The obvious answer to the problem of WrestleMania 35’s botched main event ending is to have the new champ champ use her submission finisher to, you know, submit the wrestler who is said to be leaving the company anyway.
Ronda Rousey put Becky Lynch over in the “Winner Takes All” Triple Threat which ended Sun. April 7’s seven-and-a-half hour show. But that they opted to have The Man win by pinfall rather than tapout opened the door to controversy about the finish when we should be celebrating Lynch’s coronation.
On the post-’Mania Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez talked about why Becky wasn’t booked to defeat Rousey with her Dis-Arm-Her armbar. Perhaps more even more interesting, they talked about who might have been involved in the decision to not go with with a submission ending.
A piece of context you need for this conversation is that The Observer team is sticking to their initial report that Rousey is leaving WWE after WrestleMania 35, and there’s no timetable for a return. This has been compounded by word she now has a severely broken hand.
Alvarez: They just decided that nobody should submit Ronda Rousey in her last match?
Meltzer: That was actually a real debatable thing... this is what I know - it was that at one point the finish was going to be a submission finish. And there were a lot of people who were for it and a lot of people who were against it... In the end, the idea was a pinfall, not a submission, perhaps -
Alvarez: Hold on a second. If the idea is you’re getting Charlotte [Flair] or Becky over, regardless of who it is, they both have a finish which is a submission. So if Ronda Rousey, this is her last match - and there’s no guarantee she’s ever coming back - why would whichever one beats her not use their finishing submission move to do it? What is the argument if there’s no guarantee she’s ever gonna come back? Why would anyone argue one way or the other?
Meltzer: Ummm - cause she’s never submitted. That’s the Don Frye [MMA pioneer who jumped to New Japan Pro Wrestling for a time in the late 1990s] thing...
Alvarez: So this would be her saying ‘I don’t want to submit’.
Meltzer: Or people who are - it may not be her. It may be her. I just remember when Don Frye...
Alvarez: I mean, if she doesn’t give a $#!+, and there’s no guarantee she’ll ever have another wrestling match again, why wouldn’t you have one of your top women stars submit Ronda Rousey? I can’t even imagine arguing against that. If she doesn’t want to and you respect that, that’s one thing. But if she doesn’t care? Like, why wouldn’t you do that?
Meltzer: I haven’t heard why they switched from the submission to the pin. But they did. I don’t know who or why it was done, but it was done and everyone was in agreement on it. And I do know that a lot of people thought when it was a submission, there was a lot of arguments that it should not be a submission because Ronda Rousey shouldn’t submit because that’s too fake. So that was the feeling... she never submitted in judo that I’m aware of... she never submitted in MMA. It’s just the idea that... the argument for the submission is it’s her last match, she should do it, put Becky Lynch over as strong as possible - makes sense.
The argument against it is is that it’s just like too fake... at the end of the day, it’s Vince’s call. And Vince [McMahon] is still from that other era, you know, where it’s sort of semi-legit in some ways. That’s why he likes people like Brock as champion and all that... and he obviously paid Ronda a lot of money, and it obviously paid off in spades, but whatever. The decision was made to make it a pin... it’s more logical that the woman who was never a amateur wrestler, was a combat sports fighter who maybe has gotten knocked out in fights but never submitted that perhaps she could get pinned by a pro wrestler because she was not in a sport with pins, but the idea that one of these people would submit her - and maybe that’s Vince protecting her for the return? The idea is that she could say that she lost on a fluke pin, but she wasn’t really beaten. You know it was a fluke pin, and then if she comes back, it’s not like we’ve destroyed her aura that much, cause we still kept her kind of strong.
To me, it almost doesn’t matter whether it was Ronda or Vince’s call. As Meltzer reminds us, McMahon has the final say. And whether it was his original idea or he just rubberstamped Rousey’s, VKM seems to be more concerned with protecting Ronda in case she comes back than he is with making Lynch - the wrestler he just put over in the main event of WrestleMania - look as strong as possible. Or very strong at all, since even a perfectly executed version of the finish they went with involves Bex catching Rowdy off-guard after almost taking her finisher.
Hopefully it doesn’t matter in the long-run, and fan support keeps The Man in the main event. But if it gives any Becky fans pause, I don’t blame you. As with the decision to have her tap to Asuka before winning the Royal Rumble - can you imagine Vince booking his favorites that way?
But then again, he did have Roman Reigns lose to Brock Lesnar clean last year, so what I do know?
Just some backstage reporting for your consideration while you speculate on the creative decisions that go into producing a show where people settle their differences in athletic exhibitions with pre-determined outcomes (in other words: keep it in perspective - it ain’t that serious).