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‘Large team’ required to extract Ronda Rousey from Colombia, smuggle her into Philly for WWE debut

UFC 190: Rousey v Correia Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Remember that movie Let’s Get Harry?

That’s kind of how World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) executives managed to extract former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey from Colombia in time for her to make a surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) last weekend in Philadelphia.

Relive the madness here.

But getting “Rowdy” on a plane without being spotted is not as easy as it sounds, especially when she’s not hiding behind a pillow. Aside from her adoring fans, the media bloodhounds are notorious for prowling around airports in hopes of catching stars (like this guy) on the go, which is how TMZ gets half its interviews.

Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative, Paul “Triple H” Levesque breaks it down for USA Today:

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.

It was yet another dirty little secret.

Rousey hung up the gloves — maybe — after consecutive knockout losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes. Those defeats not only shattered her aura of invincibility, but also cast a spotlight on the competitive nature of “Rowdy,” who struggled with her own identity after discovering she is, after all, simply human.

It’s unclear yet what role Rousey will have in WWE, though I’m sure the world’s preeminent pro wrestling promotion didn’t go through all that trouble to keep “Rowdy” as a background player, despite what this longtime commentator had to say about her in-ring future.

We’ll find out soon enough.

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