Royal Rumble 2022 (2023 Edition): What The Heck Was I Thinking?
Royal Rumble 2022
Date: January 29, 2022
Location: The Dome At America’s Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Michael Cole, Pat McAfee
Somehow this show was a year ago and that might be better for everyone involved. This show was absolutely not well received and I am almost scared to see just how badly this falls down. Hopefully time has been a bit kinder to it, but you never can tell. In addition to the Royal Rumbles, we have Seth Rollins challenging Roman Reigns for the Undisputed Title and Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Title against Bobby Lashley. Let’s get to it.
I was in the stadium for this show, sitting in the upper deck with the Titantron on my right.
The opening video looks at how the Road To Wrestlemania begins here. As usual we get the Royal Rumble highlight reel and dang there have been some great moments over the years. The rest of the matches, which don’t mean nearly as much (as usual), get some attention as well.
Smackdown World Title: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
Reigns is defending and is currently by himself, as Paul Heyman has jumped back to Brock Lesnar and the Usos are barred from ringside. In the name of mind games, Rollins comes to the ring to the old Shield music, complete with the through the crowd entrance and gear (Of note: McAfee talks about the Shield days and says it was “Mox”, Seth and Roman”.).
Rollins goes with the grappling to start and Reigns is frustrated early. The corner clotheslines miss for Reigns and Rollins clotheslines him to the floor. Back to back suicide dives don’t do Rollins much good as Reigns knocks him out of the air back inside. They fight to the floor again though and Rollins is fine enough to hit a quick powerbomb through the announcers’ table.
Back in and the frog splash gets two but Rollins misses the Phoenix splash. Reigns’ spear is cut off by a boot to the face though and a buckle bomb into the Stomp gets a close two. Another Stomp is loaded up but Reigns blasts him with a clothesline to cut that off. Reigns’ powerbomb gets two so Rollins laughs at him, earning the big forearms to the face. The laughter is enough to let Rollins pull him into a triangle choke, which is broken up with another hard powerbomb.
They head back outside with Rollins being sent into various things, followed by a Superman Punch for two back inside. They head outside again and the spear cuts Rollins in half. Back in and another spear is countered into the Pedigree (how Rollins beat him for the title in 2016) for a rather close two.
Rollins has to elbow his way out of a Rock Bottom attempt and kicks Reigns in the face. Another spear cuts Rollins down again….but he’s still laughing at Reigns. Rollins holds out the Shield fist so Reigns pulls him into the guillotine. The referee checks the arm, with the hand falling onto the rope for the break. Well in theory at least, as Reigns doesn’t let go and it’s a DQ at 14:23.
Rating: B. This was a good match and that shouldn’t be a shock given who was in there. Any combination of the Shield guys are going to work well together and that was on display here. They tied the history of the team in well and Rollins broke Reigns down mentally, which should set up a huge rematch down the line. Granted it didn’t and this was a one off match, but it should have set something up.
Post match Reigns is all upset and slowly grabs a chair. The big beatdown leaves Rollins laying.
Women’s Royal Rumble
90 second intervals and Sasha Banks (in Sailor Moon gear) is in at #1 and Melina is in at #2. They pose at each other to start before Banks dumps her in less than a minute. That leaves Banks do to Melina’s splits pose until Tamina is in at #3. Banks dropkicks her through the ropes before Tamina can get inside, setting up the Meteora from the apron. Tamina saves herself back inside but gets caught with a quick Rey Mysterio bulldog. Running knees have Tamina in trouble in the corner but she headbutts her way to freedom.
Kelly Kelly is in at #4 and it’s strange to see her as anything but the blonde. Kelly comes in for the short form screaming headscissors but stops to dance, allowing Tamina to run her over. For some reason Kelly tries the triangle choke over the ropes on Banks and gets dumped for not thinking that through. Aliyah is in at #5 and hits a weird looking standing Thesz press to hammer on Banks. Tamina slaps Aliyah and they grapple against the ropes as Liv Morgan is in at #6.
