WrestleMania: No surprise 'humble' Ronda Rousey is making history in WWE

WWE superstar Ronda Rousey.
WWE superstar Ronda Rousey. Photo credit: WWE

If you know Ronda Rousey, then you wouldn't be surprised she has set the world of sports entertainment on fire, much like she did for mixed martial arts.

The former UFC champion made a seamless transition into the crazy world of WWE pro wrestling in 2018, surprising many fans, doubters and her fellow performers.

Rousey put on a show-stealing performance at WrestleMania 12 months ago - her very first match - proving her credentials as one of the best female athletes on the planet.

The 32-year-old dominated the squared circle to such an extent that, just five months into her new career, she won WWE gold at Summerslam. Rousey would then headline the very first all-women's pay-per-view event - Evolution - one month later.

Now, on her one-year anniversary, Rousey is one-third of the first women's main event at WWE's Super Bowl - WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Alongside WWE superstars Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, Rousey is on all the posters in New York City, trumping some of the biggest names in the industry, like Triple H, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and John Cena.

WWE NXT star Roderick Strong never had any doubts Rousey would play a key role in moving the bar on how women's wrestling is perceived, not only by fans, but the company itself.

Strong's wife is a former MMA training partner of Rousey, Marina Shafir. The two former female judo greats share a deep friendship that Strong has witnessed first-hand.

Rousey often confided in Strong, when she was considering WWE's offer.

"Before she ever joined, this was her goal if she decided to take the WWE offer," Strong told Newshub.

"She is one of those people who understands her position in life, she understands her position in this job. What she personally wanted was to come here and put eyes on the product that weren't watching it.

"She wanted to give opportunities to the women that have worked so hard. She really wanted to make this happen, because once you get there, it's very hard to go back."

And returning to the days of 'hog pen' matches, 'pillow fights' and 'bra and panties' matches is as likely as Hulk Hogan coming out of retirement and restoring Hulkamania to the glory days of the 1980s.

With an absolutely stacked women's division that includes Sasha Banks, Bayley, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Flair, Lynch and Rousey, the WWE is in good hands.

Charlotte Flair.
Charlotte Flair. Photo credit: Getty

Strong told Newshub that Monday's main event has been a long time coming, but could no longer be denied, given the fanbase women's wrestling has delivered.

"Just to know that this is happening is exciting, not just for Ronda, but for Becky and Charlotte. They are as ready as you can be, to be in this position.

"It's going to a huge moment - that is undeniable. The game has changed."

Rousey's popularity was the deciding factor in WWE's decision-makers flicking the switch on headlining WrestleMania. Her MMA credentials are well-documented.

She won the Strikeforce title in just her third fight, was crowned the first-ever women's UFC champion and defended that title with ease over the next three years, winning six fights, all by stoppage. Oh, and she is also an Olympic judo medallist.

But according to Strong, Rousey was never interested in using her pedigree to help her advance to the top as quickly as she did. Strong told Newshub that Rousey put her ego on the rearview mirror, working her butt off to achieve her unprecedented success.

"She understood what her role would be," Strong said. "She has approached this with humility.

"She's parked the fact she won an Olympic medal or that she was a UFC champion. She has been the Ronda Rousey that knew nothing about professional wrestling when she started.

"She went in there with a blank canvas, and has been so willing to just listen and learn.

"It doesn't surprise me at all and through conversations with her, you realise that willingness she has to learn.

"I didn't expect anything less from her, just because of the type of person she is. It's inspiring."


Brad Lewis is in New York and attending WrestleMania courtesy of WWE.

WWE WrestleMania streams on the WWE Network from 11am Monday. Join us for live updates.