The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2022 – 01.29.22
Kept forgetting that this year’s show was on a Saturday, actually.
Live from St. Louis, MO. Fun story: They actually cancelled the entire Canadian house show swing in December and January because they didn’t want to get caught in Canada in case of a snowstorm, so that everyone would be there for this show. So hopefully this is a good one.
Your hosts are Michael Cole and blah blah.
Universal title: Roman Reigns v. Seth Rollins
Interesting choice for the opener. I thought they’d open with the Women’s Rumble. Seth goes for full troll by using the Shield music and gear here, which obviously foreshadows Dean Ambrose returning in the Rumble tonight. Frankly we haven’t seen him around in a few years, he’s due to return anyway. Although then Pat McAfee breaks kayfabe by talking how “Mox, Seth and Roman” used to team up as the Shield. Who the fuck is “Mox”? THE FORBIDDEN DOOR HAS BEEN KICKED DOWN. Seth being a complete douche in the Shield gear is just weird. Seth psyches him out and slugs away in the corner before hitting a sling blade, then clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a pair of dives. So, having not been following the storyline here, I’m not clear on whether Seth is supposed to be a babyface or not. Because he still seems to be the same annoying shitbag. Back in, Roman slugs him out of the air on a springboard and follows with the Drive By on the ropes, sending Rollins to the floor. But then Roman charges and Seth catches him and hits a powerbomb through the announce table out of nowhere. Luckily Cole is there to mansplain to us that the Shield used to powerbomb guys through the table all the time. Back in, Seth with a frog splash for two. Seth goes up and misses the Phoenix splash, but recovers with a buckle bomb and hits the curb stomp for two. Seth milks that one and sets up for another, but Roman counters with a lariat this time and both guys are down. Roman slugs away on the mat for some ZOOM AND CUT SHAKY CAM action and then follows with a particularly powerful powerbomb for two. Seth tries a triangle but Roman slams out of that and runs Seth into the post outside. To the floor again and Roman tosses him around on the floor, and back in for the superman punch for two. Seth bails to the floor again, so Roman follows him out for a spear as Cole notes that both guys have won Royal Rumbles before. To be honest, I had blocked that Rollins win out of mind completely because that match was one of the worst Rumbles. Back in the ring, Roman tries another spear and Rollins counters him into the spear. Another curb stomp is blocked by Roman and they slug it out, which allows Reigns to hit another spear. Seth asks for a fist bump while selling the move, and Roman appears conflicted about that, but then guillotines him and Seth’s arm lands in the ropes while the ref is checking it, which is BULLSHIT. So Roman won’t break the hold and gets disqualified at 14:45. What a shitty finish. Also Roman got completely screwed there. That is the exact opposite of acknowledging him. Anyway, a good opener that was teasing greatness, but drifted into wandering on the floor and selling on the mat a bit too much, and then the finish was epic terrible and ruined it. *** And then Roman snaps and beats on Seth with a chair, which I guess is supposed to make me boo Roman? Fuck that, Rollins’ character is a dipshit, hit him some more.
Women’s Royal Rumble:
Sasha Banks is #1, and Melina returns to WWE at #2. She hasn’t looked great in NWA and Impact but good on her for getting another payday. We get a battle of SIGN POINTING to start and then Sasha just throws her out at 0:50. Tamina is #3 and Sasha hits her with the knees off the apron before she’s in the ring, and then tries to push her out right away and fails. Sasha with more knees in the corner and she slugs away, but Tamina fights back, already looking winded. Kelly Kelly makes her annual Rumble appearance at #4 at 3:30, looking unrecognizable at this point. Seriously, she looks like she’s trying to be Arianna Grande now. Kelly runs wild for a bit and does the handstand choke on Sasha, but Sasha pushes her out at 5:08. The cameos are really earning their money this year. Aliyah is #5 at 5:26 and she attacks Sasha and yells a lot, running wild for a bit before Sasha knees her RIGHT IN THE BOOB to take over. Liv Morgan is #6 at 7:00 and she runs wild and nearly gets Sasha out, but Tamina saves for some reason. So Liv POINTS TO SIGN and stomps on the others for a bit. Queen Zelina is #7 at 8:40 and she doesn’t get much of a reaction. Tamina puts Sasha on the apron, allowing Zelina to knock her off and out at 9:30. Bianca Belair is #8 at 10:30 and she cleans house and throws Liv to the apron, but can’t knock her out. And then Tamina breaks up the run to throw cold water on the match, as usual. Dana Brooke is #9 at 12:10, speaking of throwing cold water on a match, and immediately runs afoul of Tamina but runs wild for a bit with some gymnastics.
