Ronda Rousey broke new ground this past Sunday when she made her surprise debut in the final moments of the Royal Rumble event in Philadelphia. But based on social media reactions in the days since, she's been on shaky ground with the women's locker room.
Veteran and former SmackDown Women's Champion Natalya explained during an interview with TV Insider that the women's frustration isn't with Rousey, but rather how debuted.
For those who missed it, Rousey did not enter the first Women's Royal Rumble match during the show's main event like many predicted. Instead her arrival came minutes after Asuka won the Rumble match.
"My husband, Tyson (Kidd), is a producer at WWE, and we always have friendly exchanges of our opinions driving in our car from town to town," Natalya said. "Was it the right way to debut her? Should she have debuted the next night on Raw or at WrestleMania? It’s hard to know what the answer is. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ronda as an athlete.
"To me, just seeing her backstage as a friend, I picked her up off the ground when I saw her. It’s not my place to say if it was right or wrong. The other girls and I, we all have our own opinions. We can speak our minds. It’s a free country. For me, more than anything, I was just happy to see my friend… It’s all very new. It’s a new situation for everyone. There is definitely going to be an adjustment phase. I’ve always embraced new talent with open arms. We take it one day at a time and see how it goes."
Rousey had brief interactions with Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss and Stephanie McMahon before pointing at the WrestleMania 34 sign as the show went off the air.
The backlash began on social media, with wrestlers like Nia Jax and Nikki Bella making points that social media was focussing on her rather than the women's roster having its first Rumble match.
Cool she’s here....I guess 30 women making history can just be forgotten https://t.co/fHqMezduEH— Nia Jax (@NiaJaxWWE) January 30, 2018
"Cool she's here.... I guess 30 women making history can just be forgotten," Nia Jax tweeted.
Sasha Banks took things a step further in an interview with Busted Open Radio the following day.
"My feelings, sorry to do it do you guys, I have nothing nice to say, so I can't say anything at all," Banks said.
Natayla, who has been with the WWE for 10 years, believes Rousey can find her place on the roster and said the other female wrestlers already respect her.
"I think [Ronda] is going to be an excellent fit in WWE," Natalya said. "She has a great attitude. She wants to be part of this company. She wants to get to know the girls. She has a tremendous respect for the history of our company. I think she definitely brings attention to the company in a lot of ways.
"I’ll tell you one thing, because I am in the women’s locker room. There is nothing but respect towards Ronda, no matter how anyone felt [about] how they debuted her. I think we are all excited about having her there, because there are so many possibilities of what we can do with her. We are all wondering if she is going to be on Raw or SmackDown. I really want to work with her, because I know we would tear it up."
ESPN reported moments after her debut that Rousey had signed a full-time contract with the WWE. However due to her current filming schedule, she did not appear on either Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live this week.