At the end of the 2018 Royal Rumble, fans of MMA and pro wrestling alike saw their wildest dreams come true when Ronda Rousey made her official debut in the WWE Universe. People had been waiting for this since WrestleMania 31, when Rousey hopped out of the crowd to assist The Rock in laying the smacketh down on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Considering Rousey’s first official act in the company was shaking Stephanie’s hand with a smile on her face, it doesn’t look like that feud is going to continue, but everyone is still extremely excited to see what comes next.
Of course, whenever expectations are this high, the potential for failure likewise raises significantly. Given Rousey’s profile, it’s borderline impossible for WWE to actually lose money on the deal, as they’re bound to make back the investment of her surely huge contract the first time she wrestles on Pay-Per-View. However, if things go wrong at any point into the arrangement, that money could rapidly start flying out the window with each passing appearance. The odds for utter disaster are relatively slim, but with a partnership this big, the possibility can’t be ignored.
For all the things they have in common, MMA and sports entertainment are obviously extremely different mediums, and there’s no way of knowing how a star in one could translate to the other. There have been positives and negatives on both sides, and only time will tell where “Rowdy” Ronda falls on the spectrum. It’s never too early to start speculating, though, so keep reading to learn 8 reasons WWE and Ronda Rousey are going to make millions together and 7 potential problems that could cause them to lose it all.
15 MAKE MILLIONS: The Advertising Writes Itself
Typically, the build up to every WWE Pay-Per-View features at least one or two meetings where the company’s advertising department needs to decide which wrestler, match, or feud will be on their next poster. It’s an important decision, too, because what they’re really doing is trying to guess which performer’s face will sell the most tickets. For Ronda Rousey’s few couple appearances, they can pretty much skip this process altogether, because there’s no one on the roster with a bigger international profile than their newest star.
While there are no posters for weekly episodes of Raw, the same principle applies to how Vince McMahon will be advertising his show whenever “Rowdy” Ronda has the time to stop by.
This works for WWE twice over, in that they can rest assured any dime spent on advertising will be well spent in that it will bring millions of eyes to their programming.
14 LOSE IT ALL: Rousey Could Overshadow The Women’s Division
In the first couple months, Ronda Rousey is in the WWE Universe, she’s most likely to get treated as a terrifying and destructive she beast, and for the most part, this is entirely okay. As time goes on, though, the company will have to find some ways to make her look weak, vulnerable, or at the very least, beatable.
If they don’t and Rousey’s path of destruction never ends, they’ll very quickly run out of women to stand against her, rendering the whole thing pointless.
This isn’t Goldberg in the late '90s where the new monster could just run through a bunch of jobbers; just about everyone Rousey wrestles will likely be a name star, and they can’t all get annihilated by her without making the women of WWE look like little girls compared to the big bad monsters of MMA. Hopefully, this sort of disaster scenario will be avoided at all costs.
13 MAKE MILLIONS: Fans Have Wanted This For Years
Forget about that time Ronda Rousey popped out of the crowd at WrestleMania 31 — fans had been wanting to see her in a WWE ring since the first time she called herself “Rowdy” and claimed Roddy Piper as a personal idol.
Those who know Rousey’s biography are aware she’s been a fan of pro wrestling, and WWE specifically, perhaps before the idea of ever becoming a MMA fighter ever entered her mind.
As her career expanded from the octagon to various other media outlets, Rousey kept talking about how working for WWE in the future could be a “dream come true,” a statement that was accurate both to her personally and just about every fan of hers or sports entertainment in general. Vince McMahon has been doing a great job playing with this desire over the past few years, both at the 31st Grandest Stage of Them All and with the most memorable backstage segment of the Mae Young Classic Tournament, leading to the fever pitch of excitement when Rousey was officially signed.
12 LOSE IT ALL: An Injury Could Derail Everything
No matter how good things look at the onset, there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to professional sports. Due to the dangerous nature of just about every form of athletics there is, every performer for WWE runs the risk of suffering a serious injury each time they step inside the ring. While everyone is certainly hoping this won’t be the case for Ronda Rousey, there’s no way to know for sure she won’t hurt herself in one of her first matches.
On the flip-side, considering she’s used to actually kicking women’s faces in and not just pretending to, there’s an even higher chance she might accidentally hurt a few too many of her opponents, making her a liability.
Plenty of men and women have successfully made the jump, so the odds of this happening aren’t exactly through the roof, but Rousey is also less trained for pro wrestling than most others who fit her career path. The potential for a major mistake early on is certainly there.
