Given that Ronda Rousey made her first in-ring comments Sunday since signing with the WWE, she could be forgiven for appearing to betray some nerves. She looked the part, though, while throwing Triple H through a table and staring daggers at Stephanie McMahon after the latter slapped the former UFC champion.
As the WWE portrayed it during “Elimination Chamber,” Sunday’s pay-per-view event, Rousey was actually only then putting ink to paper on her deal to join the company. As things so often do in pro wrestling, the situation got testy, then violent.
After months of rumors that she was set to join the WWE, Rousey confirmed it last month on the same night she appeared at the end of the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match. At that time, all she was asked to do was make a triumphant entrance, enter the ring and point ominously at a “WrestleMania” sign as Rumble winner Asuka, as well as Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss, looked on.
On Sunday, the WWE gave Rousey a bit more to do, including accepting an “opportunity” to compete at WrestleMania 34 in April, although Triple H claimed it would not be in “a championship match.” Rousey seemed tentative while speaking but took umbrage when Kurt Angle, who was also in the ring, let it slip that Triple H and McMahon were scheming to keep her under their collective thumb, after she showed them up in an appearance with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at WrestleMania 31.
Rousey will have more microphone work to do on Monday’s “Raw,” to judge from McMahon’s comments following Sunday’s hostilities. “Everything is going to be just fine,” McMahon said imperiously. ” … Once we put some polish on Ronda, you know, once we kind of tame her a little bit, and she does learn her place, I think she’s going to be great.”
So there’s your story line: Rousey, who has already been paying homage to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in her appearance, is set up to prove to McMahon, Triple H and all the WWE authority figures that she won’t be made to knuckle under. She is reportedly going to have another showdown with those two at WrestleMania with a yet-to-be-announced partner, and speculation has centered on Angle as well as The Rock, Seth Rollins and Shane McMahon.
It makes sense that WWE would not want to throw Rousey into a title match right away, given that her wrestling skills likely need as much work as her microphone skills. In addition, despite her introduction as “the baddest woman on the planet,” wrestling fans are well aware that Rousey was knocked out in her last two UFC fights, so she would be well-served to post a decisive win or two, even of the scripted variety, before going after the Charlotte Flairs of the world.
Rousey got a mixed reception from the fans Sunday at Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena — where she was last seen losing to Amanda Nunes just 48 seconds into what almost certainly was her final match in MMA — but she appeared to moved by the cheering she heard. Rousey also showed that one area where she needs no coaching is her ability to look back in anger.
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