So much for not writing about wrestling.
After many starts and stops, we are here: WWE Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey will face Charlotte Flair and now, for sure (I think), The Man (and my Best In The World for 2018) Becky Lynch at WrestleMania Lady Liberty’s Crown (XXXV!). And it’s all thanks to Ronda interrupting Flair and Lynch’s Fastlane match last night with a punch to Becky’s grill, resulting in Lynch winning by disqualification.
I’ve been on the fence about whether this should be a triple threat match from the time the rumors started. We were robbed of Becky/Ronda at Survivor Series thanks to Nia Jax’s errant fist; this is the match we all want to see. Inserting Charlotte hasn’t appealed to anyone, including Lynch and Rousey. Since Charlotte replaced Becky at Survivor Series, she’s been this weird, smiley heel. She’s clearly proven herself to be one of the best wrestler’s on both brands already, so this semi-turn hasn’t done a ton for her other than putting her in this match. Her best moment in this run came when she thrashed Ronda to get DQ-ed at Survivor Series; everything else has been the Queen treading water.
But if we’re getting a triple threat to prevent Ronda from eating a pin at WrestleMania, it makes sense. Becky has proven she can beat Charlotte and vice versa. But how much does that take away from Ronda’s mystique if she finally loses on the Grandest Stage Of Them All? The closest anyone has come to beating Rousey was Sasha Banks at the Royal Rumble. How does she look tapping out to the Dis-Arm-Her on the Figure Eight? Would it conjure up memories of her defeats to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes, especially if she is taking time off following Mania? Rousey’s in-ring work has been pretty stellar; to see her slink off into darkness following another defeat wouldn’t do her career any favors going forward. With three wrestlers, that means Charlotte (or Becky) could eat the pin and Rousey can take the time off without losing her aura of invincibility. Or Ronda could just beat the hell out both, defend the Championship again the next night on Raw, and then vacate the strap into the sunset.
And yes, I just talked myself into the last idea happening.
Charlotte is obviously the incumbent in this match despite not holding the Championship. As a 7-time main roster champion (and an NXT Title to boot), and the first person to defeat Asuka in the WWE, she’s seen it all. Becky may have had her number in late 2018, but she’s had a long history of beating The Man as well. With this heel adjacent turn she’s having, she’s capable of doing whatever it takes to win. It never hurts that she’s the face Creative goes to in the Women’s Division when they need a strong champ as well. Beating Rousey and making her humble on the way out the door would just be another feather in the cap of her already Hall Of Fame WWE career.
In 2018, Becky Lynch transformed into The Man and lit the world on fire. In 2019, she’s still The Man… but hasn’t done as much fire starting. Losing to Asuka makes more sense in the idea that Creative wanted her and Rousey to ultimately meet up (and it did take a Asuka Lock with a bridge to get Becky to tap), but it still left lots of fans scratching their head. Her surprise entry and victory in the Women’s Royal Rumble match reignited her flame as quickly as it had been doused, but since then she’s had more run-ins with upper management and this weird knee injury than success. Charlotte was firmly in control of their matchup last night before Ronda came calling and it again leaves me with more questions than answers. Most importantly, Becky Lynch is selling a knee injury that she got from Flair in Alexandria, LA from last month; a knee injury that apparently cripples her ability to wrestle. WrestleMania is less than a month away and the hottest wrestler in this feud can barely stand, let alone be The Man (other than Twitter. And yes, I thought of that sentence all by myself). So it’ll be interesting to see if and how Becky gets a chance to rehab her knee or if they’re really going to let her limp into this triple threat. For all the Stone Cold comparisons that Lynch gets, I never remember when Austin went into a match physically crippled as a story point. It makes the outcome of Becky winning seem less likely. And I can tell you I won’t be happy if she gets pummeled the entire match only to luck into being in the right spot to finish Ronda or Charlotte off for the Championship.
I worry that while Creative has done a great job getting our three wrestlers to this point (barring some more McMahon or Triple H shenanigans on Raw or SmackDown), one can’t help but wonder if they’ve actively been trying to cool the Raw Women’s Championship in general for other reasons. As of this writing, Seth Rollins is still going to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania. And most everyone is clamoring for the Rousey/Lynch/Flair triple threat to finish this year’s Showcase Of The Immortals. Could Creative really be so blind that their derailing the Raw Women’s Title story just ever so slightly to justify Seth and Brock going last? I wouldn’t put it past them with Brock’s WWE employment always being so tenuous. We’ll just have to wait and see how their story progresses in contrast to where we are with these wrestlers already.
