Shayna Baszler vs. Rhea Ripley: Who Has Brightest Future in WWE?

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2020

Shayna Baszler vs. Rhea Ripley: Who Has Brightest Future in WWE?

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    Credit: WWE.com

    As the Road to WrestleMania begins, the discussion on women's wrestling in WWE is dominated not by Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair but rather Rhea Ripley and Shayna Baszler.

    The Nightmare and The Submission Magician have emerged from NXT as the two hottest female performers in all of WWE, ready to unleash their brutality on The Queen and The Man, respectively, on wrestling's grandest stage come April 5.

    But which of the two performers is poised to have a brighter future with WWE?

    The answer lies in a series of categories, ranging from in-ring ability to marketability and long-term potential.

Mic Skills

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    Ripley has yet to have the opportunity to participate in many in-ring promos. Those that she has have come across as the same scripted slop most of the young stars in today's WWE are fed.

    She is not yet a natural because she has not had consistent opportunities, and those chances she has had have been marred by overscripting.

    The same could be said for Baszler, who often feels like she is reading someone else's words.

    The difference is the confidence Baszler exudes when she speaks to the NXT Universe. The Queen of Spades comes across as someone who believes what she is saying and that can snap, pop and tear her way through her opponent's limbs to win every match she participates in.

    That is key in making fans believe in you and something Baszler does extremely well.

    Would it be nice if neither woman was bogged down by the heavy scripting that dominates today's WWE? Absolutely, but Baszler has made the most of what she has been given while Ripley is still trying to find herself in that regard.

    Advantage: Baszler

Marketability

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    There is something about the heavy-metal look of Rhea Ripley that sets her apart from the other women on the roster and connects her with fans.

    The Australian has completely reinvented herself, leaving behind the nondescript blonde fans were first introduced to at the 2018 Mae Young Classic and instead presenting a badass, attitudinal rocker with a presence and aura that captures the attention of the audience as soon as Ash Costello exclaims "This is my brutality!" in her entrance music.

    Baszler's confidence defines her and her "Queen of Spades" and "Submission Magician" nicknames are catchy, but The Nightmare's entire presentation lends itself to marketability and merchandising, as we are seeing with the influx of Ripley-themed souvenirs popping up on WWE Shop.

         

    Advantage: Ripley

In-Ring Ability

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    No woman in NXT has been part of more high-profile matches, against an array of differently skilled competitors, than Baszler.

    The Queen of Spades did the unthinkable over the course of her run with the black-and-yellow brand and eclipsed Asuka as the greatest female competitor in its history.

    Her submission skills and MMA background provided Baszler with a mat game unlike anyone else on the roster. Her arsenal meshed well with the babyfaces she competed against, whether it was Ember Moon's energetic and unorthodox skill set or Kairi Sane's hard-hitting, high-flying style.

    Baszler found a formula that worked and applied it to her showdowns with the most talented women in the industry. During her run, she found herself as a performer and now awaits a WrestleMania 36 showdown with Becky Lynch for the Raw Women's Championship.

    Ripley has been a revelation of sorts over the last six months, delivering in high-profile matches and emerging from obscurity to become the most over woman on the entire roster.

    Her in-ring game is superb, yet she still must develop herself a bit as she embarks on the most significant stretch of her career, culminating with a match against Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania on April 5.

    While Ripley is hotter right now, there is no denying the body of work put forth by Baszler and the in-ring ability she has flashed since she arrived at part of the Mae Young classic in 2018.

            

    Advantage: Baszler

Long-Term Potential

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    Both Baszler and Ripley are poised to enjoy significant runs this WrestleMania season, culminating with matches on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

    Baszler will likely dethrone Becky Lynch to claim the Raw Women's Championship, while Ripley should defeat Charlotte Flair and retain her NXT women's title.

    Which of the two has the longer-term potential, though? The answer lies in their ages.

    At 39, Baszler is in her prime. As good as she is now is as good as she is likely to ever be. The former MMA fighter got into the spot late but has made up for it with an incredible two-year run through NXT and is poised to enjoy a monumental run across the Raw brand.

    Ripley is 16 years younger, though, and not even close to her peak as a worker. She is still raw and able to be molded into the star Vince McMahon and Triple H want her to be. She still has many years of development and stardom remaining before she even sniffs the best of her career.

    While there is no way of knowing whether Ripley will achieve the success Baszler has to this point in her WWE career, there is no denying the NXT women's champion has the greater upside and longer-term potential.

           

    Advantage: Ripley

Winner

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    Both Ripley and Baszler are set up to enjoy significant runs in WWE, and the battle for the greater potential comes down to the categories in which they excel and which lend themselves to a brighter upside.

    Baszler is the better wrestler and talker, which means she is ready to excel right now. She can walk into WrestleMania tomorrow, win the Raw women's title and not look out of place or prematurely pushed.

    She has been ready to succeed at the highest levels in WWE for the last year and will do so beginning with her Show of Shows date with Becky Lynch.

    Ripley, on the other hand, is a Superstar whose long-term success is based almost exclusively on potential.

    She has the look to be a marketing phenomenon, thanks to her hard-rock attitude, and a skill set that is still in its infancy. With that said, her in-ring skills are already damn impressive, as seen in her recent battles with Bianca Belair, Toni Storm, inside War Games and against Baszler herself.

    Ripley is a young and promising performer whose future is seriously bright.

    When taking all things into consideration, the tiebreaker goes to the Aussie, who has many years of competition left in her and plenty of growth left to achieve greatness.

    Plus, one can never underestimate the power of the WWE marketing machine, which appears to be smitten with Ripley at this point.

         

    Winner: Ripley

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