Just one year ago on December 18th, Rhea Ripley set the record straight that anything's possibly, when she dethroned the longest-reigning NXT Women's Champion, Shayna Baszler, from her stranglehold on the title. After her big win, the entire locker room came down to celebrate with the newly crowned champion, as well as the audience. In her interview on Chasing Glory, the "Nightmare" recalls what a gratifying night that was for her and her resume.
"It was incredible! It was something that I didn't really see happening so quickly," Rhea Ripley exclaimed. "I just came from the U.K., and then I was put straight into the title picture, and I was like, 'Oh, my God, do I know what I'm doing?' I was freaking out, but at the same time, we got more reps, and it was going; like, my career was going and going, and I was wrestling more often, and I got more confident in myself, and I knew what I was doing. I felt like it was the perfect time for it.
"Just having that match with Shayna [Baszler], everyone was so excited for it; the crowd was so hot - it was the hottest that it's ever been. And in the end, when I did beat Shayna with the first-ever avalanche Riptide - which was shocking in itself - then it went insane. Everyone came into the ring to celebrate with me, and I had my own little moshpit around me; it was so exciting, and I had so much fun. I remember running around after it went off the air, and I was running around in the stands. I felt like a rock star!"
Fast forward four months later after her big win, and Ripley was now in a featured match at WrestleMania 36 on the second night with a title defense against the Women's Royal Rumble and former NXT Women's Champion, Charlotte Flair. Although the experience in itself was different from the WrestleMania's before, Ripley says that was her golden ticket opportunity to be showcased on the grandest stage of them all.
"It's funny because I was on Watch Along and I was watching the Royal Rumble and Charlotte won, and they turned to me, and they were like, 'What do you think?' I said, 'Well, she gets to challenge for any title, so I'd like to see her try me,'" she said with all the confidence in the world. "That's all I said. I didn't think that anything was going to happen. Then all of a sudden, it was happening. I thought, 'Oh, my God, did I speak this into existence? Did I make this happen?'
"It was exciting. I got my golden ticket pretty much from that, and man, even the WrestleMania [event] wasn't what we expected it to be. It's still WrestleMania, and it's still a massive deal. Like yeah, there were no people in attendance, which sorta sucked, and my parents couldn't be there, which sucked 'cause I wanted to share that with them. But it's still Wrestlemania, and I got to step in the ring with someone like Charlotte Flair, and we had an amazing match; I don't care what anyone says."
Ripley also adds that in her opinion, she and Flair's match stole the show on the second night of WrestleMania 36.
"I feel like this one would be more difficult than having a crowd there 'cause when there's a crowd there, you can feed off of it. Where there's no one, you've got no one to feed off of," she added. "We stole the show on the second night. We went out there and killed it. I'm proud of us, and I don't care what the outcome was. At the end of the day, I had my WrestleMania moment. We had an amazing match and we pulled it off."
When Ripley lost the title in April, she felt her world shattered completely, as did her confidence. She recalls how low she felt on herself and fearful of having to start all over again to become the breakout star she once was.
"I definitely have gone through a stage where I started losing confidence in myself because I wasn't being portrayed the same way that I was," she openly admitted. "I'm still slowly building myself back up from it. But my confidence was definitely tainted a little bit, which sucks 'cause I try to keep it up [so I can] do my best all the time. I don't know if it was just something inside my head that wasn't getting the picture. I don't know. I got a bit lost after that. But right now, I feel like I'm getting back on track."
Ripley admitted to Lilian Garcia that since her big loss, she has spent a lot of time re-watching her old matches, which she says is helping boost her confidence back up to being the savage challenger she was when she first stepped on to the black and gold brand both here in America and in the U.K.
"It might sound weird, but I've been going back and watching some of my matches," she said on how she's boosting her confidence. "I'll watch [my] matches from NXT UK. I'll watch matches from me and Shayna's buildup. And I just gotta remember who I am, pretty much, 'cause I forgot who I was for a little bit, and I hate forgetting who I was. I like being me and portraying myself in a certain way that makes me feel comfortable and confident. So, I've definitely been going back and watching my old stuff and being like, 'This is how I used to act. This is what I need to do no.' And it's been helping me a bit."
You can watch Rhea Ripley's full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Lilian Garcia -Chasing Glory with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.