11 MAKE MILLIONS: The Timing Is Absolutely Perfect
The one thing WWE’s boasts about starting a women’s wrestling revolution has been lacking from the start is a true standout star. This isn’t to say the various pro wrestlers running the division these days aren’t immensely talented, of course, but none of them have truly stood out as having crossover appeal into the mainstream a la John Cena, The Rock, or any of their biggest male stars. That said, the search is now over, with Ronda Rousey having already proved many times over mainstream media that they loved her before she even stepped inside the ring.
Even without this need, the women’s wrestling revolution in general sets the perfect backdrop for a huge outsider like Rousey to step in and make her presence known.
Had this sort of thing happened 10 or 20 years ago, the outside star would have no real threats on the roster. Luckily, WWE spent the last few years building things up perfectly, so Rousey has several.
10 LOSE IT ALL: One Misstep Could Ruin It All
Important as the potential of Ronda Rousey suffering or causing an injury early in her career may be, an even bigger issue is that absolutely anything going wrong early on in her career could destroy everything right off the bat. Granted, this may feel like a slight overreaction, but look at how audiences have been treating Roman Reigns lately for an insight into just how spiteful and vindictive they can be.
If WWE brings in Rousey and treats her like a massive star in a way people just don’t find believable, there’s a chance the company will never figure out how to fix the problem.
Even having Rousey show up and lose her first match due to a “rookie mistake” could forever brand her a choker or loser, and it’s inevitable that they’ll want to put one of their own wrestlers above her at one point or another. Do this in the wrong way, and Rousey might go from a hero to zero overnight.
9 MAKE MILLIONS: Everyone Already Knows Rousey Is A Star
To be entirely honest, this list has been a little bit redundant from the beginning. Why is it a sure thing that Ronda Rousey will make loads of money by signing with WWE? Because she’s Ronda Rousey and she just signed with WWE.
Everyone interested in the story already knows that Rousey’s last two fights on Pay-Per-View both earned over one million buys, and no one has more experience promoting spectacular sports entertainment extravaganzas than her new boss, Vince McMahon.
In a way, the star and promoter are a perfect match for one another. McMahon won’t even need to do that much work, simply throwing Ronda on TV and letting her be herself should be enough. WWE is also in the somewhat lucky position that Rousey has a few movies coming out soon, meaning she’ll be all over media promoting them, likely throwing in the fact her wrestling debut is just around the corner, as well.
8 LOSE IT ALL: WWE May Not Know How To Use Her
Taking a step back, when we say the timing is perfect for Ronda Rousey to join WWE, we mean that in terms of the roster and how women’s wrestling is treated. There’s another way to look at it and think this is the worst time for a big star to become a wrestler, because Vince McMahon’s track record with how to handle his top talent lately hasn’t been all that great. Fans constantly boo Roman Reigns, Vince’s golden boy Randy Orton bores everyone to tears, no one can agree if John Cena rocks or sucks, and anyone people actually want to cheer for is ignored and shunted down the card for daring to stand out.
WWE is in dire straights right now from a creative standpoint, and Rousey could easily fall victim to this.
It’s been happening on the female side as well, with the recent character death of Bayley shattering the prospects of a rising star, and there’s no reason to think Rousey could be immune to that same sort of awful booking.
7 MAKE MILLIONS: Following The Brock Lesnar Example
Of all the wrestlers on the current WWE roster, the one who most closely follows the career path of Ronda Rousey up to this point would have to be Brock Lesnar. Given how successful “The Beast Incarnate” has been in pro wrestling, this alone should be proof positive she’ll do all right for herself in sports entertainment. Of course, there are a few differences, starting with the fact Lesnar was an amateur and professional wrestler prior to getting into mixed martial arts, then returning to wrestling when it was over.
By contrast, Rousey’s upcoming stint in WWE will be her first-ever foray into wrestling of any kind, but the example is still relevant in predicting her chances at being a bonafide wrestling superstar.
As long as they give her relatively similar treatment as they do Brock, though, she’ll be just fine. This may even help her ease into the business, as like with Lesnar, she may just appear once or twice every couple months.
6 LOSE IT ALL: Rousey Might Be Too Busy
Immediately after making her WWE debut at the Royal Rumble, Ronda Rousey chose not to appear on Raw the next night, or even the next week. In fact, Rousey won’t even be appearing for a full month, making her double official debut at Elimination Chamber. This isn’t entirely a case of WWE holding off until WrestleMania season for full effect — even if they wanted Rousey to show up on Raw once or twice before then, she simply doesn’t have the time to do so.
Although she has already signed the dotted line on a WWE contract, Ronda still has a few other commitments to wrap up prior to getting in the ring, like filming and promoting the upcoming Mark Wahlberg movie Mile 22.
