To back up a little, when Ronda Rousey first joined the WWE, there were a handful of comments you tended to see in the community. “She needs to join NXT first / develop,” was a common one. “They’re going to put the title on her too fast and take opportunities away from Banks, etc,”was another one.
In her time in the WWE, Ronda Rousey has exceeded all expectations. Even though some still argue she got her title shot too fast, Rousey has put on the ‘match of the night’ several times, including at WrestleMania 34 and last Sunday at Survivor Series. In fact, Ronda Rousey is probably the only superstar on the roster that I personally am 100% glued to my TV from the moment she comes out to the moment she leaves. My heart was pounding right before her WrestleMania 34 match because I could not wait to see what was about to happen.
So, what’s the problem?
Ronda Rousey can’t be an effective heel in this company.
That was always my biggest worry about bringing her in. Rousey, at her core, really can’t be a heel. Of course, at first glance, she simply doesn’t have the mic skills for it. However, some argue a heel turn would be fine if WWE just brought Paul Heyman in as well to speak for her.
However, and far more important to my central thesis, Rousey is someone who I feel cannot be boo’d by the WWE Universe for a prolonged period of time before it would get to her. And that is a huge problem for someone who may be asked one day to turn heel.
The WWE has already tested if Ronda Rousey could “take a punch” on her past failures in the UFC. On the April 2nd edition of Monday Night Raw, Stephanie McMahon famously said, “And we all know how you handle losses” to Ronda Rousey, clearly a jab at her losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes that ended her UFC career and brought her to the WWE. Six days ago, Becky Lynch addressed Rousey’s past with this tweet:
Ronnie, TL/DR. When I got my face broke I got up, owned you THEN showed up the next day looking to fight some more. When you got your face broke you hid for a year under your blankie. Your mind is as weak as your jaw, & I’m going to move heaven & earth to come destroy them both. https://t.co/8oDubzNYr4
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) November 14, 2018
In a business like the WWE, there is no doubt in my mind that both of these jabs (and any references to her past) were approved by Rousey. I’m sure this was something Triple H addressed when he was meeting with Ronda Rousey back in early 2018 when he was recruiting her to the WWE.
“But Rousey is not currently a heel, so is this really that big of a concern?”
Sadly, yes. Because the court of public opinion can turn someone “heel” even if they are booked as a “face”, look no further than Roman Reigns for years for that example.
And at Survivor Series on Sunday and Monday Night Raw last night, it started. Rousey was treated to the “You deserve it” chant on Sunday and a thundering “We want Becky” chant on Monday during her match with Mickie James. I believe that Rousey can take scripted jabs from Stephanie McMahon and “Twitter feud” with Becky Lynch. My central thesis is just that she can’t lose the WWE Universe; the same WWE Universe that makes her gush to this day every time she comes out to deliver a promo.
And we just didn’t have to get here. The WWE did it all to themselves for seemingly no reason.
The self-destruction started last Tuesday during Smackdown Live. The second that Becky Lynch not only picked Charlotte Flair to replace her at Survivor Series, but emotionally embraced her former best friend with a hug in the middle of the ring, WWE went the wrong direction. Because that cemented that Flair had the Becky Lynch seal-of-approval.
Flair became Lynch, in a way, for at least the match on Sunday. When Flair launched into an assault on Rousey, the fans treated it like it was Lynch assaulting Rousey. Flair was nothing more than an afterthought. And they loved it because it was what they wanted Lynch to do.
And it just didn’t have to be that way. If WWE executives want to believe it or not, Lynch is the most over person in the company. She’s had her “Austin 3:16” moment, as some have put it, with her bloody face staredown a few weeks ago.
All WWE had to do was script last Tuesday to be different. Have Lynch pick Asuka to face Rousey and then have Flair come in and put a massive beatdown on Asuka and appoint herself the replacement. Have Flair cut a promo that Lynch never deserved that spot at Survivor Series (even if that is completely ludicrous) and she was always the one meant to face Rousey.
Then, have Rousey come to the defense of Lynch on Twitter, not continue her senseless assault on the one person the WWE Universe will turn on her for attacking. Have Rousey and Lynch on the “same team”, united against an evil Charlotte Flair while promising to face each other with respect one-day aka Daniel Bryan/AJ Styles style (before Bryan turned, obviously).
Because then, on Sunday, when Flair put an assault on Rousey, it would be like she was putting an assault on Lynch. And then the WWE Universe would have given you exactly what everyone (including WWE brass) wanted: a massively heel Flair, a still massively over Lynch, and a heroic Rousey who was defending Lynch, the woman the WWE Universe loves so dearly.
There is a world in which Rousey and Lynch could be the main event of WrestleMania 35, and the prospects for that at the moment could not be any less exciting for me given how this is currently playing out. The bloody face and missing Survivor Series was the best thing for Lynch, long-term, and the worst thing for Ronda Rousey because of how WWE booked it.
For now, I think the best thing WWE can do is distance themselves from Rousey vs. Lynch. Have Rousey focus on Jax and Flair and try and remove her from the Becky Lynch conversation. Re-start the build to it sometime in January.
Otherwise, we just have to hope Rousey slowly embraces the loss of the WWE Universe. And that’s just not a bet I want to make right now.