At the conclusion of the 2018 Royal Rumble event which had just seen Asuka victorious in the first ever Women's Royal Rumble match, former UFC superstar and mainstream personality, Ronda Rousey walked down to the ring, introduced herself to Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss and shook hands with a confused looking Stephanie McMahon.
It was subsequently announced on Raw that McMahon was not aware of Rousey's presence prior to the show but she and her husband, Triple H were attempting to entice Rousey to join the company.
At February's Elimination Chamber event, Rousey appeared in the ring with Raw General Manager, Kurt Angle, Triple H and Stephanie as she prepared to sign her WWE contract.
Noticing the anguish on Angle's face, Rousey forced him to admit that the only reason Triple H and Stephanie wanted to sign her was to humiliate the former UFC Bantamweight Champion for embarrassing them at Wrestlemania 31, three years earlier.
A furious Rousey smashed Triple H through a table and signed her contract vowing to make her bosses' lives hell.
At Wrestlemania 34 on April 8, 2018, Rousey teamed with Angle to defeat Triple H and Stephanie in an intergender tag team match where Rousey forced Stephanie to submit to her armbar finisher.
The next night found Stephanie in an apologetic mood. Arm in a sling, she tried to make peace with Rousey. In scenes reminiscent of the post Wrestlemania XIV Raw 20 years earlier, wherein new WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin stunned WWF boss, Vince McMahon after the McMahon patriarch attempted to make peace with Austin over comments he had made about Austin prior to the event, Stephanie's attempt at solidarity went badly for her too when Rousey put her injured arm in another arm-bar submission hold.
With her SummerSlam Women's Championship victory over Alexa Bliss, Rousey put herself opposite Stephanie once more. When Stephanie attempted to turn the women's roster against Rousey, she ended up in yet another arm-bar.
So, where does this leave Rousey and Stephanie? Their interaction so far has echoes of her father's continual tribulations with Stone Cold between 1997-99, wherein McMahon had his corvette filled with concrete, was drenched by a beer truck and was smashed over the head with a bedpan to name just three. Can we expect to see skits of this nature between Stephanie and her Women's Champion?
It seems that we are heading in that direction. If WWE is careful, they can hopefully put a fresh spin on the well-worn road of face vs authority figure.
Rousey adds such realism to WWE television that a more realistic, grounded version of the Austin/McMahon conflict from 20 years ago could be engrossing viewing.
One would expect Stephanie after this latest humiliation to do everything in her power to separate Rousey from the Raw Women's Championship.
The Stephanie conflict has done wonders for Rousey's popularity and add to that, the fact that Stephanie atypically has allowed Rousey to batter her senseless every time they meet, hopefully proves that she is learning from her father, that the stars of the show are the wrestlers, and the McMahon family's duty is not to put themselves over at the talent's expense but to put over their talent instead.
If the Rousey/Stephanie conflict follows that Austin/McMahon blueprint, the WWE Universe is in for a treat.Published 23 Aug 2018, 23:21 IST