The Rowdy Road to SummerSlam 2018

LaToya Ferguson
Ronda Rousey (source: WWE)

At this year’s WWE SummerSlam—the 31st installment of the pay-per-view event in the sports entertainment company’s history—“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey challenges Alexa Bliss for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship. This has been the road to the biggest event of the summer…

MONEY IN THE BANK (JUNE 17, 2018) in Chicago, IL

If you’ve been following along with Ronda Rousey’s journey in the WWE so far, you’ll know that this championship match isn’t just about the spirit of competition for “The Baddest Woman on the Planet”: Rousey was arguably moments away from winning the RAW Women’s Championship from then-champion “The Irresistible Force” Nia Jax back in June, at the WWE’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view.

That is, until “The Goddess” Alexa Bliss decided to cash in her guaranteed title match with her Money in the Bank contract, which she won earlier that evening. In only a matter of moments (and after few clubbing blows from her Money in the Bank briefcase), Bliss rekindled a rivalry with her former best friend Nia Jax… as well as began a feud with Rousey. That feud culminates this weekend at SummerSlam.

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW (JUNE 18, 2018) in Grand Rapids, MI

On Monday Night RAW the night following Money in the Bank, Alexa Bliss was bold enough to celebrate her latest Women’s Championship reign—as well as bold enough to call out Ronda Rousey as an “overhyped rookie.”

The combination of Bliss’ opportunism and her need to add insult to injury led to Rousey coming to get answers and maybe even a little revenge for Bliss ruining her first championship opportunity in WWE. But after Bliss chose to hurl these barbs directly at Rousey’s face—telling the rookie to get in the back of the line, despite technically not losing her match at Money in the Bank—it’s no surprise Rousey retaliated. And retaliation ended up being synonymous with a powerbomb through a table.

Unfortunately for Rousey, a surprise did come in the form of her WrestleMania 34 tag team partner, RAW General Manager Kurt Angle—under the orders of Stephanie McMahon, after Rousey had also attacked attempted peacemaker Angle—suspending her for 30 days.

EXTREME RULES (JULY 15, 2018) in Pittsburgh, PA

This suspension didn’t prevent Rousey from sitting as a paid member of the WWE Universe at the following WWE pay-per-view, Extreme Rules, though. So with a front-row view of Alexa Bliss’ (with partner-in-crime, WWE Superstar Mickie James in her corner) title defense against former champion Nia Jax (with Rousey’s friend and mentor, WWE Superstar Natalya), Rousey watched as Bliss and James employed the numbers game to their advantage.

Eventually, that advantage overwhelmed Rousey to the point of jumping the barricade and making it more of a fair fight, saving Natalya from the onslaught of Bliss and James and attempting to even the odds for Nia Jax in this Extreme Rules match. Unfortunately for Rousey, getting involved only led to Mickie James eventually getting her with a cheap shot from a kendo stick, and allowing Bliss to retain the championship against Jax in all the chaos.

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW (JULY 16, 2018) in Buffalo, NY

The following night on RAW, Alexa Bliss continued to insult the “overrated rookie,” this time with the added frustration that Ronda Rousey was even at Extreme Rules in the first place. With Rousey’s suspension still in effect until that Wednesday, Bliss and Mickie James maintained their air of superiority against Rousey yet again. That was, until Rousey showed up in the RAW crowd and made her way down to the ring. This time, without the comfort of Extreme Rules and kendo sticks to give them the advantage, “Little Miss Bliss” and Mickie James were ready to run for their lives from “The Baddest Woman On The Planet.”

And they almost got away… until Rousey got a hold of James in the center of the ring and went for an armbar, leading to a resounding “YES!” chant from the WWE Universe. However, referees and Alexa Bliss were narrowly able to save James from Rousey’s arm-breaking attempts. But Kurt Angle wasn’t able to stop Constable Corbin from pressuring him to add another week to Rousey’s suspension. On the bright side, upon her return—as long as she could keep herself from breaking the terms of her suspension again—Rousey would get a chance to get her hands on Bliss again officially. As the #1 Contender to the RAW Women’s Championship, in a title match at this year’s SummerSlam.

