Her fight last month with Amanda Nunes was supposed to mark Ronda Rousey’s big comeback moment. Instead, Rousey suffered her second shocking defeat in a row and the lasting image from the 48 second bout will be a bloodied, out-on-her feet Rousey grasping at the cage for support before the referee stepped between the fighters to put a merciful end to the beating.
Prior to the fight there was much speculation regarding what Rousey’s post-UFC moves would be. It had been long assumed that it wasn’t a matter of “if” but “when” the WWE would come calling, hoping to bank on her credibility as a badass wrecking machine to elevate the women’s division. Now that Rousey’s “brand” has suffered another massive hit, that assumption is up in the air. If the top members of WWE management were smart, they would take a hard pass on Rousey at this time. Instead they need to concentrate on further building the current crop of women’s wrestlers while developing their next round of call-ups.
One can raise the point that upon his return Brock Lesnar has been booked as a monster special attraction despite suffering two bad losses at the end of his UFC run. However, there were extenuating circumstances with Lesnar. First, at the time he suffered from diverticulitis and the disease sapped him of his strength and endurance. There was also the fact that Lesnar had a successful run with WWE from 2002 through 2004 and he was seen as a conquering hero upon his return, as opposed to an interloper with a damaged reputation.
WWE should be commended for the efforts they’ve put in with their current crop of top women wrestlers. Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Becky Lynch are as over with crowds as any of their male counterparts. Alexis Bliss isn’t too far behind the Four Horsewomen at this stage. The problem is there’s a big drop-off in interest outside of that clique. If WWE were to sign Rousey, they would do so with the intent of making her a top star who could draw that crossover audience. She isn’t going to do that by staring up at the lights and doing favors for the Carmellas of the world. However, after two devastating ass-kickings in the Octagon, it’s up in the air as to whether a wrestling crowd would buy Rousey in that role.
It’s also hard to imagine Rousey is going to take the time needed to learn the craft of pro wrestling. It’s difficult to see her spending months at the Performance Center learning the basics, then plying her trade at NXT. If she comes in, she’s coming in as a top attraction and she’s coming in to collect a big payday.
So we know that the WWE should steer clear of Rousey right now. However, we also know that a certain Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr. craves nothing more than mainstream attention and approval. Factor in the rivalry between WWE and UFC, he would also view signing Rousey as putting one over on Dana White. It feels like a matte roof “when” not “if” the former Bantamweight Champ will find herself in WWE.
Given that Vince just can’t help himself, I would suggest one way to bring Rousey in without doing damage to the the women division is to put her in an”enforcer” role for Charlotte. The four-time Women’s Champion has shown in the past that she’s not above using hired goonery to do her work for her. However, the pairing of Charlotte and Dana Brooke, with the former serving as a mentor for the latter, fizzled out with little payoff. In its wake it left behind ill-conceived comedy bits from which Brooke may never recover.
Set up Charlotte as a beleaguered champion trying to fend of challengers from all sides. Whether it’s Bayley, a one woman wrecking crew in Nia Jax, or a revamped and reneergized Boss, Flair is feeling pressure like she’s never felt before in her life. Add in a wild card factor of an undefeated buzzsaw from Japan in the form of Asuka. Stating that she has nothing left to prove in NXT, Asuka forfeits the women’s crown and makes her attentions toward’s Charlotte’s crown well know.
Putting Rousey in the enforcer role would allow her to run interference for Charlotte and allow the champ to build on her legacy of being the new “dirtiest player in the game.” You could allow Rousey to play the role of the schoolyard bully by getting between Charlotte and any contender and delivering a sucker punch and beatdown during these two-on-one confrontations. It allows Rousey to be violent without exposing her for being green in what makes pro wrestling work. It allows your women’s roster to save face because they’re up against handicapped odds during every encounter. It gives the WWE the opportunity to build Asuka on the main roster as a credible threat and deliver something that’s too often missing from the product right now: an honest-to-god title chase rather than a hotshot.
Is this a perfect scenario? No. In fact, it’s far from it. In a better world, Vince would steer clear from the former UFC standout and allow creative to focus on building the women’s roster from the ground up in order to have a wider variety of match ups and feuds in 2017. Smackdown has done a good job with their women’s undercard with Carmella seeing a small push while Nikki Bella and Natalya work a compelling undercard program. Raw still feels like it has two person women’s division, and that needs to change going forward. While Rousey nets immediate mainstream coverage, it has too much potential for long term damage.
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