Becky Lynch vs. Nia Jax: Who Is the Better Ronda Rousey Opponent for WWE Return?

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2020

Credit: WWE.com

It's been over 12 months since Ronda Rousey set foot inside a WWE ring after losing the Raw Women's Championship to Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 35.

Ever since, fans have wondered who she will fight next if, or when, she comes back.

Recently, that discussion has intensified after Rousey's disparaging comments on the Wild Ride! with Steve-O podcast, in which she referred to WWE as "fake fights for fun."

Those comments drew the ire of several WWE Superstars, who felt the need to react in opposition on Twitter, defending their careers and sports entertainment in general.

One of the most outspoken of the bunch was Nia Jax, who returned to action in her own right on April 6 after being out for a year following double knee surgery.

The Irresistible Force, who fought Rousey at last year's Money in the Bank, already put out the suggestion that they should fight again:

🌺 @NiaJaxWWE

I can’t wait for Ronda 2 one day return 2 WWE. Even if WWE orders me to make Ronda look good in the ring, which is the ONLY way for Ronda 2 look good in the ring w/me. I’ll risk my job 2 go down in history as the one from this biz that knocked her the F**K out! #TestMeBitch

But if Rousey is set to return any time soon, is Jax the right opponent, or would a rematch with The Man be a better option?


Pros and Cons for Jax

If Jax is itching for a fight, it might be in WWE's best interest to strike while the Twitter rivalry is still hot.

Social media is more important now than ever, as current taping schedules are chaotic and physical distancing measures get in the way of traditional television storytelling.

The more WWE proves to its audience that social media is a vital tool in crafting rivalries, the more beneficial those platforms become.

If Twitter is just bonus features supplementing what's on TV, fans can choose to tune out. But if that was the start and bulk of a big feud like Jax vs. Rousey, the WWE Universe will have to start paying more attention to what the Superstars tweet.

That means higher numbers and more engagement, which WWE loves to promote to show investors how hip the brand is.

PWI @OfficialPWI

From WWE: According to Nielsen Social, WrestleMania saw 13.8 million total social media interactions on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, +57% vs. last year’s WrestleMania, and most in WWE history.

But not everyone cares about social media. Plenty of fans ignore those platforms or just don't enjoy blurring the lines of reality and kayfabe.

This feud couldn't be solely based on one Rousey interview and Jax's response in a tweet, though. WWE would need to expand on it, and there may not be much substance to it other than that.

Thankfully, The Irresistible Force is a former champion and the largest woman on the roster. There aren't too many other Superstars of that caliber who could realistically stand toe-to-toe with Rousey.

This could be a good transition, too. Beating Jax would put The Baddest Woman on the Planet back on track to challenge for the Raw Women's Championship. Of course, a downside to that would be making Jax a stepping stone and a loss would derail her own momentum.

On the other hand, if Jax did beat Rousey, it would make her the biggest threat to Lynch's title reign. However, that sacrifices the former UFC star's return in the process. It's a win-win and lose-lose situation.

Jax is the best option for Rousey if WWE wants to ease into it, rather than dive head-first. But Lynch's popularity dwarfs Jax's, so if The Man vs. The Rowdy One is the money match, why make fans wait and not capitalize on the ratings boost?


Pros and Cons for Lynch

At face value, Rousey vs. Lynch is the more marketable match, as it involves the most popular star in the women's division and the Raw Women's Championship.

It's logical that Rousey's main focus would be righting the wrong of her loss at last year's WrestleMania and beating her conqueror to regain the championship and become top dog again.

We also never got to see how things would play out if the two went one-on-one. The main event of WrestleMania 35 included Charlotte Flair in a Triple Threat match. Rousey could always argue that if it was just the two of them, she never would have lost to Lynch.

Credit: WWE.com

However, the rematch is already treading on familiar territory, rather than breaking new ground.

Is this just a means for WWE to double up and cash in on whatever lingering mystique is left until the interest has dried up? The Rock vs. John Cena was billed as "once in a lifetime" and spanned three years and two matches. In retrospect, it's a bit of a joke.

If Lynch did win again, the rematch wouldn't need to happen at all. If Rousey won, WWE wouldn't be able to resist a rubber match to settle the score. But a third fight could make the feud outstay its welcome.

Sequels need some kind of hook to make them more interesting than their predecessor, and Lynch vs. Rousey means one less Superstar from the original match.

Plus, The Baddest Woman on the Planet going straight into a title shot over everyone else casts the rest of the women's division aside.

Shayna Baszler was already in Rousey's shadow prior to losing clean at WrestleMania 36. With The Rowdy One possibly cutting straight to the front of the queue, The Queen of Spades will be even less valuable.

The Man @BeckyLynchWWE

You better hurry up and beat me, Shayna. Auntie Ronda is casting her shadow again now you’ve got yourself a little bit of the spotlight. https://t.co/8ljhoXPW2Y


The Verdict

Both options could work if WWE avoids the pitfalls, but the depends on whether the priority is propping up ratings during the pandemic or setting up something big for SummerSlam on August 23.

If WWE is more concerned with the immediate future and driving as much attention to the product as possible in these troubling times, Rousey should go straight to Lynch. Maybe that can boost viewership enough to make a difference while times are tough.

There will be plenty of time to set up something else for the big summer pay-per-view with Baszler, Jax or the women's Money in the Bank winner.

However, the better move is to play the long game, in which Jax vs. Rousey makes more sense for right now.

It's still a big enough match to get people talking and capitalize on Rousey's return, and it would also allow room for a marquee fight at SummerSlam.

Before any of these scenarios can play out, though Rousey has to come back in the first place, which may not even happen. Until then, we'll just have to wait and see what happens next.


Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.