The appearance of Ronda Rousey at the end of the WWE Royal Rumble, officially signaled what has been known since last summer, that the woman who was responsible for women’s MMA in the UFC is becoming a pro wrestler.
Rousey has been training for pro wrestling since last summer. She has trained both in Southern California with Brian Kendrick, a WWE wrestler from the area, as well as at the company’s Performance Center in Orlando. She’s made a few appearances already for the company over the last seven months, although none on television,. usually at live events in conjunction with Shayna Baszler, the former UFC fighter who is being featured with NXT, the WWE’s developmental and more underground brand.
She did film two segments with Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, who Baszler had named the Four Horsewomen, confronting three WWE’s Four Horsewomen, led by Charlotte Flair (Ashley Fliehr), the daughter of pro wrestling legend Ric Flair, and currently the women’s champion on the Smackdown brand. All aired on either the company’s web site or its streaming service, the WWE Network.
Duke has also trained pro wrestling and Shafir a few months back was featured on WWE’s NXT television show in conjunction with a storyline with her fiance, Roderick Strong (Chris Lindsay).
According to sources in WWE, the company is attempting to put together a match with Rousey teaming with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson against Stephanie McMahon and Paul “HHH” Levesque for WrestleMania on April 8 at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The idea of the match was first designated for WrestleMania 32 in Dallas in 2016.
The four did an in-ring angle at WrestleMania 31 on March 29, 2015. at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Stephanie had slapped Johnson, who wouldn’t hit a woman. Rousey was stationed at ringside in the stands and Johnson brought her in the ring to attack McMahon and give HHH a judo throw.
It is not clear if Johnson has agreed to the match. Johnson hasn’t wrestled a significant match since the 2013 WrestleMania, when he suffered legitimate torn muscles in a match that caused the delay in filming the movie “Hercules.” In 2016, at the WrestleMania in Dallas, he did a one-move match that lasted less than 10 seconds.
Johnson hasn’t wrestled since the injuries in a significant match due to insurance issues regarding movies that he had been under contract for.
Rousey had denied she would be at the show when the rumors inside the industry indicated she would, and kept posting that she was in Colombia working on a movie that would make it impossible, attempting to make her appearance a surprise. However within wrestling, when the word got out during the day that the women’s Royal Rumble match would headline over the men, the belief is it had to be because of a major angle at the match, and the appearance of Rousey made the most sense.
Rousey confronted Stephanie McMahon, who was at ringside doing announcing for the women’s Rumble match, and they did an uneasy handshake. McMahon was pretending in the storyline that she had no idea Rousey would appear.
Another match that appears to be set up for Rousey down the line is with Asuka, real name Kanako Urai. Asuka, who was scripted to win the first women’s Rumble, is doing an undefeated gimmick based on being lethal with kicks and other strikes. Asuka had been using a chicken wing submission as her finisher, but had switched to the armbar, Rousey’s trademark move several months ago, about the time the direction for the Rumble was being formatted.