It was recently announced that Nia Jax would defend her Raw Women’s championship against Ronda Rousey in just Rousey’s second professional wrestling match. Rousey grandly overachieved in her inaugural contest at Wrestlemania where the plan went off almost nearly to a T, as she was victorious alongside Kurt Angle and looked like a building block for at least one part of WWE’s future. Her match was one of the few bright spots on a Wrestlemania I don’t plan to rewatch anytime soon.
The announcement of this title challenge against Jax came almost out of nowhere, as Ronda had been doing an enforcer/friend storyline with Natalya, and most fans were operating under the assumption that she would be facing a champion much later in the year (possibly the rumored Australia stadium show) or even next year at Wrestlemania 35. Well, the timeline just got sped all the way up and looking at things, I think WWE felt they had to get things rolling with her since Wrestlemania went so well and wasting that momentum could sour fans on Rousey.
For starters, they have been bending over backward to not get Ronda booed, and they’ve done a great job of it so far. Part of the positioning with her has been to frame her as a FULL-TIME part of WWE. Remember the initial press release of her signing a “Fulltime Contract”? Knowing how part-timers have been received recently, and also made to look in WWE’s own scripted promos, this isn’t a bad idea at all. Yes, this is a huge plot hole. While that hasn’t meant wrestling, it’s been quick angles, media promotion, close to regular appearances and some story building with her and Natalya.
I think WWE looked at the Raw Women’s landscape and decided they were done with Alexa Bliss, and Nia Jax wasn’t going to be the long-term answer as a monster babyface. Sasha and Bayley are gridlocked in a start and stop position, and The Riott Squad is in the process of shedding their Smackdown skin by the week.
— WWE (@WWE) May 14, 2018
Ronda vs “THE GIANT” echoes almost any other time when Vince has had someone he wanted to push at the very top. “They must beat a giant!” A few examples are John Cena going over The Big Show multiple times, Roman Reigns topping Strowman in consecutive years before Wrestlemania, and also going over The Big Show, Bret Hart over Yokozuna & Hulk Hogan over Andre and Bundy. This isn’t shocking at all based on history, nor will it be about match quality or readiness. I think there are a few scenarios in play. Either Natty shows up and ruins Ronda’s shot at the title either with interference or a briefcase that she won earlier that night, or Ronda is about to destroy Nia Jax in mere minutes to reset the women’s division completely.
With Nia Jax and Carmella currently as champions, it was going to look dumber by the day to have Ronda Rousey on your roster with women’s matches like the ones happening at Backlash representing “the best” of the division. The reason WWE was able to make itself attractive to someone like Rousey was because of the quality of wrestling being done by Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Asuka, Bayley and Becky Lynch. This positions Ronda in front of the potential backlash and takes advantage of a time where she is actually pretty well liked.
Quick side story. I remember back in 2014 when Roman Reigns was actually kind of cheered for, and there was a MITB ladder match for the vacant belt. I’m of the opinion they should have just gone with it there and got in front of the backlash that would later come. At the time I thought they should have done it, and looking back that could have done wonders for him. The positive reactions Ronda has gotten cannot be taken for granted, and maybe WWE learned from situations like that Reigns one I just mentioned.
Personally, it’s been an eye-opening experience looking at it objectively because, on the way out of UFC, I was ALL IN…pun intended on these Rousey jokes. I was unsure of how she would be received in WWE, and I’m not going to pretend we exactly know what she’s capable of once she gets away from the controlled environment of Mixed Tag Team matches that Triple H laid out to perfection. However, if she goes in there and destroys a Nia Jax who is quickly losing steam right now, it’s going to go over better than anything in the Raw Women’s main roster title division in the last year. How many more DDT’s after someone clunking their head on the turnbuckle to finish a match are you prepared to watch? This is a sink or swim proposition. There’s no guarantee that crowds will love Ronda Rousey more than they do right now. As shocking as this match is to book, the time is now.