Charles “The Prodigy” Richey is an on-air host and producer for chicagolandsportsradio.com
It’s been three years in the making since a tease with her in the ring at Wrestlemania 31, and ever since the world became privy to Ronda Rousey’s real interest in performing in the WWE the sports world has been wondering when they can anticipate the official debut of “The Rowdy One” in the world’s premier sports entertainment promotion.
The last time fans got to see her in a WWE ring was at WrestleMania 31 when she and they Rock disrupted an in-ring interview with the Authority, Stephanie McMahon and HHH.
At that time of her first WWE ring appearance, where she and The Rock disrupted an in-ring interview with “The Authority” — Stephanie McMahon and HHH — her then-boss, UFC kingpin Dana White, more or less strong-armed the WWE into taking that mere appearance and being happy with it, but a lot has changed since 2015.
Let’s go back in time — Rousey who had been one of the biggest MMA stars for over five years, having won her first and 12 fights to start her career dating back to Strike Force and carring her legacy as an undefeated champion into the UFC, she was the Bantamweight champion at the top level of MMA for three years.
She was the one of the most feared women in combat sports and her ability to not only win but dominate caused her to become the first woman to fully cross over as a female MMA fighter. Rousey drew comparisons to boxing legend “Iron” Mike Tyson in the way she quickly dispatched competitors and she was on top of the world, a woman seen as equally deadly and beautiful who was gaining new sponsorships and film and TV appearances with more frequency than wins in the octagon.
People would sneer at Rousey’s in-ring sportsmanship, but her ability to play up to crowds and bring audiences in to her pay-per-view events was due in part to a long love for pro wrestling and past legends like the one she borrowed her nickname from, Rowdy “Roddy” Piper! Defeat seemed to not be in Rousey’s vocabulary, but then on one surprising night, the shot that was heard around the world connected via a KO kick by Holly Holm.
After a second straight loss, this time to Amanda Nunes at the end of 2016, Rousey took on a self-imposed hiatus from UFC fighting and tried to get more involved in filmmaking. Not much success came there but she did find love and got married to UFC fighter Travis Browne.
One can’t help begging the question, can Ronda Rousey reestablish her name and game in an environment like WWE?
Throughout the WWE women’s history, the true legends that have stood out have been a variety of extremely athletic and personable performers, among them: the Fabulous Moola, Alundra Blaze, Sable and Chyna from the Attitude Era, Trish Stratus and Lita bridging the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras and now the current two Champions from Raw and Smackdown, Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair, standing out among as deep a list of legitimate women wrestlers as there’s ever been.
Really, what further contributions can Rousey bring to the table that could allow her to elevate the women’s competition? More importantly, where’s her mindset as a competitor? Can she regain that killer instinct which catapulted her in MMA, which she will need to make herself a viable champion and audience draw alongside the likes of Bliss, Flair and winner of the first Women’s Royal Rumble, Asuka?
However her career with WWE plays out, Rousey’s debut was perfect! In her moment of unbridled success, Asuka was seemingly about to make her decision on who she wanted to challenge for a Women’s title at Wrestlemania, then out of nowhere, Rousey showed herself as the Philadelphia crowd went wild. As all the details would emerge online, Rousey had signed a full-time contract with the WWE, but all we knew in that moment is that Asuka seemed spurned by Rousey and refused to shake Ronda’s hand, but interesting enough Stephanie McMahon did! With a couple of knowing points towards the large Wrestlemania sign hanging from the rafters, it was known that Rousey had every intention to compete at the largest wrestling show of this and every year.
Fans and pundits already want to know who should be Rousey’s first competitor to rival with? According to an informal poll on Cageside Seats, there have been 10 opponents suggested for her: Charlotte Flair, Asuka, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Ember, or other. So far Charlotte, the Women’s Champion of Smackdown Live, is the leading vote-getter with 35%.
Interestingly enough such a match-up would memories from both superstars of the past given Charlotte’s ties to her father, Ric Flair, and Rousey’s growing connection to the family of the late Roddy Piper, she even wore a jacket owned by Piper and given to her from the “Rowdy” One’s son for her debuting moment at the Rumble.
Much like how Flair debuted back in the WWE in 1991 in a controversal fashion, butting up against Hulk Hogan, will Ronda have similar heat with not only Charlotte, but the rest of the standard-bearers in the WWE’s ongoing Women’s Revolution? All I got to say is, “get your popcorn ready, folks!”
Follow Charles at his personal blog and on Twitter @ProdigyRichey; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio