I’m over Ronda Rousey.
I see where Kevin Berge of Bleacher Report is going with his story about this being a defining moment for both Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey, but I am of the opinion WWE dropped the ball on this one.
So much is being made about a confrontation that should never take place, that the resistance to such a confrontation – pitting a Raw Women’s Champion who is decidedly viewed as a heel – and a rookie sensation – who is only being promoted as such based on her UFC success, is doomed to fail. And it’s not a stretch to say it could be as bad as any pay-per-view title match fans have seen in the past decade.
Oh, WWE. You once again break my heart with your cash grabs and hopes of something more prolific. Unless Stephanie McMahon walks out and makes sure Jax wins, taking down Rousey in a Triple H-Kevin Owens type of move, then please make this one of the opening matches at the pay-per-view next Sunday night.
“WWE Money in the Bank 2018 will be a major event for WWE, with the classic ladder matches crowning new stars and Shinsuke Nakamura getting one last shot at WWE champion AJ Styles. However, no match could have a greater impact on the future of the company than Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey,” Berge writes.
He is correct. This is impactful for two neophytes. It could mean we see a shockingly good match. It means Natalya somehow gets involved in the match, possibly costing her BFF Rousey the title. It means this could be slow and plodding and could be booed out of the arena like the last Brock Lesnar-Roman Reigns confrontation.
Even Berge has his doubts, like me, over how this will all go down.
“This dynamic has led to one of the most unnecessarily tumultuous situations in WWE, with two women putting their futures at risk,” he writes. “If this match does not go well, both could face serious consequences that would change their careers.”
Because of the magnitude of the event and the circumstances behind the push for Rousey to reach the zenith so quickly, it appears she has more to lose. She has been less than exciting in commentary during Jax’s matches. Her confrontations with her opponent have looked too staged and she certainly has no one to protect her in the ring like there was at WrestleMania 34 in her mixed tag team match.
This is the setup of failure like we may never have seen before.
WWE has a history of worrying about the cash grab more than making sure their performers are ready for the big stage. Some stars have it and gravitate toward the top of the mountain quickly, like Kurt Angle, like The Rock. Others take time and development – where someone like Reigns is still trying to find his footing with the fans and replacing John Cena as the centerpiece of the red brand.
Somewhere, between now and next Sunday, WWE must find a common ground that makes fans want to see such a match. The company did such a great job of building Jax as the hero for the masses, the woman who defied odds of being bullied and put down throughout her struggles toward the women’s title. Now, it is almost a given she will become the bully Alexa Bliss portrayed her to be.
Rousey needs no introduction, she needs no shot of adrenaline. Her name recognition alone is enough o drive tickets sales. But for now, she falls short on all accounts. It almost feels like the roles should be reversed and the former UFC champion should play the role of the heel in this match.
That’s not going to happen. Watching a solid match between these two is not going to happen. What is going to happen is WWE will do what it can to salvage a bad plot and an even worse storyline. Let’s just hope it does not damage either Rousey or Jax for the long haul. It’s a gamble WWE has taken and is about to lose mightily at its worst possible time before SummerSlam becomes the hot topic of conversation.
Should Ronda Rousey lose her first world title match? Has WWE put both Nia Jax and the former UFC Champion in a no-win situation? Is this one of those programs the company will look back on immediately following the Money in the Bank pay-per-view and ask, “What the hell were we thinking?”
The buildup to this hot-button match, with two inexperienced performers leapfrogging well-positioned veterans for WWE’s money grab, has me feeling a bit uneasy. This is not the match the company should have booked this early in Rousey’s wrestling career. This is not the match that should end Jax’s title reign so soon.
There is a way to fix this, but I am not how WWE moves on from this without there being some kind of scar that takes months to heal.
A friend of mine, who is a sports talk radio host here in Jacksonville, was of the same belief when we discussed this topic on Tuesday. Rousey is the name of the future. This year should be about building her resume, learning the intricacies of fan connection and working with veteran opponents. The culmination should be a confrontation with Charlotte Flair in the main event of WrestleMania 35.
That could still happen, but this path WWE has decided to explore defeats some of that purpose, deciding money is more important than doing what is best for business. How the very fabric of Monday Night Raw for the past four years is coming back to bite the McMahons in the ass. Yes, there was a smile that came across my face as I wrote that.
The Jax title reign isn’t as important as her message to fans about accepting themselves and being comfortable in their own skin. This program, where the current Raw Women’s Champion has taken a decidedly heel edge, don’t help the story Jax has told. It also destroys any of the work she and Alexa Bliss did to build up to her crowning moment at WrestleMania 34.
