Ronda Rousey just busted WrestleMania season wide open and all of us may be to blame
Ronda Rousey always walks with purpose, but Monday’s purpose was, in every sense of the word, explicit. Rousey closed out Raw with her boot symbolically pressed on the throat of a defenseless Becky Lynch. As The Man laid in a heap at Rousey’s feet, Charlotte Flair looked on from the ramp with a combination of shock and selfish satisfaction, while Stephanie McMahon just attempted to make sense of it all.
And, as an enraged yet measured Rousey stood dominant and defiant, it felt as though one thought simultaneously permeated throughout the minds of Becky, Charlotte, Stephanie and the entire viewing audience: “What have we done?”
In between boldly re-securing her Raw Women’s Championship and annihilating Lynch on Monday, The Baddest Woman on the Planet made it clear that she was no longer interested in operating under anyone’s rules but hers. Rousey lambasted Stephanie, saying the McMahon family would never fire her because, notwithstanding their litany of issues with each other, she simply makes them too much money. Reading between the lines, her monologue on Monday seemingly shed light on many things.
Rousey’s reputation in UFC outside the cage was that of the ultimate team player; a phenomenon who was willing to go above and beyond what was expected of someone in her position for the greater good of the company. She wanted to help. And, despite Rousey’s obvious problems with the McMahon family from the jump in WWE (re: Stephanie, specifically), it seemed like she was trying to bring that same mentality with her to the red brand. She wanted to help … but then Survivor Series happened.
The WWE Universe is a living, breathing worldwide entity that’s composition literally changes on a night-to-night basis. Rousey, a California native, was assaulted by a Kendo stick-wielding Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series 2018 in Los Angeles. And was booed. Badly. In Rousey’s mind, she had done nothing but try to defend her title honorably, and then got jeered for it by her own people after taking the worst beating of her career.
From there, it snowballed. Ronda and Becky’s conflict escalated, WWE fans generally seemed to side with Becky and, suddenly, Rousey was getting heckled more often than not, all the while expressing nothing more than her desire to be a fighting champion.
None of that is to paint Rousey as sympathetic, though. Let’s be real – she clearly wouldn’t want any of that, even if you were offering. No, this is simply putting focus on our new, present reality: The most dangerous unarmed woman on the face of the Earth just decided that she’s no longer interested in playing ball, and the complexion of WrestleMania 35 has completely changed because of it.
Coming out of WWE Fastlane this Sunday, it will either be Rousey vs. Flair or Rousey vs. Flair vs. Lynch, with the Raw Women’s Championship up for grabs on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Either way, the Ronda Rousey that Charlotte Flair and potentially Becky Lynch will be getting is not the same competitor that, more times than not, has walked down the ramp with a wide-faced smile and energetic wave for the last year and change. Instead, they’ll face the woman whose fists have shattered every glass ceiling ever put over her, who now appears to be more fixated, and ruthless, than ever.
As she emphatically stated on Monday night, Rousey isn’t here to go above and beyond for any company, fanbase or cause any longer. Every boo, tweet and shadow of doubt casted upon her has created the version of her we saw on Monday. Not a brand-new competitor by any stretch; just one that’s becoming something altered by returning to her roots and stripping away all pretense.
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch are Superstars by trade. Ronda Rousey is a “Superstar” by circumstance. By trade, Ronda Rousey is a fighter. She fights people. She hurts people. It’s what she has done her entire life, albeit always with some semblance of integrity and nobility.
That’s all out the window now.
The Ronda Rousey that made history in both the Olympics and MMA, opened doors for women that were once deemed unimaginable, became a transcendent global icon and had arguably the most successful rookie year in the 50-year history of WWE is finally walking down the ramp with the same look on her face that propelled her to all of those accolades. The same look that helped her change the world.
Except now, that look doesn’t seem like it’s going to fade when she gets her hand raised or walks back through the curtain. That look is omnipresent, and the connotations that come with that look are in play 24/7 and specifically zoned in on April 7 at MetLife Stadium. It’s the look of a once-in-human-history fighter that’s aiming to hurt people. A fighter who doesn’t care that you don’t like her, her tweets, her bad reputation or anything else. She may have wanted your approval, but she never needed it. See, Ronda Rousey has already changed the world.
Now she just wants to destroy your Universe.