Tonight’s WWE Royal Rumble was full of surprises, including several women not seen in a WWE ring in years. But the most surprising name was that of Ronda Rousey, who made her long-awaited WWE debut tonight at the end of the women’s Royal Rumble match — the night’s main event. While Royal Rumble winner Asuka was ruminating on which championship to challenge for at WrestleMania, Rousey made her way to the ring — to “Bad Reputation” and all — to make her intent to have a WrestleMania moment of her own clear.
Rousey is a lifelong pro wrestling fan, and has long been associated with the business. She is a founding member of the Four Horsewomen of MMA (along with current NXT star Shayna Baszler), who borrows their namesake from Ric Flair’s legendary faction of the 80s and 90s. Her nickname, “Rowdy,” was bestowed upon her by WWE Hall of Famer “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. In remembrance of Hot Rod, Rousey wore his iconic leather jacket to the ring, atop a Ronda Rousey shirt modeled after the classic Roddy Piper design.
In an interview with ESPN posted immediately following the event, Rousey mentioned she is in the process of signing a multi-year deal with WWE to become a full time member of the roster. “This is my life now. They have first priority on my time for the next several years, and this is not a smash and grab. This is not a publicity stunt,” she explained. “I want to wrestle, and I want to be part of this company, and I want the fans to respect me.”