When you’re at the top of the mountain, there are always people looking to drag you down.
After successfully capturing the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Liv Morgan last month, Ronda Rousey had an immediate goal in mind: Curate a title reign that would cement her status as one of the most talented competitors in WWE history. At Survivor Series, Ronda put another emphatic exclamation point on her title run by handily defeating challenger Shotzi in just over 7 minutes, which is no small feat in itself, considering Shotzi pulled out all the stops in her quest to dethrone the champion.
But nearly as soon as Survivor Series went off the air, the internet was buzzing with critiques of Ronda’s performance in the match and during her current title reign in general. Clearly, there’s been some momentum within the WWE Universe that perhaps Ronda is unworthy and undeserving of being champion, especially considering the vast amount of talent currently on the WWE roster.
Criticism toward any champion is not uncommon in social media in this day and age, but it never hurts to have someone who has your back and is willing to vouch for you — and Ronda has seemingly found that ally in fellow Superstar Zelina Vega! Although the two Superstars have never crossed paths during their respective WWE careers, it’s a testament to the professionalism between the two women that Zelina would even bring up the trending topics of Ronda in the past few weeks.
During an appearance on the “That’s Dope! Podcast,” Zelina Vega had nothing but love for the current SmackDown Women’s Champion and even alluded to the fact that it’s current Superstars who are jealous of the attention Ronda’s been getting lately.
“The people who get mad that Ronda’s there are the people who are upset that they’re not getting that opportunity,” she said. “To me, anyway, she’s been nothing but sweet. She’s been nothing but respectful. She puts in the work, and she’s a gamer, so I love that. But she’s super sweet and super cool.”
Zelina — currently aligned with Legado del Fantasma on SmackDown after making her return to active competition last month — also went on to send a message to both the locker room and the WWE Universe: Ronda Rousey is here for the right reasons, and she isn’t taking her position lightly.
“Honestly, I absolutely love Ronda,” she said. “She wasn’t just some bozo off the street who’s decided to do this on a Tuesday. She was one of the best, like one of the absolute best [in UFC]. If she made that career change to go into WWE, that brings in her fans and it’s something that people don’t get to see usually.”
In addition to addressing criticism that Ronda doesn’t deserve to be SmackDown Women’s Champion, Zelina also spoke openly to critics who feel Ronda’s MMA background leads to her taking unneeded liberties with her opponents.
“I have never been in the ring with her, so I can’t say. But I will say, if they have gotten hurt or something has happened — I can’t see it being on purpose. I cannot see that from Ronda. She’s just too good of a person that I’ve gotten to know, that I don’t see her being malicious,” she said.
It seems the path Ronda Rousey took to reach WWE is now being used as ammo against her by some of her loudest detractors, but Zelina Vega put that notion to rest, vouching for the person Ronda is outside of the ring: Someone who is far removed from her violent and brash WWE persona.
Unfortunately, whether they’re positive or negative, the loudest voices will be heard, so we here at USA Insider don’t expect the noise directed toward Ronda to dissipate anytime soon. But what we do have to look forward to is a possible budding alliance between Ronda and Zelina Vega, which would be a union that would be immensely entertaining to watch. (Or hey, maybe this is all mind games from Zelina and she’s just angling to get a SmackDown Women’s title opportunity down the road!)
With 2022 winding down and the new year — and WrestleMania season — looming, Ronda Rousey's title reign rolls on, picking up momentum with each successful defense. One thing’s for certain: With each passing day as champion, Ronda quiets yet another critic, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
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