The Rowdy Rewind looks back at Ronda Rousey’s first year of matches and segments in WWE, the ones that have yet to be covered by RondaRousey.com.
On Sunday, June 17, 2018, WWE ran its ninth Money in the Bank pay-per-view—live from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. While eight women from RAW and SmackDown duked it out earlier in the night to earn the title of “Ms. Money in the Bank”—which Alexa Bliss “earned”—over on the red brand, specifically, “The Irresistible Force” Nia Jax defended her RAW Women’s Championship against “The Baddest Woman on the Planet” Ronda Rousey.
This wouldn’t just be a first-time singles encounter between the two women: This would be Ronda’s first-ever singles and title match in WWE.
And it all began when RAW Women’s Champion Nia Jax decided to personally challenge Ronda Rousey to a championship match when they were at last year’s NBC Universal Upfronts. “Can you be RAW Women’s Champion,” Nia asked Ronda, before letting her know that she wanted the WWE rookie to be her opponent at Money in the Bank. And you know what? It was actually a respectful challenge, and the two women shook hands. (Also, like at this past WrestleMania, Charlotte Flair was also there.)
The respect didn’t last long.
At the contract signing for this match—four weeks before the pay-per-view—Stephanie McMahon attempted to play master manipulator, bringing up how Ronda “leapfrogged” her way over other, more deserving women. Then she said that Nia was “trying to make a name for herself at [Ronda’s] expense,” calling Ronda “ripe for the picking.” Stephanie also brought up the lack of weight division in WWE, pointing out that Nia is “bigger,” ”stronger,” and “more powerful” than Ronda.
It didn’t work to rile Ronda up, but then Stephanie brought up how it took Nia 15-20 minutes to beat little Alexa Bliss at that year’s WrestleMania. She said the Ronda knew the truth about how Nia was “lazy,” bringing up how it wouldn’t take too long for Ronda to get Nia into the armbar—if she could even do it, due to Nia’s size. As Stephanie kept going on about Nia’s size, finally, the champion snapped… but not at Stephanie.
Instead, she fell right into Stephanie’s trap and said that Ronda couldn’t put the armbar on her. “The truth is, I will make a name for myself. Because I’m gonna beat you at Money in the Bank.” Ronda’s response? She signed the contract, moved the table, and told Nia she’s “really happy the truth came out.” They shook hands again though, right before Ronda promised to take her title and her arm. (Stephanie loved it all.)
The following week on RAW, Nia decided to prove that she could get out of the armbar easily. “The armbar—it doesn’t really mean much to me,” she said. Again, she brought up the talking point that Ronda may not even be able to lock the armbar in on her, as she continued to show off all the moves she could use to get the three-count on Ronda.
Nia’s power was also on full display in this feud, especially as Ronda honestly had never faced anyone like her…
…but Ronda proved days before the match that she could, in fact, put Nia in the armbar.
Ronda Rousey def. Nia Jax (c) via Disqualification, in a RAW Women’s Championship match
Perhaps a sign of what was to come, the champion Nia Jax actually came out first. According to Corey Graves, it was “the champion’s prerogative,” a force of intimidation. But it was Ronda Rousey who made her opponent wait for her to enter. Then out came Ronda, with a smile on her face for the WWE Universe. But as soon as that bell rang and JoJo made the in-ring introductions? Absolutely no smiles—it was game time.
The champion’s strategy? Rush the challenger immediately, using her power game and size advantage. She drove Ronda into the corner, then threw her across the ring and manhandled her in the opposite corner. But as she tried to do it again, Ronda was able to sidestep out of the corner. This time, Nia decided to grab Ronda by the throat, letting her know play time was over: “I don’t think so, Ronda.” However, that just fired up Ronda even more, as she bust out the strikes, driving Nia to the corner this time. But Nia pushed Ronda away, headbutting her down to the ground, going back to the corner and charging her. As commentary noted, in MMA, headbutts are illegal—but not in WWE.
All of this occurred before Nia put Ronda on her shoulders for a Samoan Drop. Unfortunately for Nia, she spent too much time gloating, and Ronda was able to grab her arm, apply a kimura lock, and ground her larger opponent so she could attempt to transition into the armbar that Nia had spent weeks saying she wasn’t worried about. While Ronda was able to get Nia into what looked like a triangle submission situation, instead of fading, Nia used her power to get back to a vertical base… and lift Ronda up for a sit-out powerbomb. “That could be the very first powerbomb that she’s ever taken,” Coach noted on commentary.
Upon attempting to get back to her feet, Ronda actually fell through the ropes and out to the floor. Referee John Cone started to count Ronda out, but Nia came out to do more damage. Ronda countered Nia’s attempt to powerbomb her outside… so Nia just swung her into the barricade instead. She threw Ronda back into the ring to make a pin attempt, but she only got a two-count.
Nia continued to show her power against Ronda, tossing the challenger with a gorilla press like she was nothing. Yet Ronda still showed fight, locking in a desperate guillotine on Nia, then going for a sunset flip attempt… which Nia reversed and turned into a way to just throttle Ronda on the mat over and over again. Nia screamed at Ronda: “I am the baddest!” On commentary, Michael Cole said that Nia had been frustrated by the fact that, while she won the title for the first time at WrestleMania 34, that win was overshadowed by Ronda’s debut match.
So she moved on to wearing Ronda down, locking in the bearhug. (To which Coach made one of his worst commentary gaffes, saying it gave Ronda “a little bit of a rest,” and Corey Graves questioned—as we all did that night—how Coach was still employed.) Ronda was able to strike her way out of the hold though, only to finally eat a Samoan Drop from Nia. But still, only a two-count.
At this point, it was clear that Nia was frustrated, especially as Ronda kept trying to fight back. Nia attempted to hit a leg drop on Ronda, but Ronda moved. Then she avoided Nia charging her in the corner, with Nia going shoulder first into the post. Nia charged again, only to end up in a rope-assisted armbar. After breaking the hold, Ronda tried to figure out what to do next, and to the top rope she went, hitting Nia with a huge crossbody… that only got a two-count (with Nia kicking her out right into the corner). But the WWE Universe was behind Ronda, chanting “RONDA ROUSEY,” and she went into that now patented next gear. The strikes, the step up knee, and then a judo throw on Nia. She went for the armbar again, and it actually turned it into a pin attempt on Nia, but again, only two.
Then came a uranage and another armbar attempt, which Nia fought, but Ronda was about to lock it in… until Alexa Bliss came into the ring from behind and Ronda with the Money in the Bank briefcase, forcing a disqualification. Then she hit Nia with the briefcase…. but continued to go after Ronda even more. In fact, even when it looked like she was about to cash-in, she went to the outside to attack Ronda more.
She finally went back into the ring with the briefcase, targeting Nia’s arm that Ronda had been working on the entire match. Then the match started, and we got a new RAW Women’s Champion—it just wasn’t Ronda Rousey.
Of course, what followed was Ronda Rousey’s championship hunt all the way to SummerSlam 2018…
You can go back and revisit this match (and the entirety of Money in the Bank 2018) on the WWE Network.