And that brings us to the Ronda Rousey of this whole storyline. Since arriving in WWE last year, Ronda has been nothing but appreciative, excited, and friendly when it came to her character. She’s been a total badass in all her matches in the ring (as it should be) but there was never a moment where you were supposed to feel like her WWE run was just an easy money grab (quiet in the back!).
That all changed last Monday when she interrupted Stephanie McMahon, Charlotte, and Becky to reclaim her “vacated” Championship. Cutting an impassioned, although not perfect promo, she turned her back on everyone and essentially became the pro wrestling version of her UFC days: a complete and total must see attraction who truly was at one point the baddest woman on the planet. She beat the living hell out of Lynch, sending Stephanie scrambling backstage and Charlotte slowly backing away from the scuffle. Rousey followed that up by cutting more promos on her YouTube channel where she pulled back the curtain that wrestling was fake, scripted and, that she wasn’t playing pretend anymore. I’ve already mentioned that she purposely attacked Becky last night so she would win her way to WrestleMania but the question remains: where do we go from here?
The thing that made Ronda Rousey so great in the UFC was her honesty. She was winning her matches and most of her victories were in convincing fashion. On top of that, whenever a microphone was present, she would say whatever she felt and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Why? Because it was highly likely that Ronda Rousey could whup your ass. Even Floyd Mayweather got it from the UFC Bantamweight Champion and when you hold a real fighting championship for over 1,050 days, you can get away with such things.
It was Rousey’s response to losing to Holm and then losing to Nunes a year later that shattered that invincibility. Most fighters get back in the octagon after a loss; it took Ronda a year, and then she left UFC altogether. Despite her impressive run, some were calling her a fluke or even uncoachable as she lost to Nunes despite having a year to work on her skills to defend against a true striker (I’ll admit I’m spitballing here because I’m not as versed in MMA so don’t kill me for it). And then, when she shows up in WWE, she’s all smiles and coming down the ramp to “Bad Reputation”, the complete opposite of what we knew her as in the UFC. Fans quickly cooled on Rousey the wrestler and it wasn’t more apparent than the night she got booed out of the Staples Center.
But now, the world and the WWE could be Ronda Rousey’s oyster. If she really is going rogue, stop scripting her promos; let her feel what she’s going to say and maybe have the mute button ready before she sends a bunch of swears to homes across the nation. Let her be as close to the Ronda Rousey she used to be in the UFC. Let Murda Ronda destroy Charlotte and Becky and then stick around for a while longer to keep adding to her list of bodies. She doesn’t have go quietly into the night. She doesn’t need an Asuka sized streak to get the myth going, just find ways for her to win and don’t let her shoulders touch the mat for a three count. Then you can build to that moment where Rousey and whatever opponent have exhausted themselves a la Superman and Doomsday where whomever breathes last wins. That’s how Ronda Rousey’s first pin should happen in the WWE if she’s going to go full UFC Ronda and if she’s not leaving after Mania.
If Becky or Charlotte manage to pin Rousey to the mat now, it’ll still be a big deal; it just loses its luster if she’s really stepping away from wrestling. The moment will be cheapened even with the Raw Women’s Championship high above the victor’s head. You don’t turn Ronda lose and then kill all her momentum; her character deserves more than that.
Murda Ronda should win at WrestleMania and I’m one of the biggest Becky Lynch fans out there right now. This is a storyline that can be stretched and I’d personally love it if Creative was able to give us all the Rousey/Charlotte/Lynch feud we could handle for as long as possible. A Charlotte win would be fine, but she’s also the safe pick to put the Championship on. Becky regaining gold would be the story to send the fans home happy but one rule in the wrestling has always been that the face chases the heel. So let the face Lynch chase a little longer; she’s The Man, she can handle it. A Becky win at Mania isn’t the happy ending I’m looking for now with Kofi Kingston’s WWE Championship aspirations and Seth getting a shot at taking down Lesnar. I wouldn’t be mad… but I feel like all three women could benefit from Rousey walking away the champ still. And giving Ronda a true sense of the wrestling business with an all-time classic feud is the least of what she deserves for inking with WWE in the first place.
But let’s be honest, I loved UFC Ronda Rousey. I just want her back, even in WWE form. Damn you Edmond Tarverdyan.