Triple H Reveals It Was Rousey That Courted The WWE, Not The Other Way Around

Former UFC bantamweight champion and trailblazing MMA superstar Ronda Rousey made her WWE debut on Sunday night, Jan. 28. Appearing at WWE’s Royal Rumble, Rousey approached the ring in WWE legend Roddy Piper’s iconic leather jacket while sporting the professional wrestler’s “Rowdy” moniker.

Now Paul Levesque, better known by his WWE nickname “Triple H,” recently sat down with For The Win to offer some details on how Ronda Rousey managed to land a contract with the professional wrestling organization.

During the interview, “Triple H” revealed that Rousey actually got the WWE’s attention when she repeatedly mentioned her passion for professional wrestling through the years. The former UFC bantamweight champion then got in contact with the WWE in hopes of using the Performance Center for her bachelorette party. From there, the conversations that led to Rousey’s WWE debut began.

Check out For the Win’s full transcription of their interview with “Triple H” concerning Ronda Rousey’s rise to the WWE down below:

When did you first start having conversations about trying to bring in Ronda?

It’s one of those things that happened organically. I had heard about her being a big fan. There were a few things we sort of inadvertently connected with each other on without actually meeting. She came and did the Ice Bucket Challenge with Steph [McMahon] when we were in L.A., and even then she kind of floated it out how much she loved [WWE].

And just her knowledge of what we do was so deep. She would mention at the time, ‘Oh, I’d love to do this. When I get done, this is what I want to do.’ She would always say that: ‘This is what I want to do,’ you know, but you hear that a lot. But over the years it slowly morphed into things. She did the stuff with us at (Wrestle)Mania, and we’ve just had conversations over and over.

And then this year it really escalated. We had not been in contact other than a little text here and there… She called to ask about coming to the Performance Center, if she could come in there and be with a few of her friends for a bachelorette party. And we had a discussion about it, and during that discussion, boy, it really started to come up that this is something she was not just throwing out there or suggesting – it was something that she really wanted to do.

It’s something that she’s really wanted to do the whole time. She was dead serious every time she mentioned it to me. On our end, you hear that a lot, it’s usually just people saying something. She was dead serious the whole time.

With the Rumble approaching and WrestleMania a couple of months away, was there pressure to get a deal done so the timing would be perfect?

It’s funny, there wasn’t pressure on the timing of this at all of necessarily the Rumble part. It really just came together. There wasn’t a lot of back-and-forth or like intense negotiations. It kept coming up in the media, and to be honest we had had conversations but we just hadn’t – between her schedule and my schedule – we just hadn’t sat down and said ‘what do we want to do here?’

And she’s been training this whole time, specifically for WWE. She’s been training intensely this whole time, and I knew that and I knew what her intent was, but we had yet to sit down and have that deep conversation about it. Once we did, the timing just worked out. Once we did, it went extremely quick from there.

… She was sending me bits and pieces of training footage along the way, so I knew she was serious. It was just a matter of getting time to sit and talk. Once we did it was really quick, and it was a thing like, ‘Hey, I’m ready to go now if you want me to do something right away.’ So that changed our thinking, and we went from there.

Now that she’s signed, in your perspective, how big of a get is Ronda Rousey for WWE? Do you expect her to bring a new audience?

Well I think that it’s a huge set of eyeballs, but the thing that I’m most excited about is just the talent. I get it, from a PR standpoint. I get that she’s going to bring in a different level of awareness of WWE on every level, and especially with the Women’s Evolution going on right now in WWE – the Women’s Rumble, the Hell in a Cell match and all the things that are coming down the pike. … The timing is perfect.

But the thing I’m really excited about is the fact that this is not a one-off. It’s not a, ‘Oh, I’m going to teach you to do this, you’re going to do it one time and you’re going to go away.’ She’s here. She’s a talent, and she’s a remarkable athlete, obviously, and a remarkable person.