Michelle McCool makes her annual cameo at #10 at 14:00 and she runs wild for a bit, but Reggie catches Dana to prevent her elimination. But then a second try works and Dana is out at 14:50. And then Tamina lays her out to end that run again. Even the announcers point out that Tamina keeps killing any momentum the match has. Sonya Deville is #11 at 15:40 and Byron Saxton is all offended so I guess she’s a heel GM now. So she joins the commentary team instead of getting into the match, because she has a jacket on. Yeah that makes sense. Everyone piles up in the corner doing nothing, and Natalya is #12 at 17:40, speaking of doing nothing. She goes after Liv but can’t get her out, and then there’s Tamina to suck the fun out of the match again. Thankfully Bianca gets her over the top and out at 19:00, which should improve the match 100 times or so. Cameron the Funkadactyl returns at #13 at 19:40. They’re really reaching now. So Sonya gets all worked up over this and gets into the match, beating on Cameron and running her into the post to eliminate her at 21:00. Naomi is #14 at 21:30 and they slug it out for the first real heat of the match, before throwing Sonya out at 22:20. Carmella is #15 at 23:00 and she wanders around ringside and chats with the announcers. Rhea Ripley is #16 at 25:00 and hopefully she can clear out some deadwood. So she tosses Mella in while Mella is wearing her facial mask gimmick, and then puts both Mella and Zelina out at 26:34. She wrecks more people to finally wake this match up a bit, and Charlotte is #17 at 27:10 despite already being the champion. Yeah that makes sense. Charlotte thankfully tosses Aliyah at 28:25 and puts Naomi onto the apron, but there’s no wacky return this year before Sonya pulls her out at 29:00. That spot was overdone anyway. Ivory is #18 at 30:00 with the RTC music and she looks like it’s still 2001. Does she even age? So she does a promo on everyone and then Rhea throws her out at 31:00 while she’s still doing the promo. That was cute. There’s not actually much of a match going on but it was a cute spot I guess. Brie Bella is #19 at 32:00 and you can guess who the crowd wants to see instead of her. Rhea and Bianca double-team Charlotte on the apron, but can’t get her out, and Mickie James is #20 at 33:50, using the Hardcore Country song and introduced as the Impact champion. 2022 is weird, man.
McCool attacks her right away and Mickie takes her out with a headscissors at 35:04. Alicia Fox is #21 at 35:32, another person I didn’t really need to see make a comeback. She runs wild with kicks as this match is making a good case for cutting the Women’s match down to 20 people next time. Nikki ASH is #22 at 37:30, and she sneaks up from behind and puts Rhea on the apron and then runs away to the floor. That leads nowhere and WWE Legend Summer Rae is #23 at 39:30, and her big spot is kicking Nattie down before getting laid out by Charlotte. And she’s out at 40:31. A true Hall of Fame performance. Nikki Bella is #24 at 41:18. I thought she was retired due to neck injuries? She runs wild for a bit as the ring is filling up with deadwood again, and the Bellas turn on Alicia and put her out at 42:39. You’d think 2006-2010 was a prime era for Women’s wrestling or something based on all the nostalgia for it here. Sarah Logan is #25 at 43:22 in a goofy caveman outfit and she runs wild for a bit and the Bellas throw her out at 44:05. They also put Liv on the apron, but she hangs on until Nikka kicks her out at 44:35. But hey, we’ve still got Charlotte! Lita is #26 at 45:00 and she puts Mickie on the apron and DDTs her out like a garbage bag full of belongings at 46:08. Look, I like Lita of course, but she’s already had multiple last matches and retirements and keeps coming back. Mighty Molly Holly is #27 at 47:14, which gives us the meta spot of Nikki attacking her and throwing her out at 48:04. Ronda Rousey returns at #28 at 48:50 and that’s probably your winner. The unitard gear is kind of weird. She beats on Nikki and Nikki in the corner and kicks out ASH at 49:59, and then the Bellas turn on each other and Brie puts out Nikki at 50:20. Shotzi is #29 at 51:00 and she’s all CRAZY and Ronda dumps Brie at 51:33. Ronda beats on Bianca in the corner with knees, but Rhea saves and Shayna Baszler is #30 at 52:40. She saves Ronda and suplexes some people, but Charlotte breaks that up. Ronda tosses Shotzi out at 54:04 and Bianca puts Nattie out at 54:30. Lita gives Charlotte a really sad Twist of Fate, but she goes up for a moonsault and gets shoved out by Rhea and Charlotte at 55:49. NEVER GO TO THE TOP ROPE. How many times do I have to say it? Ronda tries to take Rhea out with a triangle, but Charlotte boots Rhea out at 56:48.
