It was a great night to be a former UFC champion in a very predictable and mostly underwhelming Royal Rumble that felt like the opposite of everything the event was intended to be.
Ronda Rousey returned from a nearly three-year hiatus to win the women’s Royal Rumble match and Brock Lesnar, who lost the WWE championship earlier in the night, entered the men’s match at No. 30 and punched his ticket to WrestleMania in The Dome at America’s Center. in St. Louis on Saturday night.
The Royal Rumble used to be about rising stars rising for their shot at WrestleMania or older talent completing trips to the top of the mountain for the first time. On Saturday night, WWE had two established, and potentially part-time, main events that won Royal Rumbles and didn’t really need to get their respective match at WrestleMania at AT&T Stadium in April. It was all part of a night that seemed to lack its usual charm. At least the door is still open for Bianca Belair and Big E to be in title matches at Mania.
Here are five takeaways from 2022:
Lesnar is no longer the WWE Champion, but he is now a two-time Royal Rumble winner and on a collision course with Universal Champion Roman Reigns at Mania.
The moment the former UFC heavyweight champion entered the match, it felt like a foregone conclusion that he would be the winner. We gave Lesnar and Drew McIntyre returning as the bottom two in a 2019 rumble callback and the Beast hit Bad Bunny with an F5. It was part of a strong ending to a mostly anticlimactic match: the biggest surprise entrant was Shane McMahon.
Omos looked amazing, taking out three people and landing a punch on Ricochet that sounded like his chest caved in. It took six men, including one Fly Styles, his former tag team partner, to take out the massive 7-footer.
Johnny Knoxville’s appearance at the Royal Rumble was less ha-ha than expected. The ridiculously dressed “Jackass Forever” star took down Sami Zayn, taking a flurry of punches from Style and a Frog Splash from Montez Ford. It was his storyline nemesis Zayn who eliminated him in a quick and funny segment. He wasn’t the only famous entrant that Bad Bunny entered in 27th place and took out Sheamus and hit Riddle with a destroyer. He continues to look like a viable fighter when he is in the ring.
WWE didn’t give us Rey and Dominik Mysterio in the ring together after building up some potential father-son drama in the run-up. One of the biggest surprises may have been Mad Cap Moss eliminating No. 1 entrant AJ Styles. They eventually got theirs when McIntyre, who has a legitimate neck injury, eliminated both Moss and Happy Corbin, who eliminated him in the storyline on Day 1. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that Kofi Kingston couldn’t nail it down. your annual stay. in place of Rumble when his feet hit the ground as he was pushed off the top rope. I was a symbol of a party that seemed to fail. Where was Finn Balor?
The women’s Royal Rumble felt extremely rushed, but it was still better than the men’s outing because it told some stories. She did deliver one of the winners people were hoping for when Rousey returned to No. 28 to finally eliminate SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair to earn her ticket to a possible fight between the two at WrestleMania.
The easy moments were never given a chance and others were never given time to breathe. Sasha Banks entered as No. 1 in full Sail Moon attire, but she was eliminated very, very quickly by Queen Zelina just before Bianca Belair entered the match as No. 8, much to the displeasure of the crowd. The two former WrestleMania headliners were denied a moment in the ring.
Sonya Deville went down at No. 11 with her jacket so she couldn’t be attacked, but went to the announce table and didn’t get in the ring until she came in to eliminate a returning Cameron, Naomi’s former Funkadactyls partner. Naomi, who has had her issues with Deville since August, was next and quickly eliminated her. Deville did pull Naomi out of her harpoon again to get her out of the match, but it all happened too quickly.
The crowd didn’t invest in this match for long periods, especially after Banks was eliminated. Outside of a few Belair and Rhea Ripley moments, it felt like few artists were really being showcased or given stories to build on.
Impact Knockouts Champion Mickie James walked through the “forbidden door” with her belt around her waist and her song “Hardcore Country” with a big pop. Nikki ASH came from across the ring to try and remove her ex-partner Ripley from her, who had a few choice words for her under her breath. Nikki then attacked Mighty Molly before she entered the ring because there can only be one superhero and quickly eliminated her. The Bellas botched a Riott Squad reunion after Sarah Logan returned from a long hiatus from WWE.
