Ronda Rousey appeared at the last WWE Pay-Per-View, and on Monday’s edition of its Raw show after signing a deal with the company. Rousey is still considered the most popular female athlete in the world, even after retiring from UFC. She gives WWE a mainstream star to leverage in any deal.
WWE began dedicating more effort to training and featuring its womens performers the last several years. In its seedier days in the late 1990s and in the 2000s, women were mostly eye candy, even when wrestling. Today the women’s division is hotly contested and loaded with talent that can put on the same quality or better-quality matches than some of the male talent.
With Rousey, it gives that division star power the men’s division doesn’t have.
“The best thing for women’s MMA and pro wrestling was Rousey’s success in MMA,” Meltzer said. “UFC was drawing giant numbers with women because of her.
“If anything they have their Hulk Hogan, and the men have Roman Reigns.”
WWE immediately inserted Rousey into a storyline feud with Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of owner Vince McMahon and a top executive. Her husband, wrestler Paul Levesque, is chief operating officer. He became one of the first COO’s to be put through a table during WWE’s last PPV.
The plusses for FOX are simple: What the network loses in hours of programming that UFC provides, it gains in viewers from WWE. WWE must also operate at a higher level against network competition, not cable. WWE hasn't regularly been on prime time network television since the 1980s, and that was sporadically. The negatives: having to deliver, and being at the whim of a major network.
“They may change the date or time your show airs, or move it off the channel,” Meltzer said. “WWE would probably not do as well advertising wise.
“It’s all in the negotiation. There’s no guarantees.”