wrestling / Columns

411’s WWE Day 1 Preview

January 1, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
WWE Day 1 WWE Title

Hello 411 guys, gals, enbies, and everyone else! Welcome to 411’s WWE Day 1 preview! I’m Jeremy Thomas as always, and Saturday will see WWE present its first ever New Year’s Day PPV. We have an interesting card, but the biggest intigure revolves around how many matches we’ll actually see depending on who is cleared to compete after the company’s recent COVID outbreak. Regardless, the card as it stands is worth discussing so let’s get into it and take a look at Saturday’s lineup (for now).

Cesaro and Ricochet vs. Ridge Holland and Sheamus

First up we have the Kickoff Show match, which sees Cesaro and Ricochet team up to battle the new pairing of Ridge Holland and Sheamus. Holland is a guy that I’ve always felt was pulled up from NXT a little too early, but he’s here and at least they’re doing something with him. Cesaro and Ricochet are two fan favorites that WWE doesn’t mind giving losses to on the regular, while Holland is the new flavor and his team with Sheamus has been built to a bit. That makes this result pretty easy to predict. While this may sound all negative it’s not really meant to be, and it almost goes without saying that this should be a really good match as the babyfaces bump around to put the heels over. But yeah, I have zero doubts about how this will end.

WINNER: Ridge Holland & Sheamus

Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss

Speaking of foregone conclusions, this is the easiest pick on the show. Listen, I mean no disrespect to Riddick Moss. He’s making this Madcap Moss character far more entertaining than it should be. But there’s no way they put Moss over McIntyre, especially when McIntyre is positioned as the best pick to face the eventual winner of the Reigns vs. Lesnar feud. This match should, if there is any sense of rightness in the world at all, be a squash match that would have been better relegated to an episode of Smackdown. Moss will get his comedy spots in, Corbin will do something, but in the end the big sword dude stands tall.

WINNER: Drew McIntyre

Raw Tag Team Championship Match
RK-Bro vs. The Street Profits

I’ve been open about how I have not been Riddle’s biggest fan in WWE. I do think that he’s talented, but he’s just never clicked for me. Or at least, he hadn’t until this odd couple pairing with Randy Orton. RK-Bro has been an unexpected (by me) blast, with the two playing off each other incredibly well. They’ve also had the booking behind them, which never hurts in helping a team click, and have had a respectable run as the Raw Tag Team Champions these last few months. The Street Profits earned this title shot by winning the RK-Bro-Nament and yet as good as they are, they still feel like an afterthought choice to get the titles on the PPV card.

Both of these teams can deliver and there are a couple of ways they could go; they could keep the titles on Orton and Riddle to build to a bigger match, or they could use a loss here to build to a split and eventual match at WrestleMania. Honestly, even if they do plan to have Orton and Riddle feud heading into the big PPV now seems like a little early to start the split. It makes more sense that they win, perhaps with some miscommunication that first indicates some tension, and then kick it off in full at the Rumble. While I’d have no problem with the Profits taking the gold here, all the best roads seem to involve the champions retaining.

WINNER: RK-Bro (STILL Raw Tag Team Champions)

Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
The Usos vs. The New Day

The Usos vs. The New Day is a storied rivalry, and they always bring great matches. I expect no less in this bout, which comes amidst Jimmy and Jey’s most memorable title reign thanks to their being part of the Bloodline. Fun fact: the Usos’ current and fifth Smackdown Tag Title run is the longest reign since their third title reign back in 2017. As long as they’ve held the titles, it would almost seem like they’re primed to lose them. The Usos losing could indicate some issues in the Bloodline on the show before Reigns faces Lesnar, but Woods and Kofi don’t really need the rub and I feel like if something crazy is happening to the Bloodline, the groundwork has already been laid. For those reasons, expect the Usos to retain here.

WINNER: The Usos (STILL Smackdown Tag Team Champions)

Edge vs. The Miz

I will fully admit to not being entirely on board with an Edge vs. Miz feud at first. I really enjoy both men, but I just didn’t see this clicking as much as I think it has to this point. And while it’s not the hottest feud out there, it’s been solidly engaging. More importantly, it’s done quite a bit to rebuild Miz who was stuck in zombie matches and midcard feuds for much of 2021. For those reasons and more, I’m actually interested in this match where I didn’t think I would be before now. The match itself should be fairly good, but the end result is the question here. If WWE wants to have the mixed tag team match of Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. Miz and Maryse that they seem to want based on Maryse’s involvement, the smart move is to have Edge lose by way of Maryse-erference. That will provide the set up for the mixed tag match, likely at the Rumble before we get to the one-on-one rematch at WrestleMania.

