Ronda Rousey is whining again.
The former UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion was undoubtedly a trailblazer in female sports, skyrocketing to the top of the conversation of pop culture with lightning-quick finishes of her opponents with a combination of wild punches and her Olympic-level Judo skills. She racked up a dozen wins in a row in the span of just over four years, with the majority of those bouts under either the Strike Force banner or the bright lights of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Ronda was so dominate and created such a buzz in Strike Force that when the UFC bought the organization, Dana White, who previously said his organization wouldn’t promote MMA, more or less had no choice than to introduce women’s MMA to the general public. Fans responded as Ronda became not only one of the most popular fighters on the roster, but her pay-per-view bouts drew big numbers for the company. Make no mistake about it, we wouldn’t see the opportunities for incredible athletes like Amanda Nunes, Zhang Weili, and others without Ronda Rousey’s impact on the sport.
In November 2015, Rousey’s meteoric rise crashed to the canvas at the same time she did after a head kick from Holly Holm. Movies and TV appearances seemed to take away the focus of “Rowdy” Ronda, and she recklessly tried to steamroll her opponent with wild strikes that completely missed, suggesting that prehaps she took Holm too lightly after such a dominate streak in the octagon. In the year that followed, Amanda Nunes, who would later hold titles in two different divisions beat Holm for the 135 LBS belt. In December 2016, Ronda re-emerged for a chance to reclaim the championship, but refused any media appearances or interviews prior to the bout, despite the fact that all of the promotional material was geared toward her return, with barely any mention of the champion.
After nearly a dozen unanswered punches and just 48 seconds, Nunes sent Rousey into retirement. The fact that Ronda quit MMA because she didn’t maintain an undefeated streak took some shine away from her star power because grace even in defeat is one often a key aspect of the perception of a sports figure, can they handle the adversity?
Rousey couldn’t so he chose to step into the WWE ring in 2018.
At a time when the audience began to notice the pattern of part-timers showing up to take the featured spots on the card, and Rousey not quite the star that she was before she was knocked out twice, the reaction to her debut was mixed among the audience. She still retained some of the name value and there was the novelty of the MMA fighter that transitions to sports entertainment so of course, WWE brass presented her as a top star in the company. She teamed with Kurt Angle for a match against Triple H and Stephanie at WM that year, and the bout received favorable reviews. However, it’s easy to get that positive feedback when the scenario was specifically tailored to minimize her inexperience in the squared circle. As Rousey eventually won the Raw Women’s championship, her promo skills were often subpar with flat mic work that didn’t seem natural or organic. It was a textbook example of someone trying to remember a script instead of just cutting a promo. When Becky Lynch gained majority popularity as “The Man” the division had a rising star that needed the push to solidify her at the next level. At Wrestlemania 35, the botched finish, where it looked like Ronda might’ve tried to get her shoulder up instead of letting Lynch get the clean victory prompted some criticism from the audience.
After her departure, Rousey posted a video online where she criticized the fans as being “ungrateful” because of criticism to her promos and in-ring performances. She also called WWE fake. Considering that we saw what happened to Ronda when the action wasn’t scripted, her complains don’t seem too credible.
After starting a family, she returned to the WWE at the Royal Rumble in 2022 and won to go directly to a featured match at Wrestlemania. She won the Smackdown Women’s title at Backlash and worked for the company on a regular basis. Still, her promos haven’t improved and her in-ring work is average at best. As I said when she re-signed, you could make the argument that her star power was faded when she originally inked a deal with the WWE, and I’m not sure the fans were clamoring to see her back on WWE television, especially after she lashed out at the audience when her initial tenure concluded. Her current run in the company is rather undistinguished, with the terrible bout against Shotzi at Survivor Series last year as an example that her in-ring work hasn’t improved. She dropped the title to Charlotte Flair on Smackdown in a very short bout late last year, and it appears that the office didn’t view her as the center piece of the Women’s division that they did a few years ago.
According to The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, Ronda is scheduled to team with Shayna Bazler in a four-way tag match at Wrestlemania, despite an arm injury. Recently, she posted on Instagram, complaining about the scripting of her feud with Liv Morgan, which probably has more to do with her lack of a prominent position on the WM card than anything else. It’s another public temper tantrum from Ronda, except this time she’s still under contract to the company so you have to ask, is she worth the hassle?
I penned a similar article about CM Punk’s latest antics on social media last week and concluded that given the stagnant ratings during the majority of his run on television, it probably wouldn’t be productive to bring him back to the organization. In a similar fashion, the WWE already has record-setting revenue and profit from their TV deals and the Peacock deal. They will get paid the same amount for broadcasting WM on Peacock regardless of how many people actually watch the shows. Reportedly, tickets have already done well, and that was before Ronda’s match was confirmed so from strictly a numbers perspective, does it really make a difference if she’s on the card?
More than anything, the problem is, Ronda Rousey’s run as a novelty act concluded when she dropped the title to Becky Lynch a few years ago. The sizzle of the MMA fighter in the WWE had its run, and without the substance of improved in-ring skills, the office doesn’t have much choice but to book her as a mid-card act. She took the spotlight and was promoted ahead of most of the rest of the division when she debuted so there’s not much for her left to do in the WWE anyway.
It’s ironic that when the WWE rolled out the red carpet and promoted her as one of the top stars, Ronda was thrilled to be on the show, but when she has a mid-card match at Wrestlemania, she complains on Instagram. When Ronda lost in MMA, she quit. When the fans criticized her performances, she called them ungrateful. Now that she’s not given the spotlight at WM, she’s whining again on social media about the company.
If the major push she received when she debuted and the fact that she’s still one of the highest paid performers on the roster aren’t enough to make her happy, maybe Ronda should stay home.
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Until next week
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