Morgan knocks everyone down and stops for a bow, allowing Banks to hit Three Amigos. Queen Zelina is in at #7 and kicks Banks out in a pretty big upset. Tamina can’t eliminate Aliyah as Bianca Belair is in at #8. A kick to the head rocks Tamina and Belair muscles Vega up for a suplex. Belair’s handspring kick to the face can’t get rid of Morgan but she does hit Vega with a moonsault. Dana Brooke, with Reggie, is in at #9 but she does say she’ll go in on her own. Tamina saves Zelina for some reason so Brooke gives Belair a handspring elbow in the corner.
Michelle McCool is in at #10, giving us Tamina, Aliyah, Morgan, Zelina, Belair, Brooke and McCool. House is cleaned and McCool knocks Brooke….right into Reggie’s arms. The Faithbreaker hits Vega and Brooke gets tossed for good this time. Sonya Deville is in at #11 and goes over to join commentary rather than getting inside. The slow elimination attempts continue until Natalya is in at #12.
Morgan goes right at Natalya, who puts her on the apron without much trouble. It’s not quite enough for an elimination so Natalya dumps Tamina instead. More teased eliminations continue until Cameron is in at #13. Cameron cleans some of the house as Deville gets up and slides in, where she takes out Cameron without much trouble. Natalya and Deville are the only ones left standing until Naomi, who hates Deville, is in at #14.
A springboard spinning kick to the face rocks Deville and Naomi kicks her out. Carmella is in at #15 and Corey Graves certainly approves. Carmella walks around the ring as a good chunk of the other women bunched up on one side of the ring for some reason. Rhea Ripley is in at #16 and throws Carmella inside, only to get triple teamed down. Ripley shrugs that off and knocks out Carmella and Vega without much trouble.
Charlotte is in at #17 as a bunch of people go after Natalya. Aliyah is tossed out after about 23 minutes, followed by Naomi being kicked to the floor. She hangs on by her feet….but Sonya Deville is still here to pull Naomi out for the elimination anyway. Ivory, as part of the Right To Censor, is in at #18 and says nothing has changed since she was last here. It is hard for her to look at these girls and, as she gets in the ring, she says she sees a lot of wayward, lost little girls. As she is talking, Ripley picks her up and, as she is still talking, Ripley tosses her out. Ivory: “HOW DARE YOU???”
With that rather funny bit out of the way, Brie Bella is in at #19 and starts the YES chant but can’t get rid of Natalya. Ripley and Belair can’t get rid of Charlotte as Mickie James, reigning Impact Wrestling Knockouts (or Women’s, as the graphic says) Champion is in at #20. That gives us Morgan, Belair, McCool, Natalya, Ripley, Charlotte, Brie Bella and James, the latter of whom goes right after McCool. A headscissors gets rid of McCool and it’s Alicia Fox (with the brown hair instead of the blonde hair) in at #21.
Fox gets to clean some house and the referee checks on Natalya. Nikki Ash is in at #22 and we pause for her to sneak up on Ripley but, of course, she can’t eliminate her. Everyone pairs off until WWE Legend Summer Rae (AND HER SONG THAT IS SO FREAKING CATCHY) is in at #23. A slap off with Natalya goes to Rae, but Charlotte runs her over before anything can get interesting. Natalya dumps Rae and it’s Nikki Bella in at #24. House is cleaned again and the Bellas get to reunite, with Nikki knocking out Fox. Sarah Logan returns at #25, gets in a few shots, and is tossed by the Bellas.
They toss Liv as well, after a pretty ridiculous 37 minutes without an elimination. Liv and Logan get their reunion on the floor as Lita is in at #26. Mickie goes after Lita and gets DDTed, allowing Lita to get the easy elimination. Charlotte and Lita slug it out until Mighty Molly is in at #27…and gets jumped by Ash on the floor. Molly is tossed in and then eliminated by Ash, who gets in a rather long pose and stare. Ronda Rousey makes her big return at #28 and yeah this feels like a huge deal, especially with almost everyone in the ring stopping to look at her.
