Former WCW President Eric Bischoff discussed Ronda Rousey signing with WWE in an interview that I conducted with him earlier this week. Bischoff noted that Rousey "got her ass handed to her badly" in her last two fights, which caused her mystique to be damaged. However, he felt that what hurt her worse was how she handled those losses to the press and to the public.
"She was bitter and she didn't handle those losses with the kind of grace that could have endeared her to the audience," Bischoff said. "She could have been a bigger star and a bigger babyface as a result of those losses than she possibly would have been had she won them. Rather than seizing that opportunity and seeing that opportunity for what it was in that moment and being a gracious loser and acknowledging that she got beat - because she got beat by a better athlete on that particular night - she would have gotten more over because of that in some ways than when she was beating people up."
In 2015, Rousey was looked at as a modern-day female Mike Tyson, finishing all of her MMA fights (with only two going past the first round) and compiling a 12-0 record. It got to the point where many people, including former WWE Hall of Famer Jesse Ventura, felt that Rousey would be able to beat boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a fight.
Rousey entered her UFC 193 fight on November 15, 2015 against Holly Holm as a -2000 favorite. She ended up getting knocked out in the second round. A year later, she blacked out the media and faced Amanda Nunes on December 30, 2016 at UFC 207, only to get defeated via TKO in 48 seconds.
"When she crapped all over the media and crapped all over the fans by refusing to do interviews and being bitter, it turned the audience against her, but not in a way that you can build upon. There's a way of getting heat that works for you, and there's a way of getting heat that works against you. The heat that she created for herself was not the latter."
Bischoff noted that when talk of Rousey joining WWE picked up after her loss to Nunes, he had said that it would be a bad idea because of the booking challenges that it creates.
"What is the WWE going to do, bring her in and have her wipe out half of the entire women's division because she's the baddest woman on the planet? That won't work. Are they going to put her over as a babyface? Eh, good luck with that. So there's some real creative character challenges there."
Despite the potential conundrum that WWE faces in booking Rousey, Bischoff said that there are people in WWE that are up for that challenge.
"I think given the time and the patience and acknowledging where Ronda has been the last 16 - 18 months of her life and figuring out how to create that character and that storyline in full acknowledgement of that history, I think that there's a way to do it. But they're going to have to be careful."
Bischoff noted that Rousey has the look, work ethic and charisma of a Superstar professional athlete. However, while that puts her ahead of the game, he feels that the biggest challenge will be Rousey carrying those tools over to a scripted environment. He added that he is excited to see how it's handled.
"How is she going to handle becoming a performer in a scripted environment? How is she going to learn and adapt to the challenges of telling a story using physical drama instead of going in and competing physically, because they're two different worlds. Professional wrestling... is no different than a Broadway play except that in a Broadway play, actors are using dialogue to tell a story and establish their characters, while in WWE, they're using a physical dialogue to tell their story and build their characters. That's a very unique art, it really is."
"How quickly will Ronda adapt to that art? That remains to be seen," Bischoff continued. "I wish her the best. She's a beautiful young woman, she's obviously talented, she's an athlete. I really wish her the best, but if you go back and look at the last 16 - 18 months of her history and the baggage that she's bringing with her - along with the notoriety that she got, she's got great notoriety - but there's some baggage there too. How that is all thrown into the big stew pot and how it's all cooked and what other ingredients they add to it so that we can see how she comes out of that, I'm very excited to see how that evolves."
Bischoff will be reuniting with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall at the big Astronomicon fan fest this weekend taking place in metro Detroit at the Wyndham Garden in Sterling Heights, MI (34911 Van Dyke) from Friday, February 9th thru Sunday, February 11th.
"The cool part is, I'm a Detroit guy, Kevin's a Detroit guy, so we both get to go back to Motown and hang out," Bischoff said. "We'll get to see some wrestling fans and talk about the old days, growing up in Detroit and all kinds of good stuff."
Also scheduled for Astronomicon are Booker T, Bruce Prichard, Charles Wright (f.k.a. The Godfather) and Road Warrior Animal. You can get more details at Astronomicon.com. Bischoff will also be taking part in a Periscope broadcast tonight at 8pm EST. You can be part of the show by tweeting your questions to @EBischoff.
The first part of my interview with Bischoff is in the video above, or you can listen to it in the audio player below as part of our Wednesday edition of the Wrestling Inc. Podcast (at the 1:08 mark). In addition to Rousey, Bischoff discussed his appearance at RAW 25 and running into Vince McMahon backstage, how much wrestling might be different if Kevin Nash and Scott Hall didn't jump to WCW in 1996, Impact Wrestling executives not understanding the business, NJPW and more. You can subscribe to the Wrestling Inc. Podcast on iTunes and on YouTube.