Ronda Rousey Talks WWE, Teaming with 'Absolute Hero' Kurt Angle at WrestleMania

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2018

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WWE - WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, left, Ronda Rousey, center, and WWE EVP of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul
Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Associated Press

Ronda Rousey is enjoying her transition to being a WWE Superstar and says it's an "absolute honor" to have her debut match alongside Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 34.

The former UFC women's bantamweight champion described growing up idolizing the 1996 Olympic gold medalist in an interview with Neil Docking of the Mirror:

"It's an absolute honor to be in this match at all and to have someone like Kurt working with me. He was my absolute hero when I was a kid, because all I wanted was to win an Olympic gold medal and not only did he win an Olympic gold medal, he won it with a broken neck.

"To turn from a little girl who had to run laps with a broken toe, because 'what if it happened at the Olympics?', because he set the example of what happens if you break your neck at the Olympics ... and for him to have already successfully made this transition and to help guide me through the process ... I really feel like I could have no better mentor than him in this match. I'm extremely grateful and lucky, and I know that we're going to tear the house down."

Rousey penned her full-time WWE contract in January, effectively retiring from mixed martial arts. Her signing is the biggest mainstream splash WWE has made in recent memory, as the 31-year-old is perhaps the most popular mixed martial artist in history and popularized the sport among women.

She is set to tag with Angle to face off against Stephanie McMahon and Triple H at WrestleMania 34 on April 8. While speculated upon before it happened, Rousey made her surprise appearance for the first time at the 2018 Royal Rumble on January 28.

She discussed how WWE tried to hide her from the public:

"It was quite the covert operation and I can't believe we even pulled it off, I really can't. It was really funny to see people go from 'she's totally going to be there' to 'she's not going at all' and then 'we knew she was going to be there'! It was really cool to kind of be able to surprise people like that, because it's hard to surprise people these days. I really wanted to just add to the event and not take away from it and I felt because of that moment, more people were aware of the first women's Royal Rumble and they [the women superstars in the match] got more of the attention they deserved because of it."

Rousey said her biggest changes in the ring have been trusting others and adjusting a bit from her judo and MMA training.

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