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Backlash 2023: Why did WWE book Zelina Vega to contend against Rhea Ripley?

ByRD Media

Apr 22, 2023

It was confirmed on the latest episode of SmackDown that Rhea Ripley’s first title defense as SmackDown Women’s Champion will be against Zelina Vega at WWE Backlash 2023. The Latino World Order member demanded a title shot to get herself even with The Judgment Day after their ongoing feud.

WWE’s booking of Zelina Vega vs. Rhea Ripley stemmed from multiple reasons, the major one being revealed by the contender herself during her segment with Adam Pearce. Vega is the only female Puerto Rican on the roster. Therefore, she wanted to represent her roots at Backlash 2023. A showdown in her hometown will gain the newly-turned babyface massive recognition.

Another aspect that influenced the promotion was Zelina Vega’s previous fight with The Nightmare. The inaugural Queen’s Crown Tournament winner put on a stellar performance on the March 17 episode of SmackDown during a mixed tag team match. Vega has been a thorn in Ripley’s side whenever the latter has tried to get involved in various matches.

Zelina Vega vs. Rhea Ripley at Backlash 2023 will develop another layer to the ongoing faction feud. The Judgment Day (Finn Balor, Damian Priest, and Dominik Mysterio) is rumored to permanently shift to the blue brand after the Draft. Thus, it will likely result in the continuation of their battle against LWO.

WWE Backlash 2023: Zelina Vega has unfinished business with Rhea Ripley since last year

Queen Zelina and Carmella thwarted each attempt by Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan to capture the Women’s Tag Team Championship. The duo lost the titles to Sasha Banks and Naomi at WrestleMania 38, in a match that also involved Ripley and Morgan. In mid-2022, Vega suffered an injury that had her sidelined for seven months.

Zelina returned and joined Legado Del Fantasma in October 2022. During an interview on the Out of Character podcast with Ryan Satin, Vega revealed that the injury she suffered at the hands of the reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion proved to be a turning point in her career.

“[I had] a ruptured implant from Rhea! But you know what? Again, I’ve said this before in a joking way; it actually worked out for the better because things happened, and it sucked at first, and now, I’m like, ‘Oh, we’re good now! They are better than ever. And everyone’s happy!”

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