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Rhea Ripley Gave Up Her Title — Here's How WWE Has Handled Similar Situations

The WWE has lots of intriguing and exciting ways to crown a new champion!

By Chris Phelan
WWE's Rhea Ripley

Less than two weeks after an overwhelmingly successful and definitive WrestleMania title defense, Rhea Ripley was officially stripped of the Women's World Championship due to injury, ending Mami's reign at 379 days.

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The title is now vacant.

Rhea Ripley becomes the latest WWE Superstar to relinquish their championship without being defeated – a tough pill to swallow for anyone in the locker room, let alone someone as dominant as Rhea.

It's been an open secret in the professional wrestling world that Rhea has been nursing a nagging shoulder injury for months. She's been valiantly fighting through it, but unfortunately, an intense match with Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 40, followed by a Liv Morgan sneak attack last week on Raw, seemed to accelerate and worsen Rhea's lingering issues. Surgery was determined as the best option, resulting in the now-former champion heading to the injured list for an extended period. 

So here we are: a WWE without a Women's World Champion.

Although WWE announced a new champion would be crowned on the April 22 episode of Raw, it's still unclear how a new champion will be decided. WWE Superstars relinquishing their championships is a fairly uncommon occurrence, but precedents have been set throughout the company's history. At this point, anything can happen. Let's examine how WWE brass could rectify crowning a new champion when the previous title holder forfeits their title.

The Champion Could Be Decided Via a One-Night-Only Tournament

Survivor Series 1998 hosted one of the most well-known single-night tournaments in WWE history: the "Deadly Games" tournament that ended with The Rock defeating Mankind in the finals. The tournament was notable for featuring the then-vacant WWE Championship as the prize, a rare instance of WWE instituting this particular method of choosing a new champion on short notice.

It took The Rock turning to the dark side (it wouldn't be the first time) for him to capture his first WWE Title.

Such a scenario is entirely possible to determine a new Women's World Champion. The Monday Night Raw locker room is packed with top talent like Nia Jax, Becky Lynch, Liv MorganCandice LeRae, Chelsea Green, and Piper Niven, among others. A one-night-only tournament to determine a new champion could quickly catapult any of those women into the spotlight, with the victory staking claim over the entire locker room.

The theory behind a tournament is straightforward: the cream always rises to the top, and winning multiple matches in one night is something only a champion can pull off.

The Vacant Title Could Be Put Up For Grabs in a Battle Royal

Sometimes, the easiest and most efficient way to crown a new champion is to throw many competitors into the ring and have an old-fashioned battle royal. The chaotic and frantic nature of battle royals makes for particularly entertaining viewing – imagine a Royal Rumble, except every Superstar starts in the ring simultaneously, and they're all vying for the championship. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

Well, this was the precise scenario that played out during a 2006 episode of SmackDown:

In the end, Kurt Angle outlasted 20 other WWE Superstars to capture the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. It was a thrilling, action-packed affair – after all, what would you expect when a Superstar can only be eliminated by being thrown over the top rope and to the floor? Of course, a battle royal – by design – could lead to someone arguably unqualified in the eyes of the WWE Universe to hold such a prestigious title. 

Is a battle royal with the entire Raw women's locker room in the cards for April 22? Could this be how Adam Pearce plans to award the championship that used to be around the waist of Rhea Ripley since defeating Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 39? Well, there's undoubtedly a blueprint for success in this case.

Top Contenders Could Compete in a Match For the Vacant Championship

If holding a tournament to crown a new champion is too complicated for one night and a battle royal opens the door for someone potentially undeserving of winning the title, there may be a more straightforward – yet equally dramatic – way to decide a new champion: a multi-person match featuring top contenders.

This match type has been used extensively in WWE throughout its history. Just look at the star power involved in a Six-Pack Challenge match for the vacant WWE Championship back at Unforgiven 1999:

Triple H, The Rock, Mankind, Kane, Big Show, and British Bulldog competed in what amounted to an all-star match to decide a new champion in one of the 90s' most iconic matches. Triple H outlasted the five other Superstars, winning the WWE Title for the second time in his still-young career.

Can we envision a scenario in which Becky Lynch and Nia Jax make strong claims to be the top contenders for the vacant title? We absolutely can – and we're confident the WWE Universe can, too. But ultimately, the question that matters most is, "Does Raw General Manager Adam Pearce feel the same way we do?"

A WWE Superstar Could Be Awarded the Title in Place of a Match

Of course, WWE could ignite a firestorm and reward the Women's World Championship to someone who has been – in the eyes of the WWE Universe – taking credit for Rhea's shoulder injury: Liv Morgan.

After all, champions get crowned out of the blue occasionally. In 2002, Triple H was famously awarded the World Heavyweight Title without competing for the championship in an actual match, a decision that perplexed many fans and critics alike.

More recently, Becky Lynch relinquished her Raw Women's Title in 2020 – and shockingly gave it to Asuka after revealing to the WWE Universe she and her husband, Seth Rollins, were expecting their first child.

No matter how a new champion is decided, don't count out someone – whether Liv Morgan or anyone else in the locker room – being awarded it by Raw General Manager Adam Pearce, Triple H, or even Rhea Ripley herself. It's an unlikely scenario, but it's one we can't rule out.

We'll be honest: Rhea Ripley being stripped of her championship isn't the outcome anybody could have predicted – or wanted – in the first place. However, Mami's loss is the WWE Universe's gain because the April 22 edition of Monday Night Raw will be one for the history books as a new Women's World Champion is decided.

You can tune in to Peacock to watch Backlash France on May 4. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.

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