WWE – Royal Rumble 2022 (Cert 12)
2 Discs DVD/1 Disc Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 226 minutes approx.
Over the past decade or so, the Royal Rumble has been in a strange position of being a can’t miss show despite the fact most of the winners of the all-important Rumble matches have been largely predictable. This has put a huge dampener on the intrigue factor as to who will go onto Wrestlemania to challenge for whichever title they choose, but with clever booking, it is still possible to keep the door open for a surprise or two along the way.
In that regard, it takes a LOT to stuff up a Rumble match, but if anyone can, then Vince McSenile is your man, Or in this case, another member of the McFamily. More on that later. Suffice to say, after the deflating return to the status quo that was Day 1, there was a lot of goodwill needing to be restored with this show, one of the Big Four PP…er… Premium Events of the year guaranteed to get the fans back in the mood.
That would be the idea anyway…
Held on January 29th 2022 at The Dome at America’s Centre in St. Louis, Missouri before 39,417 fans. Commentary is provided by Michael Cole and Pat MacAfee for Smackdown, and Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves for RAW.
Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers – the back cover artwork of this releases does that for me – but plenty of opinion.
WWE Universal Title Match – Roman Reigns (c) vs. Seth Rollins
When Survivor Series rolls around in November and they ram the tagline “The only time of the year RAW and Smackdown go head to head” down our throats, show them this match as proof this is a total lie! Roman is on SD whilst Seth is on RAW, and worst still Seth is the challenger to Roman’s title! If that isn’t a huge slap in the face to the SD roster, I don’t know what is. Adding insult to injury Seth was personally chosen by Adam Pearce because…reasons?
Seriously, it was that simple and that baffling considering both men are heels with them being on different shows not even a discussed issue. The only concession they gave us was the storied history between the two, dating back to The Shield days, which as valid as it is, can’t be seen as anything other than spurious laziness.
However, it does play into the psychology of the match as Seth comes out to the old Shield music and entrance and in his old gear to wind Roman up, and posit Seth as the de facto babyface. It sort of worked but by the end the fans just enjoyed seeing these two beat the hell out of each other for 15 minutes, in what was bell-to-bell, all action, featuring hard hitting bumps, big spots, and the usual brawling madness.
Unfortunately, both men needed to be kept strong as there were at the time big plans for Seth at Wrestlemania, leaving us with a crappy finish to kill what as a hot opener to the show. Talk about starting as you mean to go on…
30-Woman Royal Rumble Match
During the big talent purge of 2021, many women from the main roster and NXT were among the victims of this “cost cutting” measure, which probably didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Then, as this show was approaching, they suddenly realised they didn’t have 30 women on the main roster to fill out the slots in the Rumble match. Sure, they could have used NXT talent as they have before but that would make this a half NXT Rumble.
So, having saved money by releasing the talents Vince was forced to open his wallet to recruit names from the past to fill up the spaces, hoping the nostalgia card would placate the fans. This meant the return of such luminaries as Melina, Kelly Kelly (who was totally unrecognisable), Cameron, Sarah Logan, Michele McCool, Alicia Fox, and WWE Legend Summer Rae (she was promoted as such on SD ahead of this show)!
Hall of Famers were also offered another quick pay day (too quick in some cases), meaning Lita, Ivory, Molly Holly, and the retired, never to wrestle again, we’re mums now, oh go on then, just this once if you add a couple more zeros to the cheque Bella Twins! Elsewhere, having been booked as too superior over the SD roster, Charlotte had no challenger for the PPV after Toni Storm quit, so she was in this match, with the idea being if she wins, she has Wrestlemania night off.
Yet this isn’t the biggest surprise – Mickie James was unceremoniously booted out in 2021 and publicly shamed WWE by sharing a photo on social media of her returned belongings shoved in a black bin bag. Mickie at the time of this show was the Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion, and was referred to as such on WWE TV, the first time they have actually acknowledged Impact outside of DVD releases. And to top it all, Mickie came out with the KO title and her Impact music!
But the big news was the return of another face from the (recent) past which is spoiled on the disc cover artwork, making the result a foregone conclusion but it got a big pop so Vince will be happy regardless. Just don’t get too attached to seeing your favourite legends, they weren’t booked to last long (except Mrs. Undertaker because you know…), whilst the match itself didn’t even go the full hour! Props to Sasha Banks for her Sailor Moon outfit and Zelina Vega for channelling Naruto’s Madara Uchiha!
WWE RAW Women’s Title Match – Becky Lynch (c) vs. Duodrop
Like her hubby earlier, heel Becky had to play de facto babyface to heel Duodrop for this unlikely match but it didn’t matter as the crowd wasn’t paying attention anyway. You see, at the end of the previous match, the winner did the now obligatory point to the Mania sign as fireworks go off spot – only this time the sign caught fire and that portion of the crowd has to be evacuated while the sign was lowered and the fire put out.
A shame really as this was a good match, a real back and forth affair in which both women worked hard and at times, gave the impression Duodrop might actually pull off the upset. I may hate the name but the former Piper Niven works well for a big girl and would be a credible champion, with an image makeover natch. Despite the askew nature of the psychology there was notable chemistry here should a rematch ever be discussed down the line. Good match all told.
