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Natalya Struggles with Self-Doubt, Says She's Not at Rhea Ripley's "Level" for Night of Champions

Put yourself in Natayla's shoes – you'd feel the same way, wouldn't you?

By Chris Phelan
Natalya Rhea Ripley

Night of Champions is only a few days away, promising unforgettable matches that promise to make it a Saturday afternoon to remember for the WWE Universe

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The event has become so much more than a showcase for the World Heavyweight Championship finals or the logical next step in the Brock Lesnar/Cody Rhodes rivalry. In recent weeks, the event has been fleshed out with intriguing title matches that – with the right outcome – could change the career trajectories of many WWE Superstars.

RELATED: Seth Rollins and AJ Styles Take Shots at Roman Reigns Over His Championship Run

Natalya Faces Her Toughest Challenge Yet at Night of Champions

Facts are facts: Rhea Ripley has been on an absolute tear ever since she dethroned Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania. In fact, both Mami and Bianca Belair are currently enjoying some of the most dominant title runs this side of Roman Reigns. Rhea looks, in a word, unstoppable. At Night of Champions, Rhea Ripley will defend her SmackDown Women's title against the pillar of the women's division, Natalya. As the longest-tenured female Superstar currently on the roster, Natalya has proven time and time again that she has the in-ring acumen to win championships – but is Rhea Ripley too powerful, too strong, and too dominant to overcome? 

The WWE Universe knows Natalya is no stranger to letting loose on social media, showing off a playful side not often shown on WWE television. However, her most recent video posted to Twitter strikes a different chord. It seems like Natalya is dealing with imposter syndrome ahead of her upcoming title match with the reigning SmackDown Women's champion.

Natalya wasted no time getting to the point. She directly addresses sentiment from the WWE Universe that has overwhelmingly proclaimed she isn't on Rhea Ripley's level.

Natayla Admits She's Not on Rhea Ripley's Level

"Just want to get something off my chest that I haven't been able to stop thinking about, just from the moment that I first got drafted to RAW until now," Natalya said. "I was so excited. I was excited for a fresh start, and when I went out to save Dana – maybe Rhea was right. Maybe I was trying to save myself. It's hard to not see comments online, waves and waves of comments that I've read on Twitter and people's podcasts that have talked about it and just saying, 'Natty's not on Rhea's level and she doesn't have Rhea's momentum.'"

There's a lot to unpack here. Of course, Natalya is referring to a few weeks ago on RAW when she saved Dana Brooke from a post-match Mami beatdown, staking her claim as the next challenger to Rhea Ripley's championship in the process. When the title showdown for Night of Champions was announced, it took the WWE Universe by surprise – and from the sound of it, it took Natalya by surprise as well. 

It's possible that Natalya sees what the WWE Universe sees: Rhea Ripley dominating the WWE women's division with no end in sight. Thanks to her Judgment Day cohorts, Mami is most likely in the middle of an extensive title reign – and Natalya is destined to be just another notch on the belt for Rhea Ripley. But, as it turns out, Natalya promised the WWE Universe in her Twitter video that she would make Rhea respect her, win or lose. 

Natalya Vows to Earn Rhea Ripley's Respect, Win or Lose

"Right now, I'm not on Rhea's level, Natalya confessed. "I don't have her momentum, and the truth is – I've never been a favorite. I've never been a favorite, and it's something I've struggled with and I've fought against. I haven't lasted this long in WWE by not fighting tooth and nail for every single thing I have because I know that I've never been a favorite. Rhea can mock me, she can beat me up, and she might even beat me. But at Night of Champions, I can assure you that she is going to respect me."

Whether Natalya's insights are a shockingly accurate self-assessment – or simply something underdogs tell themselves to get themselves pumped up – remains to be seen. But respect is something Natalya holds dear, and Rhea's respect is attainable – whether Natalya wins or loses. So on Saturday, all Natalya has to do is keep fighting. 

Regardless of how she views herself in the hierarchy of the women's division, Natayla has made a career out of maximizing her potential in pro wrestling. As a member of the legendary Hart family, winning is in her blood – and everywhere she's gone, she's won. So even though conventional wisdom places her as a massive underdog at Night of Champions, the WWE Universe already saw how close underdogs can get with the proper fan support – just ask Zelina Vega, who nearly did the impossible at Backlash earlier this month. 

Sometimes being the underdog gives you self-doubt, but sometimes acknowledging you're not on the champion's level is the exact motivation a Superstar needs to pull off the upset of the year. 

At Night of Champions in Saudi Arabia, Natalya will give it her all – just like she's been doing for the past decade. 

You can tune into Peacock to watch WWE's Night of Champions on May 27 and Money in the Bank on July 1. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.

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