One cool moment was Ivory’s return in her Right to Censor outfit, talking about wanting to clean things up in WWE before being quickly eliminated by Ripley. Brie Bella got an excellent response. Lita and Charlotte Flair had a solid head-to-head exchange. While it was fun to see several of the legends, not having any NXT performers feels excruciating.
Even with all of that, WWE got the moment it was hoping for with Rousey, who came out dressed in all black with “Baddest” on her chest instead of her usual “Rowdy Roddy” Piper-inspired outfit. The former Raw Women’s Champion looked good, throwing a pretty wild armbar over the top rope with Belair and even teaming up with her friend Shayna Bazler, who was in the final four with her and Flair.
As with everything in this match, Rousey and Flair’s interplay for the finale consisted of The Queen missing a kick and Rousey tossing it over the top rope to the roar of the crowd. These two are likely to meet again at WrestleMania, even with Becky Lynch retaining the Raw Women’s Title against Doudrop in a very solid match. They told the Big Time story Becky needed to get it all out to beat Doudrop, using a Man Handle Slam from the second rope to secure the 1-2-3.
Seth Rollins versus Roman Reigns had everything but a quality ending
Rollins continued the mind games beautifully, entering the ring to The Shield’s music fully dressed in Shield’s attire and even throwing a Shield bomb at Reigns through the announce table. He and most of the audience thought that he had defeated Reigns after a Buckle Bomb and then a Stomp, but the Tribal Chief could only get his arm up in time. The frantic footsteps turned methodical in Reigns’ favor until Rollins countered a spear with a Pedigree that led to another late kick from the Head of the Table. There was a bit of a Batman-Joker feel to this story with Rollins laughing at Reigns every time he should have been beaten.
This incredible match was booked for an extremely awkward and anticlimactic finale. Reigns put Rollins on the guillotine. The challenger was able to get close to the ropes and appeared to have passed out before fully reaching them. Referee Charles Robinson raised Rollins’ hand and grabbed the robe as he fell back down. Reigns refused to break the dominance and lost the match via disqualification, but kept the title for himself.
Then, the Universal Champion erupted, flooring Rollins with chair after chair punch, including a symbolic one to the back, as he was booed heavily. I get the story WWE is trying to tell here, Reigns’ “God Mode” isn’t as strong as it once was and Rollins deserved the beating for his arrogance. Reigns blamed Rollins for not letting him take the wait. Still, WWE’s inability and reluctance to book clean or decisive finishes in big pay-per-view matches is mind-boggling and the crowd there let them listen.
Bobby Lashley 1, Brock Lesnar 0 — thanks to Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman.
Lesnar and Lashley’s long-awaited clash began with a German suplex contest that elicited a huge look of appreciation from The Beast after he first flew off. Lashely, who didn’t see Lesnar go through the barricade in a call back to Day 1, hit his opponent with two spears before Lesnar turned the tide to take him to Suplex City. When Lesnar went for the F5 for the first time, Lashley countered with Hurt Lock, but backed his opponent towards the referee. He then punched the officer while he was handing over an F5. Lesnar had Lashley pinned but no one to count to three, so WWE protected him a bit.
Then it happened. Reigns delivered a spear to Lesnar out of nowhere and Heyman gave him the WWE Championship. He hit Lesnar in the head with it and left with his special counsel by his side. Lashely crawled over to Lesnar and pinned him to reunite with the WWE Championship after losing it to Big E in September. Heyman’s turn was likely the end of the match Reigns and Lesnar were supposed to have on Day 1 before the Tribal Chief contracted COVID-19. Lashley will likely be on his way to defending his Elimination Chamber title or face the winner next. WWE has some time now to figure it out.
scream gets over it
This mixed match was pretty much everything we thought it would be. Maryse running away from Beth Phoenix and The Miz doing everything possible to protect her. They even had Maryse hit Phoenix with the brick she used on Raw, so there was some continuity to the story here.
What was not expected and cooled was letting men and women have physical contact as often as they did. Phoenix bombarded The Miz for a point and Maryese hit Edge with a hurricanrana off the top rope. There was even a point where it looked like It Couple might win after Miz hit Edge with a Skull Crushing Finale. Instead, it ended with Edge and Phoenix hitting a double spear at Miz and then delivering simultaneous Glam Slams and pins for the 1-2-3. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Phoenix for a while.
Biggest winner: roman kingdoms
The biggest loser: sasha banks
Best Match: Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns