Rhea Ripley reflects on a memorable night in WWE history when NXT stars unexpectedly took center stage on SmackDown. In 2019, WWE was gearing up for its weekly SmackDown episode, the first installment after a significant event in Saudi Arabia.
However, unforeseen circumstances led to a massive delay in the WWE plane's return, leaving a substantial portion of the SmackDown roster stranded and unable to participate in the show. With this dilemma, WWE boldly brought in NXT talent for an impromptu invasion of SmackDown.
Ripley, an NXT star at the time, shared her experience of that night during a recent interview with British GQ. She explained how rapidly plans changed and the urgency with which they were summoned.
Ripley Recounts Urgent Call
Ripley recalled, "We're on the clock 24/7.
We could get called to do anything at any time. When people on SmackDown got stuck in Saudi Arabia [in 2019], it was noon, I was at the gym, and I answered my phone to them [WWE] saying, 'We need you to get on a plane right now.'
I had to quickly go home, shower, pack a bag, and head to the airport." The then-future SmackDown Women's Champion revealed just how narrow the timeframe was for the NXT talent. Shayna Baszler, in particular, had an incredibly tight schedule, running straight into her segment upon arrival at to the venue.
Ripley recounted, "We legit landed and went straight to the show. I remember Shayna [Baszler] getting off the plane, getting in the venue, and running straight out onto live television." This unplanned NXT invasion created an unforgettable night for the talent and the audience.
It paved the way for the NXT vs. WWE storyline leading to that year's Survivor Series premium live event. The incident showcased the adaptability and resilience of the WWE and its performers, who delivered an exciting show under challenging circumstances.