Rhea Ripley – This Is Her Reality

Demi Bennett began her journey into the world of Professional Wrestling and Sports Entertainment at the age of 16 years old. You want to talk about a humble beginning? She debuted for Riot City Wrestling on June 22nd, 2013 at the Goodwood Saints Football Club in Millswood, South Australia against a then – 7 year pro, Savannah Summers. Savannah has gone on to win 7 different Women’s Championships, and is still wrestling as of 2024.

Rising through Riot City Wrestling and New Horizons

Demi spent nearly a year of the beginning of her career working for Riot City Wrestling, which would be considered her original home company to many and the place where she really got to get her feet wet in Professional Wrestling.

In an early highlight of Demi’s time in RCW, on May 10th, 2014, she defeated the very same lady she wrestled in her debut match, Savannah Summers to become the RCW Women’s Champion at RCW City Chicks Unleashed 2 in Wingfield, South Australia.

A mere 13 days later, she would make her Western Australian debut for New Horizons Pro Wrestling at NHPW Glocal Conflict when she went to battle with the legendary Mercedes Martinez at the Cockburn Youth Centre in Success, WA.

Following a Career from Australia to Japan

It’s really funny when you look at somebody’s life like this, and you do the research, and you see where they have been, and think of where they are at now in their career and life. It’s mind blowing to me that the following month in Demi’s Victorian debut for Melbourne Championship Wrestling, that not only was she facing Savannah Summers again, but current 3 TIME AEW Women’s World Champion, Toni Storm was in the match as well. What a small world we live in, especially as it pertains to Women’s Pro Wrestling here in Australia.

Without even talking to her, I know for a fact this was her dream. Whilst she pottered around the Australian Pro Wrestling scene as she neared the ages of 18 and 19, she wrestled regularly through 2013 and 2014, my brain was exploding to read that on April 5th, 2015 – she made her pro wrestling debut in Japan for a company known as World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana, and she worked for other companies too like REINA, Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling, and ZERO1’s Super Fireworks Pro Wrestling. She appeared to spend around 2 months there at the RIPE OLD AGE OF 18!

Do you understand the courage it takes for an 18 year old to go to the other side of the world to chase that dream? 18 year olds don’t know anything. It’s extremely impressive to me that she took such a leap of faith for the lessons she would learn working with the very dedicated and serious Joshi ladies of Japan. I can only imagine the amount she learned there in such a short amount of time and that’s not just about how to work in the ring, but she would have learned a lot about herself and where she had come from, and where she was going. That trip saw her working with legends like Meiko Satomura, Kyoko Inoue, and Konami!

Returning to Australia and Debuting as Rhea Ripley in WWE

Upon her return to Australia, it would take Demi until April of 2017 before her time in Australian Pro Wrestling was to come to an end, successfully defending the RCW Women’s Title against Kellyanne for Riot City Wrestlings ‘Strength’, at the Latvian Hall in Wayville, South Australia.


Demi managed to get herself booked in the WWE’s 2017 Mae Young Classic, and it was apparently time for a name change, and what a name change it was. Demi Bennett may have been some places, but she wasn’t going any further, because she became Rhea Ripley. Now – I give WWE a hard time on some of the names they give their new talent, but Rhea Ripley is a bad ass name.

She worked with Miranda Alize in the first round of the Mae Young Classic on July 13th, 2017. Rhea’s gone from South Oz and wrestling in Football clubs, to having Jim Ross commentate a match of hers! That’s a moment to pinch ones self, that’s for sure. She would end up getting eliminated in the 2nd round of the tournament by Dakota Kai, who is a lady she crossed paths with a lot in NXT in the future, prior to Dakota’s run of success she has enjoyed with Damage CTRL to this day.

After some time in the WWE Performance Center, and working NXT Live Events up until July of 2018, she entered the 2018 Mae Young Classic with a brand spanking new look, evolving with the times, and disposed to MJ Jenkins, Kacy Catanzaro (Katana Chance) and Tegan Nox before being toppled by IO SKY (Not Shirai, wink wink) in the Semi Finals. After such a strong showing, you would think Rhea would be NXT Bound by that point, right? No siree bob.

NXT UK and Women’s Championship

NXT started a 2nd brand at this stage, as NXT UK was born, a United Kingdom leg of the original NXT. Rhea went from a solid run in the 2018 Mae Young Classic, only to find her way into the NXT UK Women’s Championship Tournament.

