Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle will defeat Stephanie McMahon and Triple H at Wrestlemania 34 by submission. The match will end with a memorable visual: Kurt Angle will lock Triple H into an Ankle Lock, Rousey will lock McMahon into an armbar, and both victims will scream and tap in the center of the ring at the same time. The photo and video footage of this submission will be blasted to every major news outlet in the world as the signature «Wrestlemania moment» of the evening.
WWE has run this story playbook multiple times over the past 20 years. It’s the tale of the disgruntled employee vs. the sociopathic boss, epitomized in the late ’90s when «Stone Cold» Steve Austin began feuding with the evil Mr. McMahon. And since then, the McMahon family—Vince, Stephanie, Shane, Linda, and now Triple H—have excelled at playing villainous authority figures, who use their money, influence, and corruption to keep the good guys down. Remember Stephanie vs. Brie Bella, Vince vs. The Rock, or the McMahon family vs. Daniel Bryan? The opponents change, but the basic storyline stays the same.
The key part of this classic storyline is its finish. The WWE fictional universe is, with rare exceptions, a just universe. When all is said and done, the villain gets his comeuppance—usually on a massive stage to maximize its impact.
This narrative of this match is built on a kernel of truth, as all great WWE matches are. At Elimination Chamber, Rousey came out to the ring to sign her WWE Raw contract. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were all smiles at their latest acquisition. And that’s when Kurt Angle had to ruin everything.
The Olympic gold medalist let it all spill out in the ring. He said that Triple H wanted Rousey under his thumb. He recalled that backstage, Stephanie McMahon dismissed Rousey as washed up, boasting that even she could take her on. WWE had anticipated the inevitable backlash against Rousey and spun it into a storyline—a better strategy than waiting for the fans to start chanting, «Holly Holm!» And this way, Ronda could address the elephant in the room directly; Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were the stand-ins for every social media naysayer.
The match at Wrestlemania 34 will probably start off slowly; Angle and Triple H, both ring veterans, will work the majority of the match to create suspense and some back-and-forth drama. Rousey won’t be in the ring for very long—she’ll probably get the hot tag at the end to close things out—but at any point that she is in the ring, she’ll be a house of fire. WWE is doing its best to recapture the old Rousey—the pre-Holm Rousey that teamed up with The Rock at Wrestlemania 31.
That’s the Ronda Rousey that WWE wants for the foreseeable future. Because eventually, someone is going to break Asuka’s neverending streak. And if Ember Moon doesn’t get the honor of doing so (she should have already done it at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III, but life isn’t fair), Rousey is the likeliest candidate. She’ll be the Brock Lesnar of the women’s division, but with more appearances and a better attitude.
Before she was handed back-to-back losses by Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes, Ronda Rousey was the reigning «baddest woman on the planet»—the queen of one-round submissions. A bronze medalist of the Beijing Olympics, Rousey was an undefeated UFC champion in the bantamweight division. This, combined with her good looks, her take-no-prisoners scowl, and her signature arm bar, made her an MMA icon. Writers dedicated thousands of words to «what she meant» for women in sports and for women in general.
How, exactly did it all to go to hell? The told-you-so critics would have you believe she was always bad and always overrated, but that’s a gross oversimplification. To put a slightly finer point on it, she wasn’t well-rounded—she had incomparable grappling skills on the ground, but in a stand-up fight, trading punches and kicks, she was completely outclassed. MMA fighting evolves quickly, and today, the top fighters must be impeccable in multiple areas rather than prodigal in one.
Rousey believed her own hype. When she faced Holm and Nunes—a boxing champion and a hard-hitting specialist—Rousey tried to beat them at their own game, toe-to-toe, rather than leaning on her Olympic-level skills. It was pure, reckless hubris, and perhaps she didn’t even know how outgunned she was. Her terrible coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, didn’t teach her to strike properly or move her head, as many observers, including Rousey’s own mother, noted.
Rousey admitted to suicidal thoughts after her loss to Holm. And professional wrestling is the perfect career for someone who is too psychologically fragile to handle the self-doubt that comes from real, crushing loss.
Rousey will never have the dread or burden of expectation that she had in the UFC. She’ll be able to live the outsized myth that fans want to believe about her and that she wants to believe about herself. And Wrestlemania 34 will be the beginning of that myth making.
Author: #GamesNews gamespot.com