flagship event, she moved to Raw, quickly going on to win the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37.

Professional wrestling career

Independent circuit (2013–2017)

Bennett began to work in Riot City Wrestling in 2013.[4] She spent several years in the promotion, where she became a two-time RCW Women's Champion.[2] Bennett's New Horizon Pro Wrestling debut was made on 24 May 2014 during the opening night of the NHPW Global Conflict where she joined the Global Conflict Tournament. She was eliminated during the first round of the tournament by Mercedes Martinez.[5] She returned for the second night of the NHPW Global Conflict event, competing in a four way mixed tag team match paired with Garry Schmidt.[5] Six months later, Bennett returned and was part of the opening night of the NHPW Final Chapter event, wrestling a Four Way Match against Madison Eagles, Evie and Saraya Knight with the vacant IndyGurlz Australia Championship at stake. However, Bennett did not win the title.[5]

Bennett made her Melbourne City Wrestling debut on 14 June 2014 at MCW New Horizons where she defended the RCW Women's title in a Three Way match against Savannah Summers and Toni Storm.[6] On 9 August at MCW Clash Of The Titans, Bennett defeated Miami to retain her Women's Championship.[7] Bennett continued her winning streak with a third consecutive victory, defeating Savannah Summers at MCW Fight For A Cause.[citation needed]

On 22 April 2017, Bennett wrestled her last RCW match at RCW Strength where she successfully defended the Women's title against Kellyanne.[8]

WWE

Mae Young Classic (2017–2018)

In 2017, Bennett signed with the WWE. It was announced that she would compete in the inaugural Mae Young Classic under the new name Rhea Ripley.[9] She went on to defeat Miranda Salinas in the first round, but lose to Dakota Kai in the second round.[10][11] Ripley made her NXT television debut on 25 October 2017 episode of NXT, participating in a battle royal to determine one of the contenders for the vacant NXT Women's Championship at TakeOver: WarGames, which was won by Nikki Cross.[12]

Sporting a new look, Ripley competed in the 2018 Mae Young Classic in 2018, showing a new aggressive and disrespectful attitude and establishing herself as a heel in the process; she defeated MJ Jenkins, Kacy Catanzaro, and Tegan Nox in her first three matches, before losing to Io Shirai in the semi-finals.[13][14]

Inaugural NXT UK Women's Champion (2018–2019)

Ripley in November 2018

Shortly after the 2018 Mae Young Classic, Ripley became part of the NXT UK brand as part of the premiere of the newly-created NXT UK show.

During the television tapings of the show in August (that aired throughout November), Ripley took part in an eight woman tournament to determine the inaugural NXT UK Women's Champion.[15] She went on to defeat Xia Brookside in the first round, Dakota Kai in the semi-finals, and Toni Storm in the final to become the inaugural champion.[16][17][18][19] With the win, Ripley also became the first female Australian champion in WWE history, and the second Australian champion altogether after Buddy Murphy.[20] In October, Ripley also competed in a dark match before the first ever all women's pay–per–view, Evolution, where she successfully retained her title against Dakota Kai in a dark match (due to the tournament having yet to air at the time, she was not yet recognized on-screen as champion).[21] Throughout her championship reign, Ripley went on to fend off title contenders such as Isla Dawn and Deonna Purrazzo.[22][23]

On 12 January 2019 at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, Ripley lost her title to Toni Storm, ending her reign at 139 days and marking her first defeat in the brand.[24] At the Royal Rumble event, Ripley made her first appearance on a main roster pay-per-view by entering the women's Royal Rumble match at number 24, and eliminating Kacy Catanzaro, Dana Brooke, and Zelina Vega before being eliminated by Bayley. Afterwards, Ripley went on to have a feud with a debuting Piper Niven for most of 2019, over which one was the most dominant woman in the NXT UK roster.[25] The two finally squared off in a match on 15 June (aired 3 July), when Niven defeated Ripley in what was Ripley's second and last singles defeat on the NXT UK brand.[26] Ripley would go on to win a rematch with Niven on 31 August (aired 4 September); two would eventually team up after Ripley saved Niven from an attack by Jazzy Gabert and Jinny, whom they defeated in a tag team match on 4 October, marking the end of the storyline.[27][28] Ripley wrestled her last match in the brand on 5 October 2019 tapings of NXT UK, defeating Nina Samuels in a singles match; she never got a rematch for the NXT UK Women's Championship.[29][30]

NXT Women's Champion and other feuds (2019–2021)

Ripley performing her signature hand gesture

On 28 August 2019 episode of NXT, Ripley made her surprise return to the brand when she interrupted NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler. Swiping the microphone from Baszler, Ripley said that Baszler may have beaten everyone on NXT, but she hasn't beaten her, signalling a feud between the two; this also established her as a face.[31]

In parallel to her feud against Baszler, on 1 November episode of SmackDown, Ripley and Tegan Nox were one of the many NXT wrestlers to invade the show, challenging Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville to a tag team match, from which Ripley and Nox emerged victorious. Later that night, Ripley joined Triple H and the rest of the NXT roster as they declared war on both Raw and SmackDown, and vowed to win the 2019 Survivor Series brand warfare.[32][33] As part of the ongoing storyline, she defeated both Raw's Charlotte Flair and SmackDown's Sasha Banks in a triple threat match on 22 November episode of SmackDown.[34]