That’s just one of several outside projects which could continue taking her out of the ring for a little while coming, and if she’s gone too long, WWE may have trouble working her into their plans in a meaningful way.
5 MAKE MILLIONS: This Opens The Door For More UFC Crossovers
Great as it is for WWE that Ronda Rousey has finally made her debut, in many respects, this could just be the beginning of a huge movement within sports entertainment. Well, okay, with the rise of Brock Lesnar firmly cemented, and Rousey’s fellow UFC star and friend Shayna Baszler already dominating NXT, maybe this is more like the middle. Either way, the point is that former MMA fighters are rapidly choosing to try out sports entertainment for a while rather than continue running the risk of having their face smashed in for real inside the octagon.
Based on what others have been saying, these three standouts may not be alone. Two other massive UFC stars who have dropped hints they were interested in WWE are Cat Zingano and Conor McGregor, either of whom could have just as big an impact as Rousey or Lesnar.
Should Rousey prove a huge success, the number of MMA fighters willing to crossover will grow ever higher, and the McMahon’s bank accounts will increase accordingly.
4 LOSE IT ALL: Her Awkward Debut Set A Bad Tone
With everything the positive half of this list has said so far, it almost feels like all WWE had to do in order to make Ronda Rousey look like a huge star upon her debut was have the woman show up with a menacing glare. Replace “menacing glare” with “awkward smile” and that’s pretty much all they did, busting her out at the end of the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble and telling her to point to the WrestleMania sign, as is the trend during this time of year. Not that she should have rushed out and destroyed everyone in sight, but the low key, humble nature of Rousey’s debut wasn't a good set up for her future with WWE.
Worse than the cliché sign point and fake-looking smile was Rousey immediately kowtowing to Stephanie McMahon with a hearty handshake, symbolizing their would-be feud from WrestleMania 31 was over before it even started.
It also suggested she would be just another cog in the WWE machine instead of the standout star she deserves to be. This may be an overreaction, but time will tell whether or not the dire debut actually predicted her future.
3 MAKE MILLIONS: The Opportunities Are Endless
Assuming WWE doesn’t mess things up from the start, there’s really no limit to what Ronda Rousey could accomplish in professional wrestling. Her path to glory alone should be filled with countless incredible matches, as virtually any female wrestler on the roster could make a good opponent for her at this point.
Some of the lower-tier wrestlers wouldn’t necessarily put up much of a fight, but that would be the point, since she needs to come into wrestling looking as dominant as she was in UFC.
Then, when she starts challenging bigger-name opponents like Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, or Alexa Bliss, it will be up to the veteran wrestlers to figure out how to stand against her sheer rage and raw power. Rousey is the sort of major signing where even retired wrestlers such as Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, or anyone else who came back for the women’s Royal Rumble might also consider taking a solo stand against her, and fans would be happy to see any number of them try.
2 LOSE IT ALL: Rousey Is Virtually Untrained As A Wrestler
Okay, so on paper, we’ve gotta acknowledge that the positives on this list far outweigh the negatives. The good possibilities all basically write themselves, while the bad ones are admittedly a bunch of “what ifs” that could just as easily never become a factor.
However, this final reason Ronda Rousey might bomb in WWE is actually of extreme importance, and something the company needs to deal with immediately.
Unlike virtually every other UFC fighter turned WWE superstar to come before her, from the days of Ken Shamrock all the way up to Shayna Baszler, Rousey has absolutely no specific training in how to be a pro wrestler. Sure, she’s spent a few token days at the WWE Performance Center, but a couple of weeks in no way amounts to the years of dedicated training most others have to go through. WWE is largely banking on Rousey’s pro fighting skills translating to the scripted wrestling ring, and for the sake of all those involved, let’s hope the investment pays off.
1 MAKE MILLIONS: The Hype Says It All
Ultimately, the negatives outlined on this list don’t matter all that much, because Vince McMahon is in the very least assured to make back his investment on Ronda Rousey in free advertising alone. The moment she made her debut and it was official Rousey was a WWE superstar, just about every legitimate sports broadcasting network in the world reported on the story.
Even people who have never watched a minute of WWE or seen a single UFC fight knows that the biggest female MMA star in history is headed to the wrestling ring, meaning all eyes are already on Vince McMahon.
Even if Rousey’s first couple Pay-Per-View matches are a bomb and no one wants to watch her third bout, the first and second ones will have nonetheless made her and WWE millions of dollars that fans can’t exactly take back. The worst case scenario is that things might peter out sooner than expected, but make no mistake about it, regardless of what comes next, WWE and Ronda Rousey are both poised for great success now that they’ve joined forces.