WWE Title Match – Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Bobby Lashley
One of the few dream matches left in WWE but with Lesnar always in autopilot, would it end up a nightmare match instead? The build up was slightly muddled – when Roman was unable to defend the Universal Title against Brock at Day 1, Lesnar was added to the Fatal Four way match for the WWE title which he won, because of course he did.
Paul Heyman reunited with Brock and to determine his first challenger, the original four way was held on RAW which Lashley won. So, this brings us to two titans with MMA experience clashing, making Lashley more a threat than any of his recent opponents. As expected it became a test of strength followed by an exchange of suplexes, one of which injured Lashley’s shoulder, taking this from an exciting match to a typical Lesnar one.
But with Brock vs. Roman being the plan for WM 38, there is a big question mark over how to make both guys look strong here, so you know some McBooking will come into play. And it does – blatantly, very blatantly with added layer of intrigue to give the WM feud some extra juice, but does it solve anything in the long run? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz & Maryse
After Edge and the Miz faced off at Day 1 comes this mixed tag match which redefines the word “inevitable”. Beth, with her big Mad Max III era Tina Turner hair continued to antagonise Maryse in a series of silly segments, getting clonked in the head with a brick inside a purse for her troubles whilst Edge and Miz mouthed off at each other.
Because Maryse is so limited in the ring, her spots were kept simple and mostly comedy (maybe not intentionally), which may explain her outfit being a tactical design to distract male audiences from her lacking ring skills. Anyway, this match happened, went too long, and was put in the death spot between the last match and the main event when it might have worked better earlier in the card, or better still, on RAW.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
Oh boy, Where to start with this one. First, this is one of the least star studded Rumbles since 1995, comprised of tag teams and mid card guys with no conceivable chance of headlining Wrestlemania, thus no real storyline per se. Usually, this may indicate they are willing to pull the trigger on a surprise choice to make a new star but this is Vince we’re talking about, and he can’t be trusted to this in 2022.
The line-up, like the women’s match, was included a guest appearance, namely a chap called Johnny Knoxville from a show called Jackass, which was big about 20 years ago. His role was set up via a feud with Sami Zayn which has Wrestlemania match written all over it. Similarly, a WM celeb alumni, Bad Bunny returns to compete in the Rumble, although his role was kept a secret.
Now for the juicy stuff. Another surprise entrant was Shane O’Sweat, last seen at WM 37 dying at the hands of Braun Strowman. You see, Vince thinks Shane is a marquee player for Mania, hence his resurfacing at this time, with his rumoured opponent being Seth Rollins. However, Shane was also brought in to help book the Rumble match and came in with a load of ideas – for himself.
Shane decided the end of the match should feature him and the eventual winner, demanding he be allowed to look good in defeat, after eliminating other guys and even going toe to toe with former MMA star Matt Riddle, since Shane sees himself as a legit fighter! Vince didn’t agree with any of this and nixed every one of his son’s suggestions, causing the plans to be changed and rewritten across the day, even up until the show was on air.
As a result, Shane reportedly sulked about this and threw a strop, throwing his weight around with officials backstage and being generally unprofessional, which was notable in his poor and uncooperative performance in the match and his own botched elimination. The next day, having had enough, Vince fired his own son from WWE! Good riddance I say but still – wow!
Back to the match and, it was underwhelming to say the least, running even shorter than the women’s match at 51 minutes. Aside from Bad Bunny and the eventual winner – although it didn’t take a genius to figure out who that would be – the other big surprise was the return of Drew McIntyre. He was written off TV after a neck injury sustained at Day 1 and was not due back for months – three weeks later and here he is. One other notable thing is Kofi Kingston botching his traditional acrobatic spot by clearly landing feet first on the floor and not being able to save himself.
Oh and the Wrestlemania sign caught fire again after the second pyro display. Doh!
Well, they completely ballsed this one up, didn’t they? We can’t pin it all on Shane and his inherent McEgo but that certainly didn’t help in making an already lack lustre men’s Rumble match on paper into a total mess. This wasn’t limited to the men’s match either – Dave “Fit” Finlay was brought back in to help book that match with Molly Holly and Pat Buck, but again the plans kept changing as to who should shine and who shouldn’t, whilst not all older returning talent – Kaitlyn, Aksana and Jillian Hall – were used. And where the hell was Xia Li come to think of it?
The other contributing factor is one we’ve discussed ad nauseum on this site and will never change as long as Vince is drawing breath – his dated ideas and myopic vision for wrestling. The show was the latest middle finger to all the young, hungry, undervalued, regular roster members as the old guard and select few continued to receive preferential treatment to ensure the safe, reliable, McTrain keeps-a-rollin.
As much as we complain and roll out eyes, the truth is WWE is swimming in profit and as along as fans continue to show up at the arenas and cheer for this nonsense, Vince will feel vindicated he is doing the right thing. Granted, the majority of fans will swallow it all up but even they must have a breaking point when the status quo just won’t cut it any longer, just where that point is remains frustrating for the rest of us who want quality back in WWE and know they can deliver it – if they want to.
Two major shows in and 2022 is not off to a good start for WWE.
Best match – Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop
Monday Night RAW – January 17th 2022
Hit The Bricks
Becky Lynch & Duodrop vs. Liv Morgan & Bianca Belair
Monday Night RAW – January 24th 2022
Happy Birthday Maryse
Smackdown LIVE! – February 28th 2022
The Boss Is Back
Rating – **
Man In Black