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411’s WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Preview

January 29, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
WWE Royal Rumble Image Credit: WWE

Hello 411 guys, gals, enbies, and everyone else! Welcome to 411’s WWE Royal Rumble preview! I’m Jeremy Thomas as always, and for the second PPV in a row, we’re getting our dose of WWE Peacockian activity on a Saturday and not a Sunday. The Royal Rumble always has been one of my (and most WWE fans’) favorite events, and WWE has decided to keep the show down to just six matches unless something else is added for the Kickoff show. I’m fine with that, because it means more time devoted to what should be some pretty big matches as the Road to WrestleMania really begins to take shape tomorrow. Without further ado, let’s get into it and take a look at Saturday’s lineup.

Edge and Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz and Maryse

This mixed tag team match was set up in the build up to and at WWE Day 1, when Beth Phoenix came out to help her husband by running off a distracting Maryse and allowed Edge to get the pin on The Miz. This was the match that WWE was clearly heading to, and there isn’t any visible endgame for the feud beyond this. Had the feud intended to continue past the Rumble, we might expect Miz and Maryse to cheat their way to a win to even things up, but since that doesn’t appear to be the case there’s no reason to have Phoenix lose in her in-ring return. WWE will want a couple of months to build to Edge’s next feud, and Miz’s likely next celebrity WrestleMania match. That means we end this year with the babyfaces picking up the win. Edge and Miz can obviously deliver in the ring and Phoenix has always been quite capable, while Maryse has been traditionally an underrated performer. So while I don’t necessarily love the idea of Miz losing so lopsidedly in this feud, the match at least should be a solid affair.

WINNER: Edge & Beth Phoenix

Raw Women’s Championship Match
Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop

It’s nice to see Doudrop get a push into a title match. The former Piper Niven has been doing very good work despite having a name that immediately made a lot of people want to give up on her booking right away, and she presents someone who can be a big part of WWE’s women’s division for a long time to come if handled right. Putting her in a feud with Becky Lynch has helped her quite a bit, even if it has been a rather paint-by-numbers feud. I expect a thoroughly enjoyable match here, though there’s honestly no question who wins. While I like Doudrop a lot, there is literally no way that WWE doesn’t keep the title on Lynch heading toward WrestleMania. She’s their biggest women’s star by a pretty large margin, and if reports are correct (more on that in a minute) there’s a clear trajectory for her match at Mania. That means that ultimately, Big Time Becks prevails here and retains her title in which should be a fun bout that hopefully elevates Doudrop via loss.

WINNER: Becky Lynch (STILL Raw Women’s Champion)

WWE Championship Match
Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley

This is where things get interesting. WWE’s plans for the early part of 2022 got slightly derailed due to Roman Reigns testing positive for COVID-19 just before WWE Day 1. That led to their putting Brock Lesnar, who was set to face Reigns at the PPV, in the WWE Championship match. Lesnar ended up winning that match and the championship, which put him in a new position as he heads toward the obvious match with Reigns at WrestleMania. I don’t believe they’re going to do Champion vs. Champion because with the two brands being (relatively) separate outside of the occasional crossovers, you definitely need a champion for each brand.

That means that to get to the Reigns vs. Lesnar match at WrestleMania, one or both of them has to lose their title. WWE obviously had a plan for the WWE Championship on Raw leading into WrestleMania before Day 1, and it more than likely didn’t include Lesnar. However, it did allow them to do a match that has been speculated about for years in Lesnar vs. Lashley, so here we are. This is a bout that Lashley has been calling for literally since before he came back to WWE, and it’s obvious why. The match has every potential to be a great, hard-hitting bout that hits a bit different than your usual main event WWE match thanks to both men’s MMA backgrounds. But to get the WWE Championship narrative back on track, the smart money is on Lashley picking up a shocker of a win — perhaps by Bloodline interference. That allows a potential rematch down the line to have some real value as Lashley will hold a win over Lesnar, and it frees up Brock to chase Reigns for the next few months while Lashley can go on to his WrestleMania feud. I wouldn’t have expected Lashley to beat Lesnar in most cases, but with all the extenuating circumstances here it’s hard to argue against that result.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley (NEW WWE Champion)

WWE Universal Championship Match
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins

That brings us to the other title match, which is swinging in the other direction. While Brock vs. Reigns doesn’t need a title feud to have marquee value behind it, the storyline does make a bit more sense if Reigns has a championship for Lesnar to chase. Additionally, Seth Rollins is currently a Raw star and he has said that, should he win the Universal Championship, he will simply be taking the championship to Raw. That’s pretty much the nail in the coffin of any Rollins title win to me; even if Lesnar won the WWE Championship, it wouldn’t make sense for Rollins to take this title to Raw and then Lesnar just meander on over to Smackdown.