Ash is out fast and Nikki Bella is sent to the apron…where Brie punches her out. Shotzi is in at #29 as Rousey gets rid of Brie. Rousey goes after Belair and Natalya powerbombs Charlotte as Shayna Baszler completes the field at #30. That gives us a final grouping of Belair, Natalya, Ripley, Charlotte, Lita, Rousey, Shotzi and Baszler. Rousey and Baszler start wrecking people before squaring off instead. Charlotte interrupts that as well so Rousey kicks out Shotzi.
Belair gets rid of Natalya but Natalya comes back in, only to be tossed by Rousey as well. Lita cleans house, including a middle rope hurricanrana on Ripley. The Litasault is loaded up but Ripley breaks it up and, say it with me, Charlotte gets rid of Lita. Ripley and Rousey fight to the apron and Charlotte kicks Ripley out. Belair kicks Charlotte on the apron and spinebusters Baszler but Baszler catches her in the Kirifuda Clutch. That’s reversed into a KOD attempt but Charlotte dumps both of them. We’re down to Rousey vs. Charlotte and they square off, until Charlotte missed a boot in the corner and gets dumped at 59:45.
Rating: D+. This wasn’t exactly great and showed just how little depth there was to the women’s division at this point. Of the thirty women involved, HALF of them were legends or returning names. I know why there is a Women’s Royal Rumble, but if you need to import half of the lineup, it might be time to put it on the shelf. With six of the entrants not even making it a minute each, this was a bunch of nothing until Rousey came in and won, because part timers and returning stars rule.
Titus O’Neil and company did their local charity stuff.
Raw Women’s Title: Doudrop vs. Becky Lynch
Doudrop is challenging and attacked Lynch leading up to the title match. After the Big Match Intros, Doudrop goes with the power to send Becky outside for a breather. Back in and Becky has to bail from a Vader Bomb, leaving Doudrop to get Cannonball the steps by mistake. Becky kicks away but what looks to be a tornado DDT is blocked. The sleeper puts Doudrop down to one knee but she powers out without much effort. Doudrop’s charge goes into the post and Becky hits the missile dropkick for two.
Becky gets run over again though and a backsplash connects for two. The triangle choke has Becky in some trouble but the sitout powerbomb breaks that up fast. The Cannonball gets two but Becky is back up with a Molly Go Round for two of her own. Doudrop’s throat is snapped across the top and a top rope Fameasser gets two more. Back up and Doudrop plants her for two more, only to have another Vader Bomb countered into a super Manhandle Slam to retain the title at 12:55.
Rating: D+. This wasn’t so much bad as much as it was a lot of standing around waiting on the finish. Doudrop wasn’t about to dethrone the biggest women’s star ever, even if this is a downgraded Becky. This was Becky being given a mountain to climb and I can absolutely give them points for running a fresh challenger out there. That’s a good thing, but you need to have an entertaining match to back it up and that wasn’t the case here. When the most exciting thing in a match is the Wrestlemania sign catching on fire, you’re in big trouble.
The announced attendance is 44,390.
We recap Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley. They’re very similar, they’re monsters, they were amateur wrestlers, the were mixed martial artists, now they’re having a title match.
Raw World Title: Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley
Lesnar is defending and has Paul Heyman with him while Lashley has MVP. They fight over a lockup to start until Lesnar snaps off a German suplex. Lashley is right back with one of his own but Lesnar hits two in a row. The F5 is countered though and Lashley hits a pair of spears to send Lesnar outside. Another spear sends Lashley through the barricade in the required big crash and Lesnar is rather smiley.
Lashley is back up to post Lesnar and they head back inside. Back in and Lesnar grabs more German suplexes but Lashley slaps on a quick Hurt Lock. Lesnar rams him into the corner for the break and the F5 hits Lashley, only to bump the referee at the same time. Cue Roman Reigns to spear Lesnar down before telling Heyman to hand over the title. Heyman does just that and a belt shot knocks Lesnar silly. Lashley gets the cover and the title at 10:14.
