WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley published the following on his Facebook page…
“IN PRAISE OF RONDA ROUSEY
It would be easy to dismiss Ronda Rousey‘s time in WWE as something of a disappointment. Maybe she never became as beloved as Becky Lynch, as proficient as Charlotte or Sasha, or had a great long term story arc like the one Rhea Ripley is currently enjoying as part of Judgment Day. I haven’t always been watching the product as intently these past few years as I had for the previous 40, but from what I did see – coupled with a pretty good gut feeling – is that Ronda wasn’t quite as invested emotionally for her second WWE run, as she was for her first. Motherhood has a way of redefining priorities, and rightfully so. But I firmly believe that her first run was not only incredibly impressive in the ring, but even more consequential in introducing new eyeballs to the product, and injecting a major dose of credibility into the general public’s perspective of professional wrestling.
I was in the crowd in San Jose for WrestleMania when my pal Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson introduced Ronda to the crowd to a thunderous ovation. She was quite simply, the baddest woman on the planet. And while the back-to-back defeats she suffered in UFC may have taken a little shine from her, Ronda was still this incredibly sparkling diamond in the rough when she made her WWE debut at 2018’s WrestleMania. That match, where she teamed with Kurt Angle to take on WWE’s power couple of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon was my personal favorite match of 2018. That’s not to say it was the best match of 2018 – merely my favorite. It was one of those matches I need every once in a while to remind me of why I fell in love with pro-wrestling to begin with. I specifically remember watching the show with friends, and during this incredible moment where she had Triple H rocking and reeling, I just yelled out, ‘she’s not phoning it in!’ She certainly wasn’t. Ronda Rousey took pride in what she did, worked diligently to become really good, really fast, and as she progressed, had good-to-great matches with a variety of opponents.
Without Ronda, it’s highly unlikely WWE would have featured a women’s match as its main event at WrestleMania in 2019. I still believe the real marquee match would have been Becky versus Ronda in a singles match – but nonetheless, let the record show that Ronda Rousey main evented WrestleMania with just one year of professional wrestling experience.
I would put Ronda’s rapid progress up there with that of Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and The Rock – the fastest learning curves I’ve personally seen in our business. But each of those giants had one formidable arrow in their quivers that Ronda never quite got the grasp of – the ability to cut a great promo. That’s really all that was missing, all that prevented Ronda from being considered an all-time great. Steve Austin was a respected and admired worker for eight years before he caught fire with the ‘Stone Cold’ character and became one of the biggest drawing cards of all time. Dwayne Johnson went through some growing pains as Rocky Miavia before his switch-flipping heel turn that revealed one of the greatest entertainers in our business, or any other. Kurt Angle, as amazing as he was in the ring, became a beloved and iconic character by utilizing an innate sense of comedic timing that would have been impossible to guess at. If Ronda had an achilles’ heel as a performer, it was that all of her mistakes were made on the big stage, and that her wrestling character did not evolve as quickly as her in-ring skills did.
I only met Ronda once – during that first run with the company. But I remember watching her and marveling at how much fun she was to watch interacting with her WWE peers. This was during the time when Bo Dallas and Joe Hennig were teaming as ‘The B Team’, and I specifically remember Ronda just lighting up the faces of those around her with some type of little dance she did ringside when the ‘B Team’ music was played. I remember thinking how comfortable she looked, and how supported she was, and I specifically remember thinking that if she could take a little bit of what I saw of her ringside and put it into her character, that she could become one of the great performers in WWE history.
I don’t think most fans equate Ronda with humor or with warmth. But those were the qualities I saw on display – those are the qualities I really believe could have been put to work. For the time being, at least, I will be left to wonder ‘what if’. But while those two words ‘what if’ may remind me of what Ronda Rousey could have become in WWE, they don’t lessen what she actually was – a great worker with a love and respect for WWE that benefited everyone around her.”