She just picks this up. She gets it, she understands it. She’s all in, and that’s a really cool thing. To me, that’s what I’m the most excited about, because to me it’s for delivering for our fans that we already have, let alone showing those new ones. The [fans] we already have, I know there’s a couple of them questioning and all that stuff. They’re going to be thrilled. I’m telling you, she is going to win them over because she is just like them. She’s been a fan since she was a little kid. I think it was probably one of her first things that she loved, was WWE.

She’s so into it that her passion boils over when you talk to her about it, and she’s going to knock this out of the park.

How much planning goes in to keeping Ronda’s entrance at the Royal Rumble a surprise for fans?

It’s harder than you think in this world of social media. As it was coming down to making the decision we wanted to do this, there were a lot of last-minute things. She was in Colombia doing the movie. Trying to get somebody on a flight that is as famous as Ronda is, and as visible as she is – and internationally she’s almost bigger than she is in he U.S. – on a flight, into the country, through customs, clear security, on another flight to Philly, shuttle to a hotel, into the service entry, brought to a bus, hidden in the arena the whole day, and not until right before she walks out there does anybody see her.

It was a monumental task – it took a large team. But it’s all for trying to create a moment for our fans, and trying to create a moment for the world where you just have … while people expect it, they don’t know. And it’s so difficult now because the second somebody is seen somewhere, social media is all over it. The world cannot wait to be the person to say ‘I was the one who saw her,’ or ‘I broke this.’ So when you’re able to pull off something that’s a big surprise like that, it’s great. Trust me, we all kept it very, very quiet on all fronts. Very few people knew … there was only a handful at best that knew.

Last week TMZ snapped a photo of you after having a secret dinner with Rousey in Los Angeles. When you’re trying to plan a big surprise, does that kind of stuff drive you nuts?

Part of it is great because it fuels speculation, fuels conversation which fuels excitement. You just don’t want it to ruin the moment. It’s like trying to pull off a surprise party for your kids or something like that. They might suspect, but they don’t know. You just want it to be a surprise, you want it to be fun.

The dinner thing in LA, people made such a huge deal out of it…. I was in LA for a totally different reason. Was coming back, I had a series of meetings and my last meeting ended close to LAX. I was taking a red-eye, and I had a couple of hours. I just reached out and said, ‘Hey if you’re free, I’m going to be there, we can have dinner and chat and catch up on some stuff and see if we can get closer.’

We were able to make it happen, that’s all it was. I got a private room, and right before we were about to leave the restaurant people came in and said, ‘Wow, there’s a ton of paparazzi and film crews outside.’ So we all tried to go out different doors and I three-quarters made it out unscathed before they caught a distant shot of me getting in a car. But it was all good. Speculation creates things. It’s funny, people try to say, ‘Oh they lied to us,’ or something … we’re trying to create excitement and surprise you! Go with it.

What are the next steps for her development?

She’ll finish up this movie, and then she’s in. She’ll be at the Performance Center, she’ll be training and working with us every day. And we’ll see where it goes. It is not for lack of desire or motivation, if anything. The two times she has been at the Performance Center training, we’ve had to try to get her to back off because she will train all day and all night if we let her.

What kind of reactions have you been getting from the rest of the roster?

I think they’re thrilled.

It’s funny, when Ronda came back, all she wanted to do was see those other girls in the Rumble and tell them how great it was. Before we brought her out I was with her watching the tail end of the Women’s Rumble … and she is such a fan of the talent and everybody that’s working that it’s hard for them when they’re around her, like she’s almost in awe of them, in some ways, as much as they look at her because she’s from outside.

She fits right in. It’s a funny thing: Very few people come into something like this – and I’ve seen a lot of them over 25 years – they come in and there’s a difference. There’s a difference in their mentality and they way they are, and it takes a little while to fit in.

Any time she’s ever been around us, it’s like this is where she should have been her whole life. She’s just like everybody else who is in our locker room. There’s no pretenses, there’s no ego, there’s no anything. She just fits right into them. I think, from that standpoint, they can’t wait to rub up against her and kind of get that opportunity. It’s going to put a lot of eyes on them and it’s going to elevate their careers and it’s going to elevate what we do.

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