The bright-eyed former UFC champion officially made the jump to WWE back in January, signing a full-time contract with the promotion. While she had a handful of confrontations in the ring leading up the grand event, she inked her first match to take place at WrestleMania against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
Rousey welcomed the challenge of making her WWE in-ring debut on the Grandest Stage of ‘Em All, taking everything in stride as she walked down the entrance ramp, the focal point of a whopping 78,000 fans packed into the Superdome.
She put on one of the most memorable debuts in recent memory, blitzing through McMahon and Triple H to become a highlight on the fantastic WrestleMania 34 card. In doing so, Rousey finally was able to exorcise the lone remaining demon from the rocky close to her UFC tenure — two losses after a spotless record that lasted more than four years.
Those losses (to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes, respectively) haunted Rousey for the year and a half after she left the sport. Even after joining the WWE, Rousey struggled to put into words what leaving the sport she so desperately loved meant to her. It has been an emotional roller coaster for the founding woman of the UFC’s women’s division. It was clear Sunday night, though, that she had finally moved on, speaking to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“Everything really does happen for a reason. I’m just so grateful. I thought I never would be [grateful] for [the losses], but time is a great teacher. I’m just really, really glad I gave it time instead of giving up and feeling it was the end of the world. There’s so many people who encounter tragedies who feel like the world and time won’t heal it. But all I can say to those people is: Just give it time, even if you think time can’t heal it. You never know what will happen and where it will lead you. Every missed opportunity is a blessing in disguise. I really believe it now,” Rousey said.
“I underestimated how kind the WWE universe would be. I thought any outsiders would be shunned. I was expecting to get shunned and to have to battle to be accepted. I worked my ass off to pay respect to what’s so important to them, and hopefully they saw that tonight. I’m just so grateful, man. I’m trying my best to deserve it.”
Whether she knows it or not, Rousey battled to get accepted. She didn’t ride into the main event. She wasn’t handed a title opportunity immediately, although her credentials may have warranted doing so. She showed up as a true fan of the sport. She’s maintained her love and admiration for Roddy Piper along the journey, a point not forgotten by the diehards of the sport. She dedicated herself to the sport, putting in the work behind the scenes to make a lasting impression.
Although it was only one night, Rousey did just that. She seems truly invested in building a legacy, and the sky truly is the limit for WWE’s newest star.
Where she goes from here is unknown. What is known, is that she can move forward without constant reminders of the unlikely end to her UFC, rather the bright future she has in the professional wrestling.