WWE is a business that is completely predicated on its make-or-break relationship with fans. It's a simple formula: the good guys are nice to fans and engage with them, while the bad guys avoid them and insult them. And then there's Ronda Rousey, who despite being pushed as a babyface, just can't seem to hide the fact that she detests wrestling fans, especially when they dare to be outspoken and opinionated about the thing they spent a lot of money on. It's easy to see how this is a potential issue brewing and as such, WWE management has reportedly already stepped in to try and amend this ahead of time.
Ronda Rousey returned to WWE after a near-three year absence a week ago Saturday night, where she won the 30-Woman Royal Rumble match to secure her spot in a WrestleMania title match, which we learned Friday would be against SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair. Despite being presented as a babyface, Rousey was noticeably ignoring fans and presenting herself as a snarling and stoic version of herself, which obviously won't do her any favors in endearing herself to a fanbase that already looks at her side-eyed.
Apparently, after this continued on Raw on Monday, WWE management felt it was time to have a chat with Ronda Rousey and educate her on character presentation. Dave Meltzer reported on the latest Wrestling Observer Radio show that Rousey was pulled aside and spoken to about her on-screen attitude and letting her well-documented past animosities towards the WWE fans go.
Meltzer says, "She [Ronda Rousey] wants to be there. She doesn't have to do this… She hates the fans because of them turning on her, but you have to let that go. I presume somebody explained to her… I know people talked to her about certain things."
Meltzer continues, saying how Ronda Rousey holding onto a grudge against the fans won't help matters and WWE managment knows it. "But, it was explained that you have to let that go. Because, if you're going to be bitter about that… You're not supposed to be a heel and if you're bitter at the fans you're not going to be a very good babyface. She was way, way better."
And he's right. On Friday's SmackDown, Rousey was noticeably more "friendly" during her entrance. She smiled and waved to fans seated to the sides of the entrance ramp. But as Meltzer notes, the damage might already be done. "You know, one thing that was very interesting, as somebody who was there live had mentioned to me. When they kept showing the graphics over and over, you know, 'Ronda Rousey coming' and all this, it seemed like there was no reaction to her and the graphic."
So will "friendly Ronda" eventually win WWE fans over in time for her big title match against Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania in April, or will we see a situation similar to her last run with the company, where they ended up having to position her as a heel to cover for fans' and her animus towards one another?