Over at MMA Fighting, there's a weekly discussion panel on all things MMA called The MMA Beat, hosted by Ariel Helwani and generally featuring Luke Thomas, Chuck Mindenhall and Jeff Wagenheim. All of them are veteran MMA journalists who have been around for a lot of the major MMA events and really understand the sport. Naturally the subject of Rousey arrving to the WWE was a topic in this weeks episode and it was probably the most insightful discussion I've seen on the subject so far. What makes their insight so intriguing to me is that they very closely followed the rise and fall of Ronda Rousey in the UFC and have a really good understanding of Rousey. This is partially why they focus a lot on who Rousey is a person and how she has dealt with things, which I think has been generally overlooked in the inital reactions. Also as outsiders, it feels that they are able to have this discussion somewhat removed from what a lot of people want Rousey's success mean for the company.
Thus I thought to link it here with a deep recommendation to watch the 10-15 minutes it takes. The link should be timed correctly, but just in case they start around 31:25.
It isn't to really sum up as it is really flowing discussion, but below are a couple of core aspects I got out of it.
- There are early indicators that the MMA fanbase would not be as enthusiastic about following Rousey to the WWE. Some of it is probably false ignorance and they will turn to see how she does at the Mania, but it does indicate that there is an additional for Rousey to deliver in her first performance as there isn't that much patience for her. The crossover appeal will still draw attention, but it is difficult to currently estimate how big that boon will ultimately be.
- The Nunes fight, before, during and after, really hurt Rousey's public image and her standing with her fanbase. Furthermore it made her seem someone very difficult to symphatize with. As a personal note, I think this is something that is a bit overlooked in the current discussion as Rousey's position and image is taken somewhat for granted. This isn't to say she can't be a draw, but that public perception is a big question mark.
- This is Rousey moving to a very different field and becoming a performer, but she's never been good at talking or presenting herself even back at the UFC. While this isn't news, they did point out that Rousey has shown herself to be really bad at handling the recent personal failures, which raises the very important question of how would Rousey handle it if the crowd rejected her? If she was so bad that she actually drew the ire of the live audience, which is a relevant question considering that they already booed her name during SDL.
- From their perspective, Rousey arriving to WWE feels like her wanting to write that ending for herself that she failed to achieve in the Olympics or in the UFC. Yet she does not decide her ultimate fate in the WWE, which does raise potential issues down the line.
I'll stop here, but again I genuinely recommend listening to the part of the discussion. Also feel free to share your own thoughts on their views here.