This time, she would not be denied as she defeated the wonderful Xia Brookside, avenged her loss to Dakota Kai a year prior, and then defeated… yep – current AEW Women’s Champion, Toni Storm to become the inaugural champion. That’s something common you’ll see in this biography, Rhea has so many moments that come full circle.

With that win, she became the first female Australian champion in WWE history, and 2nd Australian WWE title holder in history, after, interestingly enough, her future husband Buddy Matthews (Then Buddy Murphy) when he was WWE Cruiserweight Champion.

After holding the NXT UK Women’s Championship for 139 days, her reign came to and end at the hands of Toni Storm on January 12th, 2019 for the WWE NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, Lancashire, England. Between doing NXT Live Events throughout 2019, she would wrestle in NXT UK until October of 2019. She finally made her NXT TV Re-Debut on October 9th, 2019 with an easy victory over Aliyah at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

Team NXT and Old Feuds

As NXT was started to be pushed at the time as a ‘3rd Brand’ late into 2019, they started heading toward the WWE Survivor Series Pay Per View where RAW, Smackdown and NXT would do battle. She would make her Smackdown debut teaming with Tegan Nox against Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville on November 1st, 2019, and then 2 weeks later would work in a 8 Women’s Tag Team Match again, on Smackdown.

Going full circle may just happen yet once more, because on the 500th edition of NXT on November 20th, Becky Lynch and Rhea Ripley went one on one for the first time, where Becky managed to defeat Rhea in just under 10 minutes.

This would be followed up with Rhea Ripley being able to defeat Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks in a Triple Threat match on November 22nd at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, with an excellent Crucifix pin on Charlotte whilst Sasha was locked into the Figure 8.

It would get even better for NXT, because at Survivor Series 2019 2 days later, she and Team NXT would manage to defeat Team RAW and Smackdown to win the big 3 team Survivor Series Elimination Match. Whilst the experiment at the time of trying to make NXT a viable 3rd brand did not really work out at the time, you could see that she certainly was ready for the big time, when the time came.

Rhea’s Rapid Rise to Wrestlemania

After months of build up feuding with undefeated champion Shayna Baszler, Rhea would again make history once more. That history would be to be the first Female in WWE History to have won the NXT UK, and NXT Women’s Championships when she defeated Shayna Baszler on December 18th, capping off what would be an incredible year in her young career.

It only got better for Rhea, let’s be perfectly honest. Despite the dampening of the situation with COVID-19 making the very next WrestleMania the only one in history to not be in front of a crowd, 2020 WWE Women’s Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair decided to cash in her shot at the NXT Women’s Championship.

At WrestleMania 36, Rhea would take the next big step in her career to defend her NXT Championship on the Grandaddy of them All, in a loss to Charlotte Flair. To think only 7 years prior she was wrestling in Adelaide, now she’s in a big time match at a WrestleMania against one of, or if not, the greatest Women’s WWE Superstar of all time.

As Rhea once again pottered around awaiting her next opportunity, she would enter the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble. Although she wasn’t victorious, it wouldn’t be long before she got herself another shot at the big time. On March 22nd, 2021, she arrived on RAW to challenge Asuka to a match at WrestleMania 37 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

In just over 13 minutes, Rhea would defeat Asuka to become the WWE Raw Women’s Champion. This is the first truly defining moment in Rhea’s career, to not only defeat Asuka, or challenge for a Title at WrestleMania, but to be recognized as the first Australian to have ever won a World Championship in the WWE, Brand Split or not – it counts. She would hold onto that Championship for 98 days before losing it to another person who she would be in need of coming full circle with – Charlotte Flair at Money in the Bank 2021 at the Dickies Arena in Forth Worth, Texas.

Ripley’s Tag Team Foray

Rhea would eventually depart the Main Event scene for a while, and concentrated on a babyface run she was having with her new Tag Team Partner, Nikki A.S.H, or Nikki Cross as many may know her has and on September 20th, 2021, she now become WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion with Nikki. After losing the Titles after only 63 days, Nikki would turn on Rhea.

Rhea would go on to team with Liv Morgan in what many thought was an adorable duo, and would unsuccessfully challenge for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania 38.

