It wasn’t a tough or difficult question, at least not for Jim Ross: What effect will Ronda Rousey’s back-to-back losses in UFC title fights have if she decides to pursue a professional wrestling career?
Rousey hasn’t spoken publicly since she was knocked out by Amanda Nunes a week ago in Las Vegas in their bout for the women’s bantamweight title. It was Rousey’s second consecutive knockout loss, following an upset defeat to Holly Holm in 2015.
Rousey doesn’t have to fight to earn a living, given the success her bouts have had on pay-per-view. She’s a noted professional wrestling fan and made a cameo appearance in 2015 with The Rock at WrestleMania 31.
If Rousey were to opt to retire as an MMA fighter, would she still be a viable athlete in the WWE given the crushing defeats she suffered in the UFC?
As far as Ross, a popular long-time wrestling broadcaster and former WWE executive vice president of talent relations, is concerned, Rousey would thrive in pro wrestling.
“None whatsoever,” Ross said regarding the impact of Rousey’s losses on her popularity in wrestling. “Ronda is a star of a major magnitude with immediate name identity. Her image, her marketing image, that has been perpetuated with a lot of wins, obviously, is a global recognition.
“Their network, it’s all about getting people to sample the WWE Network. Ronda Rousey, in a provocative, nicely arced story, can still do that.”
Rousey will be 30 when WrestleMania 33 is held on April 2 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
The WWE has long hoped to use her, but UFC president Dana White had to give permission for Rousey to appear at WrestleMania because she remains under a contract to the UFC.
But if Rousey retires from fighting and is looking for a way to make some income, she could do worse than to turn to wrestling.
“I would be extremely shocked if she didn’t earn seven figures-plus,” Ross said.
And that, Ross said, would be most likely for a single appearance at WrestleMania or, at worst, to include a part in SummerSlam, as well.
He said she could become a full-time performer, but would have to go through wrestling school. He said she shows aptitude for it, but that it would take her at least six months to be trained properly.
Given the other things she has in her life – movies and endorsements, most prominently – she may be reluctant to make that commitment.
But Ross believes just the single appearance at WrestleMania would not only pay her handsomely, but would do much for her image.
“I say this without any trepidation,” Ross said, “if she was cast at WrestleMania in a favorable light, it would also be helpful for her in building her brand. She portrays a strong female, and I can’t see her coming away from the WrestleMania experience, which creates millions upon millions of images, being perceived as anything but what she set out to be, which is a strong female. It’s part of her brand-building, as well.
“It’s not like she would go to WWE and get nothing but a payday. If she goes to WWE, she’s going to get in their media mix, social media, their network, USA Network, and all that. Their digital network is growing and they’re moving all over the world. It would be a real good promotional tool for her, as well.”
There is, Ross said, little downside to her appearing in the WWE should she choose to do so. Her surprise appearance at WrestleMania 31 came when The Rock pulled her out of the crowd to confront Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
As The Rock paced around outside the ring before getting Rousey, the crowd began chanting her name. She threw Triple H and then threatened to arm bar McMahon.
The next night at “Monday Night Raw” in San Jose, Calif., the crowd again chanted her name.
Bringing her in would be a win for the WWE and a win for Rousey, Ross said. As an actress, she profiles as the tough girl who kicks butt, and WrestleMania would only burnish that image of her.
“She could go have some fun, pick up a nice payday and they’d enhance her image,” Ross said. “Plus, they’d build her brand. That’s a win for a lot of people.
“And I haven’t even talked about her win-loss record or her last two fights, because it doesn’t matter. I can tell you this: She is a very big star and the average Joe out there will recognize her. If you ask, ‘Do you know who Ronda Rousey is,’ I’ll bet he says, ‘Yes, of course.’ If you ask what her record is, he’ll say, ‘No, but I know she lost her last fight,’ but that’s it. The losses in the Octagon are really irrelevant in terms of what she’d want to do in the WWE and what they’d want from her.”