On May 6, at the thrilling WWE Backlash, Rhea Ripley defended her SmackDown Women's Championship title triumphantly against Zelina Vega. The spotlight shines on her once more as the Night of Champions approaches. She's slated to defend her title again, this time against WWE stalwart Natalya, adding another fascinating chapter to her reigning story.
The groundwork for this imminent clash was laid during a riveting interruption on Monday night.
Ripley interrupted Apollo Crews' return to call out the former SmackDown Women's Champion. "At Night of Champions, I'm gonna make an example out of you," she declared. The tension between the two dates back to an episode of Raw, where Natalya had intervened in Ripley's post-match thrashing of Dana Brooke.
Ripley's Bold Challenge, Championship in Balance
Ripley's fiery proclamation didn't end there. She promised not just to defeat Natalya but to end her career entirely. Since her sensational victory over Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 39, Ripley, now hailed as the SmackDown Women's Champion has faced Vega once in a title defense in Puerto Rico.
In line with her moniker, "The Eradicator," she's shown her dominance in the Judgment Day battles, giving her team member Dominik Mysterio a commendable boost. Her championship status, however, hangs in the balance, given her shift to Monday nights while Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair moves to SmackDown.
But Ripley's current focus is clear - to overpower Natalya. Natalya's performance has been lackluster of late, her last singles victory dating back to the previous year when she bested Cora Jade on an NXT episode. She later claimed a Six-Pack Challenge victory on SmackDown, earning her a shot against Ronda Rousey at Money In The Bank, but was again defeated.
Natalya, therefore, faces the challenging task of turning the tide in her favor this weekend. As the countdown to Night of Champions begins, the anticipation is palpable. Can Ripley defend her title again, or will Natalya stage an upset? The stage is set for an epic showdown.