Rhea Ripley is the NXT queen of heavy metal. And it was wrestling that led her down that path.
One glance at Ripley and her love of heavy metal is instant with the tattoos and piercings. But who inspired Ripley to walk down that road? Papa Roach, of course.
"The way I got into [heavy metal] was because of wrestling," Ripley told Loudwire. "WWE had Papa Roach as their RAW opening song. I thought Papa Roach was amazing, so I listened to them on YouTube, and you know how YouTube is, especially when you’re scrolling through random stuff, you just end up finding more and more and I found all these bands that I fell in love with. It’s funny, because wrestling is my one love and it introduced me to my other love. It’s awesome to see how everything fits together. It’s weird, but it’s super cool at the same time."
The WWE Raw theme song from 2006 to 2009 was "...To Be Loved" by Papa Roach. The group returned to do the theme, "Born for Greatness" from 2018 to 2019.
Ripley made her WWE debut in the Mae Young Classic in 2017 where she made it to the second round before losing to Dakota Kai. She was back in the Mae Young Classic the next year, sporting a new look, making it to the semi-finals where she was bested by Io Shirai.
"With the first Mae Young Classic, I was very young. I was 20. If you do back and watch my stuff from Australia, I was pretty much what I am now. I was definitely green and I didn’t really know exactly what I was doing, but I was definitely more the style that I am now," she said. "At the first Mae Young Classic, I was just trying to make everyone happy, I was just trying to do my job and I was listening to too many people at once. It made me into something I didn’t want to be and that’s why when it came to the second Mae Young Classic, I had already spent a year at the Performance Center. I found out a lot about myself in that year and decided, yes I want to please people, but I want to do it in my own way. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but it’s at least me."
She continued, "At the second Mae Young Classic, I came out sporting my new look, everything that I wanted to do. I had the new aggression that I knew I always had, because I’ve always been, like, a brutal child. [Laughs] I can’t even get into those stories. Music does help me a lot with my character, with the fact that I have to have a really good theme song, something that I can get into while I’m walking down the ramp. It puts me into that mindset that I’m going into a mosh pit. With the first Mae Young Classic, I didn’t really enjoy my song too much, so I couldn’t really get into things. I had ‘Final Straw’ for the second Mae Young Classic, absolutely loved it, and now I have ‘Brutality’ by Ash Costello from New Year’s Day. I listen to that band anyway, I think Ash is absolutely amazing. Being able to hear that when I’m coming out, it really does put me into the mindset that I’m going into a mosh pit and I’m ready to rock out and beat people up."
Ripley has gone from not making the finals of the Mae Young Classic to being in a headline match at WrestleMania 36. She is set to defend the NXT Women's Championship against Charlotte Flair this weekend.