Ronda Rousey has arrived in WWE after years of speculation and rumour. Here’s a look at some of her potential future opponents.
Moments after Asuka had won the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble, she stood between the champions of Raw and Smackdown, Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair, and fans wondered which champion would face the Emperess of Tomorrow at Wrestlemania. However, this was the exact moment a certain former UFC Bantamweight Champion decided to make her entrance…
Then, last night at Elimination Chamber, Ronda Rousey signed her Raw contract… and ended up putting TRIPLE H THROUGH A TABLE! As far as introductions go, it really doesn’t get much more impressive than that.
Now, apart from her odd mixture of smiling and scowling, Ronda’s arrival was a huge moment. It is one of the biggest things to happen to Women’s wrestling ever and in terms of mainstream appeal, she is the biggest name to sign for the WWE probably since the return of The Rock and Brock Lesnar. Ideally Rousey would go on a debuting, destructive tear like Samoa Joe in Ring of Honour and TNA, killing fools left, right, and centre. However she is very new to pro-wrestling, so she will need to have her path to superstardom plotted a bit more carefully.
But with the Women’s division the strongest it has ever been, there are plenty of potential opponents for the Olympic bronze medallist. I’ve mapped out my ideas for Rousey’s first couple of years in what will hopefully be a long career. Here are some of my picks:
The Veteran: Natalya
Ronda Rousey is an incredible athlete, a lifelong wrestling fan, and is still relatively young. However, as talented as she is, wrestling is not something up she will be able to do perfectly from day one. Although I fully expect her first in-ring experience to be in tag team matches while she learns the ropes, eventually she will have to start having one-on-one matches. And I think the best woman for those first singles match is Natalya. I’m not sure whether Rousey will be face or heel long term (or if those terms really mean anything in 2018 for a special attraction like Rousey) but for a first regular, one-on-one feud, Natalya v Rousey writes itself.
Natalya has spoken many times about being overlooked and disrespected, and has had a really good run over the last 18 months or so. She has lost her way slightly since dropping the Smackdown Women’s Championship to Charlotte Flair, but the Hart family name value alone would be enough to make her a viable opponent to Rousey that could pique some mainstream interest. Plus she has a (sort of) legitimate athletic background herself, being the only female graduate of the famous Hart Dungeon.
The grizzled veteran jealous of the newcomer, Natalya can run down Rousey on the mic, slap her in the sharp shooter for some cool visuals, and map out some good matches early in Rousey’s career. It reminds me of when Batista returned in 2014 and had his first singles feud with Alberto Del Rio, a ring general to shake off the ring rust.
Of course, Ronda Rousey wins in dominant fashion!
The Beast: Nia Jax
The dominant “irresistable force” of the Women’s division would match up physically with Rousey, and beating her will make Rousey look great in video clips. The matches will probably be terrible, but you know WWE loves to book its superstars as underdogs beating the odds, and having Jax toss Rousey around before she prevails will prove her “heart and fighting spirit”.
Again, Rousey wins, but in a less than impressive fashion, perhaps a flash roll up or submission win.
The Idol: Mickie James
Like my earlier pick Natalya, Mickie James would be a great teacher for Rousey. Although she only returned to WWE last year, she had a fantastic run in TNA before that, and her match with Asuka in NXT at the end of 2016 shows she can hang with a dominant performer.
This feud could work through almost any alignment, with long term Rousey wanting to face her “childhood” idol in a face v face match. Rousey actually would have been about 19 years old when Mickie fought Trish Stratus in that amazing match at Wrestlemania 22, so WWE would have to be a bit more creative about that than I have been!
They could run the grizzled Micke James as a heel against the “young upstart” Rousey, or a cocky heel Rousey against the beloved veteran James. I would see the matches run the same either way, the more experienced James using every trick in the book to stay one step ahead of the younger, stronger Rousey before finally succumbing.
Rousey wins cleanly though, whatever the face/heel alignment
The Special Attraction: Stephanie McMahon
Not a surprise selection, but a bit of background to the match that seems set to happen at Wrestlemania. There are only a few names that can begin to match Ronda Rousey in terms of mainstream attention, and certainly one of them is the current Commissioner of Raw (and real life Chief Brand Officer) Stephanie McMahon. Ever since Stone Cold Steve Austin made millions of dollars beating up his boss, Vince McMahon has had an addiction to repeating the same angle. Bobby Lashley, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan (amongst many others) found themselves directly fighting authority figures, and Stephanie herself had a match with Brie Bella at Summerslam only a few years ago. There currently is also a rather messy Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan/Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn story line going on over on Smackdown, and so I would not be surprised to see another boss v employee storyline.
In the ring, McMahon should not be able to compete with a legit athlete 10 years younger than her, but the McMahon’s have always defied booking logic when it comes to in-ring performances (see Shane McMahon going toe-to-toe with The Undertaker at WM32). However, if they started by revisiting this showdown from Wrestlemania 31…
Well, that would be something special! The Rock and Ronda Rousey v Triple H and Stephanie McMahon would probably be the main event. Rousey obviously needs some help with talking in front of the live audiences, and so Stephanie can do the bulk of that, and a tag team match would hide her flaws.
However, the rather ham-fisted contract signing segment seems that we are heading towards Kurt Angle teaming up with Ronda Rousey. If Rousey could emulate anyone’s transition into pro-wrestling, it would be Kurt Angle, who many times has been praised as the person who “got it” faster than anyone else.
I could see a follow up, blow-off Summerslam singles match between McMahon and Rousey, which means she will have had a good 3 months post-Wrestlemania working on the road with a Natalya or Mickie James before moving onto a proper feud.
