Hot Take: The Last Thing WWE Needs Is a Ronda Rousey Royal Rumble Return

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2022


Ronda Rousey making her WWE return at Royal Rumble might sound like a great idea for everyone involved, but it's not the best course of action for WWE. 

Rousey showing up for a big moment and getting predictably inserted into the main event scene of a women's division would be yet another hiccup for a company that just can't seem to stop focusing on moments instead of thinking about the bigger picture. 

But as Saturday's big event looms closer, the momentum toward just that happening seems to be increasing.  

Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful reported WWE wants it to happen and that it's a "poorly kept secret" (h/t Inside the Ropes). After, Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats) reported the current plan for WrestleMania 38 seems to be Rousey facing Becky Lynch. 

Interestingly, one of the company's biggest stars, Seth Rollins, has hit on something like this recently during a chat with Alex McCarthy of TalkSport, saying he'd like the Royal Rumble to get used as more of a long-term chance, too:

Alex McCarthy @AlexM_talkSPORT

Rollins: "I'd love a real surprise Rumble winner for people to get behind. Tons of guys on the RAW roster could; Finn Balor is someone who is right there. Chad Gable. Matt Riddle. Montez Ford."

Which only makes perfect sense, right? The rumble, much like the Money in the Bank briefcase, should be used to think beyond a cheap pop. WWE admittedly tried this with Big E's big win via briefcase recently, but the miserable booking of his title reign is a whole different beastly can of worms. 

But it just goes to show that even names like Rollins would probably prefer to see a non-Rousey scenario unfold. 

Let's get a disclaimer out of the way—Rousey's WWE run was fantastic. She was much, much better in the ring than most would've dared predict. There were some rough spots on the mic and such, but it was a memorable experience. It wasn't some silly cash-in on a big name or celebrity. She took it seriously, and everyone, including fans, reaped the benefits. 

This doesn't have so much to do with Rousey the performer at all, but more the current state of WWE and the greater wrestling landscape. 

It almost sounds silly to suggest WWE doesn't need as many eyeballs as possible on their product. But the company isn't really in a comfortable position, nor a luxurious one that offers wiggle room for those big moments that lure in casual viewers who don't become recurring viewers. 

If a Superstar as big as Rollins is acknowledging the elephant in the room—the company's inability to build new stars—then it's obviously a big problem. Competing promotions aren't having this problem. Forgoing the big shocker of a return and building a new main event star thinks more about the long term, not a cheap, quick pop that makes a special event more exciting...fans and even casual viewers already know the Royal Rumble is a big event. 

It doesn't help that the last big return, which was Lynch's big comeback from pregnancy to drop Bianca Belair in a matter of seconds with a move or two, was a major flop that got big pushback from fans. That did nothing for Belair, and Lynch, one of the modern greats, has had a predictably difficult time winning fans over as a heel. Stunner.  

And it's not like the best women's division on the planet doesn't have some very deserving names who could catapult into superstardom with a big rumble moment. Liv Morgan, Zelina Vega and Doudrop, to name a few, could all use the platform to diversify the main event scene. There's some irony in here too—WWE is in this spot of looking around for outside help because it often refuses to look inward and make its own stars, well, internationally known stars. 

It wasn't too long ago that a guy by the name of Drew McIntyre got some serious booking behind him. He hit the Rumble, hunted down Brock Lesnar, won the Rumble, bested Lesnar for top-dog status and was pretty much the company's top guy for the better part of a year. 

There's zero reason that can't happen for a Morgan, Vega or otherwise. It was proof of concept that WWE can build pretty much whoever it wants, whenever it wants. To throw that spot at Rousey because it will move the needle so much on social media and YouTube views could be a disaster.  

Maybe the Rumble is a good barometer to measure just how much heat WWE feels from other companies. It could pull off both. Rousey is a surprise entrant, but Lynch messes with her, costs her a win and they feud from there. The actual Rumble winner goes on to main-event WrestleMania in some fashion, too. 

But as cool as it would be to see Rousey back, it would also be a retread of what fans have seen plenty of times in the past and an unfortunate confirmation that the same old issues will persist. That's a bittersweet damper on what should be one of the most important spots on the wrestling calendar