Zelina Vega, WWE Backlash
An emotional Zelina Vega representing her Puerto Rican heritage ahead of her bout with Rhea Ripley at WWE Backlash at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Saturday, May 6. WWE


  • Zelina Vega challenged Rhea Ripley for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WWE Backlash
  • Former WWE talents Bully Ray and Mark Henry think WWE missed out on a big moment
  • Ripley dropping the title for a moment would have hurt her momentum

WWE held a pay-per-view in Puerto Rico for the first time since New Year's Revolution in 2005 with this year's edition of Backlash, and the crowd at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in San Juan was electric throughout the event.

Aside from hometown kid Bad Bunny's match with Damian Priest, the biggest pop of the night belonged to Zelina Vega who, like Priest, is of Puerto Rican descent.

Vega challenged Rhea Ripley for the SmackDown Women's Championship, but despite her best efforts, the "Eradicator" was simply too much of a force of nature for the former to overcome.

Following the event, former WWE stars Mark Henry and Bully Ray (Bubba Ray Dudley in WWE) appeared on SiriusXM's "Busted Open Radio" to point out what they believe to be a missed opportunity for the pro wrestling giant.

"Saturday night was Zelina Vega's Wrestlemania, the feel-good moment. Her dad obviously passing away in the 9/11 attacks. How about just giving Zelina the opportunity to take that championship and go to her father's grave? Just so she can take that championship and go to her dad's grave where the 911 memorial is," Ray stated.

"I don't think Zelina is a better wrestler than Rhea, but if there was ever a moment for Rhea to slip on a banana peel and for [Zelina] to get the one-two-three, it was that night in Puerto Rico," he added.

Henry agreed with Ray's comments, noting that it would have been fine if Vega "had it for one day" before dropping it back to Ripley.

While it would have certainly been a feel-good moment for both Vega and the fans in attendance, it would not have made sense in terms of the pro wrestling context.

Ripley has been slowly building up the momentum that she lost after losing the NXT Women's Championship at WrestleMania 36 to Charlotte Flair by taking part in many smaller feuds.

It certainly worked out in both her and WWE's favor as Ripley's star rose to greater heights with her involvement in The Judgment Day.

Her defeating Flair for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania 39 was seen by many fans as WWE correcting a wrong decision from three years ago.

The appeal she has brought to WWE with her dominance inside the ring and willingness to stand in front of even male performers as if teasing an intergender match always draws a strong positive reaction from the crowd.

Dropping the long-term story for a moment does not appear to be WWE's strategy currently, as proven by Cody Rhodes not winning the undisputed WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 39.

Since taking over the role from then-CEO and chairman Vince McMahon, chief content officer Triple H has always loved utilizing long-term storytelling in his matchups, and it appears to be no different with Ripley's title reign.

Rhea Ripley, Zelina Vega
Rhea Ripley retained her SmackDown Women's Championship in a hard-fought battle with Zelina Vega at WWE Backlash on May 6, 2023. WWE