Expectations were mixed ahead of WrestleMania 34's marquee mixed tag match attraction.
Clearly, the match was mapped out and practised, move by move, as Ronda Rousey trained in earnest at the Performance Center for several months. As it should have been: with so many eyes fixed on their major signing, WWE left no scope whatsoever for embarrassment...
...to an extent. Wrestling being wrestling, a convoluted art form derailing even the most seasoned of professionals, one mistimed sequence may have precipitated a domino effect of disaster. Consider the second match in last year's disappointing series between two of the best and most tenured performers in the entire company, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. The layout required a certain (read: monumental) stupidity on the part of referee Ryan Tran as a platform for the blowoff. This stupidity was infectious; Styles botched the finish by failing to lift his shoulder up at the conclusion of a match that had already suffered from hesitancy at key moments. It was a spluttering performance from which there was no coming back: the centre couldn't hold, the damage was done.
Rousey was jittery in the build-up to 'Mania, mistiming line readings and performing awkward judo throws. Without the level head needed to recover in the event of a confidence-draining mishap, scope for embarrassment was high. Everybody is a winner in training.