Just a couple months into 2018 and possibly the biggest story not only in MMA, but also in pro wrestling, has to be the announcement that former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey had signed with the WWE and will be crossing over to their brand of sports entertainment.
Shortly after the official contract signing was announced, Jason Solomon of the popular Solomonster Sounds Off Podcast spoke to MMAWeekly.com from a pro wrestling perspective about Rousey’s impact on the WWE, prospects of future crossovers, and could the company eye an expansion into full-blown MMA next.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Jason, from a pro wrestling perspective, what does Ronda Rousey’s signing with the WWE mean to the company, and in particular their women’s division?
Jason Solomon: On the whole, it’s a huge plus. Rousey is a mainstream star. Her signing with WWE likely brings more eyeballs to the product, sells more tickets to their shows and can only help their leverage when they enter negotiations for a new TV rights deal in the next few months. For their women’s division, it makes it that much more of an attraction at a time when there has never been as much emphasis on women’s wrestling as there is now.
MMAWeekly.com: What sort of role do you see Ronda playing in the WWE, at least for the coming year? Will she be sent to NXT for training or is she the type of draw that demands she go straight to the main roster right away?
Jason Solomon: My understanding is that she has been secretly training for a number of months already. With the star power she brings, you don’t send someone like her to NXT. You put her on television right away and slowly build to programs with the biggest names in the division, names like Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Asuka.
MMAWeekly.com: On the main roster you see her as more like former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and be more of a part-time performer, or do you expect her to be a full-time presence?
Jason Solomon: All of the news reports I saw referred to her signing a “full-time deal” with no clear indication of what that actually means. I think it would be a huge mistake to have her on television every week and working house shows every weekend. Giving her a Lesnar-type schedule with a handful of TV appearances each month and a few big matches per year would make the most sense. That way, they avoid overexposing her, particularly given that she still has a lot to learn.
MMAWeekly.com: Do you see the WWE actively pursuing other MMA talent in the near future? If so, do they focus on talent whose fighting careers have seemingly ended, like Rousey’s, or can they make a run at athletes who are still viable fighters?
Jason Solomon: I don’t know about actively pursuing them, but I do see them working with more MMA names in the future. If you’re dealing with an active fighter under contract to UFC, it becomes more difficult. I think working with someone who is more accessible and able to make appearances, and who has more time to adequately train, would be ideal. That said, if WWE has a chance to do a big match with someone like Conor McGregor, they would be foolish not to try to work something out with Dana White.
MMAWeekly.com: With the revival of the XFL, could you see the WWE perhaps branching out into other sports like MMA?
Jason Solomon: I don’t think so. The XFL is more of a personal pet project for Vince McMahon, separate and apart from WWE. McMahon tends to have more success with his bread and butter anyhow, which is wrestling. Once he starts branching out into other areas, it doesn’t really work.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Jason. Please let our readers know where they can find you and what they can expect when tuning into Solomonster Sounds Off.
Jason Solomon: I just celebrated my 10 year anniversary of doing the show, which is very cool. If you’re into pro wrestling talk, the show drops every Sunday across most major platforms, including iTunes and Stitcher Radio. On Twitter, @solomonster is my handle if anyone wants to say hello.