Ronda Rousey endured one of the worst beatings of any female, or male, Superstar, in recent WWE history. The current Raw Women’s champion was mauled by Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series, as The Queen assaulted her with kendo sticks and then a steel chair.
But it’s not the beating that many fans are still talking about. It’s what comes after the beating that seems to be the topic of conversation. It seems that even though WWE’s intent was to show Ronda’s toughness, the move may have backfired. Has the company booked Rousey into a corner with this new feud?
Rousey has been down before, that much is true. She was a champion in the UFC after all. Though she was never attacked with a weapon inside the Octagon, she also never had an opponent protecting her either. The goal in the UFC is to win the fight, which obviously means that fighters do not pull punches.
So yes, Ronda Rousey knows what a beatdown feels like. But in the world of MMA, a fighter’s worth is based on that fighter’s toughness. However in the world of WWE, a Superstar’s worth is based on that Superstar’s booking. At least, this is how the fans see it.
It’s not as though Ronda hasn’t proven her mettle in Vince McMahon’s ring because she definitely has. She took the best that Charlotte had to offer and she did it like a professional. Rousey’s didn’t have to agree to that spot. She could have said no and chances are, fans would never have known about it.
But the same fans that booed her out of the building at Survivor Series must surely understand that Rousey was likely more than willing to go along with the assault. She may even have encouraged Flair backstage to go all-out and not to hold back.
Ronda knew how important that spot was, not only for her but for Charlotte as well. In one night. Rousey received the worst beating of her pro wrestling career while her attacker was welcomed back into the good graces of the WWE Universe. But that’s the problem.
The spot backfired. Rousey did indeed prove her toughness and that should have been enough to win the crowd. But instead, the fans turned on her. They sided with Charlotte, who went into that match as a hated babyface. All she had to do was take the low road and suddenly, the fans immediately supported her. They cheered and hey chanted her name. They said “thank you, Charlotte.”
Anything can happen in WWE. It’s not just a catchphrase, it’s a fact. The company itself understands that as well. Even the best laid plans fall apart at the worst moments. But even though the fans see that here, WWE perhaps doesn’t.
This is the part where WWE looks right at a situation but then looks right past it. The truth is that Charlotte’s attack on Ronda was pointless. The crowd did not need an incentive to hate Charlotte because they already did.
What the fans needed was a reason to want this match to happen again. Flair versus Rousey already had a big fight feel and the crowd was already anticipating a top notch bout. So if the company’s intention was to continue this angle at a later date, then a double count-out would have worked just fine.
Or perhaps a time limit draw would have been more than enough to get the point across. Both women could have ended the match on their feet, protesting that all they needed was a few more minutes. Fans would have gone along with that and a second match would have been the most logical move at some point.
The only real reason to turn Charlotte Flair heel was to course correct from her rivalry with Becky Lynch. From the moment that Becky turned on Charlotte, the company likely realized that something would need to change. Just as turning Charlotte on Ronda backfired, so too did turning Becky on Charlotte. In both instances, the fans favored the aggressor when the company wanted them to side with the victim.
The fact that the victim became the aggressor may have appeared to be ironic symmetry. But this was a premeditated plan to reset Charlotte Flair’s character. WWE doesn’t often go to that extreme for anyone. Fans need look no further than Roman Reigns or even John Cena to believe that.
But Charlotte is at her best as a heel and WWE knows it. Ronda is the ultimate babyface female Superstar in the company right now so anyone she faces must be a heel so she can get over. If Rousey’s opponent is a babyface, then the crowd splits and that’s obviously not what WWE wants.
However in its haste to restart Charlotte Flair, WWE did some damage to Ronda Rousey. No one could have predicted that the Los Angeles crowd would be hostile toward Rousey at Survivor Series. But Charlotte’s rampage at the end really never should have happened in the first place.
WWE is backing Ronda into a corner that she may not be able to get of and it’s happening through no fault of her own. The company wanted her to be a babyface and she’s done an admirable job thus far. But now she must deal with being the type of babyface that WWE fans typically hate. She’s tough, sh’s fearless and won’t back down from anyone. But her words seem hollow because she fights fair and won’t take the easy way out.
It’s as if a Superstar has no credibly with the WWE audience unless she’s willing to cheat in order to get ahead. This is evidenced by the recent slew of heel turns in the company and the lack of success with each one. Lynch was cheered. Charlotte was cheered. Dean Ambrose, were it not for dragging Roman’s physical health into the storyline, would likely be hearing the cheers as well. The only exceptions so far may be Daniel Bryan and Johnny Gargano. But all it takes is one promo or one match, to make fans fall in love with them all over again.
The WWE faithful are going to cheer for whoever they want. There is no changing that. But Ronda Rousey seemed to be doing just fine until she faced Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series. Now The Baddest Woman on the Planet is staring down the prospect of having to get over on not one, but two, red hot heels that the fans are receiving as babyface. It’s a tough mountain to climb for any WWE Superstar and it will be especially tougher for Rousey. But then again, “tough” is what she does better than anyone else.