The Judgment Day

This was all a rather testing time for Rhea Ripley, being out of the spotlight of the World Title picture, and concentrating on Tag Team work, and being a babyface, which some may consider fairly un-natural for the Rhea Ripley character.

Something started brewing after WrestleMania 38 though, as Rhea Ripley would end up joining Edge’s new faction – The Judgment Day, with Damian Priest. They would feud with her former partner Liv Morgan, Edge’s WrestleMania 38 opponent AJ Styles, and of course Finn Baler. Balor ended up joining The Judgment Day, and in a swerve that really annoyed me as a fan (as I was enjoying Edge’s Heel run), Finn, Damian Priest and Rhea all kicked Edge out of the group.

Soon after this, as my anger dissipated… Edge had some help from Rey Mysterio and his son Dominik Mysterio in this feud with the Judgment Day. Yet again in another swerve, Dominik finally turned heel at WWE Clash at the Castle, joining The Judgment Day, and forming an alliance with Rhea which to this day has become completely synonymous with the both of them, with the gimmick being lifted from Eddie Guerrero being ‘Dominik’s Papi’, and now, Rhea was ‘Dominik’s Mami’.

The heat and entertainment these two have given the world since forming this duo within the confines of The Judgment Day have been other worldly. They kept winning a lot of their feuds, and The Judgment Day were firing on all cylinders, as one of the hottest heel groups in the industry. It never ceases to amaze me all the times that Rhea has done something for the first time in the WWE, and another one was to come.

Breaking Records and Revenge on Charlotte Flair

At the 2023 WWE Royal Rumble, Rhea Ripley became the first Woman in WWE History to win the Women’s Royal Rumble from the #1 spot, making her the 4th in history including the Men. Now, it was time for her to come full circle with Charlotte Flair. The woman who ended her NXT Women’s title reign. The woman who ended her first RAW Women’s Title reign. Now, Charlotte was the Smackdown Women’s Champion.

On Night 1 of WrestleMania 39, Rhea Ripley beat Charlotte Flair to win the Championship, which gave her even more records. With this win, Ripley became the seventh Women’s Triple Crown champion, the fifth Women’s Grand Slam champion, and the youngest grand slam champion (male or female) in WWE history at 26.

My amazement, is yet to be ceased, yes, I am aware this is a predetermined business, but to bestowed these honors means that the company believe in you and your marketability and ability to draw ratings, buyrates and merchandise sales. She also finally vanquished Charlotte on the grandest stage of them all. Not bad, huh?

Current Title Reign, Wrestlmania XL and the Present Day

Now dubbed the WWE Women’s World Championship instead of it horribly being named after the Brand it is on, Rhea was given a shiny, brand spanking new championship. As of me writing this article right now, she has defended the title 9 times in 321 days.

Whilst I do think titles could be defended more, that’s not too bad in comparison to other title holders. The only complaint I have is her run has literally been a walk in the park, with only some real story coming from her feud with Raquel Rodriguez, but every other title match and feud has really felt like she wasn’t exactly against anybody super formiddable.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though, as she and Becky Lynch appear to be on a crash course for WrestleMania 40 this year at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This match may have happened once before in NXT, (which they are ignoring of course), but this is another big name for Rhea to face off with at the Showcase of the Immortals, and the biggest WrestleMania of all time.

Rhea must pinch herself every single solitary day. The fact these things are constantly happening to her must feel like the most surreal existence anybody has ever had in the sport of Professional Wrestling, when you go from being a 16 year old teenage girl, to now a 27 year old Woman in the prime of her career. Not only all of this, but there’s one more poingnant fact to talk about before this article is done with.

Returning Home – Elimination Chamber 2024

WWE Elimination Chamber 2024. Perth, Western Australia. My home town. Rhea Ripley is defending the WWE Women’s World Championship at this upcoming Premium Live Event. Which is 2,499 days since she last wrestled in Australia, which at the time, as mentioned earlier, was her farewell match before she chased her dream of being a WWE Superstar.

That is her reality.

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Karlifornia is a Freelance Journalist for RealProWrestling.Com and TheRockpit.Net and Host on the Insiders Edge Podcast through his YouTube channel, the WZWA Network. He has been a die hard Pro Wrestling fan since 1998, and his favorite time period in wrestling is the Attitude Era/Monday Night Wars.

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