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Ronda Rousey entered Survivor Series as one of WWE’s biggest babyfaces, but whether by accident or by design, she left the pay-per-view as a heel in the eyes of the fans.

Credit: WWE.comCredit: WWE.com

In front of a sold-out crowd inside the Staples Center, Rousey and Charlotte Flair were well on their way to an instant classic when, out of nowhere, “The Queen” intentionally got herself disqualified and then laid a vicious beatdown on Rousey. The idea behind Flair’s savage attack was to build up Rousey as a sympathetic babyface, but in a somewhat surprising turn of events, the bloodthirsty fans in Los Angeles mercilessly booed a bloodied Rousey and chanted “Becky!” at the former UFC star as she made her exit up the ramp. As noted by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer (h/t Ringside News), that wasn’t quite the reaction WWE was hoping for:

Ronda looked furious leaving as far as with the crowd. She took a horrible beating and then they just turned on her something fierce which is the opposite of what everything was done for and she didn’t look happy about that at all.

Fans across social media also pointed out that Rousey looked legitimately upset by the negative fan reaction:

“You’re not a man.” – Ronda Rousey vs. Heckler#SurvivorSeries pic.twitter.com/xO50TatOyB

— GIF Skull (@GIFSkull) November 19, 2018

Ronda Rousey made two shoot comments to a WWE official and a fan post match. Looked legitimately bothered by negative crowd reaction.#SurvivorSeries

— Robby The Brain™ (@RobbyTheBrain) November 19, 2018

Just a couple of months ago, Rousey was the unquestioned most popular female star in WWE. The rise of Becky Lynch, now clearly the most likable star in the company (whether male or female), changed that in route to Survivor Series, and then, Survivor Series itself demonstrated why WWE needs to do a 180 with Rousey, embrace the boos and turn her heel.

Rousey, after all, finds herself in essentially the exact same position Roman Reigns has been in over the course of the past few years. Reigns, the No. 1 merchandise mover in all of WWE, clearly has a massive fan base, but he was widely viewed as an obstacle standing in the way of the pushes of stars like Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor on Raw. That same problem is now plaguing Rousey. There is no denying that Rousey is still one of WWE’s most likable stars, that she is one of its top attractions or that she is acclimating to pro wrestling faster than perhaps anyone ever, as demonstrated by her downright terrific bout with Flair at Survivor Series.

At the same time, Rousey is a hindrance to the push of Lynch and now Flair, who in the blink of an eye both made the leap from great superstars to the hottest acts in the business.

After all of the events that have recently transpired on both Raw and SmackDown, the women’s division has been turned on its head. Just a couple of weeks ago, fans were frustrated with the idea of Rousey vs. Flair, long penciled in as the WrestleMania 35 main event, getting that spot over Rousey vs. Lynch, the latter of which is generating the best crowd reactions in all of WWE. That frustration quickly turned to elation when it looked like Lynch’s unfortunate concussion would actually benefit her and get her the main event match against Rousey at WrestleMania. Now, it isn’t so clear what the future holds for Lynch, Rousey or Flair, though whatever it is, it’s certainly exciting and sure seems like we’re headed for an epic triple threat match at WrestleMania 35 between the three hottest acts in the business.

Of course, that doesn’t necessitate a Rousey heel turn, but it sure would help.

In route to that potential triple threat bout on the grandest stage of them all, WWE appears to be setting the stage for a battle between Rousey’s Four Horsewomen and WWE’s version of the Four Horsewomen, which features Flair, Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley. That dream match has long been rumored to be taking place in the near future and could be a massive draw for WWE, which explains why members of both stables have already begun not-so-subtly teasing that the mega-feud is coming:

More 4HW vs 4HW related banter on IG pic.twitter.com/sSCr2NnmYQ

— Ryan Satin (@ryansatin) November 19, 2018

WWE may move forward without establishing either quartet as a group of full-fledged babyfaces or heels, but if it switches gears and wants to cement one side as clear-cut villains, then that needs to start with a Rousey turn. Rousey already has a notorious love/hate relationship with fans. She expected to be booed when she signed with WWE (but wasn’t), is notorious for shunning the media (especially when things don’t go her way), and given the content of her recent promos, has shown that she is a natural heel who could excel in that role if the booking is right and she has the ideal babyface foe, which she now does in both Lynch and Flair.

Much like Brock Lesnar, who WWE views as a “transcendent star” and major draw, the same is true of Rousey, who is currently viewed as the biggest draw in the company. It’s not a coincidence that, since re-signing with WWE in 2012, Lesnar has spent the vast majority of his current run with the company as a heel. The fans have made him Raw’s most loathed villain both because he performs well as an antagonist and because he’s seen as a road block standing in the way of the pushes of stars like Rollins, Strowman and Balor.

Why not follow a similar philosophy with Rousey?

At Survivor Series, the fans already started turning on her, and if WWE embraces those boos (like it does with Lesnar) rather than try to ignore them (like it did with Reigns), Rousey will be an even bigger star because of it.

And the best part? So will Flair and Lynch.

Blake Oestriecher is an elementary school teacher by day and a sports writer by night. He’s a contributor to @ForbesSports, where he primarily covers WWE. You can follow him on Twitter @BOestriecher.

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