Ronda Rousey versus Shayna Baszler has decades’ worth of story to leverage to make this an important angle for women’s wrestling.
It’s finally happening. The Shayna Baszler versus Ronda Rousey feud is upon us. Baszler turned on Rousey during Money in the Bank, setting up Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez to pick up the victory. Baszler versus Rousey is a feud that many have wanted for years, and it is one that has the potential to elevate the entire women’s division.
Yes, the heel turns by Baszler had an “RKO Moment” coming out of nowhere and catching the wrestling community by surprise. While it is often easy to predict when WWE is breaking up a women’s team (read: almost all the time) this is a turn that didn’t have any clear indicators. Unless one wants to unpack the idea that Baszler needed Rousey to light a fire under her to get her back to the woman that terrorized WWE NXT for nearly two years. In fact, which should be the starting place this entire feud is built upon.
A decade ago, Baszler was the first woman selected by Rousey during their season of The Ultimate Fighter. Even though Baszler came into that season of the show with a decade of fighting experience, Rousey (with her two years of experience) was Baszler’s coach. In MMA, Baszler is an individual who carved a path for the women who are fighting around the world today. Some may potentially argue that in mixed martial arts, there wouldn’t be a Ronda Rousey without women like Shayna Baszler stepping into the space first.
And this is what the entire Baszler versus Rousey angle must be built upon. If WWE can find a way to leverage its new ownership under WME to use some of that footage from 2013 to tell the story of Baszler always being in Rousey’s shadow, this immediately becomes a main event-level feud without the need for a championship.
Of course, there are questions about Rousey’s ability to be a babyface that fans want to support. Many celebrated Baszler’s turn simply because they’ve continued to be over the WWE presentation of Rousey as some all-powerful being. But the destructive version of Baszler is the iteration that fans have wanted to see since she emerged on the main roster. Perhaps this is the time when she gets that opportunity to rise to the level of champion once again.
Shayna Baszler versus Ronda Rousey has the potential to elevate what is already a blossoming women’s division. The company needed to build more feuds outside of the title picture, and this keeps two big names active and away from the championships until their time is called.