To preface this, I’m writing this article while simultaneously trying to avoid as many spoilers for today’s Royal Rumble event as I can, so if you were looking for a thing that’s super-detailed you’re shit out of luck, and if you’re currently running a spoiler-free clean sheet you might want to high tail it out of here. There ain’t a tonne of spoilers to come, but there are some. So… be warned.
The worst-kept secret in combat sports has finally been confirmed: Ronda Rousey is making the jump across to the wild world of professional wrestling, and has officially signed a full-time contract with the WWE.
ESPN confirmed the bombshell code-jump today, after Rousey made a surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble following the conclusion of the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble Match which I do not know the result of and if any of you miserable fucks ruin it for me I will be rocking roofs.
Rousey told ESPN that this will be no flash-in-the-pan publicity stunt, rather it’s a very serious career change.
This is my life now. First priority on my timeline for the next several years. This is not a smash-and-grab; this is not a publicity stunt.
When I first met with [WWE executive] Triple H, I told him, ‘There are other things I can do with my time that’ll make way more money, but I won’t enjoy nearly as much.’
Rousey’s trailblazing career in the UFC almost inarguably put women’s combat sports on the map, and the WWE itself is in the middle of a full-scale culture shift in how they present women competitors. Rousey’s signing is by far-and-away the biggest coup for the WWE perhaps ever, and at the very least since the company coaxed Brock Lesnar back across to the squared circle.
Fans noted that Ronda’s usually dormant Instagram account had been working very, very hard the past 24 hours or so to try and convince people she was anywhere other than Philadelphia, the site of this year’s Royal Rumble. That, in and of itself, is a classic piece of pro-wrestling social media smoke-and-mirrors.
Rousey has long and documented ties to the WWE. She appeared in-ring at WrestleMania 31 alongside The Rock where she confronted Stephanie McMahon and hip-tossed Triple H.
Shayna Baszler, Ronda’s close friend and member of her MMA “Four Horsewomen” group has already jumped to pro-wrestling and is currently competing on the WWE’s NXT developmental brand. Meanwhile fellow Horsewoman Marina Shafir is engaged to NXT competitor Roderick Strong.
It’s not known how advanced, if at all, Rousey’s professional wrestling training is, but an appearance at the Royal Rumble almost guarantees that 30-year-old factors heavily in the WWE’s plans for the upcoming WrestleMania 34 event this coming April.
As with all things, time will tell.