Moments after Ronda Rousey walked out to the ring in Wells Fargo Center after the conclusion of the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble match, ESPN posted a story detailing her new deal with WWE.
In it, the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion makes it clear that - despite how her sign-pointing debut may have made it look - she’s not in sports entertainment for a one-off WrestleMania angle.
Regarding her deal to become a “full-time professional wrestler”, Rousey said:
“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.”
A lifelong fan of pro wrestling, Rousey was a staple of independent and WWE shows even while dominating in mixed martial arts and raising the profile of women’s combat sports. She famously appeared at WrestleMania 31 in 2015 for a segment with The Rock, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at the height of her popularity.
At that time, UFC had a monopoly on her time, and Hollywood was calling. Two devastating losses (her reactions to which were, frankly, public relations disasters) later, and even though she might be able to make more money elsewhere, her schedule is open enough to pursue her childhood dream:
“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.”
We don’t know the details of her contract with WWE in terms of length, number of dates or money. Regardless, this is a smart tact to take to try to head-off pushback from fans who think she’s a part-timer stealing the spotlight from “real” wrestlers (a complaint prevalent online after her appearance during Asuka’s celebration on Jan. 28) or who aren’t sympathetic to her after how she reacted to being knocked out by Holly Holmes and Amanda Nunes in the Octagon.
We’ll see how it goes from here. But it looks like “Rowdy” Ronda is in WWE to stay... at least for now.