Wrestling Review: WWE Royal Rumble (2022)

The Road to Wrestlemania begins, as the Royal Rumble tears through The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. On one side of the ledger, two bulls collide as the reigning, defending, and undisputed WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar, defends against arguably the only man who can match him in raw power: Bobby Lashley. The defending champion, Lesnar is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, while Lashley has a 15-win mixed martial arts career under his own belt. When two athletes of this calibre collide, there is only one outcome: brutality. Meanwhile, for Friday Night SmackDown Roman Reigns has run through almost every competitor on SmackDown, which caused WWE Official Adam Pearce to look to the red brand to find Reigns a challenger. And find a challenger he did, as Reigns must now defend his WWE Universal Championship against former friend, former ally, and former partner in The Shield, Seth “Freakin” Rollings from Monday Night Raw. History has not been kind to the Tribal Chief when these two have battled in the past, as Reigns has never defeated Rollins in one-on-one competition.

When Edge returned to Monday Night Raw a few months ago, the last thing he expected was to be interrupted by The Miz and Maryse. That interruption quickly turned even more sour, leading to a match between The Miz and Edge at WWE Day 1, where Edge emerged victorious thanks to the intervention of “The Glamazon” Beth Phoenix, who also just happens to be Edge’s WWE Hall of Famer wife. It all comes to a head tonight, as the two married couples meet in mixed tag team competition is what is being dubbed the battle between “The It Couple” and the “Grit Couple”. And of course, two huge Royal Rumble matches will determine two of the top matches at Wrestlemania as two matches, featuring 30 men and 30 woman respectively, will see all competitors attempt to outlast their competition in professional wrestling’s largest battle royals.

+ The Miz & Maryse vs Edge & Beth Phoenix: this match was good, at the level of what you’d ever see on a normal Raw show. But all through, the women were allowed to attack the men but never the other way around. If the want these matches to be intergender tag, then say that. But stressing that the men must fight the men and women must fight women, only to throw those rules out for one of the parties, just made me angry and confused

30-Man Royal Rumble Match: due in part to WWE’s heanous business practice of firing people amidst a pandemic despite setting record high profits year over year, this was one of the most unpredictable Royal Rumble matches in years. There was a lot of ways this could have gone – some more enjoyable to me personally than others, and some that I’d not have liked but I could certainly understand – but this was not it. There are so many great wrestlers in this company that are being shafted every single moment in an attempt to get some sort of short-term buzz, and if that wasn’t clear from this match then I don’t know what to tell you
Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Bobby Lashley (w/ MVP) (WWE Championship): this was a match decades in the making, between two decorated amateur wrestlers and professional fighters… which means you can probably guess how it went. If you were expecting an answer to the question of who the better man was, then you’re a fool. Worse still that it started off so strongly
Becky Lynch (c) vs Doudrop (WWE Raw Women’s Championship): this was a perfectly fine match, but it was stretched out to be almost twice as long as it needed to be. Doudrop has not been treated as a competent challenger of late, and it was jarring to see her now presented as a genuine threat. Something was happening in the crowd during this match, and trying to figure out what it was was more exciting than the action in the ring
30-Woman Royal Rumble Match: there was a very occasional flash of brilliance in here, but this was a horrible match. All of the returning surprises and — their words, not mine — “WWE Legends” were either a waste of a slot, or treated as far more important than the current roster women, and very few of them were actually good wrestlers (but I commend them all, particularly the older ones, as they were in phenomenal shape). The best part of this was Sasha Banks’ Sailor Moon cosplay outfit. This was an absolute slog to get through, and proves there should not be 30-Women Rumble matches in the future; just use the ~10 or 15 competent people you have and stop embarrassing yourselves
Roman Reigns (c) vs Seth “Freakin” Rollins (WWE Universal Championship): no matter what you have thought of the story going in, this was an unforgivably poor match. Whoever decided this match should go the way it did deserves to be fired, and I should personally be compensated for spending my money on this unequivocal garbage

Should you watch this event: This was a really, really bad show. Even the excitement of the Rumble matches themselves felt lesser than ever before. It’s a sad state of affairs when a mixed tag team match is the best thing on the show. WWE is dying, and I don’t know if I will even bother sticking around any more to see how it ends.

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