WWE’s annual Wrestlemania event takes place Sunday, April 7 on the WWE Network streaming service. The two key matchups on what is expected to be a lengthy card see Ronda Rousey in a three-way match with Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch as well as former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Universal Championship against Seth Rollins.
The Rousey matchup is most noteworthy because it is the first time that WWE will headline its signature event with an all-female match. Seeing females headline a major card is nothing new to UFC fans, Rousey broke that barrier back in 2013 when she made her UFC debut at UFC 157 against Liz Carmouche. She headlined Strikeforce events even earlier. Despite having full control over how they promote their stars and where they place talent on a card, it took Rousey and UFC to inspire WWE to pull the trigger on treating women as stars at an equal level to their male counterparts.
There are reports that Rousey is planning on stepping away from WWE following Wrestlemania or perhaps soon after. While she will still be under WWE contract, she is said to be preparing to start a family with husband and former UFC competitor Travis Browne. We are not trying to make any plans for Rousey’s uterus here, but if she drops her Raw Women’s Championship to either Lynch or Flair on Sunday, that could signal the rumored hiatus is imminent.
When and if Rousey does step away from WWE, what does that mean for her return? Baby or no baby, Rousey may never appear on WWE television with the frequency she has since she arrived in January 2018. It’s possible that Rousey transition to a role similar to the one Lesnar has filled for the past several years where she would make sporadic television appearances and a handful of major event matches throughout the year.
Even if she does step away, don’t hold your breath that Rousey will get the bug to return to UFC competition. As exciting as the prospect is, she hasn’t said or done anything to indicate she is interested in a UFC return. Rousey’s history has always been to make a clean break from one phase of her life to the next.
The result of Lesnar’s match will have the most direct effect on UFC fans. Lesnar has been linked to a UFC heavyweight fight with champion Daniel Cormier since Lesnar walked into the cage and pushed Cormier in a well-orchestrated but very real exchange at UFC 226 last July. Reports have surfaced this week that the Lesnar-Cormier fight is slated for this coming August and that Cormier may be in attendance at Wrestlemania on Sunday. What we know for sure is that Lesnar is a part of the USADA testing pool and he has served out the remainder of his suspension stemming from a drug test failure for his July 2016 fight with Mark Hunt. When Lesnar fought Hunt, he was still with WWE but had a provision in his WWE contract allowing him to take a UFC fight.
If Lesnar loses to Rollins on Sunday, and that’s far from a sure thing, that would indicate the Cormier fight is close to a done deal. If he retains, it doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t looking at fighting, but it could mean Lesnar and UFC aren’t close on coming to a deal.
What to really watch for is how much physical punishment and risk Lesnar puts himself through during the match with Rollins. At his Wrestlemania 32 match with Dean Ambrose before the Hunt fight, Lesnar puzzled fans by taking very little punishment in a weapons-loaded “street fight.” The safe approach only made sense months later when Lensar was announced for UFC 200.
Wrestlemania gets underway at 7 PM ET on WWE Network. PWTorch.com will have full coverage of the event and MMATorch.com will provide coverage and analysis of Rousey and Lesnar’s matches and the ramifications of the results. Also, be sure to check out the MMA Talk for Pro Wrestling Fans podcast that will drop on Monday with more reactions to Wrestlemania and the week in MMA.