Final Four: Charlotte, Bianca Belair, Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler
Charlotte does a Flair Flip to the apron and goes after Ronda in the corner while Bianca hits Shayna with a spinebuster and they fight over a choke attempt. And then Charlotte puts them both out at 58:19, leaving her against Ronda. They should probably just do a quick elimination and save it for Wrestlemania because it’s the obvious main event. And indeed Charlotte charges and Ronda puts her out to win at 59:39. It literally couldn’t have been anyone else once her return leaked. This was an OK Rumble, with a WHOLE lot of filler and cameos and not much of an actual match or really any memorable spots. **1/2 The right person won, although she didn’t look terribly impressive after all the time off. So just for the sake of keeping track, there were of course 30 women in the match. 15 of them, or a staggering HALF of the entire field, were cameo appearances from part-timers or an onscreen authority figure like Sonya, with the other 15 being regulars. And of those 15, one of them was the damn CHAMPION already, which only left about 3 people who could even realistically win the match. That doesn’t say a lot for the star power left on the roster at this point.
RAW Women’s title: Becky Lynch v. Doudrop
Doudrop overpowers Becky to start while Bex runs away for a bit, but Doudrop headbutts her in the corner and goes up, so Becky runs away again. Back in, Doudrop chases her out again, but she charges and smashes into the stairs. See, why can’t she just be Piper Niven again? That was WWE’s trademarked name for her already! They had to change the name that THEY CAME UP WITH! Back in, Doudrop catches a bodypress while the crowd gets all distracted by something else, so Becky reverses to a sleeper. I’m surprised they can even call spots with each other, what with the Scottish-Irish language barrier and all. Doudrop misses a charge and Becky goes up with a missile dropkick for two. Becky takes some time to POINT TO SIGN and talk trash, so Doudrop hits her with a suplex while the announcers do the annoying bickering gimmick, and Doudrop gets a senton for two. I don’t know if the crowd is just tired after the Rumble and they couldn’t follow Ronda Rousey’s return or what, but this thing is DYING. Becky with the disarmer as the announcers note that it’s not something you can just power out of, as Doudrop just powers out of it and slams her for two. I thought it would be hard to escape, but it was super easy, barely an inconvenience! Doudrop with a corner splash for two. She goes up with a Vaderbomb, but Becky gets the knees up to block and goes up with a somersault senton for two. They’re trying really hard to get the crowd back at least. They fight to the apron and Doudrop beats on her with headbutts, but Becky necks her to set up the guillotine legdrop for two. Becky tries the slam but Doudrop reverses to a Rikishi Driver for two. Doudrop goes up again, but Becky slams her off the middle and retains at 12:55. They worked really hard but just couldn’t get anything special going. ***
WWE title: Cowboy Viking Space Lord Brock Lesnar v. Bobby Lashley
Brock appears to be a complete babyface with the crowd as he somehow keeps reinventing himself and having fun while making millions of dollars and being awesome before going home to his huge farm and banging his hot wife. I was thinking we’d get a Heyman Special for this one, but maybe Bobby wants to show he can hang before they fight for a lockup for a bit before Brock hits him with the first suplex. So Bobby gets his own, and Brock is like “OH REALLY THEN?” while laughing his head off, and throws his own german in response. Bobby responds with a pair of spears to put Brock on the floor, giving us the patented spear through the railing spot, but in this case Brock moves and Bobby goes through it. Brock sadly makes the mistake of pointing to his head to indicate intelligence, which is usually about as smart as going to the top rope in a Royal Rumble. Back in the ring, Bobby misses a charge and hits the post, and it’s back to SUPLEX CITY. We actually get a rare cool camera angle from Dunn, with Brock standing over the fallen Lashley with a sneer on his face, prepping for the next