Ronda Rousey is leaving WWE. She wrestled for only a year, but it felt like several years. There were so many memorable moments packed into those 12 months—some good and some bad.
But even bad moments are accompanied by an asterisk. This is Rousey’s rookie year; she had no growth spurt, no advertising classes, no time away from the camera to develop into a performer. It can be said that she is learning on the job.
And in that light, it’s hard to think of another performer who has enjoyed a successful WWE debut year like her. She has some natural advantages; she is a medaled Olympic athlete and UFC world champion, which puts her among the sporting elite.
But she didn’t like the presents either; she doesn’t see her WWE gig as some glorified celebrity cameo. She’s behind the scenes, constantly learning, constantly training, and appearing on Raw weekly, even if it’s just to cut commercials or stand in the ring.
And for respecting the business, she deserves it. Here are Ronda Rousey’s best and worst moments as a WWE Superstar. We’ll skip through the bad moments before the good ones, in ascending order.
Ronda Rousey made her official WWE debut at the end of the Royal Rumble. And there are some good things about it. She’s wearing the actual jacket of her hero, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. WWE gave Rousey her UFC theme song: “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett.
But there are also negative aspects to the launch. First, it stepped past Asuka’s moment; The Queen just won the first female Rumble in WWE history, but now all everyone is talking about is Rousey. And second, Rousey spent most of her time pointing and scowling awkwardly at the WrestleMania sign rather than naturally interacting with other performers.
WWE seems to be more interested in getting an iconic photo it can use in commercials and highlighting the reels than in making the segment work.
Rousey’s most recent match was Triple Threat against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch for the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships. This will be the first female main event in WWE WrestleMania history.
It’s too bad the game has a bad ending.
Becky went looking for a cross. The referee counts to three. And in that scene, Rousey lifts her shoulders off the carpet. And the referee, who should have stopped counting, continued as planned.
The clean finish keeps the champion’s reputation solid and ensures that there are no asterisks to babyface’s victory. Becky won the match and let Rousey lose the first one. But it is not without controversy.
It’s hard to imagine a better moment than this in a young wrestler’s career. Rousey made her ring debut at WrestleMania 34 by teaming up with Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Critics had cautiously low expectations. Rousey is too green and inexperienced, and she’s up against older part-time wrestlers. Her mic skill is subpar. And we didn’t see enough of her ringer to make a call.
But when Kurt tagged her in, Rousey was more than delivering; She helped dress up, most likely, the best match of the evening. She rolled. She slams shut. She took out Triple H with her head scissors. It was a great performance. And its only downside is setting the bar too high.