The 2018 Royal Rumble was one of the best in recent years, although to be honest that bar hasn’t been especially high. Perhaps the biggest moment, however, came moments after the conclusion of the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble match, which was won by Asuka. With the Empress of Tomorrow standing tall between Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss and Smackdown’s Women’s Champion, Charlotte. As the crowd waited to hear which champion Asuka would challenge at Wrestlemania, an unfamiliar theme blared throughout the arena. Ronda Rousey had made her WWE debut.
Since appearing at Wrestlemania 31 in 2014 to stand alongside the Rock against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, Rousey has been rumored for a future in the WWE. In recent months, the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion has been seen in public having dinner with WWE COO, Triple H, and numerous teases by Rousey on her website of a major announcement made her eventual debut all but a certainty.
To WWE’s credit, they didn’t actually enter Rousey in the Rumble match, as her inclusion would take away from all the women who had even made such a match possible. It was smart to hold off until after the match for her to challenge whichever champion was left without an opponent following the winner’s decision. And while we don’t yet know which champion Asuka will challenge, the tease of Rousey at Wrestlemania in a title match should more than drive attention to the WWE’s grandest stage.
After her appearance, ESPN broke the news that Rousey had signed a full-time deal with WWE and not the Brock Lesnar part-time gig many expected. This is encouraging for the sake of establishing and executing long time storylines and narratives but it will take away a bit from the special feature aura talents like Lesnar create every time they do step between the ropes.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes of Rousey’s tenure in WWE but if nothing else, her signing indicates a serious investment in the Women’s division as part of the continued Women’s Evolution.