At WWE Survivor Series War Games, Ronda Rousey picked up her second title defense as WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion. She defeated Shotzi Blackheart in a match that didn’t hit well with vocal fans online. WWE may perceive Rousey as a megastar that has crossover appeal throughout sports, but it is time for the company to change its direction with her booking. Rousey’s presence has become a major issue for the women’s division of that brand.
There were many things that were not working for Blackheart versus Rousey heading into War Games. The build felt disjointed and thrown together, with holes in the “plot” that was easy to poke through. The addition of Raquel Rodriguez to the angle didn’t help in any way. Instead, she comes off as a babyface loser as well. That’s the outcome for the women that have battled Rousey since her return at the Royal Rumble, none of them come out of the angle in an improved position.
WWE continues to book Rousey as a dominant force for women’s sports that commands attention. Yet, that has not been the case since her 2016 defeat at the hands of Amanda Nunes at UFC 207. Things initially worked through her first run to the company. Her star power led to the first women’s main event at WrestleMania 35 back in 2019. That impact hasn’t followed in 2022.
Liv Morgan was a woman that fans were ready to get behind, with many pushing to see her booked as a credible champion. Her feud with Rousey left her in a much lower position on the card, back to being seen as “less-than” when compared to some of her peers on the roster. Emma returned in what was a move to add depth to the women’s roster, but she’s been relegated to a love interest story on SmackDown.
Upward mobility is tough on SmackDown with Rousey sitting on the throne as champion. Even the angles that could draw attention are slowly losing interest when mentioned across social channels. WWE could book toward angles with Charlotte Flair and Shayna Baszler, but those seem further off the course. Finally getting the planned singles match against Becky Lynch is another option, but Lynch has far surpassed Rousey as a star at this point in wrestling.
The issue with Rousey’s run as champion is like that which fans bring up with Roman Reigns. None of the men facing him seem like credible threats to the title. But there’s another layer to the problem that comes with Rousey’s performances in the ring and as a character. Botched spots and sloppy action have adorned many of her matches, and for some, they create the atmosphere of a “believable” fight but fall short of the performances that others delivered at a high level. Rousey only has four years of professional wrestling experience and it shows through heavily in her in-ring performances.
It will be interesting to see if WWE eventually recognizes that Rousey as champion isn’t working for SmackDown or women’s wrestling. Perhaps she’s best served as a limited-schedule talent like Bill Goldberg or Brock Lesnar, with her focus being on one-off feuds rather than title runs. Either way, the promotion has a Ronda Rousey problem that must be solved.