Rhea Ripley Beats Bianca Belair, Retains NXT Title at WWE NXT TakeOver: Portland

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2020

Credit: WWE.com

Rhea Ripley beat Bianca Belair at NXT TakeOver: Portland on Sunday to retain the NXT Women's Championship and set the stage for a match against Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 36.

Ripley defeated Belair after hitting the Riptide.

The champion didn't have much time to celebrate her victory before Flair attacked her and accepted Ripley's WrestleMania challenge.

On January 15, Belair won a Battle Royal featuring many of the top women in NXT to earn a shot at the title at the TakeOver event. First, Ripley had to beat longtime rival Toni Storm at Worlds Collide.

The Australian managed to retain, which meant her match with Belair was on, although another wrinkle was added to the situation on the February 3 edition of Raw.

Women's Royal Rumble winner Flair was weighing her options with regard to which title to challenge for at WrestleMania when Ripley interrupted her and suggested she should vie for the NXT Championship on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

The Queen didn't give an immediate answer, and she instead decided to respond to Ripley's challenge on an episode of NXT. But it happened to be the same episode in which the titleholder and Belair were scheduled for a face-to-face confrontation.

Belair didn't take kindly to the fact that Flair was intruding on her turf, which led to a tense three-way promo battle. It ended with Ripley and The EST joining forces to take out the interloper, and there was still no answer given by The Queen with regard to whether she would challenge for the NXT title at WrestleMania.

Ripley and Belair are two of the best all-around performers NXT has to offer, and while they have faced each other before, Sunday's match was their biggest stage yet.

The Flair situation created a great deal of uncertainty in terms of who would win since there seemed to be several possibilities on the table, from a singles match between The Queen and either Rhea or Bianca to a Triple Threat involving all three.

All of that aside, Ripley and Belair put on an entertaining, athletically impressive and hard-hitting match that helped put the NXT women's division on an even higher pedestal.

      

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