I would not put it beyond a McMahon to inflict a defeat on Ronda Rousey, but Rousey should win.
The Big Money Match: Charlotte Flair
The current Women’s Smackdown Champion carriers herself like a Superstar, and has an aura that surpasses most of the rest of the roster. At one point she relied too much on copying her father’s mannerisms (and who can blame her), at times her matches with Sasha Banks got repetitive, and the decision to have her end her PPV winning streak was a strange one, but Flair has grown as a wrestler. Her character just *works* as a top of the bill champion, carrying the brand, and that is exactly what she is doing on Smackdown.
I honestly think Charlotte Flair is the opponent that Ronda Rousey should be built towards facing from day one. It is the biggest money match for WWE in Women’s wrestling, and legitimately could main event Wrestlemania.
Given another year, Charlotte will be at her absolute peak, and should be Rousey’s big coming out party, and start a rivalry for the ages. Maybe not on the scale of Rock-Austin’s Wrestlemania trilogy, but I imagine Rousey winning, then Flair getting her win back two years later.
Streak v Streak: Asuka
If Charlotte is the best “sport entertainment” match, if Ronda Rousey is presented as a legitimate MMA wrestler, then the next match to build towards is Asuka. As of today, Asuka is billed as 874 days undefeated from her debut in NXT. Imagine her going through to Wrestlemania 36 (after Rousey beats Flair at WM35) unbeaten before a showdown with a similarly invincible Rousey. Obviously that involves a lot of good luck along the way, but this is a truly historic opportunity to build to something great. Hold off on Rousey v Asuka and WWE has a chance to deliver fully on Rousey’s potential.
In this section I’ve included people who I don’t see as viable opponents for Ronda Rousey anytime in the near future. With a few character tweaks I could see them matching up, but these are the wrestlers I don’t really see being anything more than cannon fodder right now, and ones who would suffer too much from losing to the newcomer. Perhaps these could be the challengers to Ronda Rousey as champion, but until then I think there are better stories that can be told.
Current Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss has done great work since moving up to the main roster, and has picked up a lot of “historic firsts” along the way, including winning the first Women’s Championship tables match, becoming the first woman to win both the Smackdown and Raw championships, and last night she won the first Women’s Elimination Chamber. However, I can’t buy her as a someone who could physically compete with Ronda Rousey. She is just too small, and doesn’t have the in ring experience to be able to stay ahead of Rousey, nor is an in-ring general that can get a great match out of Rousey. Also, a big defeat and moving down the card would severely damage Alexa. So despite being the champion on Rousey’s brand, I don’t particularly see this match happening.
Sasha Banks is one of my favourite wrestlers, but I think she needs a good heel run before she could legitimately be perceived as a threat to Rousey. They will have good matches when they do face-off, and Sasha will rag doll herself around and make Rousey look like a million bucks. But unless she is in full-on Boss mode, she can’t really go toe-to-toe with Rousey.
And I would say the same things about Becky Lynch. She’s full of harm, full of charm, and ready to break your arm… but the way Rousey is going to be presented, I can’t see a match with Lynch being a priority without a heel turn for one of them. I imagine a match with them would be a mouth watering prospect, exchanging suplexes and submission holds, but not quite yet.
Bayley again would be a great opponent for Rousey, and make her look really good in the process. Ideally I would have Rousey destroy Bayley in a heel turn, meaning Bayley has to build herself from nothing before becoming a face challenger for a dominant heel Rousey. But the way Bayley has been presented, Rousey easily beats her in minutes.
Noami could pose a different threat to Rousey with her athletism, but I don’t see that they would match up very well. Those speedball kicks Naomi throws in always look a bit weak, and against Rousey they might look downright silly.
Dana Brooks has moved into a management role with Titus Worldwide, but she was Asuka’s first match in NXT, and would be a totally expendable body for Rousey to run through. I would also include the current injured Alicia Fox here, as much of what I’ve said about Brooks applies to Fox.
Tamina, like Fox, has had injury problems galore recently, and although she has some physical stature, no one would buy her as a threat to Rousey.
Carmella just doesn’t have any chance against Rousey. I can only see them crossing paths with a Money in the Bank cash-in, either meaning Carmella is a champion that Rousey defeats (maybe a unification match if they present Rousey as a fully legitimate MMA athlete) or Carmella cashes in on a beaten down Rousey, leading to a rematch when the fully fit Rousey runs through Carmella in a minute.
The newcomers of Absolution (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) and Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, and Liv Morgan) are all too early in their career to face another relative newcomer like Rousey, apart from Ruby Riott. Unless they are looking at pairing Rousey up with another superstar in a tag team early on, I can’t see too much interaction here.
And finally I’ll mention a few of the potential NXT call. Obviously Shayna Baszler has a “good friends, better enemies” story with Rousey ready to go, and Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane would make for an explosive match-up down the road. However, both of them have plenty of mileage in NXT before stepping up to the main roster. Someone like Nikki Cross would be fascinating to see face-off with Rousey, and her hard-core, crazed brawling style would make a legitimate threat, even against a superior athlete. Current NXT champion Ember Moon should be the next real superstar to come out of NXT, so if she is handled correctly, Moon v Rousey should be a main event match in a few years time that would be a believable match-up thanks to the best finishing move in wrestling:
And with that, I think I have mentioned pretty much every single female wrestler on the roster! Despite my misgivings about Rousey’s entrance at the Rumble, I am very excited about what the next chapter of her career holds. Even if only some of these match come off, Rousey has the chance to put together a great series of matches, and more importantly, entertain us all.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
Like what you’ve read? Then get following us on social media!
Plus we are finally on Twitter! https://twitter.com/BubblegumOutta