According to Chairshot.com, “If, and most likely, when she beats Nia at Money in the Bank, she would become the third fastest WWE Superstar to win a premier title at 141 days. The fastest being “The Dirtiest Player in the Game”, Ric Flair. He accomplished this feat at the 1992 Royal Rumble by eliminating Sid Justice and becoming the only one to win the Heavyweight strap by doing so. This was 113 days after he debuted but “The Nature Boy” was a 9-time Heavyweight champion at this point, 8 times in the NWA and 1 WCW reign.”
There is a push, by some, for Rousey to lose her first title match, but look strong in doing so. It’s a hard sell, much like a Sting-Undertaker match this late in their careers. Neither Jax nor Rousey is seasoned enough to protect each other in the ring. I would have much preferred a program with Natalya in a tag match where the veteran turned on her BFF and the two met at SummerSlam, giving Rousey another chance at perfecting her craft.
WWE has been quick to move through its roster, taking advantage of programs to lure fans back to long-term courtship. Rousey is still one of the hottest names in the business. Jax has become a champion who was more popular while chasing Bliss than she is now with the belt on her shoulder. All the while, it seems a storyline has been written as Jax becoming the new corporate champion with Stephanie McMahon pulling the marionette strings.
The McMahon-Rousey angle still works, but using Jax as the pawn isn’t fair to the fans who have accepted her as their inspirational superstar. WWE has gotten itself into this mess. It will take some time to get itself out of it without tarnishing either Rousey or Jax in the process.
When both Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler signed with WWE, it was a matter of time before the other two women, who together collectively brand themselves as “the Four Horsewomen”, would follow in their footsteps. It has been reported a couple weeks back that Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke have reported to the WWE Performance Center to begin their training in the squared circle. It has all but been made official by the company.
With the successful WrestleMania debut and push of Rousey and Baszler’s path to NXT gold, it’s proven that fans are on board with the MMA Horsewomen being a part of the WWE brand. Baszler has scratched and clawed her way from the indy scene to the Mae Young Classic before dethroning Ember Moon at the recent NXT Takeover New Orleans. Rousey on the other hand was immediately on the main roster feuding with Stephanie McMahon. Rousey’s name recognition has more to do with her spot than anything else. While Rousey did rise to the occasion on the grand stage in New Orleans, her biggest test is yet to come when she embarks on her first singles storyline going into Money in the Bank.
The clashing of both the MMA and WWE Four Horsewomen is inevitable. The seeds were planted at the Mae Young Classic when the majority of the ladies had a verbal altercation at the event. With the Women’s Division continuously gaining momentum, having the MMA Horsewomen is a major addition. It brings attention to the other Women’s Division competitors, and perhaps it will put it on a bigger pedestal than ever before. It brings in interest and cash – the latter being WWE’s biggest priority.
While this poses so many good things for the company, the addition of the MMA Horsewomen can also be viewed as a bad thing. WWE loves to milk everything for what it’s worth including the celebrity fighter talents they currently have. Look no further than Brock Lesnar – the WWE star turned into UFC juggernaut that has been booked as an unstoppable monster for six years since his return. Lesnar is one of a kind that fans can’t get enough of. So much that Lesnar is in the running to unseat CM Punk for the longest Championship reign in years. Lesnar’s privileged schedule has been a hot topic from Roman Reigns to even much of the WWE fanbase.
What if the company decides to do the same thing for Rousey, Shafir and Duke? Baszler has tasted defeat at the Mae Young Classic but since then has put on great performances that have earned respect of fans and competitors alike. Her bout with Kairi Sane at the Classic told a great story of how Baszler’s cockiness blinded her way to victory. Now that all four women are with WWE, their bookings should go different routes, but make them look valid and legit whether they win or lose.
Could WWE go the unstoppable route with the women? If so, then I feel like the whole revolution and evolution of the Women’s Division will be in vain. Maybe it’s something that I have no business worrying about, but does the hard work that women past and present have put in go up in smoke due to WWE’s obsession with cash and the mainstream?
It is all just first-hand thoughts here, but before the MMA Horsewomen the revitalized Women’s Division was the house that Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch built. I would certainly hate to see the WWE Horsewomen fall in spite of the greed that comes with high profile signings. I could be wrong, and certainly hope I am. These signings and happenings should be an overall asset, not a predictable liability.
So, WWE went ahead and mucked it up again by pushing Ronda Rousey into a Raw Women’s Title match with Nia Jax she is nowhere near ready for, all for the sake of a cash grab.
