“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey made a surprise cameo at this past weekend’s Royal Rumble to signify the start of her WWE career.
It had sports (and sports entertainment) fans buzzing and it had UFC superstar Conor McGregor smiling.
“I’m delighted for her. Absolutely over the moon for her,” McGregor told independent video journalist Adam Glyn Wednesday night in New York. “She looked like she really enjoyed herself at the event and I was very happy to see her.”
Only a select handful of UFC athletes are able relate to the level of fame and scrutiny faced by a star of Rousey’s stature, and McGregor is certainly one of them.
“She’s a pioneer for the game and she’s came through it all, faced big wins and big, big losses and she came through it and it’s great to see her represent herself and mixed martial arts and have fun in the WWE,” McGregor added. “I know she’s been a big fan of it all her life so it’s great to see that.”
Following the first all-women’s Royal Rumble match in WWE history, as winner Asuka stood in the ring beside SmackDown champion Charlotte and Raw champ Alexa Bliss, Rousey emerged from backstage as the crowd at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia roared.
The former UFC women’s bantamweight champion marched to the ring with her signature entrance music (Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”) blaring and without using words announced her presence.
Rousey wore a getup similar to the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper with a T-shirt that read “Hot Ronda” in the same font as Piper’s classic “Hot Rod” shirts plus a leather jacket. In fact, the leather jacket Rousey wore was Piper’s, given to her by his son Colton. At the beginning of her MMA career, Rousey famously asked Piper for permission to use the nickname “Rowdy” as an homage to her idol.
“It’s been a dream of mine [to be in the WWE] since before I could talk,” Rousey told WWE.com after the event.
Rousey’s friend and training partner, Shayna Baszler, also a former UFC women’s bantamweight competitor, is currently signed to WWE’s developmental professional wrestling promotion NXT.
It’s unclear when Rousey might make her official WWE debut, although at the Rumble she pointed to the giant WrestleMania sign displayed above the ring, indicating it could be at WrestleMania 34 in April. Rousey made a surprise appearance at WrestleMania 31 back in 2015.