Rating: C+. That’s by far the match of the night so far as it felt like something actually happened. Lesnar vs. Lashley is a genuine dream match and something different for Lesnar, though he wrestled it similar to how he wrestles everything else. The Heyman twist was a good way to go and it’s nice to see Lashley get his title back, but this could have been something special and instead it was just ok. Granted Lashley injured his shoulder during the match so take it with a grain of salt.
Heyman leaves with Reigns as Lashley celebrates.
We recap Edge/Beth Phoenix vs. Maryse/Miz. Edge came back, Miz didn’t like it, the wives got involved, mixed tag.
Edge/Beth Phoenix vs. Miz/Maryse
Miz is knocked outside to start and Maryse is sent on top of him, allowing Edge to forearm Miz back inside. A cheap shot lets Miz take over on Edge and cannonball down onto his back. Maryse chokes a bit from the floor so Beth goes a stalking, for some reason thinking she needs a chair. Edge manages a quick implant DDT and Maryse can’t cut off the tag.
Beth comes in to beat up Maryse, including a spinning side slam for two. Miz goes after Beth and gets hammered down in the corner for his efforts. Maryse gets in a cheap shot with the loaded purse for two, setting up a camel clutch of all things. That’s broken up and Beth hits a clothesline for the double knockdown.
It’s back to Edge for the Edge-O-Matic on Miz, with Beth adding a powerbomb. Edge’s top rope elbow gets two but he spears the corner for the mishap. Maryse snaps off a top rope hurricanrana (that’s a new one for her) and there’s the French Kiss for Beth. The Skull Crushing Finale gets two on Edge and Miz gives us a shocked face. Beth is back up though and a double spear cuts Miz down. Mostly stereo Glam Slams give Edge the pin at 12:28.
Rating: C. Here is another match where it could have used some chicanery with Miz and Maryse cheating as much as they could have to win the thing and instead they played it pretty straight. The idea of battling couples works, but Edge and Beth aren’t going to lose to Miz and Maryse without all kinds of cheating and everyone knew it. Not an awful match, but another boring one on a show full of them.
A recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor is here so we hear his story.
Men’s Royal Rumble
90 second intervals with AJ Styles in at #1 (and strikes a Shawn Michaels pose for some reason) and Shinsuke Nakamura (Intercontinental Champion) in at #2, meaning Pat McAfee gets to dance on the announcers’ table. A strike off goes to Nakamura, who hits the spinwheel kick to the head but can’t exploder Styles out. Styles knocks him into the corner and it’s Austin Theory in at #3. The rolling dropkick hits Styles to start but Nakamura goes for Theory.
Robert Roode is in at #4 and hits some spinebusters but Styles cuts him off. Styles reverses a whip and sends Roode outside for the quick elimination. Ridge Holland, with face guard, is in at #5 to run some people over. Styles gets rid of Nakamura and goes after Theory as Montez Ford is in at #6. Ford throws Theory to the apron but can’t get rid of him. Instead Ford kicks away at Holland to little effect and US Champion Damien Priest is in at #7.
A bunch of stomping ensues until Sami Zayn is in at #8. More nothing ensues and it’s Johnny Knoxville in at #9. Knoxville takes Sami down and hammers away before going after Styles. The Phenomenal Blitz drops Knoxville fast and Ford adds the frog splash. Sami Helluva Kicks Knoxville out but Styles dumps Zayn for a bonus. Angelo Dawkins is in at #10, giving us Styles, Theory, Holland, Ford, Priest, and Dawkins. Omos is in at #11 and he should get to clear some of the ring. There goes Dawkins and Ford follows him rather quickly.
