The time card has been punched, and the WrestleMania sign has been extinguished, which means that the dust has settled on the Royal Rumble. Despite being one of the more lackluster Rumbles in recent memory, it still is considered one of the premier events in the confines of the WWE, and it should be treated as such. But, there is one glaring inclusion in the 2022 event that needs to be spoken about: Ronda Rousey.
I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t mark out during Rousey’s undisputed dominance over the UFC’s Women’s division. She is an incredible talent, who has dedicated the majority of her life to the craft of mixed martial arts, winning bronze at the Olympics, and becoming the first UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion. In 2018, she was inducted into the UFC hall of fame, putting the cherry on the top of a lifelong and almost untouchable career. But, all good things must come to an end, and at UFC 193, young upstart Holly Holm put a definitive end to Rousey’s 12 win streak. Following her loss to Holly Holm, Rousey retired, subsequently putting an end to her MMA career for the time being. But, time was hard for Rousey, who said she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts following her first career loss. As someone who has struggled with the same things for the majority of their life, I understand how hard it can be to have those feelings. But, the thing that stands out to me, is that despite endorsing Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Presidential elections, and frequently donating to worthwhile charities such as FreeRice, and the Black Jaguar-White Tiger foundation, Rousey still holds counterintuitive opinions.
In 2013, Fallon Fox, a transgender woman, made her mixed martial arts debut at King of the Cage: Wild Card. Being a transgendered person in today’s day and age can be difficult, especially for someone in the spotlight like Fox. At the time, UFC color commentator Joe Rogan opposed Fallon Fox, saying: “First of all, she’s not really a she. She’s a transgender, post-op person. The operation doesn’t shave down your bone density. It doesn’t change. You look at a man’s hands and you look at a woman’s hands and they’re built different. They’re just thicker, they’re stronger, your wrists are thicker, your elbows are thicker, your joints are thicker. Just the mechanical function of punching, a man can do it much harder than a woman can, period.”
Eric Vilain, a director for the Institute For Society and Genetics at UCLA stated: “Male to female transsexuals have significantly less muscle strength and bone density, and higher fat mass, than males” and claimed that “sports is made up of competitors who, by definition, have advantages for all kinds of genetics reasons.”
Matt Mitrione, who competed for the UFC and Bellator, went on record saying: “He’s chromosomally a man. He had a gender change, not a sex change. He’s still a man. He was a man for 31 years. Thirty-one years. That’s a couple years younger than I am. He’s a man. Six years of taking performance de-hancing drugs, you think is going to change all that? That’s ridiculous.
“That is a lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak. And I mean that. Because you lied on your license to beat up women. That’s disgusting. You should be embarrassed yourself. The woman that’s fighting him, props to you. I hope you beat his ass, and I hope he gets blackballed and never fights again, because that’s disgusting and I’m appalled by that.”
Following his comments, the UFC released a statement, claiming to be “appalled” and that Mitrione’s comments were “offensive and wholly unacceptable”. Due to his comments, Mitrione received a suspension from the UFC. Rousey, herself, is not a fan of Fox, and went on to defend Mitrione’s comments, while also defending the UFC’s decision to suspend him, stating that his words were “extremely poor” but believes that his comments were correct. It seems that Rousey only defended the suspension as a way of saving face, going on to say “I understand the UFC doesn’t want to be associated with views like that.”
At the time of these comments, Rousey was the reigning UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion. Rousey would also give her opinion on Fallongate™, saying: “It’s not something that happened to [Fox]. It was a decision she made. She should be aware in her career after that, it’s going to be an arduous path. I don’t know why she’s surprised by that. It’s going to draw a lot of emotions. What if she became UFC champion and we had a transgender women’s champion? It’s a very socially difficult situation.”
Rousey would continue this sentiment with an interview for TMZ Sports, stating: “On a case by case basis, you really have to look at that. But in Fallon Fox’s case, I think that she does have an unfair advantage. It is outside of her control, but that unfortunately is her scenario. It’s unfortunate especially for her competition as well.”
Rousey claimed that she did extensive research in the topic, and came to what she called an informed opinion: “She can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has.”
While no one can force Rousey to change her opinions on transgender fighters competing in the division that they identify with, it is a bit tone deaf when she then releases a Pride shirt, tweeting: “Individuals in the LGBTQ community are 3x more likely to have a mental health condition” all while linking the charity that she is affiliated with, the Didi Hirsch MHS Foundation, which is where the proceeds for the pride shirts are sent to.
Now, there are many nuances and intricacies in trying to fully understand the transgender umbrella, and making these comments reek of ignorance and an unwillingness to learn about an extremely important topic. With Rousey being in the public spotlight, she is no stranger to having her opinion picked apart. However, there is a difference between opinion and spreading blatantly false information about the deaths of 20 children and six adults.
In 2013, Ronda Rousey shared a 30-minute video on Twitter, which claimed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a government conspiracy adding that it was an “extremely interesting must watch video”. She would go on to say that “doing research is more patriotic than blindly accepting what you’re told”. Following the unfavorable response, Rousey deleted the tweet.
Last week, the WWE signed a multi-year deal with Disney, with WWE agreeing to allow their content library, the WWE Network, to be streamed on the Disney+ Hotstar streaming service in Indonesia. This deal comes after months of speculation about the future of the WWE potential sale and ownership, following massive layoffs, despite having record profit numbers. The Walt Disney Company has marketed and created the majority of their content, with it being aimed towards children. A large portion of WWE’s demographic also coincides with Disney’s, and to be fair, a partnership between the two is a no-brainer.
However, the comments made by Rousey, and the lack of accountability sends a really bad message for the children who may look up to Rousey, as well as the sponsors of WWE’s content.
While the WWE is a publicly-traded company, and it is in their best interest to make money, I find it hard to rationalize bringing in a big-money draw, and not caring about their past comments.
Bianca Belair, a bonafide star, was in the final four of the Rumble and would have been an incredible choice to win, becoming the first female superstar to win back-to-back Rumbles. After being positioned in the main event scene for the better part of 2021, Belair would famously lose the Smackdown Women’s championship to Becky Lynch, following Lynch’s 15-month hiatus, in a match that lasted less than 30 seconds. After spending 47 minutes in the Rumble, Belair was eliminated by Charlotte, and the trend of pushing the same talent continued.
Unfortunately, all of the people who told us to “let it play out” about Belair losing to Lynch, are now the same people excited to see Rousey take a spot from a more deserving talent.
The fact of the matter is that Ronda Rousey has problematic views, and has returned to the WWE, taking a spot from a more deserving star in the process. Unfortunately, this is a trend which has been all too common in the world of mainstream wrestling for a long time now. I’m glad that the WWE is trying to make money by bringing in a mainstream star, but it’s certainly not the best choice they could have made. A sad truth remains in today’s WWE, and that’s that mainstream appeal means more than the art of wrestling, and for the biggest wrestling company in the world, that’s a tough reality to live with. The return of Ronda Rousey signifies that the WWE doesn’t care about a person’s past comments, so long as the money made in the process outweighs the public’s opinion. Now more than ever is a perfect time to invest in independent wrestling, because World Wrestling Entertainment is becoming less about wrestling, and more about entertainment.