WINNER: The Miz

WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan

All right, so I usually don’t make predictions expecting them to be wrong, but that’s honestly where I’m going here. Liv Morgan’s feud with Becky Lynch has done a hell of a lot in terms of solidifying the fanbase’s support of Morgan. Liv has been delivering quite a bit and the booking has been mostly pretty good, all leading to this match after Lynch had to cheat to beat Morgan on their first bout. That sets up the story here, that Morgan is a legitimate threat to Lynch’s title reign, something I wouldn’t have been predicted as a thing in storyline or out a few months ago.

Now, let’s be clear here: the smart money is on Lynch retaining the title. Big Time Becks has been on a hell of a run since her return and there would seem to be no reason for her to lose at least before WrestleMania. But I do think a title switch is more possible than people are expecting. For one, a win over Morgan would pretty definitively end this feud for Lynch. And that would give her very little to do in the four weeks between now and the Royal Rumble. They could continue the feud with Morgan even with a Lynch win if she has to cheat again, but having Lynch beat Morgan three matches in a row would but the kibosh on any push Morgan has. On the other hand, Morgan could win the title here in a shocker, lose it in the rematch at the Rumble, and she’ll come out of this feud as a former champion with more credibility while Lynch wouldn’t be hurt at all. I don’t think that’s the way WWE is going to go here; I think they probably consider Lynch’s title reign too important to the bottom line to pull it off her even for a few weeks. But it’s conceivable and I’m going to go with my heart over my head on this one.

WINNER: Liv Morgan (NEW Raw Women’s Champion)

WWE Championship Match
Big E. vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Lashley

Here we have what is probably the toughest match on the show to predict. Big E.’s WWE Championship run has been good; it hasn’t been a top-shelf run, but it’s been respectable. And more importantly, E. has proven himself very capable in the role of a top singles champion. The question is whether WWE thinks they’ve had enough of Big E. for now and want to put the title on someone else for the road to WrestleMania. Bobby Lashley and Seth Rollins in particular seem like guys who have the momentum to be champion leading into the start of the year, while Owens could absolutely get the title now that he’s re-signed with the company.

All that said, I don’t think a title reign suits Rollins right now. And while I love Kevin Owens, his next title reign also seems to be in the more distant future than this weekend. That brings us down to Lashley and E., both of whom would be good choices. Lashley’s title reign was pretty strong last year, and as I said E.’s acquitted himself well with the gold. WWE has really built the idea that Lashley has momentum on his side, but this also looks like an opportunity to clear the plate a little bit for the WWE Championship scene as we come into the new year. E. is the smarter choice here to leave with the title, potentially facing Lashley at the Rumble or even Mania.

WINNER: Big E. (STILL WWE Champion)

WWE Universal Championship Match
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

And here is the clear main event for the show. Reigns vs. Lesnar has always clearly been the program that WWE has been building to for WrestleMania, and they meet for their second match here on the Day 1 card. Reigns won the first battle with the help of Paul Heyman at Crown Jewel, and the new wrinkle is that he won’t have Heyman in his corner at Day 1 after firing him last week. It’s a safe assumption that Heyman will be heavily involved in this match, and while there is a strong assunption that he’ll be on Lesnar’s side at this point I don’t know if we’ll see that quite yet. A lot depends on what happened on Smackdown (which has not yet aired at the time of this writing), but I can see Heyman being torn between his two former (?) clients at Day 1, and not being fully in Lesnar’s corner until the final match at WrestleMania.

That leaves a big opening for this match. Lesnar could absolutely pick up the win here and be the champion as they head into WrestleMania; that wouldn’t shock me at all. If they intend to switch the title off of Reigns at Mania, giving Lesnar one more dirty loss is the way to go here as he doesn’t get hurt by any loss, and it adds some desperation in his quest to win the championship (likely by ripping through the Royal Rumble). That seems to be the most sensical play because frankly there isn’t anyone else in a position to make a “big match” worthy of WrestleMania against Reigns right now. I could be wrong, but all this adds up to a Reigns victory to me.

WINNER: Roman Reigns (STILL WWE Universal Champion)

And that’s all we have for WWE Day 1! Of course, some of these predictions might be completely wasted if COVID forces some last minute title switches but as a PPV to start of 2022 we could have had much worse than what we have now. I’m expecting some decent to good matches and perhaps some regrettable booking decisions for an ultimately solid start to the show. Thanks once again for reading, and remember that we will have live coverage of the show courtesy of the one and only Scott Slimmer right here on 411mania.com. Now if you’ll excuse me, 2021 is officially fucking over, and I’m jumping my ass through the door to 2022 before anything else awful happens. RIP Betty.

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WWE Day 1, Jeremy Thomas