Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: Ronda vs. Nia

14. Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax WWE Money in the Bank 6/17

PAS: I was actually pretty optimistic about Ronda as a pro wrestler, MMA is a pretty great base for wrestling, and folks like Bas Rutten, Shayna Bayzler and Dokonjonsuke Mishima were pretty great from the jump. The ways she is so good are pretty surprising though. I was expecting some cool Judo throws (and we got some awesome ones here), and maybe even some big bumps (and there were those too), but I was blown away by how good she already was at the little things which separate cool wrestlers from great ones. I loved how the match started with Jax overwhelming her with power and size, and how good Ronda was as reacting to that. A big part of the story of the match was conveyed in her facial reactions, she did a great job appearing overwhelmed, and she was awesome when she got her confidence and went to work. I loved her going to the top rope, almost falling off and steeling herself and hitting the bodypress. I think her martial arts experience makes her super compelling at working holds, no one would ever lay in a hold in a Judo contest or MMA fight and she doesn't every stope moving in a wrestling match,  every time she is placed in a hold or applies one she is constantly fighting for an advantage or a counter. Her battle out of the bearhug was one of my favorite spots of the year, and her attacking the arm was full of cool little adjustments. We are high voters on Nia Jax on SC, and this was a hell of a performance from her too, she was great at making everything look violent and I loved her arrogance, this is her sport and she wasn't going to allow an interloper to take her title.  Ronda has such a built in history with the armbar that even a tease of it gets a huge reaction, and I loved how the final fight for it was worked. Of course we can't have good things, and they do a stupid Money in the Bank cash in, and Ronda and Nia have to sell for mini who can barely lift a briefcase. I actually think Alexa can be effective in the ring, but having such a physical, athletically impressive match derailed by someone so tiny and unimposing really was dissonant, are we really supposed to buy Nia being pinned by that splash? Hornswoggle wasn't ending title matches.

ER: Fully agree with Phil here on just how surprised and impressed I am with the ways Rousey has excelled. We've now seen several MMA transitions and they all have the body language and the air of legitimacy, and we've seen some really quick learners (Riddle and Baszler recently, but we can also look at the New Japan Russians from 30 years ago as crossover quick learners). But what I wasn't expecting from Ronda is her being so great with timing, with selling, and most importantly has a range of facial characteristics that I wasn't expecting. There are people who I think are decent wrestlers who have been doing this for many years, who still get that look in their eyes that they're trying their best to remember what's coming next, to think about where they have to be standing, to remember what major note to hit next, and she just comes off so natural. I knew she had potential to be good, I didn't actually think she would be this good, this quick. Her move execution is great, her selling and reactions are great, but I love that she still has the stiffness of a celebrity Raw guest host when she takes offense. She exudes tons of confidence when she's dishing out shots, but there are also moments where she feels like Kevin Federline about to take an FU, and that's awesome. I'm always surprised when I see us as the high vote on Nia. I think people just hate her voice. I don't know, I think she's a great powerhouse who can believably work in drama for smaller opponents. She's a big bumper, but doesn't just fly around doing fast back bumps for anything, instead saving them for big cascading tumbles that open up her vulnerability.

I loved all the offense in this, loved the structure of Nia just powering through painful shots to land big wrestling moves. Ronda's strikes all looked great, loved her punch flurries, and she was so smart about throwing in little things to avoid dead time, like when they were both on the mat close to each other, and Ronda threw a grounded kick to Nia's back. That kind of thing reminds me of when someone wouldn't be too quick getting back to their feet and Finlay would stomp on their fingers. I thought Nia sold the shots well, absorbing at first but later the same shots thrown the same way had a bigger effect. At one point Ronda hit a right to the body that staggered and dropped Nia to a knee, allowing Ronda to leap with a high knee to the jaw. The whole sequence looked great, from both women. Nia's power offense was awesome, a big bear huge (which Coachman idiotically said was great for Ronda to rest during. Why the fuck is this guy here again?), press slams, avalanches, and a couple big Samoan drops, aiming to squish Ronda like a bug. Nia throws one of the favorite legdrops in wrestling, and I liked how the missed legdrop was used to give Ronda an opening here. Ronda is crazy with the punishment she takes, and I noticed myself leaned way forward on the couch while they were fighting on the floor, Ronda awesomely trying a rana before Nia swung her about as violently as you can swing someone into a barricade. I loved the work around the arm, thought Nia was great at showing how desperate she was to keep those hands clasped, loved how she slyly fed Ronda her arm after missing a corner charge, loved the zoom in on her hands slowly getting unclasped (though it would have felt even bigger had I not seen a great version of that exact same thing the night before on NXT), and maybe I'm wrong but as they were fighting through what would have surely been the match finish armbar it looked like Nia was trying to muscle out of it by holding her arms and leaning forward with her weight, trying to break Ronda's grip the way Zampano would break an iron chain across his chest.

I expected a not clean finish, but had less of a problem with Bliss' performance than Phil. She is obviously not as physical as Ronda or Nia, but I thought she was really effective swinging that briefcase, and I didn't see it as her having a hard time lifting it, it felt like she was giving it some weight to pay off the shots. John Cena was always really great at giving the ring steps weight, always losing his footing in a different way when picking them up. That briefcase probably weighs 3 pounds tops, but the way Bliss was throwing her whole body into shots, swinging the edges into Nia's arm and plastering Ronda, really made it feel bigger. I buy the Twisted Bliss finishing, as Nia's focus was solely on her arm, which set up a big DDT before the splash, and no matter how big you are it's going to smart when 100 pounds gets dropped on you.


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