Well this is awkward.
In a USA Today interview with Triple H, conducted after Royal Rumble on Jan. 28 and published before the following night’s episode of Raw, he was asked about the locker room reaction to WWE’s signing of former UFC champion Ronda Rousey. The company’s senior vice-president in charge of talent reponded:
“I think they’re thrilled.
It’s funny, when Ronda came back, all she wanted to do was see those other girls in the Rumble and tell them how great it was. Before we brought her out I was with her watching the tail end of the Women’s Rumble… and she is such a fan of the talent and everybody that’s working that it’s hard for them when they’re around her, like she’s almost in awe of them, in some ways, as much as they look at her because she’s from outside.
She fits right in. It’s funny thing, very few people come into something like this – and I’ve seen a lot of them over 25 years – they come in and there’s a difference. There’s a difference in their mentality and they way they are, and it takes a little while to fit in.
Any time she’s ever been around us, it’s like this is where she should have been her whole life. She’s just like everybody else who is in our locker room. There’s no pretenses, there’s no ego, there’s no anything. She just fits right into them. I think, from that standpoint, they can wait to rub up against her and kind of get that opportunity. It’s going to put a lot of eyes on them and it’s going to elevate their careers and it’s going to elevate what we do.”
We now know that during Monday night’s show, two high profile members of the women’s roster - Total Divas star and John Cena’s fiancee, Nikki Bella, and former fashion model and cousin of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Nia Jax, - were tweeting some decidedly not-thrilled takes on WWE’s Rousey rollout.
Those reactions continued this morning when another of their most prominent female stars was on Sirius XM’s Busted Open:
Sasha Banks on Ronda Rousey: "I have nothing nice to say so I won't say anything at all" @BustedOpenRadio— Marissa Rives (@TheMarissaRives) January 30, 2018
As the Triple H quote shows, WWE seems intent on pushing Ronda as a fan favorite based on her lifelong love of pro wrestling. It doesn’t seem like the roster got the message, and their tweets and statements probably aren’t helping with fans already upset her arrival took precedence over the end of the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match, or that the “full-time” wrestler was teased for Raw and then didn’t appear.
Or WWE is fine with the performers stirring up some attention-getting drama for future angles where, as Haitch says, careers will be elevated and interest in the overall business will rise. Or this is all some coordinated ‘reality’ era storyline. Probably not that last thing, but because this is wrestling, we’ll never know and some folks will always believe everything is a work.
One thing is for sure. Rousey’s launch as a WWE Superstar is already interesting, and we haven’t even heard her cut her first promo in front of a live audience yet.