2022 Royal Rumble sets up the main event of WrestleMania 38


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Fahim Khan

Throughout history, winning the Royal Rumble took wrestlers to the next level.

Recently in 2020, Drew McIntyre won the match and headlined Wrestlemania. In 2019, Becky Lynch won the women’s rumble to become one of the first women to feature in the Wrestlemania main event.

The 2022 Royal Rumble, one of WWE’s biggest events of the year, the first stop on the road to the biggest night in pro-wrestling, Wrestlemania, was not about establishing new stars or the future.

It felt flat because of it.

The show opened with Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. WWE showed the fans that when they want to, they can tell amazing stories as they perfectly told the story of these two men and the decade-defining the history they’ve had.

Rollins and Reigns debuted on the main roster as part of The Shield back in 2012 alongside Dean Ambrose, wreaking havoc towards everyone they came across. Rollins eventually betrayed The Shield, leading them to break up and go their separate ways as single’s competitors.

Both men have evolved greatly over the years. Reigns is now the Tribal Chief, probably the biggest heel in pro-wrestling today. Rollins has transformed into a sadistic, manipulative Jokerlike character who tries to get into people’s heads.

Ever since The Shield broke up, Reigns became the face of the company, headlining almost every WrestleMania he has been a part of.

Rollins has seen his fair share of success, although not to the level that Reigns has, although Rollins has been his Reigns’ kryptonite, defeating him every time they’ve had a match on a large stage.

Numerous spots referenced the history between the two, such as Rollins’ entrance through the crowd to the The Shield’s theme and Rollins hitting his foe with the Shield bomb through the commentator’s table.

He also hit Reigns with a pedigree, referring to his betrayal before joining rival faction The Authority, led by Triple H.

Throughout this process Rollins is laughing in a very manipulative kind of way, trying to get into Roman’s head. In the end Roman eventually gives in, and completely loses his mind.

Eventually, Reigns slows Seth down and begins to overpower him. He holds him in a guillotine choke and continues to hold it even after Rollins holds the ropes, leading him to be disqualified , but keeping the title.

Reigns then hits Rollins with multiple chair shots to the back, getting full revenge  sinceRollins turned on The Shield by hitting his group mates in the back with a chair.

This was the highlight of the night, a showcase of skill and talent that told an amazing story spanning back almost a decade.

Next was the women’s Royal Rumble. There were a few surprise returns like  Hall of Famer Lita, Melina, Kelly Kelly, Summer Rae and the Bella Twins. Hall of Famer Ivory entered with a huge pop from the crowd.

There were strong performances from Rhea Ripley, Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair. In one of the few entertaining spots in the match, Impact Wrestling women’s champion Mickie James made an appearance. It was a historic moment and hinted at both wrestling companies collaborating in the future.

Somehow  the match fell flat. There were times when the ring was cluttered with wrestlers, showing a lack of direction..

Eventually Ronda Rousey would enter the ring, marking her WWE return after two years away from the company.  It felt obvious that no one else really had a chance to win. Rousey won the Rumble earning a title bount of her choosing at WrestleMania.

Considering the historic pedigree of the Royal Rumble, this match needed more intensity and suspense and stronger performances from other wrestlers to have made it  a memorable Royal Rumble match.

The other highlight match of the event was Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley. For many, this was a dream match. Both participated in mixed martial arts, with Brock achieving far more success. Both are known for their destructive strength and towering physique.

The match was simple and to the point, ultimately about which man had more power. Both performed some of their signature moves, Brock welcomed Bobby to suplex city and in return, Bobby would suplex Lesnar and  hit him with a spear.

The match would end with Lashley holding Lesnar in a hurt lock for a long time, almost making him unconscious. Lesnar would eventually counter by shoving Lashley into the referee and then  performing a F-5, unintentionally hitting the ref.

With the ref down and out, it gave Reigns the opportunity to interfere and cost Lesnar the match. To add insult to injury,, Paul Heyman, Lesnar’s manager, helped Reigns. It is likely that the dynamic duo of Reigns and Heyman will return to our televisions.

This was the right move to make, as Heyman and Lesnar ran its course. Heyman on Roman’s side will also take his Tribal Chief character to the next level. It also means that the feud between Reigns and Lesnar is nowhere close to being finished, which would be confirmed later  in the event.

The last match of the night, the men’s Royal Rumble, was similar to the women’s contest. There were many entertaining spots such as the appearance of actor Johnny Knoxville,  multiple superstars working together to eliminate the giant Omas and Drew McIntyre destroying Baron Corbin and Madcap Moss outside the ring, hinting a future feud in the future. The match saw strong performances from superstars like Austin Theory, AJ Styles, Drew McIntyre, and Matt Riddle.

Yet, the most entertaining spot was the return of rapper Bad Bunny who continues to amaze with his ring skills and strength for a rapper. This strength was on display as he took an F-5 from Lesnar, a man likely  three times his size.

Unfortunately, like the women’s Rumble, this match lacked direction.

At no point did it feel like someone in the ring could go on to win the match. When Lesnar ultimately entered, it felt like a turn-off-the-TV moment.. It was blatantly obvious that no one stood a chance to win.

Considering the night advanced the  Lesnar and Reigns storyline, it is obvious those two will face off in the Wrestlemania main event..

By the end of the night, we have two UFC legends as the 2022 Royal Rumble winners. They will surely attract more eyes to the product, but  both superstars are already established and did not need a Rumble win to get a title shot. The prestige could have gone to someone else to establish or advance their career.

Ultimately, the show had bright moments, but lacked that spectacle  that Royal Rumbles have had in the past.