While UFC’s biggest star Conor McGregor was front and center getting ready for a fight in another sport, the company’s other biggest star spent Thursday and Friday in her own outside the UFC venue.
Ronda Rousey appeared on World Wrestling Entertainment tapings on Thursday and Friday night at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., allegedly just as a spectator watching one of her best friends, former UFC fighter Shayna Baszler.
But as usual, funny things always seem to happen when celebrities are at ringside at WWE shows.
Thursday went relatively quiet, as Baszler won her first-round match in a 32-woman tournament taped for the WWE Network called the Mae Young Classic, named after a woman wrestling star in the 40s and 50s who has become marketed as the patron saint of women’s wrestling by WWE. Rousey was at ringside watching Baszler’s match.
The angle is that Baszler not only had Rousey in the crowd both nights, but Rousey was sitting with Jessamyn Duke, an Invicta fighter who was formerly with UFC, and Marina Shafir, another Invicta fighter who is engaged to WWE wrestler Chris Lindsey, who uses the name Roderick Strong. Three years ago, Baszler came up with the moniker for the four called The Four Horsewomen, named after an iconic pro wrestling group of the late 1980s, the Four Horsemen of Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson with a revolving group of fourth members over the years.
The key to that is the name Flair. Baszler never trademarked the name, and some time later, the WWE marketed Charlotte Flair, real name Ashley Fliehr, the daughter of Ric Flair, along with three other star WWE women wrestlers, Bayley (Pamela Martinez), Sasha Banks (Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado) and Becky Lynch (Rebecca Quin) as, you guessed it, the Four Horsewomen.
Nobody said anything, since by that time Baszler was out of UFC and her goal was to make the WWE roster. Plus, Baszler had trained with several of the WWE women, with them teaching her pro wrestling and her teaching them legitimate catch wrestling submissions that she learned from her mentors, Josh Barnett and Billy Robinson, the latter being a legitimate submission master who was a major pro wrestling star in the 60s and 70s.
After Baszler won her second-round match over Mia Yim, working an MMA style and using a choke as her finisher, she did her four fingers signal as a taunt in the face of Bayley, Lynch and Flair. Banks wasn’t there, since she’s currently on a promotional trip to Australia.
This led to both groups of women taunting each other.
It was not made clear on Friday if anything more will come out of it, and one WWE official called it “foreshadowing in essence, just in case.”
WWE has made it clear they would be interested in Rousey doing a match after her lone television appearance, a tandem angle with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as adversaries of the WWE royal family of Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, the son-in-law and daughter of WWE owner Vince McMahon, at the 2015 WrestleMania in Santa Clara, Calif. The hope was to build toward a Rousey vs. Stephanie match at the WrestleMania in 2016 in Dallas, but it never transpired.
This angle won’t air until early September.
Baszler, who it was believed had not signed a contract with the organization yet, was booked to be one of the stars of the tournament, and goes to the finals against Kairi Sane of Japan, which will take place on Sept. 12 in Las Vegas and the expectation is the angle will be furthered at that time.