Rhea Ripley Admits She Was 'Gobsmacked' By Her Incredible WWE Success In 2019
Rhea Ripley has revealed she was "ecstatic" with her WWE career last year and has been "working towards this since I was 16 years old."
The 23-year-old Australian native started 2019 by losing the NXT UK Women's Championship to rival Toni Storm at TakeOver: Blackpool.
But Ripley would bounce back and would transition to the NXT US brand, which was followed up with appearances on SmackDown.
The NXT women's champ, real name Demi Bennett, also captained her team to victory in the first-ever women's WarGames match and led Team NXT to victory in the Survivor Series elimination match.
Ripley capped off 2019 by dethroning Shayna Baszler from the top of the NXT division and becoming the first woman to hold the top championship in both the US and UK brands.
The WWE star, who was the inaugural NXT UK women's champ, admitted that she went through "an epic rollercoaster" of a year.
Ripley told SPORTbible in an exclusive interview: "Man, 2019 was like an intense year. It was just absolutely incredible.
"Like, I learnt so much and I experienced so much. But going into it, yes, I was NXT UK women's champion and building that UK brand -- helping build it -- was just amazing in itself and I learnt so much and helped the people there and they helped me learn, and it was incredible.
"And then to come to NXT and get such a huge pop that I wasn't really expecting and no-one was really expecting. Like, everyone was shocked by how loud that crowd was that night and I was like, 'Well, I got a cool line to say, so like this is going to make it even more bada*s.'
"So to go from that and then be in the first-ever women's WarGames match and be the captain of that, going to SmackDown [and] defeating Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks, going on to Survivor Series [and] being the women's captain for the NXT team and winning that and then going on to dethrone someone that was claiming to be unbeatable in Shayna Baszler, I'm just like gobsmacked about what my 2019 was.
"Because it was just like an epic rollercoaster from like, 'Yes, I'm a champion' to 'Oh, I'm nobody' and then 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, [I'm] champion.'
"Like, it was intense and it's definitely something that I'm never gonna forget. But yeah, it's hard to find the correct verbiage to describe exactly how I feel about it just because there was so many emotions and they're hard to describe.
"But I'm just ecstatic about my year last year and now I'm going into 2020 as NXT champion. And yeah, all I can say is that I've been working towards this since I was 16 years old and I'm glad that it's all finally happening for me."
Ripley started off 2020 by successfully defending her championship against NXT UK star Storm at Worlds Collide last month.
The 'Nightmare' has since called on Charlotte Flair, who won the 2020 Royal Rumble, to challenge her for a title shot at WrestleMania 36.
However, Ripley opened up about the night that she captured the championship and was thrilled that she headlined the NXT show with Baszler.
"It was absolutely incredible, and especially not only to be in the ring with Shayna Baszler for the NXT Championship, but to be main event of the last, like, live show of the year was just insane," she said.
"There was a time where females didn't really get the main-event spot at all and now, like, we're taking over.
"And we're taking the main spot and we're proving to everyone that we can go as hard as the guys, and Shayna and I went out and we just like... I don't want to say it like this, but we beat the crap out of each other and it was absolutely amazing.
"Like, it was such a cool experience, and then to have the whole crowd and like people from the back come out and lift me up, it was definitely a time that I'm not ever gonna forget.
"And I'm glad that it was Shayna and I wouldn't change anything about that night at all -- like, at all! It was just incredible."
The NXT women's champ, who will face Bianca Belair at TakeOver: Portland on Sunday, also told SPORTbible that she wants to face Ronda Rousey in a match.
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