In what was one of the strangest challenges in recent memory, Rousey and Jax met up at NBCUniversal Upfront in New York on Monday. Jax held her recently won championship in front of Rousey’s face and challenged her to a title bout. The former UFC star hesitated but eventually accepted. She had a little help as Charlotte Flair was there as well, encouraging the rookie to accept the chance at the brass ring.
Rousey now faces Jax one month from now at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view on June 17. If anyone has noticed, Jax hasn’t participated in another pay-per-view event since WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans. Despite her solid showing, and given she is over with the wrestling fans, she is still inexperienced and not worthy of a title shot.
What is WWE thinking? Rousey is still inexperienced and has been protected so far in her matches since joining the main roster. It’s evident she still needs work on her in-ring skills. She also needs development of her character and her promotions skills as well.
This has the makings of a colossal error by the McMahons. The remainder of 2018 should be about building Rousey up as a potential WWE champion, a star who is transitioning from one medium to another. The groundwork should be set for a big 2019 with a potential title match (against either the Raw or SmackDown women’s champion at WrestleMania 35.
The Royal Rumble should be Rousey’s coronation as the future of the company. Now, things are muddled and both Jax and the former UFC champion could take a major hit for this error in judgment.
Now that Shinsuke Nakamura has won the right to determine the stipulation of the WWE Title match he will have with AJ Styles, is it finally time to put the company strap on the King of Smooth Style?
The only thing bad about this match, which is a bit of sarcasm on my part, is the fact it is the final chapter of one of the better stories told by WWE this year. I’m sure there are many more verses to be compiled, but the Nakamura-Style conflict will come to an end and both will move on, or forward.
As Daniel Bryan said on Tuesday night, he is ready to become “the guy” once again for the blue brand. Samoa Joe is waiting, biding his time for a real program following his return to the ring. It looks like the next month will plant seeds for two major feuds heading to SummerSlam.
Then there is The Miz, who is patiently waiting to claim another Intercontinental Title and possibly move to the main event picture. Bravo, WWE. A series of chess moves that will likely pay off in terms of fan interest and interest.
For now, SmackDown Live is winning the post-shakeup war with better booking and a lot more forethought.
The idea of Nakamura and Bryan in a three-match series is as good as it gets. Joe deserves a shot at the main event. Styles continues to be the best the company has to offer. It’s these kinds of moves that make wrestling great for older fans like myself.
Reigns Reign Ends
I like the idea of the Roman Reigns-JInder Mahal feud. I think I am more excited about Reigns not being part of the main event program on Monday nights. What WWE decides to do with the Universal Title is still a mystery, with Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley joining forces instead of becoming bitter rivals.
Brock Lesnar is once again counting his cash and laughing at the chaotic scene.
Reigns and Mahal make a solid mid-card feud that should be better than advertised. It remains to be seen how soon WWE will promote Reigns to the main event again, but this is Mahal’s chance to shine once again. If there is a character on WWE roster that is as close to a throwback heel, it’s Mahal and his heat from the fans and his work in and out of the ring.
WWE has shifted its focus a bit, making this more about Mahal and his success in facing the “Big Dog.” Mahal doesn’t need to win the match at Money in the Bank, he just needs to look strong in losing to the company’s favorite son.
Samoa Joe is about to make Tuesday night his personal playground.
After appearing on Monday Night Raw and once again calling out Roman Reigns, promoting their upcoming match between the two superstars at WWE Payback, the “Samoan Submission Machine” jumped over to SmackDown Live and called out the brand’s roster, making himself the baddest man on the planet.
After missing WrestleMania 34 due to injury and no program for him, Joe is ready to grab WWE gold. But given the blue brand’s new look, who does he work with first?
WWE did a great job in changing the landscape of both Monday and Tuesday nights. What was once a top-heavy roster for Raw now has a competitive balance. Joe, along with AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, Jeff Hardy, Big Cass and Shelton Benjamin should make things quite interesting. My only worry is that the creative team will lose sight of what talent is in front of them.
As we all know, this has been the M.O. of WWE for some time.
If the company decides to use John Cena on Tuesday nights instead of him floating from brand to brand, then this is a roster we can all get excited about.
The Styles-Nakamura feud has an infinite shelf life but should before the summer. A Joe-Styles confrontation for the WWE Title is worthy of a SummerSlam main event. And judging from their wars in TNA, it could be as dramatic as the WWE champion’s current program with Nakamura.
