Whether or not WWE has fumbled Ronda Rousey’s debut angle is certainly up for debate. But there’s no debating the reaction that she’s getting when she’s in front of the live crowd, particularly when she’s in a segment along with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
I’m on record not liking the decision to put the McMahon family opposite Rousey in her first WWE angle. Even if it’s there to protect her in a tag-team environment, which is a good idea, it gives off the impression that (yet again) the McMahon family sees themselves as the most important asset on the show.
This week’s Monday Night Raw was a good example of the drawing power Rousey will have, though. And, maybe, it’s time for me to eat some crow on the decision to put Rousey opposite Stephanie in her debut.
I’m not going to take back my initial thoughts — Stephanie is in this position so that it makes Stephanie look good, and it makes Stephanie a bigger household name outside of WWE — but the crowd reacts huge when she’s on the mic and there was a huge reaction when Stephanie put Rousey through a table after their “face-to-face” confrontation.
Perhaps WWE doesn’t need to be as careful with Rousey as we thought. She’s a household name in the mainstream and quite frankly, she’s willing to go places with the build to this match that I thought were honestly going to be off limits.
Last night, Stephanie told Rousey that she’ll beat her at WrestleMania 34, and “we all know what happens when you lose.”
That’s a deep cut. Rousey reportedly battled severe depression after her UFC losses and I’m surprised, honestly that she let Stephanie go there in the promo, especially where those wounds are still relatively fresh and had been a hangup for her.
But allowing Stephanie to “go there” in the promo indicates to me that Rousey understands pro wrestling more than we give her credit for. She was a fan of Roddy Piper, but I did question how much product knowledge she actually had before she signed her contract.
At its core, pro wrestling is scripted reality. It’s really the first reality show on television. WWE ignoring Rousey’s past — only shining a light on the positives and glossing over the negatives — wouldn’t work in 2018. The fans are too smart. Rousey understands that, and that says a lot about her understanding of the wrestling business.