Ronda Rousey Has Already Cemented Herself as a WWE Legend Before WrestleMania 35March 26, 2019
Ronda Rousey didn't need long to become a WWE legend.
Monday, WWE announced she would star in the main event of WrestleMania, defending her title against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.
A historic occasion, to say the least:
The first-ever women's main event at 'Mania wasn't hard to see coming as the obvious choice. Though with WWE, the obvious doesn't always materialize. Kudos goes to WWE for getting it over with after an odd build to the Triple Threat match as it is, but that's a different discussion.
And playing a character or not—she's blurred the lines quite a bit lately—Rousey made a good point after the news broke:
Who wants to argue against it?
Most shouldn't. Clearly out of character, Rousey on her personal website has made sure to sweep in her main-event competitors, too:
"No, I feel like I really do belong and I feel like I’m really happy that it’s all three of us. I feel like there should be as many women as part of this moment as possible because it isn’t just one person’s work, it really is a culmination of everyone’s work to get to this point. A lot of these women have been doing a lot of work for the Women’s Evolution inside the wrestling business a lot longer than I have, but I have been doing my own work for the Women’s Evolution outside of wrestling much longer than they have."
Anyone who has been paying attention undoubtedly knows she deserves the spot. Since she arrived as an in-ring presence, Rousey has exceeded expectations as a performer. She's combined a brutal MMA-inspired style with major spots against some of the best in the business. Winning titles hasn't felt forced, though most had to know it was coming.
It says something that WWE was confident enough in Rousey's abilities to essentially carry the Raw women's division while other major heavyweights were over on SmackDown.
And while the 32-year-old hasn't been the best on the mic and her silly smile and good-guy promos got old quick, she deserves credit for going with the flow on the lead to WrestleMania. Cornered into a bad position against the unstoppable force that is Lynch, she flipped to a bad-guy champ in a hurry because her promos were falling flat. Now she's in the best character work of her short WWE career, the violent, not-holding-back MMA force who wants to bully those in her way.
At 'Mania itself, Rousey probably isn't leaving the event with the title. In the same interview on her personal site, she talks about how she wanted to start having kids and that she hadn't planned on staying this long. The writing is on the wall. But at the same time, the main event likely doesn't happen without her.
This isn't to say Lynch didn't carry herself to the top of the WWE Universe's mindshare on her own. She did, perhaps in a way we haven't seen since Daniel Bryan's incredible rise. She's the future of the division after 'Mania. And everyone knows the resume of seven-time champ Flair.
But even Lynch probably isn't convincing WWE she needs to go on last at WrestleMania without Rousey. Neither is Flair. Call it a fault of WWE more than anything else. The idea a show needs stars with broader appeal than wrestling itself, whether it's part-timers or whatever else, is nonsense in the WWE Network subscription era.
Still, Rousey seems to be the final nudge that secured the main event. Fans get some credit, too, of course. The wave behind Lynch played a big part. The embracing of Rousey, who some might have understandably feared was another Brock Lesnar, is perhaps an even bigger part.
Painting in broad strokes, fans have to know the alternative. A former MMA star comes over proclaiming to love the business and gets a ton of high-stakes matches but doesn't connect with the fans. Past accomplishments outside of WWE pave the way, not hard work in the company and earning those chances.
Not with Rousey. She said she was a fan and was taking training seriously. She said she wanted to work her way up the ladder. In the end, she did. And in the process, she gave the final shove necessary to help elevate the entire women's division.
No matter what unfolds at MetLife Stadium as WrestleMania 35 fades to black, champion or not, staying or not, Rousey cemented herself as a legend well before the announcement went public. With what she's accomplished in such a short span, fans shouldn't have any doubt about her performance in the main event, either.