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW (JULY 30, 2018) in Cincinnati, OH

Another week of suspension managed to be well worth it, because Rousey returned ready for a fight.

Upon officially returning from suspension two weeks later (but to Rousey, it “felt like an eternity”), the “Rowdy” one was back in her friend Natalya’s corner against Alexa Bliss’ newest ally, the Poison Ivy to her Harley Quinn, Alicia Fox. With Mickie James out of action after the Ronda Rousey attack, Bliss made sure to stroke Fox’s ego enough to get the former Divas Champion and one-time Survivor Series team captain on her crusade against the WWE women’s division rookie. This would lead to Fox provoking Rousey during the match with Natalya, eventually beating Natalya (thanks to the numbers game), and a fed-up Ronda Rousey now out for Bliss and Foxy’s blood. Or arms.

Again, the numbers game proved too strong for Rousey, allowing Fox to get the upper hand with a cheap shot from behind and Bliss to live to have a functioning arm for another day. As this was not the comeback from suspension that Ronda Rousey had been hoping for, Kurt Angle informed Rousey she’d be able to get a little revenge next week on RAW against Alicia Fox: in Rousey’s first ever match on Monday Night RAW.

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW (AUGUST 6, 2018) in Jacksonville, FL

This RAW opened with hype for the promise made the previous week: Ronda Rousey would have her Monday Night RAW in-ring debut in the main event of the show, going one-on-one with Alicia Fox. The show built up the big fight feel, highlighting the accolades of both Rousey as a legitimate badass and Fox as a 12-year veteran in the WWE. Prior to the match, Alexa Bliss worked double time to hype up Fox as she continued to verbally tear down the “overrated rookie” known as Ronda Rousey, with the Jacksonville crowd going from appreciative of Fox’s accomplishments in the company to ready for Rousey to break her arm. This sentiment only continued as Fox’s strategy for the match became clear: avoid Rousey at all costs while Bliss cause distractions.

However, Rousey’s strategy became even clearer, as she was eventually able to ragdoll Fox all over the ring, going after the left arm, to Fox and Bliss’ dismay. Rousey proceeded to send a message to Bliss as she ended the match (and any instance of offense from Fox) with an armbar. She continued to make that message clear as she prevented another cheap shot attempt from Bliss after the match. Regarding the WWE RAW Women’s Championship, Ronda Rousey made one thing clear in a post-match interview conducted by Charly Caruso: “At SummerSlam, it’s mine!”

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW (AUGUST 13, 2018) in Greensboro, NC

The following week’s RAW—the final RAW before SummerSlam—unfortunately began on a somber note, as an emotional Ronda Rousey made her way to the ring at the top of the show and gave a speech about the recent passing of Natalya’s father, WWE legend Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. As Rousey spoke of fathers and their job as a “pillar of strength” for their children, she also had a specific message for her friend: “Stay strong, Natalya Neidhart.”

But in true WWE fashion, Rousey knew the show must go on, and while she did not have her close friend in her corner this week, she still had back-up against the Bliss and Fox connection in the form of “The She-nom” Ember Moon. As Ember Moon took on Alexa Bliss, Rousey had the former NXT Women’s Champion’s back the same way as the injured (thanks to last week’s match with Rousey) Fox had Bliss’.

Bliss originally had personal security watching her back as well—thanks to Constable Corbin—but Rousey made short work of them.

While it looked like Ember Moon would actually defeat Alexa Bliss, Alicia Fox broke up the three-count, at least providing one less thing for Bliss to worry about heading into SummerSlam. But will Fox be able to save Bliss again at SummerSlam?

Other questions remain, as well: Will “The Baddest Woman On The Planet” live up to her promise of winning the WWE RAW Women’s Championship SummerSlam? Or will “Little Miss Bliss” and her cutting barbs prove correct, that Rousey is just an “overhyped, overrated rookie?”

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