Friday, July 31, 2015

Ronda Rousey Won't Be the First Horsewoman to Hit the Ring

Baszler comin' to take on Cheerleader Melissa
Photo Credit: Gleidson Venga
Ronda Rousey stepped into the squared circle at WrestleMania 31 in a strictly angular role. The appearance was a complete surprise to most observers, even though people in WWE, Stephanie McMahon most notably, rolled out the red carpet for Rousey and her Four Horsewomen compadres on several occasions in the past. However, she wasn't there just to pop the crowd along with The Rock; she was there strictly to set up a huge money match for next year's WrestleMania, one which WWE wants to be the biggest event in "entertainment" history.

Of course, Dana White is playing pussyfoot with WWE over Rousey's availability, but I can't see Rousey not making her in-ring debut at Mania next year, especially if Vince McMahon opens his checkbook and gives White some compensation over it. However, regardless of when Rousey hits up a WWE ring, another one of the Horsewomen will beat her to pro wrestling. Shayna Baszler has been announced for Quintessential Pro Wrestling's September 26 show in Reno, NV, and she will debut against none other than Cheerleader Melissa. Baszler can't say she won't get quality opposition in her first tilt in the ring; Melissa has been everywhere except WWE and has done nearly everything she could do in the business so far.

Baszler may not necessarily need to be "carried" in order to have a passable performance. She's been training with Josh Barnett in the art of catch wrestling for over a decade, which is eminently adaptable to worked pro wrestling. In fact, much of pro wrestling's early days and early stars were versed in the art, and it survives today through competitors such as Kazushi Sakuraba and the fiendish invader of Pro Wrestling NOAH, Minoru Suzuki.

It shouldn't be surprising that Rousey was beaten to the squared circle by one of her training buddies, mainly because she dwarfs the three of them combined in terms of starpower and drawing ability. Her brand is far too valuable to Ulitmate Fighting Championship for her to make dalliances. But Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir, and Baszler have the freedom of movement because they don't move the needle in their home sport. However, they've gotten some notoriety in wrestling since so many people in the biz are marks for mixed martial arts, and vice versa. So if guys like Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly have her accompany them down to the ring for a high-profile match, wrestling fans automatically associate her as important by association.

And so, the whole process has led Baszler to the California-based independent promotion. Q-Pro is one of several notable non-Pro Wrestling Guerrilla indie promotions that gets to book name talent but does so with a fraction of the exposure, but it's also most notable for heavily featuring women's wrestling. Not only is Melissa a regular, but the promotion's alumnae include Candice LeRae, Veda Scott, Christina von Eerie, and Heidi Lovelace. If nothing else, Baszler will get a chance to network. Maybe she'll end up on SHIMMER cards, work her way east into other promotions, and who knows, maybe she'll be Rousey's permanent backup in WWE for when she decides to drop in between megafights. It's a bit of a jump to get from this point to that endgame, but hey, fantasy booking is natural. Either way, it's cool that she's transitioning over, especially that she's going to give an indie promotion a shot in the arm.