WWE’s Rhea Ripley on injury return, Survivor Series WarGames

Rhea Ripley finally sees her wrestling career “starting up again.”

The 26-year-old has been The Judgment Day’s muscle since joining the group in May, but she hadn’t been unable to actually compete for four months after getting injured in June.

The former Raw women’s champion is happy to finally be cleared following her “brain and teeth injury” and will be stepping into the caged double rings she feels at home in during the women’s WarGames match at WWE Survivor Series from TD Garden on Saturday (Peacock 8 p.m.) Ripley will team with Bayley, Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai and Nikki Cross to take on Bianca Belair, Candice LaRae, Asuka, Alexa Bliss and a still-to-be-announced fifth member.  

Before the big show, Ripley took time for some Q&A with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski.

(Edited for clarity and length)

Rhea Ripley
WWE

Q: You were in a WarGames match in 2019 with NXT. How would describe that experience?

A: It’s a totally different ballgame. I find it fun. I love WarGames and I think we’ll get a bit creative when it comes to WarGames because it’s two rings, we’re in a cage. That’s where I’m most at home. And being a part of the first-ever women’s WarGames match, that was history-making in WWE. We absolutely killed it. We went out there and we left everything we had in the ring. I know when it comes to Survivor Series and our WarGames match this time around, we’re gonna do exactly the same.  

Q: When you are presenting this to the main roster audience for the first time, does it help to have so many people in the match who have been in WarGames before? It’s you, Bianca, Iyo, Candice, Dakota who have the experience.

A: It definitely does make it a little bit easier. The girls that haven’t been in there before get to learn from us when most of the time we’ve been learning from them on the main roster because they’ve been here before us. It’s cool to have it the other way around because we kind of have the advantage because we’ve been in it before. It’s cool to be stepping into it with some of the girls who were in the first ever one as well.

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Rhea Ripley
WWE

Q: You’ve only wrestled once on the main roster since returning. You wrestled in NXT, you wrestled in some house shows. Was that anything to do with your injury or just there is no one in the story yet for you to work with?

A: A lot of it was the injury. I hadn’t been cleared for the longest time. I think I got cleared properly and fully the week before my NXT match (on Oct. 18). Apart from that, I pretty much wasn’t cleared that whole time (four months). After that there pretty much hasn’t been an opportunity for me to wrestle because I have been there with The Judgement Day and sort of their muscle. I help them out if they need me. I’m “the problem” as the OC would say. I feel like my wrestling career is just starting up again.

Q: How would you describe the relationship you and Dominik Mysterio are portraying and how much did you two get to put your own wrinkle into it? 

A: Me and Dom Dom, we’re just going out there and we’re having fun. We’re being menaces to society and just going out there and doing whatever we want. We’ve definitely put our own spice onto it. This all just started from me wearing an “I’m Your Papi” shirt.  I knew that I was coming back and I knew I wanted to screw with Ray on his (25th) anniversary. I was like you know what, I’m going to order this shirt and wear it on TV and that was it pretty much.

After that it kind of like stuck and it created this whole story that’s been going on that eventually ended up with Dom joining The Judgement Day. A lot of it is us going out there and just having fun, not really taking anything too seriously and knowing we want to go out there and screw with people and their train of thought.

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Rhea Ripley
WWE
WWE
The Judgement Day
WWE

Q: Do you think that’s why the audience has taken to it so much? There was a clip post of a fan yelling, ‘I’m your Papi’ at you.

A: People love to hate us and that’s something not many people can do, go out there and have people sort of think that your cool and then absolutely hate you and what you do at the same time. It’s been really fun for me going out there screwing with the fans. A lot of times it doesn’t get caught on camera, but lately, it has been. It makes them feel like their part of the moment. So when it gets caught on camera, I love it so much.

Q: What are people saying to you?

Most of the things I’m not allowed to say. (Laugh) But there has been a lot. I’ve had people make signs, some of them very inappropriate. I’ll lash back at them. At one of the house shows, I had this fan and he was like, ‘Rhea, spit on me.’ I’m like, ‘What? You want me to what?’ Dom was there and that was another moment for us. ‘Dom this man just told me to spit on him.’ ‘He what?’ ‘You gonna do something about it?’

Q: We kind of got a tease two weeks ago on Raw of you and Bianca Belair having a match at some point for the Raw women’s title. Do you guys feel like with this can become the next great rivalry in the women’s division?

A: Bianca and I are perfect rivals pretty much. We’ve talked about it in NXT before. We’ve talked about it here at Raw before. We pretty much want to be the next Stone Cold and The Rock. We want to have the storylines. We want to go out there and we want to steal the show.

Q: How disappointing was it when you have that match set up at Money in the Bank and then you get injured and it’s also cost you time away from the ring?

A: As upsetting as it was, I think it was a blessing in disguise. Bianca and I, it’s something that shouldn’t be rushed and we don’t want to rush it. Where that sort of felt like it’s gonna happen and that would be the end of it. We want our names to be etched in history. We want to leave our legacy where we can be in the ring together and make magic.

Q: When you inject someone like Mia Yim into the on-screen rivalry with the OC, does that get some of the juices flowing now that you have someone to work it?   

A: It does get me excited, even going back in time when we had the whole feud with Edge, stepping in the ring with someone like Beth Phoenix (at Extreme Rules). That was my dream. That is a competitor that I want to face, that I want to have that moment with. Now with Mia as well. She’s someone I want to have that match with and show everyone I can still wrestle and I’m bloody good at it.

Q: You talked about being The Judgement Day’s muscle and changing people’s perception of things. You’re out there body-slamming Luke Gallows. To me, that’s starting to change people’s perception of things.

A: It’s something that we haven’t seen (in WWE) since pretty much Chyna. So it’s cool that I get to be that person. I still get to present this sort of dominance about myself without having a full-blown match. I get to hit the guys. I get to go out there and pick them up to show everyone who the hell I am without actually having the bell ring and being in the ring. It’s cool to see how everything has been evolving over the last few months. I feel like this is the start of a new era in WWE where we can get caught up with the guys. That could possibly lead to something, I don’t know. I’m hoping for it.  

Q: We talked in the past about how you have a lot of tattoos and in the past you weren’t really allowed to show them in WWE. You have your gear not arrive for Hell in a Cell and you’re out in the trunks and that’s become your look now? Is that something you are happy about presentation-wise?

A: Yeah. I definitely wasn’t allowed to show them back in the day. The business has been evolving and changing. I feel like even if I didn’t have that gear mishap when I sort of at the last minute had to put something together, it would have definitely gone down this path where I could show off my tattoos and get more and them not really care  But It definitely sped up the process.

Q: How important is it for the women and the men to have big nights to help maybe make this WarGames concept stick for years to come?

A: It’s moments like these that could make or break people. We could be coming into this WarGames match and someone that we didn’t expect could come out of it and into the prime of their career. That’s sort of what happened to me in NXT. I went into that match and the momentum for me was slowly growing. Then after that and straight into Survivor Series and my career really took off. It’s cool to know this kind of thing can happen.