The world was abuzz when Ronda Rousey appeared at the close of the Royal Rumble.
This was followed by the announcement that the former UFC bantamweight champion had indeed inked a deal to join WWE in her first pro wrestling role. Questions of where she would show up next were answered as Kurt Angle told the Raw audience Rousey would be at Elimination Chamber on February 25 at the T-Mobile Arena in the Las Vegas area—the same venue she lost her last big MMA fight against Amanda Nunes at UFC 207.
Wrestling Veteran Natalya Talks 'Total Divas' Season 7 Finale and Weighs in on WWE Rookie Ronda Rousey
The superstar also reflects on her heated conflicts with Lana on 'Divas.'
And when one chapter in the book of Rousey closes, another begins. The new apparent Raw superstar already has a target on her back if you follow social media. Her debut drew a polarizing reaction from fans and even some on the roster. Did the 31-year-old steal the thunder away from the historical nature of the first-ever Rumble spotlighting women?
This can add fuel to the fire in igniting Rousey’s first feud in WWE. With the road to WrestleMania in full swing and the dust settles, who will be her first rival? Here are six potential foes who can step up to the plate and help set the tone for Rousey’s run in WWE.
Asuka won the first women’s Royal Rumble but her victory celebration was cut short by Rousey, so the “Empress of Tomorrow” already has built-in beef. She's also undefeated in WWE, beating out pretty much every female superstar. Her style is hard-hitting, and at times submission-based, which would complement Rousey's MMA experience. However, Asuka is currently set to face the Raw women’s champion at WrestleMania, so the likelihood of this happening right out of the gates might not be likely.
Sonya Deville was called up to the main roster from NXT to join the group Absolution. The up-and-comer is an ideal and believable adversary for Rousey—after all, she too comes from a strong MMA background. The “Jersey Devil” takes much of that long-time training into the ring, as well as her cohorts Mandy Rose and Paige. It would be a great opportunity to elevate a new face in Deville, while pitting Rousey against someone who understands the transition from sport to sports entertainment.
The imposing and dominating Nia Jax hasn’t won the women’s championship, so she could use this as an opportunity to take her to the next level. It would be an interesting match-up to see Rousey try to take down the powerful Jax with a barrage of strikes or submission moves. There's also the fact that Jax is the cousin of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—Rousey's former Furious 7 co-star. The WWE could use this to their advantage with videos of the action star giving his advice. Not to mention, Rousey backed up Rock at WrestleMania, so there is plenty of history to work with.
Alexa Bliss may be smaller than most on the roster, but she's achieved success through a combination of skill and the ability to resonate with fans. The “Goddess of WWE” could easily carry her own in a feud with Rousey—she already stood in in the ring face-to-face with her at Royal Rumble. They could even add Jax to the mix as an enforcer to even out the physical odds. If WWE wanted to start Rousey at the top, knocking down a rarely-beaten villain could help turn her into a beloved hero.
Stephanie McMahon is the most natural rival for Rousey, as the chief brand officer of the WWE has made herself known as the “Dominant Female.” With Rousey in her employ, McMahon can use her power against the “Rowdy One” in retribution for embarrassing her on a worldwide stage. Whatever McMahon lacks in the ring, she can make up for verbally and psychologically. There have been rumors of McMahon and husband Triple H facing Rousey and a partner—Kurt Angle? The Rock?)—and seeing the two ladies in the ring is sure to generate mainstream press.
Nikki Bella is one of the WWE women who wasn't happy about the way Rousey came in and took the spotlight at Royal Rumble. After all, Bella came close to winning and it was the first time she was to back since last John Cena proposed to her at WrestleMania last year. Twin sister Brie was also in the Rumble, after recently becoming a mom and seeming to retire from wrestling.
Bella was on SmackDown Live, but some think she signed with Raw after finding out she could get a crack at Rousey. The Total Divas breakout also brings some star power and can have sis back her up. It would just depend on if they wanted to portray Rousey to be a heel or face and vice versa before the course of events played out.
WWE Elimination Chamber, Sunday, February 25, 8/7c, WWE Network and Pay-Per-View