Ronda Rousey described her WrestleMania debut as one of the greatest moments in her life
In the run-up to her in-ring debut at WrestleMania 34, many were questioning Ronda Rousey’s ability as a WWE superstar.
But after teaming with Kurt Angle to defeat Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, the former UFC star proved she is more than capable of holding her own in the ring.
It was almost three years to the day that Rousey first stepped into a WWE ring. That came at WrestleMania 31, when she teamed up with The Rock, again in an altercation with Triple H and Stephanie.
Back then she caught Triple H with an overhead takedown and locked Stephanie in a standing arm-bar. Both were executed well but it was not the first time we had seen sporting names from outside of WWE trading blows with superstars.
What we saw on Sunday, though, was a completely different.
Rowdy Ronda was unloading punches, clotheslines, backdrops, overhead suplexes, hurricanranas and more, displaying a range of mat and aerial moves and techniques, and executing them with the quality of established WWE superstars.
It should not be forgotten that Ronda was not in the ring with a seasoned member of the competitive WWE women’s locker room.
Stephanie McMahon has been in the business for more than two decades, but has spent very little of that time in the ring.
That, you could argue, had the potential to negatively affect Ronda’s debut performance, but it let her take an element of control when the two were in action and dictate the speed and difficulty at which they moved.
Rousey’s wrestling style felt very personal to her. Everything from the ring attire through to her arm-bar finishing manoeuvre has the feel of a UFC athlete.
She made her name as a UFC star in an industry where being able to hold yourself together physically and mentally are essential. It’s not a far cry from the requirements of WWE but there is the obvious difference of one being a sport and the other sports entertainment.
WWE does not shy away from labelling itself as sports entertainment, but keeping that UFC element in her character helps Ronda stand out from the pack, in a very similar vein to Brock Lesnar.
She had wonderful control of the crowd inside the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome, too.
From the moment she stepped on to the ring apron waiting for her first tag into the contest, she oozed confidence, passion and excitement. The WWE universe recognised and absorbed it.
When she finally came to blows with Triple H, the pair took 10-15 seconds sizing each other up. For those meaty confrontations, one of the oldest tricks in the book is to let the buzz brew.
The excitement of the WWE universe needed to be palpable and by the time Ronda began firing punches, the noise inside the area was deafening and suddenly a WWE debutant was being acknowledged with waves of “This is awesome” chants.
Ronda came into WrestleMania with a huge weight on her shoulders. She had made one or two errors in her early days that had left some casting doubting she could make the transition.
What we saw on Sunday were the makings of a WWE legend.