Yesterday, a report hit claiming Rhea Ripley’s work visa expired. In order to get it renewed, the story went, the 23 year old returned to Australia sometime after filming her WrestleMania 36 match against Charlotte Flair.
This led a lot of wrestling fans to think, “oh that’s why she dropped the NXT title to Charlotte”.
Not so fast...
This video, making the rounds via various rips from her Instagram, is clearly aimed at dispelling the report - or at least the “in Australia” part of it. It shows Ripley in her apartment with her boyfriend, indie wrestler Demetri “Action” Jackson and their menagerie of pets.
*reports*: "Rhea Ripley lost to Charlotte because her visa expired and is back in Australia"— Bubba (@_big_bad_bubba_) April 8, 2020
Rhea Ripley: pic.twitter.com/VnsyuM2uUq
It remains to be seen what this means for Rhea’s WWE future. The episode of NXT which airs tonight (April 8) was filmed at an empty Full Sail Live back in March. The black-and-gold brand’s next set of shows is supposed to be taped during WWE’s marathon session at their Orlando Performance Center that starts later this week.
Whether or not she’s around for those will probably give us an answer on her immigration status.
UPDATE: As pointed out by Full Nelson Reilly (a most excellent user name, but I digress) in the comments below, Ripley herself spoke about needing to return to Australia to get her visa renewed while doing ‘Mania press. In those same interviews, though, she said her plans were changed by the coronavirus pandemic.
So she’s still in the States but her visa is expired or expiring. Question remain as to when exactly it expires or expired, whether WWE and the authorities have arranged for her to continue working until she can travel, and what the plan is - since there probably wasn’t a “what to do in case of global pandemic” procedure in place until very recently, if at all.