Backstage News on Ronda Rousey’s Potential WrestleMania Opponent & How WWE Kept Her Rumble Debut a Secret
Ronda Rousey, one of the biggest combat sports stars and UFC draws of all time, made a serious statement at the 2018 WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view this weekend, interrupting the closing segment between both Raw and Smackdown women’s champions and the first ever Women’s Rumble Match winner, Asuka.
As reported first by ESPN, Rousey has officially signed a contract with WWE to become a full-time professional wrestler, as rumors have been swirling now for years. The former Bantamweight Champion is a lifelong wrestling fan that grew up idolizing “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and even wore one of the Hall of Famer’s actual leather jackets to the ring on Sunday night to make her debut with the company. She has previously appeared in a WrestleMania segment with The Rock, and at the 2017 Mae Young Classic tournament in support of her best friend Shayna Baszler, who just this weekend challenged for the NXT Women’s title.
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According to Dave Meltzer on the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, there is a “working idea” for Ronda to team with a male superstar to take on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at this year’s WrestleMania. Triple H was originally penciled in to face Braun Strowman, but with recent reports indicating that it will actually be Miz/Strowman at WrestleMania, that frees up “The Game” to play off an angle with their hottest new acquisition. The obvious choice to team with Rousey would be Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) to play off the in-ring angle at WrestleMania 31, but he has had issues in the past few years getting clearance to work a legitimate match because of insurance issues with his film projects.
Additionally, Ronda actually took a charter jet back from Columbia less than 24 hours prior to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view to keep her debut as much of a secret as possible. She didn’t travel with anyone that she normally would in hopes of keeping it under wraps, including her husband Travis Browne (current UFC heavyweight) who was sent home instead of accompanying her to Philadelphia.
For what it’s worth, PW Managing Editor Nick Paglino had heard from individuals onsite at the Wells Fargo Center that Rousey was backstage prior to the event starting.