Ronda Rousey made just her second in-ring appearance on Raw Monday, teaming with Natalya to battle Alexa Bliss and Mickie James just six days before defending her title against Little Miss Bliss at Hell in a Cell.
The Queen of Harts frustrated Bliss early, out-wrestling her and tagging Rousey into the match. Before the Raw women’s champion could get her hands on her Hell in a Cell opponent, Bliss sprinted across the ring and made the tag to James.
A big clothesline from Rousey put James down and allowed the babyfaces to continue rolling.
A straight kick to the face of Natalya and double-teaming allowed the heels to take control of the bout. “Ronda! Ronda!” Natalya screamed in pain, in need of a tag in the worst way. Countering an armbar, she rolled Bliss up but could net only a two count.
Bliss made the mistake of slapping Rousey and paid for it, running away from her rival and right into a double-team Hart Attack that paid homage to the late Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Hall of Famer Bret “Hitman” Hart. The heels were reeling heading into the break.
Back from the break, the heels beat down Natalya, throwing in the occasional taunt of Rousey when able.
When Rousey made the tag, Bliss and James immediately targeted the ribs of the champion, which were injured a week ago. Rousey sold the injury, appearing vulnerable for the first time in her WWE career. Chants of “Ronda” fueled her comeback, but James knocked Natalya from the ring apron, preventing a tag.
Rousey fought off the pain and mounted a comeback, striking James and backing her into the corner. Her ribs still ailing her, she momentarily stopped but was able to muster enough energy to apply the armbar while staring Bliss down and scoring the submission victory.
After the match, Bliss delivered a cheap shot to the ribs and ran away.
Rousey and Natalya defeated Bliss and Mickie James
Was it the prettiest match? Absolutely not, but this did set up a story for Rousey and Bliss’ match Sunday night at Hell in a Cell. Rousey, for the first time in her career, is hurt. Her ribs are less-than 100-percent and Bliss will look to exploit the injury to her benefit as she seeks another championship victory.
There will be those who argue that it is too early for Rousey to look that vulnerable but in order to avoid repetition Sunday, it was necessary. For someone who has not been asked to sell that much thus far in her career, she did a good enough job of it.
A quality segment on a show that has not featured many of them to this point.