I’m interested to see how WWE does its job of booking new and exciting matches for the remainder of the year.
Rousey and Nataly
I will give you two guesses who Ronda Rousey’s next opponent will be heading into SummerSlam, and the first one only counts. The addition of Natalya to the Raw roster may have been one of the best moves of Monday night.
Despite her solid showing at WrestleMania 34, Rousey is still very green, and will need time to develop. Working with a veteran like Natalya, who is one of the best when it comes to putting young talent over, should make the former UFC star better.
As soon as the former SmackDown Women’s Champion Showed up in a segment was Rousey Monday night, it was evident how WWE is booking the neophyte.
It’s a good move as the company will push their new star toward the main event, in a program with either Nia Jax or Charlotte Flair.
Natalya Is one of the more underrated wrestlers on WWE’s roster. If the company is moving in a more youthful direction, what better way to help them get over and have them work with one of the best mat wrestlers there is.
This has the makings of a torch-passing moment.
I am curious how WWE will book Braun Strowman and his path towards the Universal Title. What appeared to be a foregone conclusion only a month ago, is now littered with roadblocks. The addition of Bobby Lashley to the Monday night roster didn’t do the “Monster Among Men” any favors.
WWE still appears to be committed to a Reigns title run. The fans are still opposed to this push. There has been talk of Lashley facing Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. So, my question is what does that do for Strowman, who is still over with WWE’s fan base?
It would appear the current path for the former Raw tag team is in reverse. While his popularity and his ability in the ring continues to grow, his ascension toward the mountaintop is detoured. The company cannot afford to waste his talent or opportunity to put the red brand’s strap on the baddest man on Monday nights.
TAG TEAM MATCH: THE BALOR CLUB (LUKE GALLOWS & KARL) vs. THE MIZTOURAGE (BO DALLAS & CURTIS AXEL)
Good Booking: Gallows and Anderson win.
The Miztourage getting some spotlight away from The Miz is a nice change of scenery. However, they are the low-card lackeys of an upper midcard talent. And that’s how they should rightfully be booked. Gallows and Anderson earning the win here was a no-brainer. The former tag-team champions need as much momentum as possible anyway since they are seemingly continuing their feud with The Revival.
WOMEN’S ELIMINATION CHAMBER RAW WOMEN’S TITLE: ALEXA BLISS (c) vs. SASHA BANKS vs. BAYLEY vs. MANDY ROSE vs. SONYA DEVILLE
Good Booking: Banks and Bayley finally (sort of) implode.
After months beyond months of WWE Creative teasing their friendship imploding, it finally happened. Kind of. This is a good start though. Sasha Banks and Bayley have long needed a reason to change. Banks initiating the attack on Bayley served as the turning point and should be continued after tonight. Banks has always been the one to worry about herself, so she would make the natural heel. But a change in Bayley’s demeanor is still needed.
Good Booking: Absolution is eliminated first.
Normally, I would be against the new talent not getting a strong showing. But it’s hard to justify Mandy Rose or Sonya Deville’s title win. Especially since they are the two greenest superstars in the match. So when they were the first two eliminated, it wasn’t a surprise.
RAW TAG TEAM TITLES: THE BAR (SHEAMUS & CESARO) (c) vs. TITUS WORLDWIDE (APOLLO & TITUS O’NEIL) w/ DANA BROOKE.
Bad Booking: Apollo takes the pinfall loss.
Apollo has been on a role as of late. His in-ring ability was never in question and he has been able to put on spotlight performance. His promos have also improved drastically, though he still has a long way to go. So to have him take the pinfall loss here over Titus O’Neil wasn’t the right way to go about it. Apollo is the one that needs to be built up here, not O’Neil.
ASUKA vs. NIA JAX
Good Booking: Asuka craftily wins despite Nia Jax’s dominance.
Asuka was bound to win. Even with the added stipulation of adding Nia Jax to the RAW women’s title match as Wrestlemania. But Nia Jax needed to look dominant. And dominant she was. Asuka was always on the ropes and a quick roll-up victory was the obvious choice. But the post-match events are the real story. Where does Nia Jax go? Is she still Bliss’ ally come Wrestlemania? Is she going to somehow find her way into the title match?
MATT HARDY vs. BRAY WYATT
Questionable Booking: Bray gets deleted.
