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Ronda Rousey and WWE’s affinity for Mainstream Celebrities

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Ronda Rousey and The Rock – Wrestlemania 31 (wwe.com (2015)

“Any ring I step into is mine”. – Ronda Rousey (Wrestlemania 31)

In my previous article, I mentioned Stephen Amell’s WWE program, where he teamed with Neville to face the team of Stardust (Cody Rhodes) and Wade Barrett, and how it allowed Cody Rhodes to gain more mainstream exposure. This angle is one of the many in a long line of celebrity WWE story-lines. WWE’S desire to bring in high profile celebrities (often for Wrestlemania) is one of the reasons they are the global juggernaut we see today and it’s one of the things that brings out the ‘E’ in World Wrestling Entertainment. As UFC 207 approaches, it’s only fitting we discuss the next high profile celebrity, WWE wants to bring in for a big Wrestlemania match and that is none other than UFC’S megastar, Ronda Rousey.

WWE’S ultimate show, Wrestlemania is the event wrestling fans from all around the globe will tune into watch. This event was essentially created by outside celebrities. In the eighties, celebrities like Cindy Lauper, Muhammad Ali, and Mr.T (who headlined the first two Wrestlemania’s) became involved in WWE storylines and due to the mainstream exposure and momentum this gave WWE, they were able to create their own mega-event: Wrestlemania. Over thirty years and multiple celebrity angles later, WWE continues to use celebrities on their shows. Sometimes it works and other times it is a painful experience for viewers, but WWE will continue to look for celebrities to add to their shows and they should.

One of the most celebrated celebrity angles took place in 1998 when WWE brought in boxing icon, Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson’s involvement in the Stone Cold/Shawn Michael’s title match at Wrestlemania 14 shifted the fortunes of the WWE. It garnered immediate attention from mainstream media, as Stone Cold had a physical altercation with Mike Tyson to start the angle and this not only brought mainstream attention to WWE but also elevated their top star Stone Cold Steve Austin into a new realm of publicity. This angle not only kicked off Stone Cold’s title reign and the most successful era in the companies’ history (now known as the ‘Attitude era’). It also shifted the tide in the rating’s war with their rivals WCW (World Championship Wrestling), and hence the reason we still see WWE today and WCW is simply history, and no longer capable of making history.

Ten years after Wrestlemania 14, WWE’S marquee match again featured boxing’s hottest property, which was none other than Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. Mayweather’s match with Big Show helped Wrestlemania 24 become the fifth highest grossing WWE pay-per-view of all time with $1, 058, 000 buys (according to therichest.com (2014). Wrestlemania 25 and Wrestlemania 26 had most of the same talent; that made up Wrestlemania 24 and they also featured the legendary bouts between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, but neither Wrestlemania 25 nor Wrestlemania 26 could hit the one million mark when it came to pay-per-view buys.

As seen by the above examples, a mainstream celebrity/fighter working with WWE has a proven track record of bringing success and at a time when women are becoming such a prominent part of WWE shows, it only makes sense to bring in one of the biggest female superstars in sports and entertainment: Ronda Rousey.  Wrestlemania 31 was touted as one of the best Wrestlemania’s, WWE had ever produced. It was jam packed with high-quality matches, big superstars, a dream match and a shocking conclusion. Despite all of this, the biggest and greatest moment from Wrestlemania 31 came when Ronda Rousey joined WWE icon, Hollywood megastar, and her ‘Furious 7’ co-star The Rock in the ring as they picked a fight with WWE’S evil power couple Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.

Imcthoughts.com (2015) reported: “This one segment promoted WWE, UFC, Wrestlemania 32 (rumours of a Rousey vs. McMahon showdown ensued) and the box office release of Furious 7”. This segment brought WWE to MMA fans as UFC President Dana White, tweeted a photo of him watching Ronda at Wrestlemania 31 and it was so big that ESPN aired actual highlights of the event on their flagship program, SportsCenter. Ronda’s surprise appearance put WWE front and centre in both sports and entertainment news channels.

Despite the rumoured, Ronda Rousey Wrestlemania 32 match not taking place, the rumours of Ronda to WWE have continued. In a recent interview on Ellen, Ronda stated her return at UFC 207 will be: “one of my last fights”. Since this announcement, Stephanie McMahon has on more than one occasion said in interviews that WWE would like to bring in Ronda Rousey. Ronda’s legendary status in UFC, her star power which has only been enhanced by her appearances in films like ‘Furious 7’ and ‘The Expendables 3’ and the buzz created by her previous Wrestlemania appearance, no doubt shows that a Ronda Rousey Wrestlemania match equals big money for the WWE.

What’s even more important is Ronda Rousey’s willingness to participate. Ronda nicknamed herself ‘Rowdy’ in honour of the late great ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and she has attended WWE pay-per-views like SumerSlam 2014, where she was seen mingling with the likes of Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar. Ronda’s love for wrestling is clear and her desire to wrestle for WWE was even more evident when she appeared at Wrestlemania 31, perfectly setting up a return to the company with a ready-made angle with Stephanie McMahon waiting for her. As history has shown the willingness of a celebrity is a key factor to making a celebrity match, great. Look no further than Lawrence Taylor at Wrestlemania 11, Mayweather at Wrestlemania 24 and Stephen Amell at SummerSlam 2015. Ronda Rousey wrestling at Wrestlemania, with everything that has been mentioned, feels like a spectacle waiting to happen.

However, for now, fans should look forward to December 30th, UFC 207 as Ronda returns to the octagon. Everyone should enjoy the remainder of Ronda’s UFC career because love her or hate her; her run on top of the UFC has been a rollercoaster ride for fans around the world. At UFC 207, Ronda looks to reclaim the Woman’s bantamweight championship, but win, lose, or draw her eventual return to the WWE will be an epic event.