Don't get me wrong, by all accounts, the game is amazing - refining the quality gameplay of the previous two entries and implementing some of the quality of life improvements from "Injustice 2" to create probably the best fighting game package on the market. But the studio overhauled one of its best characters - changing her from a confident general elevated by great voice acting to a paper-thin caricature voiced by a noted bigot with a history of domestic abuse. Character Sonya Blade has been part of the main cast of fighters since the franchise inception in the early 90s. Like other characters, her voice and appearance change gradually across each game. In what can only be described as a publicity stunt, longtime popular culture favorite and talented voice actor Tricia Helfer was replaced as the voice of Blade for "MK11" in favor of former UFC fighter and WWE wrestler Ronda Rousey. Why Helfer, who did an excellent job in the previous game, had to be replaced by Rousey is unknown. But it happened and it was a .
Not only is Rousey a horrible actor - even for professional wrestling standards - she has some extremely tasteless - at the very least - opinions. In 2013, she shared a conspiracy video on Twitter regarding the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. The video suggested the massacre was a hoax carried about by the government - a long-established conspiracy theory that has led to the death of one of the victims' parents, who killed himself earlier this year due to ongoing harassment.
When questioned about the video, Rousey defended it and her stance.
"I just figured asking questions and doing research is more patriotic than blindly accepting what you're told," she wrote.
Not one to remove her foot from her mouth for too long, Rousey later defended former NFL defensive tackle and MMA fighter Matt Mitrione, who called transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox a, "lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak." Rousey invoked disgusting imagery in her defense, ultimately saying Fox has, "the same bone structure a man has," among other transphobic comments.
Rousey has even bragged about beating up her ex-boyfriend, whom she labeled "Snapper McCreepy" in her 2015 book, "My Fight, Your Fight." In the book, she recalls that she hit her boyfriend so hard in the fact that her hand hurt. She then repeatedly punched him and kicked him because she claimed he wouldn't get out of her way.
"I punched him in the face with a straight right, then a left hook," she writes in the book. "He staggered back and fell against the door. I slapped him with my right hand...then I grabbed him by the neck of his hoodie, kneed him in the face and tossed him aside on the kitchen floor."
No charges have ever been filed and the identity of "Mr. McCreepy" has never been revealed. But this is a woman openly admitting to domestic violence with the skills to seriously injure, if not kill, someone with her bare hands.
The character of Sonya Blade has always been at the forefront of representation in the video game industry. Netherrealm has always done an admirable job of doing the character justice and placing her equally alongside men and gods as a favorite "kombatant." But by hiring Rousey as a voice actor for this new iteration is a travesty.
It sort of makes sense why Netherrealm and publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment chose Rousey. Despite her embarrassing final two UFC fights and a stint in the WWE, which could be considered passable at best, Rousey is still wildly popular among a certain crowd. She has the generic look of Sonya Blade and has parlayed for more exposure and popularity in the WWE. But that's where the common sense seems to end. It might even make sense if she was a decent voice actress, but her performance is so bad that it sticks out as horrible in a game that is defined by its campy schlock.
Rousey is an abusive, transphobic bigot - a woman who has used her fame and fortune from beating people senseless to give herself a cushiony life play fighting in choreographed acrobatics of the squared circle. By Netherrealm and WBIE making her the face of one of the most prominent female characters in the fighting game genre, they are enabling and normalizing transphobia and Sandy Hook conspiracy theories. Rousey has no place in the public eye and certainly no place in "Mortal Kombat."