Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey showed up at the end of the Royal Rumble on Sunday night, finally confirming one of the worst-kept secrets in the sports entertainment industry. Many fans expected her to actually enter the historic inaugural all-female version of the 30-person battle royal, but when No. 30 was revealed as WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus, it seemed likely that Rousey wasn’t coming.
But then she show up anyway, in an odd piece of booking.
After Japanese superstar Asuke won the match, and the right to face either Charlotte or Alexa Bliss at WrestleMania 34, Rousey interrupted her celebration. “Bad Reputation” by legendary female rocker Joan Jett blasted throughout the arena, and Rousey came to the ring in full Roddy Piper mode. She’s borrowed his legendary font for a signature T-shirt.
Rousey made her way to the ring and proceeded to… not do very much at all. She pointed to the WrestleMania sign a couple times. Watch the clip here:
It was sort a strange debut. They didn’t let her say anything, nor did they put her in the Rumble match itself. Then again, it’s probably best to promote the hell out of her first in-ring appearance to attract more viewers. It seems like the WWE is suggesting that will happen at WrestleMania, but the details are hardly clear.
Rousey’s background as a legit MMA star gives her the credibility for an instant title shot, but perhaps they are teasing an Armbar vs. Armbar type of feud with Asuke and Rousey first, with the WrestleMania titleshot on the line.
Rousey spoke with ESPN after the event and confirmed it wasn’t just a random appearance. She will be a full-time WWE performer from now until… whenever her contract runs out, I guess.
From an ESPN interview with Ramona Shelburne.
“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 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.’”
“It’s funny — it’s kind of like acting, in that it was something I always wanted to do but I never thought was in the cards for me. And now that I realize I really do have this opportunity, I feel like my 6-year-old self would totally kick my ass if I didn’t take it.”
Also, for anyone who was mad about Rousey adopting the likeness of the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper for her WWE career, put the pitchforks down. Piper and Rousey were friends before he passed, and he gave his personal approval for Rousey to use the nickname “Rowdy” in her UFC career. The leather jacket she wore at the Royal Rumble actually belonged to the Hot Rod himself, given to Rousey by Piper’s son before the event.
The jacket Ronda Rousey is wearing at the @WWE Royal Rumble was Rowdy Roddy Piper's jacket. His son gave it to her beforehand.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 29, 2018
So what’s next for Rousey? Who knows, really. Will she show up on Raw or SmackDown Live? Or will she pull a John Cena and claim she’s some sort of free agent who can hop from brand to brand whenever she wants? And will the WWE finally give her a microphone and let her speak?
I guess we’ll find out on Raw tonight, so be sure to tune in. After all, that’s exactly what the WWE wants.