HENRY: WWE fans are finally getting the Ronda Rousey UFC fans loved to hate – and it couldn’t be working better

By Cole Henry, MMATorch Contributor

Ronda Rousey (photo credit Jayne Kamin-Oncea © USA Today Sports)

So, who exactly is Ronda Rousey? A national treasure? A villain? A poorly dressed curmudgeon? Or is she somebody far greater at all of her crafts than perhaps she is even given credit for? Let’s take it from the top. Rousey came into MMA as what was considered an anomaly at the time – a woman who was absolutely dominant in a way like nobody before her. She was able to captivate crowds with her “Don’t be a do-nothing bitch” attitude and her habit of taking opponents out in quick and destructive fashion.

The UFC wanted her to be America’s sweetheart, the girl next door that could also hip toss you through the floor and walk away with your arm in her pocket. You would often see her paraded on TV in makeup as if she was some sort of Hollywood starlet, and for a while, she truly did seem untouchable. But she just wasn’t quite what she was presented to be.

Rousey showed herself to be a rather emotional fighter, even bitter and resentful at times despite her dominance, and while it took a while for some to see it, she eventually developed a reputation as a fighter who didn’t handle her losses well and often didn’t show the proper respect to her opponents.

Despite what the UFC may have wanted she just wasn’t the girl next door, in fact, she was a bit dark, and perhaps possessed qualities more fitting of a villain than a hero. But still it was a fairy tale for some, including her legions of young female fans who were drawn to the sport for the first time, and they loved Rousey despite any of her perceived flaws. But while Rousey was living this fairy tale, she almost constantly had a boogeyman looming over her shoulder. Cris Cyborg seemed to be a fighter potentially just a signature away from taking all that Rousey had worked for. But alas it was a different monster altogether that would eventually take Rousey down.

The fairy tale came to a crashing end when Rousey suffered a head kick KO loss at the hand, or feet I should say, of Holly Holm. But that was just step two of a multiple part act that helped fully move Rousey into the spot of MMA heel for lots of fans. It all began the night before the fight when Rousey posted a now-infamous social media post.

“Fake ass cheap shotting fake respect humility bitch- ‘Preachers daughter’ my ass- I see through your fake sweet act now- you’re getting your ass kicked tomorrow, and I’m really going to enjoy the beating I give you.”

The problem was that many did not perceive Holm this way and the verbal assault seemed a bit unnecessary and forced. Then the next night, Holm kicked Rousey in the head and ended her undefeated streak. The world was shocked, and so was Rousey. She went into hiding, disappearing from the spotlight altogether. The same fighter that had been an inspiration to so many, that had inspired young girls to take up fighting in record numbers, was now a ghost and doing “nothing” just like all of those that she criticized on her way up. It was clear that Rousey did not think she needed to play by the same rules as everybody else, and she was eventually proven correct.

After disappearing for nearly a year, Rousey returned from oblivion to take on new division champion Amanda Nunes. Nunes stopped her quickly, and with that sent Rousey into Valhalla forever, at least in the MMA sense. And in a matter of a few years Rousey had gone from beloved figure to one that was incredibly polarizing, and one that had just as many fans as detractors. She went from drawing so many into the sport to being a questionable role model for the legions of fans that she had attracted.

But alas that was not the end for Rousey, and she would resurface in the WWE as a fresh face, and while her reputation amongst some MMA fans was set, that wasn’t the case in the WWE, and she seemed to fit in well in her new position. She was a female “legit badass” that hadn’t been seen in the WWE perhaps ever before. But in the months since her debut, we have witnessed an interesting change in Rousey, and if you were a fan of her MMA days then its something that you may have seen before. It seems that despite her unquestionable success as a pro wrestler, some of the toxicity that plagued her late MMA career may now be showing itself already in her wrestling career.

Rousey made headlines recently for comments made while sitting on a couch, being worked on by a hair stylist and a makeup artist. She stated that pro wrestling is essentially fake and that she would easily defeat all of her fellow female competitors in a shoot fight setting. She made negative comments towards WWE fans, and towards the integrity of the sport of pro wrestling and the fans heard her.

Honestly, the results have been fascinating. Many wrestling fans seemed to believe her every word as if it truly came from her soul, others were annoyed that she broke the “4th wall” so early in her career, while old MMA fans have come out of the woodwork to say, “I told you so”, implying that this is the Rousey that should have been expected all along. The legions of MMA fans that wanted to see her fail in that sport are now piling on to see her fail in her new sport.

It seems like Rousey’s new boogeyman is Becky Lynch, and the two are on a collision course that seems like it could end with Ronda again finishing in second. Is this really Rousey reliving the same nightmare all over again? Or… is it by design? Is Rousey really cracking, or does she have us right where she wants us? We’ve been programmed to love Rousey, yet most still managed to hate her. But if she embraces the heel, if she embraces the hatred of the fans, then it will show that Rousey leaned from her mistakes in MMA enough to now replicate them in storyline fashion and from my point of view everything seems to be working.

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