Australian WWE star Rhea Ripley has been forced to apologise after insulting a fan with a shocking homophobic slur.
The 22-year-old from Adelaide, the inaugural NXT UK women’s champion, was taking part in an online Q&A with fans when things went wrong.
The Q&A was designed for fans to be insulted in either Australian or Spanish slang, but Ripley (real name Demi Bennett) overstepped the mark by calling one fan a “stupid motherf***ing f****t”.
That remark prompted a backlash on social media.
Rhea Ripley using a sexual slur on a live stream isn't a good look. Hopefully she learns from it and apologizes. That stuff is unacceptable.
— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) April 25, 2019
Hey @RheaRipley_WWE as a gay person I am not offended. I know you didn't mean it in a derogatory way ( at least I sure hope so) but also as a gay person I've noticed other people are quite hurt. Maybe an apology would be nice?
Either way I'm still a Mosher!
Hope that's ok?
— Vanessa Vasquez (@GreatLove91) April 25, 2019
Man i really hope Rhea Ripley knows how bad it is that she said that. And that she apologizes
— Sharks Fan Account (@jake_nazar) April 25, 2019
Goddammit. @RheaRipley_WWE 😩
Might want to get a head start on preparing a statement. pic.twitter.com/iMn95AiiFj
— Derick C. (@PHOENIXZERO) April 25, 2019
Can't defend Rhea Ripley for that one. She should know better and it's disappointing she doesn't.
— Christopher (@ChrisMNovak) April 25, 2019
Ripley later apologised, blaming her ‘brain to mouth filter’.
“I know a lot of you are upset with me after tonight, but I just wanted to publically [sic] say that I am sorry,” she wrote on Twitter.
“My brain to mouth filter came down for a second and I forgot that some words are a big no no to a lot of people.
“I am a firm believer that everyone should be treated equally, whether that be race or sexual orientation.
“With that said, I just wanted to say how dearly sorry I am to everyone that was offended by my choice of words tonight.”
Ripley has made a rapid rise through the professional wrestling ranks after starting Down Under in Melbourne City Wrestling in 2014.
In 2018 she defeated Kiwi-born Australian Toni Storm to become the first NXT UK women’s champion, a tier below the main WWE roster for up-and-comers.
She then debuted on the main roster in the inaugural all-women’s Royal Rumble a few weeks later.