WWE's Rhea Ripley, a.k.a. Mosh Pit Kid, is one of professional wrestling's fastest rising stars. Hailing from Australia, she's a seasoned cutthroat grappler who's ripped as hell and armed with one of the strongest vertical suplexes in the great halls of sports entertainment. The 22-year-old Ripley, who now calls Orlando, Florida, home, made a name for herself at the WWE Performance Center and the Mae Young Classic. Then, last year, she made history by defeating Toni Storm in the finals of the NXT UK Women's Championship Tournament to become the inaugural NXT UK Women's Champion.
Ripley's newfound stardom is hard earned. Every single day, she wakes up early and goes to the Performance Center for several hours of ring conditioning — an intense cardio workout like no other. From the PC, she goes directly to another gym for weight training and more conditioning. Her diet and work ethic are no different: hardcore and focused around the clock. And what do you think helps her push through this constant regimen of clanging iron, eating clean and always striving to be her best? "Fucking metal," says Ripley. "My music helps me get through all these extreme workouts."
Fittingly, then, her current entrance theme song, "Brutality," features Ash Costello, the singer of one of her favorite bands New Years Day. "I'm so grateful to Ash for making that for me," says Ripley. "I rely heavily on that song to get into character as I enter the ring." And the big stomp she does for her entrances? That was inspired by Suicide Silence's late frontman Mitch Lucker, who used to do a similar move onstage. Ripley even calls it "The Lucker Stomp."
During a recent trip to England, she got to further indulge her love of heavy music with a visit to Download Festival, where she taped a few television episodes for NXT UK. "I got to see Cane Hill perform and that was one of the first mosh pits I really got to go into at Download," she enthuses. "NXT UK wanted me to capture some video of that for their YouTube channel, but I don't think they realize how real it is in a mosh pit — I was just in there trying to survive. Download was absolutely insane — I got a killer Download Festival tattoo just to remember how much I loved that day!"
If being metal as fuck and able to send her opponents flying straight up into the air weren't badass enough, Ripley also makes her own bespoke ring gear from leather, spikes, studs and chains. "The jacket I'm wearing now was inspired by the character Ryuk from the manga series Death Note," she explains. "I'm very DIY and love to make my own shit." Born Demi Bennett, Ripley says that her wrestling persona also comes from a very authentic place, maintaining that it's really just an exaggerated, more pissed-off version of her real-life identity.
"I love The Miz! I absolutely love him," says Ripley, pointing to the WWE Superstar as a key role model. "He's so snarky and that's who I want to be. I want to have cool comebacks and get people to listen to me and be invested in me. Even CM Punk — when he spoke, everyone listened."
One thing that she doesn't hesitate to speak out about is the adversity and criticism she's faced due to her muscular physique. "My whole life I've had people telling me that I look like a man, I'm not feminine, I'm too masculine, all that stuff," says Ripley. "Well, you know what? I could not give a shit. Just like I was inspired by [former WWE champion] Beth Phoenix, who also looks very masculine, I want to inspire other potential female athletes to go as hard as they want and feel comfortable in their own skin — that's why I go out there day after day and do my thing."
When I'm doing cardio, that's where I need metal. I remember seeing Parkway Drive at Soundwave one year. It was such a hot day and I was right up by the stage and they had a ton of fire and I was just sweating and moshing. I loved it so much.
I get picked on all the time for lifting weights. I literally couldn't give a shit. I'm here in representation of women athletics. I look up to so many powerful women who succeeded before me and I'm here doing my thing to inspire women who will come after me.
I make most of my own ring gear. I'll put all the studs and chains and eyelet holes on them. The only problem with my current jacket is that sometimes I forget I'm wearing it and I'll pick someone up or hug someone and stab them with it.
When I was in Orlando all by myself, Luna really was my rock. I was going through a really tough time and it was super lonely, but Luna always put a smile on my face. ... She does the stupidest crap, but I can never stay mad at her — I mean, have you seen her eyes?! She is my little rubbish monster.
Things in life change very frequently ... things get thrown at you all the time. You just have to be ready for anything in this business — that's wrestling. It's just life, really. For example, I used to buy Revolver when I was little and take out the posters to pin up on my bedroom walls. It's crazy — life is insane and it all falls into place.