Ricochet is in at #12 and get chopped by Omos as NOTHING continues to happen. Chad Gable is in at #13 and rallies the troops to go after Omos, which means sending Priest after him alone. With Priest gone, the rest of the group, plus Dominik Mysterio in at #14, gets rid of Omos. Happy Corbin is in at #15 and dumps Ricochet pretty fast. Dolph Ziggler is in at #16 as this is reaching some incredible levels of boring. Deep Six plants Dominik and Corbin gets rid of him, followed by Styles getting rid of Theory.
Sheamus is in at #17, with Holland being tossed before Sheamus can get inside. Rick Boogs is in at #18 and McAfee is excited, as compared to the eerily still crowd. Boogs tosses Gable and Madcap Moss is in at #19. Corbin tosses Styles, ending a nearly thirty minute run with….nothing (that’s the story of the match so far: nothing happens, and we’re just sitting around waiting as more people come in and go out).
It’s Riddle in at #20, giving us Corbin, Ziggler, Sheamus, Boogs, Moss and Riddle as this drones on. Corbin and Moss get rid of Boogs and Drew McIntyre returns from injury at #21. McIntyre wastes no time in getting rid of Moss and Corbin, which would somehow carry on through Wrestlemania. That’s not enough though as Drew follows them outside and unloads on them with steps to the head. Kevin Owens is in at #22 and Pop Up Powerbombs McIntyre.
Rey Mysterio is in at #23 and the fans are barely reacting to a string of big, popular names. Kofi Kingston is in at #24 and gets tossed to the apron fast. Owens breaks up a springboard attempt and Kofi lands on the barricade….but his feet hit the floor as Kofi finally botches his big save spot. It’s Otis in at #25 and hits some elbows as the mindless brawling continues.
Big E. is in at #26 and oh yeah, he’s a former WWE Champion. Belly to belly suplexes abound and the Warrior Splash hits Owens. Bad Bunny gets lucky #27 and gets to clean house, including a high crossbody, followed by a Canadian Destroyer to Riddle. Bunny ducks the Brogue Kick and ducks Sheamus before teaming up with Rey to get rid of Ziggler. Mysterio turns his back on Bunny and almost gets tossed, leaving Owens to Stun Bunny instead. Otis dumps Mysterio and Shane McMahon is in at #28.
Shane wastes no time in getting rid of Owens before slugging it out with McIntyre. Randy Orton, the hometown boy, is in at #29 and the RKO gets rid of Big E. Another RKO hits Otis and Riddle hits a running RKO to McIntyre. Otis is out….and Brock Lesnar is in at #30, meaning everyone knows exactly where this is going. Lesnar gets to clean house, including a bunch of suplexes before dumping Orton and Bunny. Riddle is tossed, Shane follows him, and it’s down to Lesnar vs. McIntyre. Some right hands look to set up the Claymore but Lesnar reversed into the F5 to win at 51:11.
Rating: D-. This was HORRIBLE and is absolutely in the running for worst Royal Rumble of all time. There was no drama until the end, but the bigger problem is there was nothing set up throughout the match. This is the third time I’ve seen this match and I still have no idea what is supposed to be interesting until the end. People come in, they brawl, they get eliminated, more people come in. It’s about 50 minutes of absolute nothing and then “oh well, here’s Brock to get ANOTHER Wrestlemania title match after two minutes of work”. This felt like they didn’t try and just said “Lesnar wins, move on”. Absolutely horrendous.
Overall Rating: D-. I’ve heard this show called the lowest of the low for WWE creative in this era and that very well may be true. The ONLY decent thing on the entire show was Rollins vs. Reigns, and that ended in a screwy finish. You also have Lesnar vs. Lashley and that doesn’t even require creative to work. Instead, we had two terrible Rumbles, one of which is an all time miss, plus some nothing midcard matches. The Rumbles are always going to define these shows though and these were all time terrible. Horrific show and it gets worse every time I watch it.
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
Women’s Royal Rumble:
Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop
Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley
Edge/Beth Phoenix vs. Miz/Maryse
Men’s Royal Rumble
WOW I have no idea what I was thinking on that Men’s Royal Rumble. That has to be up there on my all time list of stupid ratings.
Here is the original review if you need a recap.
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