Tale of the Tape: Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey
We have arrived at this destination sooner than expected. Ronda Rousey squaring off with Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax was bound to happen, but Rousey challenging for a title in only her second match? It’s unbelievable. We’re on the precipice of witnessing a totally unprecedented event at WWE Money in the Bank, and as we wait to see The Irresistible Force meet The Baddest Woman on the Planet, the only thing we can do is sit back, fantasize about what it’s going to look like and break down all the angles.
Nia’s height ain’t just hype
Nia Jax challenged Ronda Rousey because she believes she can not only defeat her, but defeat her with ease and elevate her name to legendary status in the process. Nia’s size, strength and experience advantages have her confident that a competitor who is significantly smaller than her and new to the sport will be the easiest money ever made at WWE Money in the Bank.
Nia stands five inches taller than Ronda and is by far the largest opponent Rousey has ever faced in her combat sports career. Prior to WWE, Rousey has only matched up against opponents of similar size and stature (she was a middleweight in Olympic competition and a bantamweight during her MMA tenure). Here, in her first-ever singles match in WWE, she will face someone who she would never have been matched up against in either of her former sports.
Nia’s size will, in theory, also allow her to cut off the ring against the supremely athletic Rousey. As demonstrated within seconds of her first-ever official in-ring action at WrestleMania 34, “Rowdy” is going to attempt to out-athlete Nia from jump street. What Ronda lacks in sports-entertainment experience she makes up for with incredible instincts and freakishly atypical abilities. Jax will want to avoid getting in close with Rousey when it comes to exchanging strikes, but she should aim to use her size and reach to mow her opponent down and into corners, which would give Ronda little to no room to operate and allow Nia to unleash onslaughts of her own.
From the moment Ronda Rousey signed with WWE, she instantly became the best female striker in WWE history (she was on the cover of Ring Magazine, for goodness sakes). Conventional thinking would lead the WWE Universe to believe that Nia will attempt to keep Ronda at distance for the majority of their match to avoid facing a potential barrage of strikes, much like both Stephanie McMahon and Triple H did at WrestleMania 34.
Proof positive of this idea is Rousey’s UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title defense over Bethe Correia at UFC 190 on Aug. 1, 2015. Correia was widely recognized as the far more experienced striker in the contest, but Hot Ronda, who excelled with the hands faster than any pundit could’ve predicted, closed the distance and knocked Correia out. The Irresistible Force may be significantly bigger than Correia, but the same rules apply: Don’t allow Ronda the chance to knock you out because it’s very feasible she will.
Jax will be wise to keep distance because Rousey is a master of body control and manipulation. Due to her extensive background in Judo, the former Olympic medalist can shift her opponent’s weight better than just about anybody in WWE.
The Armbar of it all
Rousey’s Armbar is one of the most feared maneuvers in combat sports. It’s what helped earn her the moniker of The Baddest Woman on the Planet. Yet, bring it up to Jax and she genuinely seems none too concerned. It is Jax’s belief that her size will make it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for Ronda to lock in the Armbar. Whether that is legitimate hubris or just a front the champion is putting up to get inside Rousey’s head will be impossible to know until the bell rings on June 17.
What is also impossible to predict is when and how the Armbar will be unleashed. Rousey built a reputation in UFC by locking in the Armbar early — multiple times within the first 30 seconds of a fight. Due to her exceptional skill and prowess, that was always more than enough to get the job done. The Armbar was automatic. However, there is no guarantee that an early Armbar from Rousey will result in success. Due to Nia’s size and stature, she could potentially stop Ronda from fully applying the hold or simply power right out of it.
Another massive unknown is how Rousey will fare if the length of the match begins to enter the double digits. If Nia can pummel Rousey and take away her strengths, will Rousey have enough in the tank to look for a late Armbar?
Here’s what we do know: The Armbar helped turn Rousey into a global phenomenon and secured her a victory at WrestleMania 34 that had the world talking. If Ronda can lock the hold on, she has a chance at tapping out any breathing human being in the world. If she can’t though? Well, Nia’s odds of victory certainly take a massive leap.
When you take a second to think about all of this, it really is as astounding as it feels: Ronda Rousey is going to challenge for a WWE Women’s Championship. Even a year ago, that would’ve been considered utterly impossible. Her opponent is an exceptionally revolutionary Superstar, who has risen to fame during the Women’s Evolution and Rousey’s unbelievable emergence in WWE.
At WWE Money in the Bank, two transcendent athletes will compete with the stakes as high as can be. With rising animosities, unique advantages and wholly diverse skillsets, this is going to be a match that could wind up looking like a mashup of WWE, UFC and Dragon Ball Z.
So where will you be on June 17?