WWE announced earlier today that Ronda Rousey is set to face Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank (MITB) on June 17 in Chicago. This will be Rousey’s second televised match and her first singles outing.
Nia Jax challenged Ronda Rousey this morning at the NBC upfronts in New York City. Rousey initially turned down the challenge saying she was honored, but there are women who deserve the shot before her. Jax hastily replied, “I’m not challenging them. I’m challenging you.” Rousey smiled and accepted the match.
What made WWE suddenly pull the trigger on Rousey vs. Jax? I have a few theories.
The post WrestleMania slump hit WWE a lot harder this year than it has in the past. Things reached a boiling at the last pay-per-view, Backlash, where the show was a creative failure on almost every level. It got so bad; fans in attendance walked out in droves during the Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe main event.
People are disillusioned with the current product, and WWE needed to do something to get people talking. The announcement of Jax vs. Rousey certainly did the trick. Still, it is a gamble considering this will be Rousey’s second match and there will be no Triple H in the ring to direct things.
In the case of Nia Jax, she is not over with the audience as Women’s champion. The chase for the title was fun, but she had two boring matches with Alex Bliss. Perhaps, WWE believes no one on the RAW side is ready for the title, so hot-shotting it on Rousey is an excellent way to get it off of Jax asap. After all, they are paying Rousey a lot of money.
WWE received a fair amount of criticism for recently holding an event in Saudi Arabia, a country where women are not allowed to perform, while still bragging about the women’s evolution.
Rousey is the WWE’s biggest female star, maybe their biggest star overall, and putting the title on the former UFC champion would erase any ill feelings.
All of this could be part of the plan to build towards a Ronda Rousey vs. Natalya program. Natalya has been paired with Rousey ever since she was sent to Raw from SmackDown, where she was a heel.
It doesn’t take a psychic to see a Natalya heel turn coming. Maybe she betrays Rousey at Money in the Bank by costing her the match. That means Rousey would have to lose, and beating her this soon is not the smart play.
Perhaps, Rousey beats Jax for the title, and Natalya turns on Rousey afterward, leading to a summer-long feud between the two. Natalya is arguably the best female wrestler in the WWE and Rousey will only get better by working with her on a consistent basis. They are also friends behind the scenes and people tend to have great matches with their friends.
Summer Slam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania are the cornerstone of WWE’s event schedule. Many people feel Money in the Bank has usurped Survivor Series’ major event standing while others believe MITB has turned the big four into the big five.
Ronda Rousey’s first championship match being held on June 17 increases the significance of the popular ladder match helmed event. Jax is bigger than Rousey, which is an exciting story WWE can tell leading into the match since it is something she has never encountered before.
Overall, is this a good move? No risk means no reward.