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How Ronda Rousey symbolizes the UFC’s tumultuous relationship with WWE

By Zach Arnold | March 29, 2015

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Of all the events that transpired at this year’s Wrestlemania in Santa Clara, it looks like Ronda Rousey’s partnership with The Rock against Triple H & Stephanie McMahon will be one of the most enduring moments from the show.

With ESPN now going all-in to cover both UFC & WWE, there is more value in ever in Ronda’s cross-over appeal to both audiences. Hell, both organizations pull from the same audience demographics.

Rousey’s appearance at WM has reportedly been in the works for a while. She and The Rock share the same agent. One very interested party right now is Rousey’s former agent, Darin Harvey, who is finishing up the arbitration process in Los Angeles Superior Court right now. (Case number: BS147674). He may finally see a pay day.

The comparisons between Ronda Rousey & Brock Lesnar in terms of business leverage between UFC & WWE are interesting to analyze. Lesnar, like Kevin Nash, likes wrestling but treats it as a business. It’s created a bit of a cold resentment from fans. Rousey, on the other hand, balances that act much better. She’s a genuine wrestling fan. She loves fighting. She loves both UFC & WWE. It shines through on camera. UFC and WWE both benefit from her apperanace on their TV & PPV platforms. With Lesnar, it’s a zero-sum game. UFC benefits from Rousey’s appearance on WWE TV because it’s a larger audience and UFC can continue to benefit from her Tyson-esque stature in both wrestling & entertainment circles. WWE benefits from having the toughest woman in combat sports who has the movie star looks & athletic ability that anybody can buy into.

Ironically, Lesnar has more potential rivals in UFC that you’re more interested in watching him there than rivals in WWE. With Ronda, it’s the reverse situation.

Before there was a Wrestlemania, WWE got in bed with a music channel called MTV to form the Rock ‘n Wrestling Connection. WWE helped build MTV with Cyndi Lauper, Dave Wolff, and The War to Settle the Score between Roddy Piper & Hulk Hogan. Rowdy Roddy then, Rowdy Ronda today. And just as Hulk Hogan had a stare-down at ringside with one Mr. T at MSG, Rock had his staredown with Ronda at Wrestlemania. Hogan & Mr. T tagged for Wrestlemania 1 at MSG in 1985. The dream scenario of Rock & Rousey tagging 30 years later at a future Wrestlemania has everyone drooling. The WWE helped build MTV 30 years ago with the help of Mr. T. Ronda Rousey could now help build the WWE Network if UFC allows her to wrestle in a WWE ring.

We know WWE obsesses about being relevant in mainstream pop culture. They will do lots of celebrity spots in order to get a mention or two on ESPN or on a show like The Insider. The difference here with Ronda is that people want to see her fight and will pay to watch her do her thing. Nobody’s going to be paying to watch Snoop team with Hogan at Staples Center.

WWE & UFC have always been strange, uncomfortable bedfellows and the Lesnar saga this past week highlighted the tension perfectly. With Ronda Rousey, UFC is going to have to make a decision: do they let her dabble into the spectrum of WWE matches in order to keep her happy and loyal long-term or do they draw a line in the sand and maintain their “no wrestling” position with their fighters? Given the fact that there is plenty of money for MMA fighters to make in professional wrestling, UFC may have to consider absorbing the risk of letting fighters wrestle on the side if it means less complaints about fighter pay and threats of unionization. A hold-on-loosely but-don’t-let-go partnership with WWE may be more of a benefit in 2015 than a hindrance for their bottom line.

Topics: MMA, Media, Pro-Wrestling, UFC, WWE, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “How Ronda Rousey symbolizes the UFC’s tumultuous relationship with WWE”

  1. Alan Conceicao says:

    Maybe instead of this being a huge statement about Ronda wanting to join the Divas (lmao @ that being a big money opportunity), perhaps she was just helping promote the Fast and the Furious 7 movie that she’s in with The Rock that comes out this week? Wacky idea, I know.

  2. sam says:

    Do you honestly think Ronda would make the same as the other Divas?

    Yes, it would be a big money opportunity because I don’t see her doing it if its not.

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      I don’t think “being a diva” and working 5 minute matches in the cool down slot is worth UFC levels of money to the WWE and training her to be a wrestler (which, to my knowledge, she has NEVER DONE). I think she appeared to do promotion for the movie she’s in that comes out this week, and I think most people on social media picked up on that pretty quickly. But this being a power play and that she’s using it as leverage…the divas aren’t structured to make her a drawing card. Anyone who’s seen professional wrestling in the last 15 years knows that.

      • duck says:

        She could still work a one off tag match and team with the Rock, Mayweather had a pretty good match with the Big Show and I’m pretty sure they could have The Rock wrestle most of the match, she wouldn’t be in with the divas though it would be Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.

        In other news apparently Phil Baroni will be on Tough Enough

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          I doubt her UFC contract would allow her to work a one-off tag match, and the amount of money needed to get her to do it might not even make the slightest bit of sense given the WWE’s subscription business model. If this was really about the WWE establishing itself as a competitor for talent with the UFC, then maybe she should have appeared last night on Raw? Maybe they should have, you know, hyped up Ronda’s appearance and participation in advance so it could have generated interest?

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    The worst match at wrestlemania was the divas. They just aren’t very good.

  4. Alan Conceicao says:

    If ESPN was going “all-in” with WWE coverage, shouldn’t they have done something after Raw? Or maybe they wanted to quickly jump on and off the Wrestlemania bandwagon in the lull between NBA/NHL playoffs, the NFL and MLB seasons, etc. Or maybe, here’s a wacky idea, were paid money by the WWE to do some work.

  5. Safari_Punch says:

    If the WWE wanted to pull the swerves of swerves, they’d have some sort of match featuring either Rousey or Rousey and a tag partner verses Stephanie or HHH in a tag and last minute substitute Stephanie with Chyna.

    Nobody would see that coming.


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