Ripley Possibly Bound for Main Roster, WWE ThunderDome Plans, Triple H NXT Idea

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2020

Photo credit: WWE.com.

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Ripley Reportedly Set for Main Roster Call-Up

After falling short in her attempt to win the NXT Women's Championship on Wednesday, Rhea Ripley's time on the black and gold brand may be nearing its conclusion.

According to Dave Meltzer ofย Wrestling Observer Radioย (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Sai Mohan), Ripley is likely done with NXT and there has been "talk" of The Nightmare moving up to WWE's main roster.

Ripley and Io Shirai headlined Wednesday's NXT in a classic match that Shirai won with her signature moonsault. Ripley and Shirai embraced after the match, suggesting that their rivalry is over for now.

While Ripley could conceivably move down the card and feud with someone else in NXT, there isn't much left for her to accomplish, especially since she has already held the NXT Women's Championship.

Ripley had a partial run on the main roster leading up to WrestleMania this year while she was NXT Women's champion. Ripley challenged Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair to a match at WrestleMania, and Charlotte accepted.

In terms of matches that took place in the ring, it can be argued that Ripley vs. Flair was WrestleMania's best match, so Rhea has already proved that she can get the job done at the top level.

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The 24-year-old Aussie has all the tools needed to be one of the biggest female stars in the history of wrestling, and a main roster call-up would be a major step in that direction.

Both Raw and SmackDown would benefit greatly from Ripley, but Raw makes the most sense. One reason for that is the possibility of a never-before-seen match between her and Raw Women's champion Asuka.

Also, although Flair has been out for the past few months due to injury, she is a Raw Superstar and still has stories left to tell with Ripley.

Another match between them or perhaps even an angle where they join forces to face WWE Women's Tag Team champions Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax could add a great deal of intrigue to the red brand's women's division.

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Fans Reportedly Not an Option for New WWE ThunderDome

WWE announced this week that it is changing venues next month, going from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg Florida.

Moving to a far bigger venue led to speculation that fans may be allowed to attend Raw, SmackDown and pay-per-view events, but that reportedly won't be the case in the near future.

According to Meltzer (h/t Felix Upton of Ringside News), WWE officials have said there are currently no plans to allow spectators inside Tropicana Field.

WWE has run shows out of the Amway Center since August, which is when the WWE ThunderDome was first conceived. Rather than having a bland atmosphere with no fans in attendance, WWE spiced things up with lasers, pyrotechnics and a massive video wall that allows fans from all around the world to appear as though they are live in the crowd.

Since the 2020-21 NBA season is beginning Dec. 22, however, WWE had to move out of the Orlando Magic's home and into a new building. Since the 2021 MLB season isn't slated to start until April, the Tampa Bay Rays' Tropicana Field was a logical choice.

Tropicana Field does have the capability to hold far more fans than the Amway Center since it can accommodate over 40,000 fans for baseball games, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create so much uncertainty that WWE can't yet commit to welcoming fans.

WWE could have a relatively long stay at Tropicana Field, though, meaning it isn't outside the realm of possibility that fans could be allowed at some point during its tenure.

WWE ThunderDome 2.0 will make its debut for the Dec. 11 episode of SmackDown.

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Triple H Looking to Get NXT Stars More Ring Time

NXT founder Triple H is reportedly considering options in an effort to get NXT Superstars more time in the ring.

According to Meltzer (h/t Upton), Triple H is specifically looking at budgets in an effort to figure out if there is a way to create a new show that would help get NXT Superstars more airtime and exposure.

Currently, NXT is a weekly show that airs on USA Network, plus there are NXT pay-per-views every couple of months. Also, 205 Live on WWE Network largely features NXT talent.

Aside from that, essentially everything else NXT stars do is behind the scenes. A big reason for that is the elimination of house shows, which were hugely helpful in terms of getting NXT recruits ready for television by having them wrestle in front of live crowds.

When it comes to wrestling in front of a viewing audience, reps are limited in NXT right now, especially when compared to the main roster, which airs a combined five hours of Raw and SmackDown weekly.

If Triple H is able to secure a new show, it is unclear what the theme will be or where it will air, but it is likely a safe bet that it would be exclusive to WWE Network.

Aside from the performers who fans see weekly on television, NXT has a ton of up-and-coming wrestlers who aren't widely known. An extra show could go a long way toward familiarizing the WWE Universe with those performers.

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