Ahead of her NXT Women’s title, coming in at #9 is none other than ‘The Nightmare’ Rhea Ripley. Starting off the evaluation period, she competed in the NXT UK Women’s title tournament, defeating Xia Brookside and Dakota Kai to advance to the finals. She faced Toni Storm in the finals, becoming the first-ever NXT UK Women’s champion. She continued her dominance with two NXT UK main event title defenses over Isla Dawn and Deonna Purrazzo.
She defended her title at the first NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, where she faced Storm once again. After a hard-fought match, Storm prevailed. She made her PPV debut in the 2019 women’s Rumble match with another dominant performance, eliminating Dana Brooke, Zelina Vega and Kacy Catanzaro. She lasted 8 minutes, after which she was eliminated by Bayley. She received her title rematch the following moth, losing to Storm again.
She looked to return to the title picture with wins over Catanzaro and Brookside. She competed in the #1 Contenders Battle Royal in the main event of NXT UK, where she and Piper Niven were eliminated by Brookside. She lost her first match against Niven, but won the second one, both being competitive. Her last NXT UK match saw her teaming up with Niven to defeat Jinny and Jazzy Gabert in a Tag Team match.
In the meantime, Ripley debuted in NXT, interrupting Shayna Baszler. She faced her in one-on-one match, which ended in a DQ after Ripley hit Baszler with a chair. She went on to squash Kayden Carter and Aliyah before being called out by Bianca Belair. They faced off in a competitive match, which Ripley won. Then it was revealed Ripley would face Baszler in the first-ever women’s WarGames match, both choosing their teams.
At the same time, the build-up for Survivor Series was happening. Ripley made her SmackDown debut, teaming up with Tegan Nox, with a quick victory over Fire & Desire. She faced the Raw Women’s champion, Becky Lynch, in the opening match of NXT. She pushed her to her limits, but the match ended in a DQ. On SmackDown the same week, she competed against Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks in a Triple Threat match, pinning Flair to win.
Her huge week didn’t stop there. On Saturday at WarGames she and her team defeated Team Baszler despite the 4-on-2 disadvantage. Ripley pinned Baszler after a grueling match. The following night at Survivor Series, Ripley competed in the first-ever 5-on-5 women’s Survivor Series Elmination Tag Team match. In the final moments of the match, Ripley defeated Banks with the help of Shirai and LeRae to win the match for Team NXT.
2019 was a historic and dominant year for Ripley. After her breakout performance in the second Mae Young Classic, she won her first championship, had an impressive Royal Rumble debut, and beat some of the top women at Survivor Series weekend. Now, she’s looking forward to add another title to her resume and end the historic reign of Baszler. She has all the momentum and there is no doubt 2020 will be the year of Ripley.
Check with us tomorrow as we reveal #8 on our list!