At TakeOver: WarGames, Ripley led Team Ripley in the first ever women's WarGames match against Team Baszler (Baszler, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair, and NXT UK Women's Champion Kay Lee Ray); despite teammate Dakota Kai turning heel and attacking Tegan Nox before the two even entered the match, leaving Ripley and Candice LeRae in a de facto two-on-four handicap match, Ripley gave her team the victory by pinning Baszler.[35]

The following night at Survivor Series, Ripley was part of Team NXT, who defeated Team Raw and Team SmackDown, and the leader of her team in the 5-on-5-on-5 women's elimination match, which her team won after she last eliminated SmackDown captain Sasha Banks, with she, LeRae and Shirai as the survivors.[36][37]

On 18 December episode of NXT, Ripley defeated Baszler to win the NXT Women's Championship. This made her the first person to have won both the NXT Women's and NXT UK Women's Championships.[38][39] She then successfully defended the title against Toni Storm on 25 January 2020 at Worlds Collide.[40]

Ripley made an appearance on 3 February 2020 episode of Raw, confronting Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair and suggesting that Flair should use her Royal Rumble title opportunity to challenge Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship at WrestleMania 36.[34] Flair appeared in the following episode of NXT to give her answer, but was interrupted by both Bianca Belair, Ripley's future title contender at TakeOver: Portland, and Ripley herself, with the two eventually teaming up and attacking Flair.[41] At the aforementioned event, Ripley successfully defended the championship against Belair, and was attacked by Flair, who accepted Ripley's challenge.[42] Ripley then lost the title to Flair at the second night WrestleMania 36. The next day after WrestleMania, WWE announced that Ripley took hiatus from WWE and returned to Australia due to her visa issues.[43] After a one-month hiatus, Ripley returned on 6 May episode of NXT after Flair got herself disqualified in an NXT Women's Championship match against Io Shirai by attacking Flair. A backstage interview with Ripley and Shirai was shown afterward where they began arguing and eventually brawling to be separated by officials.[44] On 7 June at TakeOver: In Your House, Ripley and Flair both lost to Io Shirai in a triple threat match for the NXT Women's Championship. On 1 July episode of NXT The Great American Bash, Ripley defeated Aliyah and Robert Stone in a 1-on-2 handicap match by submission.[45] On 18 November episode of NXT, Ripley challenged Shirai for the NXT Women's Championship, but was unsuccessful.[46] On 2 December episode of NXT, Ripley was announced as a member of Shotzi Blackheart's team for the second ever women's WarGames match.[47]

On the first edition of NXT for 2021, New Year's Evil, Ripley competed against Raquel González in a Last Woman Standing match Ripley lost to González in her final match in NXT.[48] At the Royal Rumble, Ripley competed in her second Women's Royal Rumble match entering at number 14 where she ended up with 7 eliminations and one of the final two in the match before she was eliminated by eventual winner Bianca Belair.[49]

Raw Women's Champion and other feuds (2021–present)

On 22 February 2021 episode of Raw, a video package aired hyping up Ripley's arrival to the brand.[50] Ripley made her main roster debut on 22 March episode of Raw, challenging Asuka to a match for the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37. Asuka accepted Ripley's challenge and the match was scheduled to take place on Night 2 of WrestleMania on 11 April.[51][52] At Wrestlemania 37, she defeated Asuka to win the Raw Women's Championship.[53] On the Raw episode after WrestleMania, Ripley was scheduled to defend the title in a rematch against Asuka. The match ended in a no-contest after interference from Charlotte Flair, who attacked both Asuka and Ripley.[54] On 3 May episode, another rematch between Ripley and Asuka for the Raw Women's Championship was scheduled for WrestleMania Backlash. However, WWE official Sonya Deville added Flair to the championship match to make it a triple threat match.[55] Ripley successfully retained her title by pinning Asuka at the event.[56] A match between Ripley and Flair was then scheduled for Hell in a Cell,[57] which Flair defeated Ripley by disqualification, thus Ripley retained her title.[58] At Money in the Bank, Ripley dropped the title to Flair in another rematch, ending her reign at 98 days.[59] Ripley failed to regain the Raw Women's title in a triple threat match against the champion Nikki A.S.H and Flair at SummerSlam.[60] In the following weeks, Ripley allied with Nikki A.S.H. as a tag team. On 20 September episode of Raw, they won WWE Women's Tag Team Championship by defeating Natalya and Tamina.[61]

Other media

Bennett made her video game debut as a playable character in WWE 2K20[62] and subsequently in WWE 2K Battlegrounds.[63]

Personal life

Bennett cites watching The Miz as an inspiration growing up.[64] In addition to wrestling, Bennett is also trained in or practices swimming, karate, rugby, netball and soccer.[9][65] She is a fan of the Adelaide Football Club.[66]

She confirmed her relationship with fellow wrestler Demetri "Action" Jackson in October 2019.[67]

Championships and accomplishments

References

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External links