Ronda Rousey, one of the most popular MMA fighters of all time shocked the sports and entertainment world last night in Philadelphia when she made her surprise debut with WWE. That’s right, the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion is now wrestling full-time with the biggest pro wrestling company. ESPN would later confirmed that Rousey has signed a multi-year deal with the company.
The rumors have been swirling for months that Rousey would actually get into the ring in her debut at Sunday’s Royal Rumble which featured the first 30 Women over-the-top rope Rumble match, but Rousey swerved the speculation earlier this week when she told a TMZ reporter at an airport she would not be available as she was filming a movie in Columbia. That was true, but Rousey made a multi-flight trans-continental cross-state lines trip in secret on Sunday to make it in time to strut out after WWE wrecking-machine Asuka won the inaugural Rumble. Rousey’s debut deeply teased her competing at WWE’s Super Bowl of body-slams and fun, Wrestlemania in April.
Rousey stood toe-to-toe with Rumble winner Asuka (who refused to shake her hand), WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte, WWE Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, and then followed this by giving a handshake to WWE boss Stephanie McMahon who looked like she was pretty scared. The rogue Rousey seemed to be eating up the adulation as she came out at the Wells-Fargo Arena to Joan Jett and the Blackhearts ‘Bad Reputation’ in a jacket she was gifted by the family of WWE Hall of Famer ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper.
Rousey is a big coup for WWE to say the least. She’s been one of the biggest draws for UFC, becoming the first female star the fighting promotion really got behind. She has had a long love affair with pro wreslting and briefly got in the ring for schuffle at Wresltemania a few years back. She even could be seen at Pro Wrestling Guerilla, an independent wrestling group running packed small shows in California. She’s a fan for sure, and has been training for this leap into the wrestling ring for some years.
WWE had one helluva night in other matches last night at Royal Rumble setting the stage for Wrestlemania. The uber-charismatic Shinsuke Nakamura who had previously rocked the hard-hitting New Japan Pro Wrestling, won the Men’s Royal Rumble match, likely setting the stage for a dream match between himself and WWE Champion ‘the Phenomenal’ AJ Styles. In the Women’s Royal Rumble match, the wild-eyed wrecking machine Asuka won her title match at ‘Mania in the multi-women mash-up which featured female stars of yesteryear clashing with WWE’s new class.