WWE is about to get back one of its biggest stars. According to multiple reports, Ronda Rousey is expected to return to WWE programming in the near future:
Rousey has been absent from WWE since WrestleMania 35, where she dropped the Raw Women’s Championship to Becky Lynch in the first-ever women’s WrestleMania main event. The ongoing hiatus of “The Baddest Woman on the Planet” wasn’t a surprise as reports indicated that her post-Mania departure was planned long in advance. Rousey herself even said that she was looking to start a family, which resulted in one report stating that she might never return to WWE. Still, that didn’t prevent WWE from penciling in Rousey vs. Becky Lynch for WrestleMania 36, even though questions remain about her Rousey’s immediate and long-term future in WWE.
The good news for WWE, though, is that Rousey is still under contract until 2021, and amid reports that she could be back ASAP, there are certainly plenty of signs that her return will indeed happen sooner rather than later. Let’s start with the state of the women’s division, which has, whether coincidentally or not, been in shambles since Rousey left after WrestleMania 35. The spark the women’s division had when Rousey was battling Lynch and Charlotte Flair simply isn’t there anymore, and though the absences of Nia Jax and Sasha Banks have also played a role, Rousey’s sudden departure has clearly left a gaping hole of star power at the top of the card. During her absence, WWE has tried—and largely failed—to establish stars like Lacey Evans as top acts and is only now giving TV time to popular but underused stars like Ember Moon. While that’s a refreshing sight, those stars don’t pack the same star power punch as Rousey, who also has another major factor that could lead to her return: Her connection to Paul Heyman.
Rousey worked hand-in-hand with Heyman during her previous WWE run, and the two have a strong working relationship that can be rekindled now that Heyman is the Executive Director of Raw. It’s no coincidence, after all, that all of the stars Heyman works hands on with have been getting sizable pushes as of late, a list that includes Rousey, Evans, Aleister Black and, of course, Brock Lesnar. The best possible explanation behind Lesnar winning the Universal Championship for a third time at Extreme Rules is that Heyman pushed for it, both because of his close relationship with Lesnar and his belief that Lesnar will be a bigger draw as Raw’s top champion than Seth Rollins was in that same role. As Heyman begins to gain more and more influence over WWE’s creative process, it certainly stands to reason that his favorites—the Lesnars, Blacks and Rouseys of the world—are going to get massive pushes at the top of the card.
Evans, Lesnar and Black are getting one or have gotten one. And Rousey could be next in line.
Consider also that Lynch, Rousey’s biggest rival, is currently feuding with Natalya, the real-life friend and training partner of Rousey and a star whose friendship with Rousey has also been pushed in storyline. The most logical explanation for Natalya’s sudden ascension to women’s title contention is two-fold: She’s getting a SummerSlam match to capitalize on her popularity in Toronto, where SummerSlam takes place, and it is a logical placeholder feud for Lynch given her history with Rousey and the likelihood that WWE will pick back up on that rivalry in the near future. Natalya even recently suggested that Rousey’s return is inevitable and that it will happen sooner than some expect.
Even though Rousey and Lynch have had arguably WWE’s biggest feud of the past year, they never got that singles match they were supposed to have at Survivor Series 2018. Many fans have been clamoring for it ever since, and Lynch’s creative struggles since WrestleMania—a result of poor booking by the creative team—have really demonstrated that she badly needs a more capable heel foe, one who is more exciting than Natalya and more ready than Evans. There isn’t a star who fits that bill better than Rousey, who is both a stellar in-ring performer and is, far and away, the biggest female star in the company due to both her UFC career and her resurgence in WWE last year.
With Heyman back in the mix, his new creative power is expected to “bridge the gap” between WWE and Rousey. So, Rousey may not be a lock to come back back this week or this month.
But soon? At this point, it would actually be shocking if she didn’t show up in the near future. And don’t be surprised if she does so at SummerSlam.