Superstar Shakeup Fallout: Natalya Could Be Ronda Rousey’s First Great Feud

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Photo: WWE

On a busy night that (at time of publish) has seen Monday Night Raw acquire Smackdown Live Superstars Jinder Mahal, The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan), Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango), Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, the latest women’s acqusition could be the most intriguing yet. Smackdown Live‘s resident cat lady and 2x Women’s Champion Natalya made her Raw return tonight as part of the WWE Superstar Shakeup. She was welcomed by Raw GM Kurt Angle, as well one of Raw’s newest Superstars Ronda Rousey. And while it may have seemed innocent enough in real life friends Ronda and Natalya greeting each other on Nattie’s first night back, it could actually turn into something much much bigger. As in, Ronda’s first real feud in the WWE.

After months of anxious fans and naysayers debated whether Ronda Rousey could hold her own in the WWE ring, she put to rest any doubts with a great debut match for the company at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans, in a fun mixed tag team match teamed with Kurt Angle against Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. But now that the debut spectacle is over, it’s time for Ronda Rousey to have an opponent to work with who can continue to showcase her true combat skills and help her grow in the ring. Enter Natalya.

Duke, Baszler and Rousey with Natalya in 2015

The reason this feud could be the perfect start to Ronda Rousey’s WWE singles career is because of the history that these two women have with each other. Back in 2015, Natalya spent time in California training UFC fighter Josh Barnett for pro wrestling (and learning more MMA technique from Barnett), and during that time, she also began training the MMA Four Horsewomen – NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir and Ronda Rousey herself. Since then, Natalya has remained close friends with Rousey. She was one of the first to greet Rousey when she arrived at last year’s Mae Young Classic to cheer on Shayna Baszler, and she was featured in Rousey’s hype video, shown training Rousey in the squared circle.

Following her WrestleMania debut (and victory), Natalya – along with the Bella Twins, Nikki & Brie – had an emotional encounter with Rousey following her match. The love between genuine real life friends was a touching one.

Tonight during Angle’s conversation with Ronda Rousey, Natalya was introduced as the latest Superstar to move to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup and after Ronda pointed out that they “trained together”, Natalya said that she looked forward to proving to everyone that she was “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be”. When Ronda seemed to take slight offence to the statement, Natalya stated that it was “just my opinion” and that maybe she was the “second best”.

Natalya has been somewhat of a backstabbing friend in the past few years, portraying an unappreciated heel after years of being one of WWE’s constant good girls. A jealous turn on her friend Ronda Rousey to prove that Stu Hart‘s Dungeon is tougher than the UFC octagon could be an intriguing storyline. Not only would it showcase some fantastic submission wrestling, having Ronda face her trainer of the past three years would do wonders for her confidence in the ring. And someone with Natalya’s experience in the ring – not to mention the knowledge of her opponent’s capabilities – would be a perfect start to help guide her in the ring. As one of her trainers, Natalya is probably more knowledgeable of Rousey’s strengths and weaknesses than almost anyone else in the WWE. And Natalya has reached a certain level of character that she can absorb a loss to Rousey and not have it destroy her. She’s shown to be a reliable roster member who can elevate new stars or take the main event herself. And showcasing the best Ronda Rousey has to offer could be her greatest accomplishment to date.

What do you think? Could we see Ronda face Natalya?

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Jamie Greer is the Managing Editor and lead writer for Last Word on Pro Wrestling. A lifelong wrestling fan who started with the WWF in the early 80's, he now follows everything from the smallest indie to WWE. He's also written for WrestleZone, The Windsor Star, Windsor Independent and other publications. He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and son.

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