suplex. Bobby keeps taking the bump on his shoulder for some reason, which has to suck. Brock goes to finish, but Bobby reverses to the full nelson and Brock has to bump the ref to escape. F5 but there’s no ref, so that brings in Roman to spear Brock and shoot dirty looks at Heyman. And then Paul hands Roman the belt, screwing over his client yet again, and Roman lays out Brock with the belt and Bobby wins the title at 10:18. So….that was their big storyline twist that was supposed to make Day One a classic? Heyman pretends to screw over Roman but then screws over Brock instead and goes back to him? I mean, it’s fine, but it’s not exactly an original idea or anything. That’s a pretty weak way to put the belt back on Lashley again but they needed to get the belt off Brock to set up Wrestlemania anyway. Best match of the show so far despite the screwjob finish. ***1/4 But I told you: Pointing to your head to indicate intelligence never ends well.
Miz & Mrs v. Edge & Beth Phoenix
Beth chases Maryse around the ring to start and into the arms of the Miz, as he gets a faceful. Over to Miz and Edge, as Maryse quickly takes Edge out by the hair. To be fair, Edge really should get a haircut again. Miz works on Edge’s back and hits the kicks, but Edge rolls him up for two. Miz with the neckbreaker for two. Beth goes after Maryse again, but Edge comes back with the DDT on Miz and makes the hot tag to Beth. She beats on Maryse with a sideslam for two, but Miz saves. So Beth goes after Miz in the corner, but Maryse hits her with the LOUIS VITTON OF DOOM, which gets two. Maryse pounds away and then stops to pose before going to a chinlock as it looks like she hasn’t even practiced since she retired. Still better than Red Velvet. Beth tries the Glam Slam, but Maryse escapes and they’re both down. Finally we get a hot tag to Edge and he cleans house on Miz with the Edgeomatic for two. They fight to the top, but Beth brings Miz down with a powerbomb and Edge drops an elbow for two. Edge sets up for the spear, but Maryse interferes and trips him up before hitting a rana on Edge. Skull Crushing Finale gets two for Miz off that. The announcers are SHOCKED that Edge was able to kick out after taking one rana from a 100 pound woman. And then Edge and Beth hit a double spear on Miz and then stereo glam slams to finish at 12:28. This was a mess. ** It needed a bunch of smoke and mirrors and wacky spots and it was just kind of a blah match and a continued waste of Edge’s talents.
Men’s Royal Rumble:
I gotta say, it feels like a LIFETIME ago that Edge won the Thunderdome Rumble last year. AJ Styles is P1, and Shinsuke Nakamura is #2. AJ blocks a kick and takes him down with a legdrag, but Nakamura hits a head kick and they fight on the ropes before AJ puts him down with a forearm. Austin Theory is #3 at 1:30 and comes in with a rolling dropkick on AJ. Robert Roode is #4 at 3:30 and he hits everyone with spinebusters. The crowd actually chants for TNA as he has a showdown with AJ, and Pat quips about a “massive impact” before AJ throws out Roode at 4:40. FORBIDDEN DOOR. Theory hits Nakamura with a spinning backbreaker but Ridge Holland is #5 at 5:20. Nakamura gets tossed by AJ at 5:55 while Ridge suplexes guys, looking like a generic geek now. Apparently he’s the protégé of Sheamus, which I’m sure is a ticket right to the main event for him. Montez Ford is #6 at 6:50 and he immediately tries to toss AJ, but he hangs on. Ford also tosses Theory and he hangs on as well, and then Holland cuts him off with a tilt-a-whirl slam. Damian Priest is #7 at 8:30 and he gets a bit of shine and slugs it out with AJ in the corner while they try to get Theory out. Sami Zayn is #8 at 10:00 with his fresh new contract and he goes after Ford but can’t get him out. Johnny Knoxville is #9 for our first gimmick appearance at 11:30 and he points to the sign after attacking Sami, but then he goes after AJ and gets taken out by Montez with a frog splash. And Sami boots him out at 13:18. Well that was a waste after weeks of buildup to his appearance. Like THAT was the best idea they could come up with for a guy who takes comedy bumps in real life for a living? And AJ dumps Sami at 13:30. Angelo Dawkins is #10 at 13:50, or “Hawkins” as Cole calls him.
