Royal Rumble 2021 is coming up this Sunday, January 31. Many pro wrestling fans think that Rhea Ripley is a great choice to emerge as the winner in the women’s Royal Rumble match. But it’s hard to be confident in that prediction considering how Ripley fared on the WWE main roster last year. She was briefly called up to drop her NXT women’s championship to Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 36, and she spent the rest of the year back in NXT struggling to capture the momentum she had prior to that whole fiasco.
For those of you who think the opinions of longtime veterans carry far more weight than anyone else, here’s WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley explaining on his Facebook that WWE blew it when they had the chance to crown a new queen:
“I really felt that when Ripley was crowned WWE NXT champion that she had the capacity to do what few before her had been able to accomplish - bring in new fans to see a very different face of WWE...but when the time seemed right to place the crown on a new and very different queen, WWE dropped the ball. Despite having an outstanding match at WWE WrestleMania, the loss to Charlotte greatly slowed the young Australian’s momentum - and with it, the opportunity to be on the major face of her brand, and that rare transformative wrestler who can attract new fans to the product.”
Ultimately, Foley concludes that the wrong woman won their match at WrestleMania 36:
“Charlotte Flair is already one of the greatest performers in WWE and wrestling history....But she simply did not need that victory at WrestleMania. Rhea Ripley did.”
Given that the NXT roster is still regarded as the minor leagues by more fans than not, Foley explains why Ripley is the best choice to win this year’s Royal Rumble match:
“Despite some monumental matches over the past year, to much of the WWE Universe, and to casual wrestling fans around the world, Rhea Ripley is still something of an unknown quantity, a secret weapon ready to once again shine...This time, I hope WWE will choose to strap that figurative rocket onto her back and see if they can launch her into that next dimension...I believe the sky is the limit for Rhea Ripley, should she win the 2021 Royal Rumble. I just hope WWE won’t ask for their rocket back in mid-flight.”
Foley’s career includes many matches where he put over the hot rising star after cementing himself in a top spot, so it’s not surprising to see that he strongly disagrees with WWE’s booking decision on the Flair/Ripley match. He argues that WWE has a chance to work towards fixing that mistake with a Royal Rumble victory for Ripley.
Is the time still right for Ripley to receive that kind of spotlight, or is it now Bianca Belair’s time to shine on the grand stage?