Does the Rise of Ronda Rousey in WWE Signal the End of the Bellas? – by Mike Sanchez

I’ll be honest right from the outset here, I’ve never been a big fan of the Bellas on WWE TV. Their accomplishments on the popular Total Divas and the spin-off Total Bellas aside, I’ve never enjoyed their work in a WWE ring. That’s not hating on either woman. I just see other female stars as better all-around performers, especially when it comes to putting on matches. Credit where credit is due, I do think Nikki Bella has improved her in-ring work over the last couple of years, but I don’t think Brie has elevated her game to the same level.

The standard for the women in WWE is high. There were standout stars back in the mid-2000s era (Mickie, Trish, Beth etc.), but today’s standards are so much higher and the talent should reflect that. I think the Bellas are a couple of eras too late and would’ve thrived if this was the year 2000, but it’s not, it’s 2018. The average WWE fan is of a younger demographic (the average fan WWE wants to target, anyway) and as such, a show of T&A on Monday nights just ain’t gonna cut it in this day and age. The fans want talent that look good, can talk and put on good wrestling matches.

That being said, the current crop of top female talent include the awesome Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Asuka, Mickie James, Ruby Riott, Alexa Bliss, Bayley and Sasha Banks – the last two criminally underused, but many fans know they have the high talent and deliver when given a chance. I just don’t see any of the top spots in my mind being occupied by a Bella twin. Seriously, purely on in-ring work, who would you put them ahead of on the roster? Naomi? Nia Jax? I wouldn’t. Carmella? Lana? Possibly, but where would that leave them on a show? Mid-card at best, I believe.

Who is at the top of the card for the women on Raw? The Rowdy one; Ronda Rousey. Do I believe she should be in the top spot? Damn right. Look, I went on record about my dislike for Brock Lesnar this year, but that was purely down to the lack of appearances and title defenses for the then champion. Rousey, to be fair, hasn’t defended her belt or appeared on TV every week since her arrival, but one cannot tar her with the same brush as her UFC colleague.

We all knew Rousey would be brought in slowly and wouldn’t be in a match week after week. Sure she’s a superb athlete and likely had a very good grasp of wrestling and technique from the very beginning, but the transition from full contact Ultimate Fighting to Sports Entertainment was never going to be quick, so a level of understanding had to be reached by fans in not expecting too much too soon from her. She wasn’t going to win the title on her debut, nor was she going to cut killer promos from the outset. We didn’t expect it, and she didn’t do it. Her rise has been steady in my eyes, but the lack of opponents on Raw, left her with a small ladder to climb to reach the gold. Aside from Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax and Mickie James, she had little competition after her debut. It quickly became obvious she was going to capture the gold within months of her arrival. Once at the top of the mountain, what then for her? With Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch having one of the best feuds in recent memory over on Smackdown Live, the absence of Asuka who is fast becoming a joke character on the blue brand coupled with the dip in appearances of Sasha and Bayley, save for a brief turn in a tag match this week, it appears WWE management have come to the conclusion that Rousey’s natural opponent should be one of the Bella twins, namely Nikki.

I can’t claim credit for this, but I heard a wrestling commentator online (I can’t remember who, sorry) say a very relevant point; Ronda Rousey beat the crap out of Triple H at Wrestlemania, yet we’re supposed to believe she’s selling for Nikki Bella? See, this is where my dislike for all things Bella comes into play. If either Nikki or Brie were talented wrestlers to the level of a Charlotte, Asuka or Becky, then I’d have no problem with the feud. The thing is…they’re not. The average WWE fan can’t suspend their disbelief enough to seriously think that Nikki has anything other than no chance against Rousey. Even the most die-hard Bella Army fan can’t look at that match and see that Nikki is a credible opponent for Rousey. And we’re missing the biggest talking point here; this is supposed to be a main event match at the women-only PPV Evolution. Madness.

The recent defenses of the Bellas have made things worse in my eyes. I don’t for one minute think Brie meant to KO Liv Morgan on Raw – accidents happen, but to have Paige (among others) come out and claim the Bellas were the ‘OG’ of the Women’s Revolution is frankly ridiculous. Regardless of what connections or influence the Bellas have, WWE should recognize that it wasn’t just Nikki and Brie who kick-started the Women’s Revolution. AJ Lee, Paige herself, Natalya and many others had huge parts to play.

I really, really hope that WWE doesn’t try to pull a swerve on us here by having Nikki win – by any means. There is simply no way she should walk out of Evolution with the belt. Hell, there’s no way she should get any offense in on Rousey at all. Ronda should beat the snot out of her from the bell and dominate in a one-sided affair that could set a record for fastest win.

I don’t think the fans would react well to a Bella victory, and a loss for Rousey by a far inferior opponent (God forbid it’s a clean loss) would have a huge impact on her character going forward. Don’t believe me? Remember the aura WWE built up around Asuka? For freaking years she was undefeated. She held the NXT Women’s title for 510 days, part of a 914 day undefeated streak in WWE. Do I think she should’ve had her streak broken? Yes, not to destroy the aura she’d built up, but to bring her level down from a perceived superhuman to that of the other top women on the roster – the Becky’s and Charlotte’s. Did that loss benefit Asuka? Nope, she’s now a silly, grinning dancer with no real direction. It’s awful how WWE have treated such a massive star, and I think if they’re destined to repeat history, Ronda Rousey’s incredible introduction to the WWE Universe could be derailed just as quickly and with similar results. This time isn’t for the Bellas, regardless of what doors they’re supposed to have broken down.

This is the time for the women wrestlers to thrive in WWE. Those who get over on sheer talent and drive. Those who are taking women’s wrestling to the next level for years to come. The Bellas need to move aside and into the shadows and let the Reign of Ronda Rousey take center stage.