Ronda Rousey to WWE: Triple H Reveals How UFC Legend's ...

RONDA ROUSEY'S move to WWE started with the ice bucket challenge and involved the company secretly smuggling her from Colombia to the Royal Rumble.

The legendary former UFC bantamweight champion, 30, shocked the world as she made a surprise appearance at the wrestling pay-per-view on Sunday.

And it emerged after her staredown with Charlotte, Asuka and Alexa Bliss at the end of the women's Rumble match that she has signed a full-time deal with WWE.

Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (real name Paul Levasque, WWE EVP of Talent, Live Events and Creative, has now revealed the full story of how the wrestling giants persuaded one of the planet's biggest sport stars to swap the octagon for the wrestling ring.

Speaking to USA Today, Triple H explained:"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 LA, 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 didthe stuff with us at '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." He continued: "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." Speculation has been rife for months that Rousey was considering an offer to join WWE and with WrestleMania season now in full swing, rumours of a debut at the Rumble sufficed.

But Rousey has been in South America filming her latest movie and shared a post on Instagram of her in Colombia less than 24 hours prior to her bow in WWE.

And Triple H revealed the operation put in place to ensure that only a selected handful of people knew of the plan for the MMA queen to be in attendance at the Rumble.

He added: "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."

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Christopher ClareyMARCH 7, 2005INZELL, Germany - It was freezing in this small Bavarian town, just below freezing actually, and yet Anni Friesinger was staring down from the side of a chalet wearing a sultry look and very little clothing. It was only a poster, an advertisement for sports underwear. The real Friesinger was just a short walk away Sunday, much more of her surface area covered in her snug-fitting racing suit as she powered around the 400-meter oval of ice on her way to her fourth medal and second gold medal of these world single-distance speed skating championships.They were, in a sense, her championships. Friesinger was raised in Inzell and, though she now lives just across the border in the postcard-ready Austrian city of Salzburg, her training base remains Inzell's quaint, historic stadium, one of a fast-shrinking number of outdoor venues in her increasingly indoor sport."Everybody calls this my living room," she said. "Nobody knows this ice rink as well as I - the turns, the ice quality. I'm used to the wind, the cold."Friesinger first skated here when she was four years old. "It was the most natural thing in the world," she said.It was natural because both of Friesinger's parents were competitive speed skaters. Her father, Georg, was good enough to race in the world junior championships for West Germany. Her mother, Jana Korowicka, raced in the 1976 Olympics for Poland, finishing 16th in the 3,000 meters.Anni was born less than a year after those Games, and after taking to the sport in a hurry, she would eventually improve greatly on her family's competitive record. The gold medal in the 3,000 on Sunday was her 12th at the world championship level.But neither that remarkable statistic nor her world record and gold medal in the 1,500 at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City fully explains why she is the most prominent female athlete in Germany at the moment.Speed skating is an unusual sport. With its bent-forward-at-the-waist technique; big arm swings; shining clap skates and hooded, big-thighed, tricontinental cast of Dutch, Germans, Norwegians, Americans, Canadians, Japanese and Chinese, it can be mistaken for nothing else.Yet sex still sells, and Friesinger has done her best to respect market forces: posing in the near-nude for a German magazine, exposing plenty more skin for her sponsors and publishing a provocative, romp-in-the-hay autobiography last year titled, "My Life, My Sport, My Best Fitness Tips.""She's beautiful; she's got the body for it, maybe if I looked like her, I'd be doing the same sort of thing," said American Jennifer Rodriguez, one of Friesinger's friendly rivals.Friesinger is not doing much that the tennis player Anna Kournikova has not done in larger, better-remunerated doses before her, but the extroverted, generally sunny Friesinger is a much more pleasant interlocutor. She also wins, although not quite as often as she would like. Coming into the Olympics in 2002, she expected to dominate on the fast ice of Salt Lake City, but she ended up with one medal - her gold in the 1,500 - while her teammate Claudia Pechstein won the 3,000 and 5,000 in world-record times.During that Olympic season, Friesinger's and Pechstein's frosty relationship became a national talking point. The blizzard in an ice bucket began when Friesinger questioned Pechstein's sincerity after Pechstein raced to a brilliant victory in the 5,000 at the European championships after complaining of illness. But the issue also played into lingering concerns about the state of east-west relations. Like Gunda Niemann, whose success helped raise the profile of speed skating here, Pechstein was raised in the former East Germany. She was 17 when the wall in her native Berlin came down.When Pechstein and Friesinger competed in the 3,000 in Salt Lake City, an estimated 15 million Germans were watching on television.There were only about 8,000 spectators in attendance for the 5,000 in Inzell on Sunday, as Friesinger ended up beating Pechstein, who settled for a silver medal, by 35/100ths of a second. The chill between the women appears to have thawed somewhat. 1 2 Next Page »We're interested in your feedback on this page. Tell us what you think.
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