WWE Rumors on Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Alexa Bliss and KushidaApril 19, 2022
Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
WWE Possibly Planning Belair vs. Ripley
WWE's decision to turn Rhea Ripley heel on Monday night's episode of Raw reportedly may have been in anticipation of putting her in the Raw Women's Championship picture.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Michael Perry of Ringside News), WWE doesn't want to pit Bianca Belair against Becky Lynch again so soon after their match at WrestleMania 38.
As a result, WWE pivoted to Belair vs. Sonya Deville, and Meltzer noted that while their match was originally supposed to occur at WrestleMania Backlash next month, it was moved up to next week's Raw.
Meltzer speculated that the decision could be with the intent of moving Ripley into the Raw women's title picture sooner rather than later.
On Raw, Ripley and Liv Morgan challenged Sasha Banks and Naomi for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships. After Ripley was pinned in a losing effort, she and Morgan argued in the ring.
Morgan attempted to walk away before things got even more heated, but Ripley attacked her from behind and reveled in the destruction she caused.
Feuding with Morgan and perhaps facing her at WrestleMania Backlash would likely be the next logical step for Ripley before moving on to title contention, but she would undoubtedly be a strong fit as an opponent for Belair.
Few can measure up to The EST physically, but Ripley is among those who can, as she believably has the size and strength to beat Belair.
They have also wrestled each other before both in NXT and on the main roster, and their stories have run parallel for quite some time.
Ripley and Belair were the final two women remaining in the 2021 women's Royal Rumble match, which was won by Belair. Then, they both went on to win singles gold at WrestleMania 37.
Rhea has not achieved the same level of success as Belair on the main roster, though, and that is something she can use as motivation within a rivalry with Bianca.
Bliss Reportedly Frustrated with WWE Creative
Alexa Bliss reportedly voiced displeasure with her creative direction after competing at Elimination Chamber in February.
According to Fightful Select (h/t WrestlingInc's Marc Middleton), Bliss was unhappy that WWE had nothing planned for her after Elimination Chamber, and her feelings were known by "talent, creative writers, and higher-ups." She even discussed the situation with WWE chairman Vince McMahon.
After losing a Raw Women's Championship match to Charlotte Flair at Extreme Rules in September, Bliss disappeared from WWE programming for a few months.
She resurfaced with several weeks of vignettes that saw her talking to a therapist about the transformation she had undergone after aligning herself with The Fiend.
The final vignette saw Bliss announce her entry into the Elimination Chamber match, and she made it to the final two in that bout before getting eliminated by Belair.
It was assumed by most fans that Bliss would have a significant role at WrestleMania 38, but she was kept off television after Elimination Chamber and was not part of the WrestleMania card.
Per Fightful, Bliss was willing to work WrestleMania, and pitches were made for her to interfere in the Raw women's title match between Belair and Becky Lynch, but they were shot down.
While creative issues may have something to do with Bliss' absence from WWE, the fact that she got married to musician Ryan Cabrera two weeks ago likely played a role as well.
With Bliss' celebrating her nuptials, it is unclear when WWE plans to bring her back into the fold or how they plan to utilize her when she does return.
Given her popularity and track record of success, however, she figures to be placed in a top spot when the time comes for her to resurface on WWE programming.
Kushida Reportedly Returning to NJPW After WWE Departure
Kushida is reportedly set to return to his old stomping grounds following the expiration of his WWE contract.
According to Meltzer (h/t WrestlingInc's Matthew Wilkinson), those within WWE believe Kushida is going back to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, possibly as soon as June.
Fightful Select (h/t Middleton) reported Monday that Kushida's WWE contract had expired, although it wasn't known if he had been or would be offered a new deal.
Meltzer followed up by noting that Kushida's contract expired this week and that it was "not a secret" within WWE that Kushida was leaving.
WWE seemingly prepared for Kushida's departure last week by having Von Wagner attack him backstage on NXT 2.0, which was apparently the company's way of writing him out of storylines.
The 38-year-old Kushida signed with WWE in 2019 after enjoying a great deal of success in NJPW from 2010 through '19.
During his time in New Japan, Kushida was a six-time IWGP junior heavyweight champion and twice held the IWGP junior heavyweight tag team titles with Alex Shelley.
Kushida appeared to be pigeonholed and wasn't given the opportunity to move up into the heavyweight division, though, and he made the decision to try his hand in the United States.
While Kushida had some great matches with the likes of Gunther, Johnny Gargano, Kyle O'Reilly and others in NXT, he was similarly relegated to the cruiserweight division for the most part.
Kushida held the Cruiserweight Championship once before dropping it to Roderick Strong in September.
Once NXT made the switch to NXT 2.0, Kushida formed a tag team known as Jacket Time with Ikeman Jiro, and he was essentially used as a mid-to-low-card act.
If Kushida does go back to New Japan, he will likely be featured in a much higher-profile spot than he was in his final months in NXT.
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