Ronda Rousey may or may not have a future in the WWE, but she’ll be a bargaining chip during negotiations for the wrestling promotion’s next TV deal.
Ronda Rousey finally made her WWE over the weekend at the end of the Royal Rumble show. The cat was out of the bag long ago, despite attempts to make her appearance a surprise. The company thought it was appropriate to trot her out at the end of the show during what should have been a crowning moment for the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble winner: Asuka. By the time Rousey made her way to the ring, ESPN had begun tweeting out all the articles and videos they had been sitting on. One of those confirmed that she intends to make WWE a full time commitment.
It appears that Rousey and WWE are all in for the time being. Similar to the UFC, WWE is promoting Rousey at the expense of other women on the roster (see: overshadowing the Rumble winner in her very first appearance). But in this case she’s in a situation where she doesn’t belong. WWE also seems to be willing to go and milk her relationship with the late Rowdy Roddy Piper. Per Ronda’s PR representative, the jacket she wore to the ring did belong to him and was given to her by his son.
The jacket Ronda Rousey is wearing at the @WWE Royal Rumble was Rowdy Roddy Piper's jacket. His son gave it to her beforehand.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 29, 2018
Here, we have an inexperienced, overpaid performer getting the red carpet treatment during a fan favorite’s time to shine, on top of being handed a gimmick. Professional wrestlers are big about paying dues and performers who step out of line are often dealt with in a variety of ways. Ronda has a long documented history of being hard to work with, ultra competitive, and a sore loser. And we knew she was very sensitive prior to her loss to Holm. How do they expect her to react when her bad acting shows up during promos and she gets booed out of the arena for her poor ring performance? Despite all these red flags, WWE has decided to go ahead with this project.
Ronda being promoted at the expense of the other women on the roster isn’t going to make her any friends, which you need to succeed in the pro wrestling business long term. A few members of the roster have even aired their grievances on Twitter. Now, this could easily be a work, but someone as green as Ronda coming in making several times your salary is going to bother you a little bit.
Ahead of the Royal Rumble, many fans were worried that Rousey would win. The wrestling fan base was relieved that Asuka was the winner. Some, however, voiced their displeasure with the WWE choosing to have Ronda come out at the end of the show instead of saving her until Raw the next night. One thing the WWE cannot afford to do with her is turn the fans against her this early. Which means they can’t have her break Asuka’s undefeated streak or get over too soon on another fan favorite. Something else to consider is the timing of the Ronda signing. The announcement will easily provide leverage for TV contract negotiations, which the WWE is set to enter. It’s rumored that Fox is interested in the WWE, which would mean they’d no longer need the UFC. After all, two of the biggest names in UFC history are now with the WWE (Rousey and Brock Lesnar, though his contract is once again up soon). This, while UFC ratings appear to be in decline.
In the end, though, this may be a non-event. Ronda Rousey is someone who values her personal time a lot. Signing up for a job that may have her traveling upwards of 300 days a year doesn’t make sense. It wouldn’t be shocking to see her fade away once a new deal is in place.