There’s a lot of factors here that contributed to the “Questionable” status of this match booking. WWE Creative backed themselves into a corner with this feud. Wyatt always needs the win during feuds. But Hardy’s first feud after transforming had to result in a win for him or his “Woken” persona would be useless. But here’s where things get a little dicey. Normally I would have said that this was bad booking as the “Woken” persona is a gimmick that is purely entertainment first. Wyatt’s on the other hand is based on fear and intimidation. So why does this get a “Questionable” booking? Something tells me Wyatt is on his way out…
RONDA ROUSEY CONTRACT SIGNING
Good Booking: Rousey is pitted against The Authority.
This is a good example of Creative remembering continuity. Ronda Rousey humiliated The Authority at Wrestlemania. The Authority wants payback. She had direction going into Wrestlemania. It remains to be seen whether or not her first match ever will be at Wrestlemania.
7 MAN ELIMINATION CHAMBER MATCH: ROMAN REIGNS vs. JOHN CENA vs. ELIAS vs. THE MIZ vs. BRAUN STROWMAN vs. SETH ROLLINS vs. FINN BÁLOR
Good Booking: Braun Strowman.
A curb stomp, an Attitude Adjustment, a Coup de Grace, and three spears. Not to mention every elimination aside from the eventual winner Roman Reigns. Even in defeat, Strowman decimated Reigns after. If that isn’t the best booking you can receive in loss, I don’t know what is.
Leave some comments or hit me up on twitter to continue the conversation @gnxt7!
WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is a couple of days away and there is still a buzz circling the company’s headquarters after Monday night’s iron-man performance by Seth Rollins in a Gauntlet Match featuring all seven competitors in the main event.
The red brand will make history with seven competitors in the men’s elimination match to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34 and will host the first-ever women’s Elimination Chamber match. I like the idea WWE is taking more chances since the beginning of the new year, putting the women’s division back at the forefront of programming while Alexa Bliss bides her time until a date with Asuka in New Orleans.
“One night after a critically acclaimed NXT Takeover show and just moments following an historic 30-women Royal Rumble, Rousey stepped into a brand new world, making the official transition from MMA to professional wrestling,” Mike Mooneyham wrote in his Feb. 3 column that appears on postandcourier.com.
If Mooneyham writes about it being a big deal, it’s a big deal.
“Once the queen of UFC, the trailblazing women’s bantamweight champion has found a new sport and a new audience. She’s also found a profitable new revenue stream after signing a full-time contract with McMahon’s wrestling juggernaut,” he added
Sunday night will also signal the night Ronda Rousey officially signs her WWE contract and makes her claim for a spotlight at the April event as well. The news of Rousey signing on the dotted line has lost some of its appeal in my opinion, mainly because she walked out of the back at the end of the Royal Rumble, stepped into the ring, pointed at the WrestleMania 34 sign in Philadelphia and hasn’t been heard from since.
Rousey’s new-found home in professional wrestling is still creating a buzz, but it’s not as dramatic as I had thought it might be. Given she has taken on a Lesnar-like persona of being talked about and not seen since the opening pay-per-view of 2018, what will WWE have in store for her once the Raw brand of performers leave the state of Pennsylvania?
The former UFC women’s champion moving to the McMahon family circus does leave me with a few questions, like wouldn’t it have been better if Rousey had made her initial appearance the night after WrestleMania? Wouldn’t it have been more dramatic? Where does she fit into Raw or SmackDown? How does she fit in a locker room of women who may be making substantially less money than her?
Initially, I believed a confrontation with Charlotte Flair with the SmackDown Women’s Title in the balance was the perfect way to usher he into the company. That changed after seeing the push by the Riott Squad and Ruby Riott challenging Flair to a title match at Fastlane in March.
Would the company put the strap on Riott to face Rousey in New Orleans? Is match with Flair still viable? Are there others to consider in this scenario?
Would WWE have Rousey face Nia Jax at WrestleMania after Jax loses to Asuka this weekend? How would the company book the two women given Jax has been booked poorly and Asuka has a winning streak to protect? Is Rousey a solid consolation prize?
At some point, Bayley and Sasha Banks are going to travel opposite paths again. Does “The Boss” and Rousey make for an interesting tango? How much would Banks sell for someone so green and does Bayley have enough brutality in her to act more aggressive against a born fighter?
WWE must find a way to keep fans engaged about Rousey’s transformation. At the same time, the company cannot stop the hamster wheel and change course. There are too many good things within the women’s division. As long as the contract signing does not upstage the Women’s Elimination Chamber match, there should be nothing to worry about.
If WWE makes Sunday night about her and not the other eight women on the card, then there will be issues moving forward. The company worked to bring the newcomer to the kingdom has to find a balance where everyone in the castle is happy.