WWE can't afford to pull out the Ronda Rousey card right now.
Everybody seems to know it's coming or in the early phases. Even casual fans have likely heard some of the trash talk between Rousey and WWE Superstars, which is clearly trying to blur the lines and generate some interest.
But odd as it sounds, Rousey won't reverse the ratings slump and, in fact, could end up doing more harm than good.
Background context is a must despite just how silly it all seems. Rousey went out on an interview and threw some jabs at WWE for its scripted nature.
This went down on the Wild Ride with Steve-O podcast (h/t Pro Wrestling Sheet's Ryan Satin) (Warning: Some language NSFW):
After receiving some heat, Rousey went out with this:
Throwing "#kayfabekiller" on a tweet doesn't mean anything during an era when WWE tries to desperately to blur the lines between real and fake.
Right on cue, Booker T was mad about the comments. Nix Jax tossed out some threats:
And perhaps most admirably, Alexa Bliss, whose well-documented battle with injuries would put her in a position to speak intimately on such a subject, said the following, according to Steven Muehlhausen of Sporting News:
"The fact that she called it fake could be her opinion on it. But it's offensive to everyone that has had injuries, and myself included because I've gone in the company, six years without having a single injury. And then I ended up having a whole documentary based on multiple concussions that I wasn't even sure I was going to be cleared to ever be in the ring again."
And they are just a few examples.
This is a circus. And not the good kind.
If this is brewing some sort of angle for Rousey's eventual return or even laying the groundwork for it, it's not doing anyone any favors. And even if it's not, if Rousey does return to the business, it will get used in such a manner.
But it's a bad look to have a star of Rousey's character trashing the nature of the business right now. WWE is already in a ground war with All Elite Wrestling. It's coming off an unexpectedly good WrestleMania given the circumstances. Shining such a negative light from a Superstar who recently had a prominent position within the company isn't great.
The delivery of it just stinks too. It's funny when Becky Lynch is throwing out trash talk, but oftentimes, this new era of social-media works just backfires and/or Superstars like Seth Rollins even get themselves into hot water with fans over comments made there.
Context on a global scale matters too. WWE just made extensive cuts at many levels in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Turning around and bringing back Rousey would be about as tone-deaf as it gets.
And even removing those sort of real-world matters, how often does WWE have to do this? How many times do fans have to suffer through bringing back the megastar in a hopeful ratings grab? Remember the Cain Velasquez disaster, which saw him have a silly-looking slapfight with Brock Lesnar? Remember Goldberg holding a top title hostage after yet another flop of a match in Saudi Arabia, only to have a boring one-off with Braun Strowman?
Rest assured Rousey would do better in the ring than those two. She was much better than expected by the end of her run in that regard. But she still couldn't do a believable promo, and working her back in now only shoves aside deserving Superstars.
Rousey returning now would only make things worse. She got buzz-sawed down on her way out the door by the Becky Lynch hypetrain, and it would just happen again. Except now it might not even get a hate-watch from fans, never mind the backlash if WWE pays up for Rousey after sending so many to the unemployment line.
WWE has a ratings problem as always, yet this time it can't resort to some of its same old strategies. That means no Rousey, lest the company want to see this nosediving circus somehow get worse.