HEYDORN’S TAKE: Don’t hold me to this – WWE Royal Rumble 2022

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH ASSISTANT EDITOR (@zheydorntorch)

PHOTO CREDIT: WWE

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10 … 9 … 8 … 7 … 6 … oh, you know the drill right? Right. It’s Royal Rumble time and we know what to do, but does WWE?

I’m just not sure. WrestleMania is around the corner and the Royal Rumble event is typically the catalyst that fuels feuds and direction for WWE’s biggest show of the year in April. It doesn’t feel like anything major is on tap Saturday night, though. This year’s event is just kind of, off.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some big matches on the show. Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship and Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins lead the pack, but undercard title matches at the Royal Rumble are regularly fillers given the magnitude of both Royal Rumble matches. Therein lies the problem. Both the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble bouts have been comprised of less than lackluster builds and hype. So much so, that it’s hard not to think those matches have purposefully been left directionless to avoid audiences rejecting said direction. That’s been a notable problem for WWE in recent years. This sure is one way to fix that, though there are a multitude of others that would be infinitely more impactful. Money is left on the table this year and while the Royal Rumble match itself will always yield excitement, it could have been more if WWE let it.

Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

It’s a two-woman show if you ask me. Bianca Belair and Lita. That’s it, folks. Both have stories in place with the champions on different brands and both of those matches are WrestleMania worthy. Belair vs. Lynch has been in the works since Summerslam and the wheels were set for a Lita vs. Charlotte Flair bout earlier this month on Smackdown. All four of those women will have a good showing in the match and I’m looking for both Raquel Gonzalez and Mandy Rose to be prominent NXT features as well. Belair takes the crown for the second year in a row. She can use it and it sets up a final showdown with Lynch organically. If Ronda Rousey shows up, all bets are off.

Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz & Maryse

This is the blow off match for the Edge/Miz program right? It has to be. They’ve milked every once of intrigue possible out of this thing and it needs to wrap. All four participants have made this work. Edge’s presence has suffered a bit, but not in a permanent way. The good guys get the win. Plain, simple, and straightforward booking to wrap up the story cleanly.

Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop – WWE Raw Women’s Championship

Ok, Lynch and Doudrop have delivered a serviceable build to this match. Doudrop especially. She has proven to be good on the microphone and has an authentic voice that should help her progress on Raw. A heel vs. heel match for these women at this time will be a tough putt to sink. Both are still developing in those roles and being put in a situation that will automatically put them behind in getting universal heat from the audience isn’t smart. Lynch is the obvious winner here. She has a major WrestleMania match looming with someone and needs the title for it.

Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns – WWE Universal Championship

The battle of Shield brothers. Rollins has put up a good fight on the microphone and Reigns has sold for him with good facial expressions and body language, but that ends during this match. I know there has been talk of Rollins winning here, but that lacks logic even for WWE. This is a match for Reigns to win on the way to Lesnar at WrestleMania. He’ll do so cleanly and definitively.

Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley – WWE Championship

I’m always up for a dream match and this certainly is that. Bobby Lashley has really come into his own as a top star. In a way, it’s good that these guys haven’t crossed paths until now. Paul Heyman will be central to the finish of this match. We’ll see him take the side of Roman Reigns and officially put a bow on what became a messy story due to COVID changes at WWE Day One. Heyman costs Brock Lesnar the match, which gives Lashley a major win and frees Lesnar up to chase Reigns and Heyman at WrestleMania.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Build? What build? It was an embarrassing run toward this match. The match has the highest stakes of any non-championship match in WWE and we don’t see the top contenders say a word about it? Nothing from Big E? Nothing from A.J. Styles? Nothing from really anyone? Something is afoot and that brings me back to Brock Lesnar. Without a lead candidate in place to win this match, Lesnar will fill that slot. Monster Lesnar raising hell after being screwed by Paul Heyman and entering this match to try and earn a shot at Reigns at WrestleMania is a smooth continuation of that story and an angle that should pop the live audience. I’m stubbornly all-in on this theory. Lesnar for the win.


CATCH-UP: HEYDORN’S RAW RECEIPT 1/24: Royal Rumble go-home episode lacks hype on major Rumble stakes

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