By Zach Arnold | March 29, 2015
Rock and Ronda pic.twitter.com/ZYU32ASVlN
— Sports Pics (@TheSportPics) March 30, 2015
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.
— ESPN (@espn) March 30, 2015
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.
— Steven Grossi (@SteveOGrossi) March 30, 2015
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.