WWE luminary Indi Hartwell has cast her compatriot and reigning WWE Women's World Champion, Rhea Ripley, as a shimmering figure in the WWE firmament. It is with this same sense of duty to the sport, and to a journey to the stars that Ripley conducts her games.
Sharing insight on Ripley's profound influence, Hartwell said that the champion acts not only as her lodestar but also as a beacon for the milieu of wrestling in Australia.
Following Ripley's Lead
Despite her own praises, admitting to their similarities, Hartwell said, "It seems I'm always a few steps behind her.
She's ascending to the mountaintop right as I hope to soon." Though, she gushed about how much Ripley meant to the business in general, "She's a person that so many people, not just females, but Australians, can look up to.
She's such a role model within WWE. And how she's come through is really inspiring, and I want to follow in her footsteps, hopefully with that ultimate goal of taking that title from her." Hartwell has followed a similar path to Ripley, from the Australian wrestling circuit to the leading lights of the sport in America with SHIMMER and Rise before the pair were inducted into WWE in 2019.
Harkening back to their pre-wrestling camaraderie, Hartwell recalled their chance meeting when both he and Lee were on the WWE's Australian tour—spanning back to their teenage years when they crossed paths as ardent WWE aficionados.
"Rhea and I first met when WWE did a tour of Australia, and we were two fans. It was before we became wrestlers; we were like in high school together, but our love for wrestling obviously built something really strong between us." Ripley's rise to WWE stardom started with her move stateside in 2017 and her debut in the Mae Young Classic, then her rise to fame in the "NXT UK" and "NXT" circuits before making her way up to the main roster in 2021.
In the meantime, back in 2023, Hartwell took her "NXT" Women's title win over to the "Raw" brand, ready to carve out her future within the WWE legacy.