Why Ronda Rousey is the answer to what ails the WWE
Since the Attitude Era and the fabled Ohio Valley Wrestling class of 2002, which produced the likes of Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and John Cena, the WWE has continuously struggled to create main event talent; talent that can become the undisputed face of the company and break barriers into the general consciousness of casual wrestling fans.
NXT, the developmental brand of WWE, where new stars are meant to be born, has begun to generate some great upper mid-carders and strong contributors. But the reality is that no one has yet to break through in the way Hogan, Austin, Rock and or Cena have before them.
The greatest NXT call-ups, "The Shield", the team of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, are the only Superstars with NXT origins to make it to the main event scene on a regular basis. The majority of call-ups have been recycled veterans from the Indie circuit and/or minor leagues with small followings who have failed to really click when elevated to the main roster.
The lack of star power being generated by the WWE due to their story writing and talent development on RAW and Smackdown has witnessed an alarming drop in TV ratings domestically. Ratings which still underpin the TV deals which are a major revenue stream that the WWE cannot do without. Television income which supports the continual investment and long-term future of their own subscriber-based streaming channel, the WWE Network.
Interestingly, I believe that the WWE has internally acknowledged that they have an issue and are consequentially looking for ways to a) expand internationally and generate new revenue opportunities and; b) recapture their glory days domestically.
Internationally, they have catapulted Jinder Mahal, a lifelong jobber to the stars, to his first WWE title reign hoping to capture the Indian market and a number of potential new WWE network subscribers. However, it is in the domestic market where a turning point may have been struck and a plan derived to get them back into the mainstream consciousness before they start negotiating their next big TV deal which will happen in the next two years.
That plan goes by the name of Ronda Rousey. Rousey the former UFC juggernaut who is all but retired from the octagon is a known WWE fanatic, who has in the past spoken about her interest in stepping into the squared circle for a shot at a professional wrestling career. At her height, Rousey carried the UFC and is the only woman to headline 1 million+ PPV buys and 50,000+ attendance/gate records in the UFC, both records for a female.
She galvanised female fans of the UFC and made women’s MMA a thing worth marketing and was backed by the biggest MMA organisation in the world.
Since her two decisive consecutive losses in the UFC, I believe that there is little interest in the short to medium term, if ever, of her fighting again in the octagon. In fact, those losses are the very reason why a WWE opportunity may be ripe for both parties. In my opinion, Rousey brings the following to the WWE:
I believe, given her reputation and story to date, neutrals and new wrestling fans would tune in and pay to see her compete. Whether the WWE could retain the new viewers in the long term would be the challenge. This has already played out with the Mae Young Classic, an all-female tournament aired only on the WWE Network.
In terms of specials, this was one of the WWE's most successful, showing strong interest from existing WWE fans on how Rousey would be used and ultimately interact with established WWE talent.
#2 Spike to the TV ratings
Her first appearance on RAW would be epic and if advertised in advance would mean a significant bump in the numbers. My opinion is that if Goldberg -- a recently returned legend -- was worth a 300K+ bump to viewer numbers for RAW based on nostalgia, a heavily pushed Rousey would bring 500k to a million new viewers.
Retain these viewers with compelling storylines built around her and the WWE will head into the next round of TV negotiations in a much stronger position than today.
#3 A storyline that writes itself
If they want her to play a face, it’s the redemption story of how she once again becomes the baddest lady on the planet, and if a heel -- which is where I believe the greatest money and potential lies -- just let her be her tough, nasty, arrogant and most importantly dominant self.
#4 Fresh angles
The great thing about Rousey is that she hasn't wrestled anyone! They could have her wrestle five or six PPV’s a year and still have ready-made storylines and challenges which are fresh for two to three years.
If they bill her as a free agent, allowing her to move across Smakdown and Raw, the Horsewomen angle also provides a fresh unique concept, a strong female heel faction, one that is credible and would be believed.
#5 Interesting external arc’s
Recently, her longtime coach Edmond Tarverdyan raised the possibility of her fighting Cris Cyborg -- probably the greatest female fighter on the planet at the moment -- in a UFC return.
Whilst I believe in the octagon, Rousey would be destroyed and beaten convincingly by Cyborg in the WWE, were she could be protected. This could be the showdown that combat sports fans always dreamed about and the crossover between reality and fiction could be absolutely tremendous.
Given that Rousey has already been teased at the Mae Young Classic, we won’t have to wait too long before we see the battle of the Horsewomen as a way of testing the water for Rousey and the WWE. The storyline is ready-made for Survivor Serious, one of the big four PPV's held annually by the WWE.
If she fares well and fans react, I can see Rousey heading into Wrestlemania next year to face one of the top female Superstars on either the Raw or Smackdown roster.
Rousey brought credibility to female mixed martial arts; maybe she is the answer to the star power the WWE has been lacking and the icing on the cake of the women’s revolution taking female wrestling from the supporting cast to the main show itself.