Before picking Kurt Angle, WWE reportedly asked both Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Dave "Batista" Bautista to team with Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. If there's one thing WWE - and its owner Vince McMahon - loves, it's some good mainstream publicity. While professional wrestling - or as McMahon dubs it, sports entertainment - will always have its core fanbase, WWE understandably enjoys whenever something happening on their programming gains attention from the pop culture or sports world at large.
That was definitely true for WWE's signing of former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey earlier this year. Rousey made a surprise appearance at the end of WWE's Royal Rumble pay-per-view in late January, igniting an explosion of coverage from mainstream sports and entertainment news outlets. Rousey returned to sign her WWE contract at February's Elimination Chamber event, getting into a physical altercation with WWE's onscreen heel authority figures - and real-life executives - Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the process.
Not too long after, a match was made official for this weekend's WrestleMania XXXIV pay-per-view, the biggest event of the WWE calendar. Ronda Rousey would team up with multi-time WWE champion - and former U.S. olympic gold medalist - Kurt Angle to take on HHH and Stephanie in a mixed tag team match. Angle is definitely a good choice, as this will be his big return to the WrestleMania stage after being absent since 2006. He also shares Rousey's ability to kick ass in a legitimate fight, thanks to his amateur wrestling background. However, according to The Wrestling Observer, Angle wasn't WWE's first choice. Both The Rock and Batista were asked to team with Rousey at WrestleMania, but declined.
It doesn't take a genius to understand why The Rock was reportedly WWE's first choice to team with Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania XXXIV. For one, the match was set up at WrestleMania XXXI in 2015, which saw Rock and Rousey get physical with HHH and Stephanie in the ring, but not in an actual match. The Rock also has an extensive history with HHH, and is arguably his greatest WWE rival of all time. On top of that, he's one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Likewise, Batista has an extensive WWE history with HHH as both friend and foe, and has also become a well-known movie star in his own right.
While it's unclear why specifically that The Rock and Batista said no to teaming with Ronda Rousey, it was likely nothing personal. The two wrestlers turned actors were probably just too busy with their respective Hollywood careers to make time for a WrestleMania match. Plus, while both men are in fantastic shape generally, neither has performed in the ring in years, so they likely would have needed to carve out time to train for such an endeavor.
WWE WrestleMania XXXIV streams live this Sunday night on WWE Network.
Source: The Wrestling Observer