The Baddest Woman on the Planet walking out and cutting a promo that starts with an inspirational quote one could find on a cheesy piece of wall art isn't cutting it.
It didn't take an expert to see Ronda Rousey had some serious problems with the crowd on the January 28 edition of Raw, which was supposed to serve as a way for her to salute Sasha Banks before prepping for an encounter from Royal Rumble winner Becky Lynch.
But as soon as The Man hit the ring and the verbal jabs started flying, taking Rousey out of scripted feel-good land, she morphed into the ferocious, violent champion most presumably want to see anyway.
WWE has tried to paste over the horrific opening promo by only offering the tail end of it on YouTube:
That video starts a few minutes in, and she's flipping the mic while trying to find a direction. Had this gone unedited, the full promo featured her stopping to laugh while the fans chanted and straight-up getting interrupted while struggling to fight back against a crowd that suddenly likes her opponent quite a bit more than her. Bayley entering the stage seemed premature as a way to bail out Rousey, too.
Yet once Rousey and Lynch started popping off, the former UFC star suddenly transformed and pulled off one of the best performances on the mic of her career:
That right there? That's the Rousey the fans want and WWE needs for this feud.
It's the only thing that will work, too, because Lynch started slamming Rowdy in expert fashion on social media over the performance on the mic:
One of WWE's top champions can't keep getting rocked like this heading into WrestleMania 35 two-and-a-half months down the road.
These two are headed toward starring in the first-ever women's main event on The Grandest Stage of Them All. With how hot crowds have been for this match, it doesn't even need a Charlotte Flair weaved in and both participants have enough hardcore-casual fans crossover appeal to make it work.
However, it will fall apart if Rousey isn't acting like she did for the second half of her promo on Raw.
WWE likes to straddle the line between face and heel these days, proclaiming there isn't such thing as those classifications anymore. Fine—so they need to stop forcing the cheesy side of Rousey. The main event of WrestleMania doesn't need it, and it can only hurt both her and the match itself.
WWE can safely leave the good-guy stuff and merchandise moving to a hugger like Bayley or an underdog favorite like Sasha Banks. Rousey, after all, came over from UFC after brutally beating the tar out of people, so this good-guy thing has always felt forced anyway.
These days, crowds influence much of what happens, so no matter what Rousey does, she's going to end up second fiddle to Lynch, the most organic fast-riser in modern WWE history this side of Daniel Bryan. That pop when The Man's music hits in the second video above isn't edited to sound better, folks—hardly anyone gets those reactions anymore.
Lynch is the top star in the company right now with her current character, the take-no-prisoners fighter who scrapped her way to the top but still gets all the cheers. It's what Rousey should have been for most of her journey so far and can still be.
Maybe this is what WWE has had planned all along, minus the terrible opening promo on Raw. Rousey slowly realizing her "aw-shucks" ways are getting her blasted weekly by Lynch leads to her embracing the violence would be quite the entertaining story during the long wait for WrestleMania.
Lucky for WWE, in the long run, fans won't be able to tell the difference if it was always the plan or a panicked adjustment to save one of their biggest names who struggles to handle crowds and tell a good story.
Keep in mind things could only get tougher from here for Rousey if speculation she's leaving WWE after WrestleMania keeps ramping up. Embracing the bad guy now and taunting the crowds instead of trying to win them over massages this issue well, too. She's clearly more natural as an antagonist. It will also eliminate her biggest weakness because she does nothing but impress most of the time she's in the ring off the mic and wrestling.
At some point, an outsider coming in and smashing all the fan favorites was going to need a heel turn, anyway. Against an unstoppable force like Lynch would be the best time now, as fans will force Rousey in that direction or throw constant stutters into what should otherwise be a brilliant build for a superb main event.