In the main event of this past Sunday’s Royal Rumble PPV event, 30 women from both WWE’s past and present competed in the first-ever woman’s Royal Rumble match. In my opinion, it was an exciting affair that was well-booked, had plenty of surprises, and the right woman going over to end things. It was everything a Royal Rumble match should be, and you could say it was probably better than the men’s Royal Rumble matches in years past. I was afraid that the match was going to be sullied by WWE over-saturating the fact that the women would be making history, but thankfully, I was wrong because all of the females royally (no pun intended) kicked some major ass in the major event. When all the dust settled, it was the Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka, who stood victorious to the surprise of hopefully no one. She was greeted by the women’s champion of both brands and had a choice to make, but was interrupted by Ronda Rousey.
Ronda Rousey came as a surprise to the WWE universe and capped off the historic women’s affair. She got into the ring, looked to shake Asuka’s hand but was slapped away. She then made her way ringside, shook Stephanie McMahon’s hand, and got a few signature vintage WrestleMania sign-pointing in before the show went off the air. Now, initially, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. Her appearance wasn’t particularly shocking, but it was very good to see Ronda Rousey in a WWE ring, presumably as a prospect superstar and not just as a celebrity. However, her appearance was met with some backlash. The primary complaint of choice was that Ronda Rousey’s appearance took away from the women and that Asuka’s historic victory was undermined for the sake of giving Ronda Rousey a proper welcome. I didn’t take those complaints too seriously because I was of the opinion that because of all the history they made, it would be good for WWE to pile it on and capitalize the night of history by giving Ronda Rousey her debut here. However, then the complaints started to emanate from a different source. The women themselves.
First, it was Nia Jax.
Cool she’s here….I guess 30 women making history can just be forgotten https://t.co/fHqMezduEH
— Nia Jax (@NiaJaxWWE) January 30, 2018
Then, it was Nikki Bella.
The FIRST EVER WOMENS ROYAL RUMBLE???? N https://t.co/VvST69nEFD
— Nikki & Brie (@BellaTwins) January 30, 2018
Then, it was Sasha Banks.
Sasha Banks, when asked how she felt about Ronda Rousey debuting at the Royal Rumble: "I have nothing nice to say, so I can't say anything at all."
— WWEalerts (@WWEalerts) January 30, 2018
I’m positive that there are other women who refused to comment publicly who share similar sentiments. With all of this animosity being built up over Ronda Rousey debuting and, in their opinion, spoiling what was supposed to be their moment, I was starting to think if Asuka’s reaction to Ronda Rousey’s handshake was supposed to be symbolic. Did Ronda Rousey spoil their moment? Initially, I didn’t think she did but based on the reactions of the women who competed in the match, I’m starting to think that she actually might have. If you’re one of the 30 Royal Rumble entrants, you are thinking that you just went out there and had a historic main event, and then, here comes this UFC chick trying to show us all up all entitled and such, and pointing to the WrestleMania sign that we didn’t get. With the blatant disgust shown, it would appear as though there is a clear divide that is going to take place in the locker room, and it’s going to take some time for Ronda Rousey and the WWE women to build a rapport.
From WWE’s standpoint, signing Ronda Rousey, especially full-time, is a big win, no matter how you slice it. In UFC, a male-dominated sport, she became such a major draw and money-making attraction because of her dominance and aggression. Bringing her over to WWE to not only get some more eyes on the television but to target some new demographics is a strategic move business wise. Maybe it’s purely a business move, or maybe it’s subtle shot to the current crop of women, that while you’re serviceable workers, you’re not making us enough money or putting enough butts in seats. Whatever the motivation, I can safely assume that there’s going to be quite a while before Ronda Rousey earns respect from those already in the locker room.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I would have known when the right time would have been to debut Ronda Rousey. I wouldn’t think to debut on a random episode of Raw or SmackDown LIVE would be beneficial, and the Philly crowd may have been deflated if Ronda Rousey didn’t debut at the Rumble. Would Fastlane or Elimination Chamber have been better? I can’t tell. The only thing I can tell is that after the Royal Rumble was done, social media wasn’t focused on the historic women’s Royal Rumble so much as they were focused on Ronda Rousey’s debut. From going to actual fighting to sports entertainment, Ronda Rousey in WWE was bound to happen sooner or later, but now the issue isn’t if she’ll adapt to the WWE style. The issue she faces is how she’s going to get along with everyone. I believe Ronda Rousey will adapt fine, but how her coming here affects the performance of the female superstars will be interesting to see. Because, for the past couple of years, despite WWE sort of beating a dead horse with the history the women have been making, they have worked extremely hard to make woman’s wrestling a prime attraction, and they have done just that, and with a mainstream star coming over to WWE full-time, there’s no telling what the backlash could be.