WWE Listens to Fans with Ronda Rousey Turning Heel on Raw Ahead of Fastlane

Kevin Wong@@kevinjameswongFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2019

Credit: WWE.com

On Monday's episode of WWE Raw, Ronda Rousey did a full-on heel turn.

Stephanie McMahon came to the ring, with the Raw Women's Championship belt in hand, and claimed the former UFC star had vacated the title the week prior. She then arranged an in-ring contract signing: Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair would do battle at Fastlane for the vacant title.

Credit: WWE.com

Rousey marched to the ring, full-on scowl in place. She insisted she hadn't dropped the title and was still the champion. She demanded her belt back, and McMahon acquiesced, though she added a caveat while doing so.

At Sunday's Fastlane, Flair and Lynch would still face each other but instead of competing for the title, they would be fighting for The Irish Lass Kicker's WrestleMania 35 spot. If The Queen wins, Lynch won't get to compete for the title at The Show of Shows on April 7. 

If Becky wins, though, she would get added to the WrestleMania title match between Flair and Rousey, making it a Triple Threat. Stephanie then turned to Rowdy, assuming these new stipulations would make her happy. They didn't.

Instead, The Baddest Woman on the Planet lost her cool. She lashed out at everyone, and after highlighting how hard she had worked to gain the respect of the locker room and the fans, she turned her back on all of them and said she was done "pretending."

"I'm no longer here to entertain you," Rousey said. "I'm not your dancing monkey, not anymore. Damn your fantasies, damn The Man, screw The Woo and no more Mrs. Nice B---h."

It was at this point that she attacked both Flair and Lynch, but she then focused almost exclusively on The Man—the most over babyface on the roster—thus solidifying her heel turn.

Had she distributed the beatdown evenly, one could have made the argument she was a tweener, who indiscriminately took down anyone who happened to stand in her way.

This felt more personal, though. It came on the heels of a week-long Twitter war between Lynch and Rousey that had blurred the line between fiction and reality by discussing WWE's "fake" and "scripted" nature.

WWE made the right call here. They deduced (correctly) that the MetLife Stadium crowd at WrestleMania would be unified in its support of Lynch. And rather than trying to force Rousey as the smiling, happy-to-be-here champion she's portrayed for the past year, WWE decided to go with the fans' preference.

When John Cena and Roman Reigns were vociferously booed despite their babyface booking, and fans wanted them to turn heel, WWE made a dubious argument: If the fans were already booing them, then there was no need to change anything.

However, this misses the point. The fans don't want to jeer characters who are doing the right thing, or cheer those who are doing the wrong thing. It creates a weird cognitive dissonance that breaks the crowd's suspension of disbelief.

It's much better when WWE changes their booking to match the fan response, such as when WWE made Vince McMahon into the boss from hell following the Montreal Screwjob. The fans wanted to boo him, and the company made it easier for them to do so.

This also turns Lynch into a more sympathetic underdog headed into WrestleMania. Assuming she wins at Fastlane and forces the Triple Threat at The Show of Shows, she now has two villains gunning for her. She'll have to overcome the longest possible odds to emerge victorious.

And best of all, it shows WWE has committed 100 percent of its faith in The Man to carry this feud for the next month.

It's become the story of her struggle, not of Rousey's desire to be accepted as a sports entertainer. And that's a narrative turn befitting of Lynch.

WrestleMania 35 can't come soon enough.

Related

    Grading WWE SmackDown

    👊 Kofi gets revenge on Orton 👏 Murphy shows out AGAIN 👉 Full recap in app

    WWE logo
    WWE

    Grading WWE SmackDown

    👊 Kofi gets revenge on Orton 👏 Murphy shows out AGAIN 👉 Full recap in app

    Erik Beaston
    via Bleacher Report

    Around the WWE Universe 👊

    🎙️ Jericho excited for NXT on USA 🔮 205 Live's future uncertain 💰 WWE's payday for moving NXT

    WWE logo
    WWE

    Around the WWE Universe 👊

    🎙️ Jericho excited for NXT on USA 🔮 205 Live's future uncertain 💰 WWE's payday for moving NXT

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    WWE Announces NXT Will Move to USA Network in September

    WWE logo
    WWE

    WWE Announces NXT Will Move to USA Network in September

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Rousey Says She 'Nearly' Lost Her Finger Filming Show Scene

    WWE logo
    WWE

    Rousey Says She 'Nearly' Lost Her Finger Filming Show Scene

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report