Last night at Backlash, Rhea Ripley faced Zelina Vega one-on-one for the first time in her career. It was built as an underdog story with Puerto Rican Vega playing the role of hometown heroine as she hoped to win the title for her family and her people.
But even with all the emotion and support of over 15,000 screaming Puerto Ricans, Vega wasn’t able to overcome the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Ripley was bigger, stronger, tougher, and hit harder. All of Vega’s passion amounted to precious little as Ripley smashed her to pieces with big power moves until Vega could no longer get up before the count of three.
And in a moment similar to what happened at Clash at the Castle in Cardiff, Vega received an emotional standing ovation despite losing. Vega, like Sheamus in Cardiff, was treated with praise and respect as she stood in the ring humbled by her failed attempt to live up to her promise to win for her family and people.
On the flipside, Rhea Ripley is celebrating her title win by bragging.
Rhea Ripley brags over how easy her title match with Zelina Vega was
Ripley was asked what it felt like to be surrounded by a crowd that despised her and was completely behind her opponent. As it turns out, she wasn’t fazed by this lopsided fan allegiance at all.
“I don’t really care if the crowd was strongly behind Zelina. I don’t care about these people. They don’t mean anything to me, just like Zelina doesn’t. It felt amazing because they were behind Zelina Vega so much, and I shut them all up for good when Mami walked out the ‘SmackDown’ Women’s Champion still, and Zelina Vega was left in the ring like a little pretzel.”
Both Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair retained their respective Women’s Championships at Backlash. Because of that, and because both of them have been drafted to opposing shows, the two will have some kind of “title switch ceremony” on the May 8th episode of RAW.
h/t WrestlingInc for the transcription