Additionally, there’s no reason to take the championship off Reigns at this point. Rollins has been great with his current heel persona, and obviously he’s a great performer in the ring. But Reigns’ title reign has been important enough to WWE that it feels like it shouldn’t end until WrestleMania. The Rollins vs. Reigns feud has been solid business thus far, and playing off the idea that Rollins is in Reigns’ head as his Shield brother has made for some good promo work to really sell this storyline. (The fact that Reigns hasn’t beaten Rollins one-on-one also helps.) But while this should be a great match depending on how it’s booked, now is not Rollins’ time. Reigns picks up the win here to keep his lengthy WWE Universal Championship reign running at least up to WrestleMania.

WINNER: Roman Reigns (STILL WWE Champion)

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

The Rumble matches are always among my favorite bouts of the year, and the hardest to predict. That latter part goes double this year, due in part to the number of open spots still to be filled. The women’s Rumble is the most intriguing we’ve seen in a while; we have the reigning Impact Knockouts Champion competing in Mickie James, as well as some real potential contenders in the likes of Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair, along with several returning legends (some announced, like Michelle McCool and Lita, and others yet to be officially revealed.)

Now to be clear, like most Rumble matches this really only boils down to a few people. I love me some Shotzi, Carmella, Rhea Ripley, and Lita, but they aren’t winning. Neither, obviously, is Mickie James; Impact is winning just off the publicity. Belair and Flair are both viable winners, but recent reports have suggested another possibility in Ronda Rousey. To be clear, this is not a spoiler as she has not been confirmed to be retuning at this point. But it’s one of the results that frankly makes the most sense. Both Belair and Flair would make good opponents for Lynch, as they have both had big feuds with the Raw Women’s Champion in the past several months and there’s plenty to build to with a feud for either of them. Belair going on to WrestleMania again after a second Rumble win in a row would also be quite a story. But WWE will want to really overload the WrestleMania card, and there’s no bigger women’s match that they could have than a one-on-one match between Rousey and Lynch. This is going out on a limb because there’s no confirmation that Rousey even wants to come back yet, but I’m going to stretch my neck out and pick the Rowdy One to return and win it all for the big WrestleMania sign-pointing moment.

WINNER: Ronda Rousey

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

All this brings us to the men’s Rumble match, and considering how I’ve picked the champion matches this should be obvious. Again I have some pretty high expectations for this match, as I do with any Rumble. This is, as always, a stacked lineup with some conspicuous open spots left to be filled. (Yes, we also have Johnny Knoxville but it’s far from the most egregious celebrity Rumble moment.) There are some pretty strong potential winners in here, particularly the trio of AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Big E. All three men could credibly challenge for a top championship at WrestleMania and make for a worthy bout. Randy Orton could too, but I don’t think RK-Bro’s run is over by a long shot.

Really though, there’s a clear choice here. With eight spots still open, there’s little doubt to me that one of them will be Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is a guy that can literally go to whatever brand he wants and no one will say boo, so he doesn’t need to win the Rumble to get a match with Reigns. However, it’s the strongest storyline choice, and the WWE Championship match can find its contender in another way without issue. Lesnar has always been a big threat in Rumble matches; let’s not forget how he dominated the first half of the 2020 Rumble. Having him win the title here puts immediate heat on his feud with Reigns, and he can even show up on Raw and Smackdown for a couple weeks as he toys with the idea of challenging either title (even if we know where he’s going to go). While it would be a blast to see Big E. win here and go on to another shot at the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, the Beast seems most likely to end the men’s Rumble match standing victorious.

WINNER: Brock Lesnar

And that’s all we have for the Royal Rumble! Once again, it’s a fairly small but that’s been the trend as of late, and it allows WWE to focus on making the matches they have stand out so I’m okay with that. Thanks once again for reading, and remember that we will have live coverage of the show courtesy our own Robert Winfree right here on 411mania.com. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go…Nick Khan has fired so many people over the past couple of years that I’m gonna be in the Royal Rumble! Wish me luck…

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Royal Rumble, Jeremy Thomas