Should Ronda Rousey lose her first world title match? Has WWE put both Nia Jax and the former UFC Champion in a no-win situation? Is this one of those programs the company will look back on immediately following the Money in the Bank pay-per-view and ask, “What the hell were we thinking?”
The buildup to this hot-button match, with two inexperienced performers leapfrogging well-positioned veterans for WWE’s money grab, has me feeling a bit uneasy. This is not the match the company should have booked this early in Rousey’s wrestling career. This is not the match that should end Jax’s title reign so soon.
There is a way to fix this, but I am not how WWE moves on from this without there being some kind of scar that takes months to heal.
A friend of mine, who is a sports talk radio host here in Jacksonville, was of the same belief when we discussed this topic on Tuesday. Rousey is the name of the future. This year should be about building her resume, learning the intricacies of fan connection and working with veteran opponents. The culmination should be a confrontation with Charlotte Flair in the main event of WrestleMania 35.
That could still happen, but this path WWE has decided to explore defeats some of that purpose, deciding money is more important than doing what is best for business. How the very fabric of Monday Night Raw for the past four years is coming back to bite the McMahons in the ass. Yes, there was a smile that came across my face as I wrote that.
The Jax title reign isn’t as important as her message to fans about accepting themselves and being comfortable in their own skin. This program, where the current Raw Women’s Champion has taken a decidedly heel edge, don’t help the story Jax has told. It also destroys any of the work she and Alexa Bliss did to build up to her crowning moment at WrestleMania 34.
According to Chairshot.com, “If, and most likely, when she beats Nia at Money in the Bank, she would become the third fastest WWE Superstar to win a premier title at 141 days. The fastest being “The Dirtiest Player in the Game”, Ric Flair. He accomplished this feat at the 1992 Royal Rumble by eliminating Sid Justice and becoming the only one to win the Heavyweight strap by doing so. This was 113 days after he debuted but “The Nature Boy” was a 9-time Heavyweight champion at this point, 8 times in the NWA and 1 WCW reign.”
There is a push, by some, for Rousey to lose her first title match, but look strong in doing so. It’s a hard sell, much like a Sting-Undertaker match this late in their careers. Neither Jax nor Rousey is seasoned enough to protect each other in the ring. I would have much preferred a program with Natalya in a tag match where the veteran turned on her BFF and the two met at SummerSlam, giving Rousey another chance at perfecting her craft.
WWE has been quick to move through its roster, taking advantage of programs to lure fans back to long-term courtship. Rousey is still one of the hottest names in the business. Jax has become a champion who was more popular while chasing Bliss than she is now with the belt on her shoulder. All the while, it seems a storyline has been written as Jax becoming the new corporate champion with Stephanie McMahon pulling the marionette strings.
The McMahon-Rousey angle still works, but using Jax as the pawn isn’t fair to the fans who have accepted her as their inspirational superstar. WWE has gotten itself into this mess. It will take some time to get itself out of it without tarnishing either Rousey or Jax in the process.