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After weeks of rumors and buildup, Ronda Rousey made her debut in WWE after the women’s Royal Rumble on Sunday night.
Rousey, who just last week denied having a deal in place with Vince McMahon’s wrestling company, surprised the Philadelphia crowd after Asuka won the women’s Royal Rumble.
After entering the ring, Rousey, who was decked out in gear similar to the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, pointed to the WrestleMania sign and offered a handshake to Asuka, who by winning the Royal Rumble earned a title shot against either “Raw” women’s champion Alexa Bliss or “SmackDown” women’s champion Charlotte Flair in April.
Rousey then walked outside the ring and shook hands with WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, who was seated ringside doing commentary.
“This is my life now. First priority on my timeline for the next several years. This is not a smash-and-grab; this is not a publicity stunt,” Rousey told ESPN. “When I first met with Triple H, I told him, ‘There are other things I can do with my time that’ll make way more money, but I won’t enjoy nearly as much.'”
Rousey’s history with the company dates back to WrestleMania 31, where she appeared alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a segment with WWE COO Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Stephanie McMahon. Rumors started heating up as Rousey also was seen ringside at the Mae Young Classic in 2017 and then at dinner with Levesque in Los Angeles earlier this month.
While Rousey played her part in trying to hide the fact that she was in Philadelphia to make her WWE debut, fans remained skeptical of her true intentions leading up to the Royal Rumble.
“I’m actually leaving to Colombia right now to finish shooting ‘Mile 22’ and won’t be back until mid-February,” Rousey told TMZ Sports last week. “I’ve got other stuff to do right now”
When the event kicked off on Sunday night, the fact that the women’s Royal Rumble match was the show’s main event added even more intrigue and was another clue that Rousey would be there.
UFC president Dana White texted Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review Journal on Rousey’s departure from the UFC to WWE:
Even without Rousey’s debut, the night would have been a historic one as it was the first time in WWE history that female superstars competed in the 30-person, over-the-top-rope Royal Rumble match.