Rhea Ripley being absent from the SummerSlam card on Saturday is a ridiculous oversight from WWE.
Rhea was being booked fantastically prior to WrestleMania 39. Being practically a phenom and beating up some top men’s stars, she had hit a new gear after joining The Judgement Day in mid 2022. However, since becoming champion, Ripley has taken a back seat in the faction, featuring more as a valet than an in ring competitor in recent months. This could be forgiven if Rhea still competed, but she has not been in the ring much on television.
As of this writing, Ripley will not feature on Saturday’s SummerSlam show, and it seems WWE are waiting to book her title defense with Raquel Rodriguez despite Raquel’s injury being storyline and is not actually stopping her from competing. This comes after WWE were forced to write Liv Morgan off TV due to a shoulder injury. Unfortunately, the knee injury angle that they have ran has come with the caveat that Raquel has yet to be cleared for SummerSlam.
The only issue with this storyline is that we are heading into one of the biggest Premium Live Events of WWE’s calendar and instead of Rhea getting a fresh matchup on the card, WWE have decided to postpone the match due to timing issues for Saturday’s show. This has been a theme of Rhea’s reign as Women’s World Champion, with very little time in the ring on WWE television since capturing the title earlier this year. When you look at the four months since Ripley’s title win, she has defended the title on just two Premium Live Events, with her first being an afterthought to Zelina Vega’s homecoming back at Backlash. Now, that is not necessarily Rhea’s fault, and it does beat the original plan of Ripley squashing Zelina, but it did very little for Ripley as a champion.
Now, Raquel Rodriguez may be ruled out due to her storyline injury, but that does not mean Rhea cannot be on the card. Given her confidence and dominant reign, she could easily host an open challenge at SummerSlam if WWE wanted to add her to the card. However, it appears this will not be the case as mentioned previously, WWE seem to have put all of their efforts into building Ripley to a matchup with Rodriguez.
Ripley has proven time and again that she is one of the most talented women’s wrestlers on the planet and has backed those skills up with some impressive mic work that has earned her adoration from many fans, despite her being a stone cold heel. Ripley is over in a way that only a few other women in the world can say they are, and there is no real valid reason to keep a superstar like Rhea Ripley off the show, especially when she is the world champion.
While time constraints are absolutely an issue for a show like SummerSlam, we are undoubtedly going to have a lot of promotional clips throughout the show that could just as easily be cut from the show. Or perhaps shaving some time off some other matches on the show. The same could be said with regards to Trish Stratus vs Becky Lynch, which is a match many believed to be a slam dunk for the event in Detroit.
While AEW has been getting their fair share of criticism regarding their women’s division, it seems WWE have the same issues in certain aspects, with Ripley’s lack of a match on SummerSlam showing the glaring misbooking of women’s stars. Elsewhere on the card, Asuka will defend her WWE Women’s Championship, but has also become an afterthought as Bianca Belair and Charlotte Flair have been the main characters of a three way storyline for the title.
Rhea herself does not seem to be happy with the situation either, as she posted on social media about doing media for the event despite not being booked. The frustration is obvious with regards to her in ring matches.
It goes without saying, but Ripley’s recent match with Lyra Valkyria is a prime example of how talented Ripley is in between the ropes as in a non title match in NXT, Lyra pushed the champion to her limit and earned Ripley’s respect. Something that has not happened since Rhea turned heel last year. If WWE were that suck for a title defense, Lyra could have been a title defense option after she defeated Jacy Jane last week on NXT.
Truth be told, there is flat out no valid reason for Ripley to be absent from Saturday’s show, other than the misbooking of women that WWE have been accused of in the past.
We will have to wait and see if Ripley will still find a way to be part of SummerSlam this weekend.
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