The Street Profits team up on Priest and get nowhere. Omos is #11 at 15:40 and everyone goes after him, but he tosses Dawkins at 16:11. Ford attacks and gets tossed at 16:22. If they’re trying for the cool Diesel push by having him throw out people that the crowd likes, it’s not going to work. Omos tosses AJ into the post and under the ropes and stands there yelling for his big highspot. Rick O’Shea is #12 at 17:13 and he goes after Omos and bounces off him for a bit before Omos steps on Ridge in the corner. Chad Gable is #13 at 18:39 and he rallies the troops for an attack on Omos and they all listen to him for some reason. So Omos lays out Priest and dumps him like a geek at 19:43. Dominik Mysterio is #14 at 20:00. And everyone finally gangs up and gets rid of Omos at 20:20, thank god. Chad Gable takes full credit, which is kind of funny. Happy Corbin is #15 at 21:30 and tosses Ricochet at 22:05 before the poor guy can even get a Kofi Kingston wacky elimination spot. Dolph Ziggler is #16 at 22:58. What’s with all the tag team geeks in this match? It’s like the opposite of all the part-timers in the Women’s match. Corbin hits Dom with the Deep Six and sends him out at 23:51. Are they seriously pushing this guy again? AJ kicks Theory out at 24:15. Sheamus is #17 at 24:43, but Ridge gets tossed out at 24:55 right in front of his boss. So Sheamus goes after AJ in revenge and hits him with a knee strike, then sends him to the apron and gives him the forearms as Rick Boogs is #18 at 26:11. He must be digging Peacemaker’s soundtrack. We’re almost 20 people into this thing and there’s ZERO star power outside of AJ. Boogs presses Gable out at 27:14 while posing like Ted Arcidi’s guitar playing kid. Madcap Moss is #19 at 27:53 while Pat helpfully explains Moss’s gimmick. Boogs presses Dolph but can’t get him out. But then Moss tosses AJ at 29:11 and we’re left with the bottom of the barrel geek patrol in the ring.
Riddle is #20 at 29:38 and gets some shine. There’s literally been no one in this match so far who could even conceivably main event Wrestlemania this year. Boogs is out at 30:45 via Happy and Madcap. Seriously, they’re still pushing THESE GUYS? Drew McIntyre thankfully returns at #21 at 31:29 after his neck injury, so I guess it wasn’t as bad as feared. He dumps Moss at 32:18 and then Corbin right after and then continues beating on them outside. Kevin Owens is #22 at 33:31 and slugs it out with Drew in the aisle before heading in for a powerbomb on Drew and then he stomps on Riddle’s bare feet. Rey Mysterio is #23 at 34:48 and he runs wild and tries to take Riddle out with a headscissors, but Riddle hangs on and KO takes Rey out with a stunner. Kofi Kingston is #24 at 36:39 and he immediately gets thrown out by KO, but he lands on the railing and they tease a wacky save before deciding that, no, he landed on his feet and he’s out. Well that was par for the course for this Rumble. Otis is #25 at 38:28 and he runs wild for a bit. This match reminds me of the 98 one where they had Mick Foley working three times because the roster was so depleted. Like, Drew could possibly win this one, but it’s looking more and more likely that they’re doing the Brock Lesnar surprise win because there’s no one else. Big E is #26 at 40:20 after getting shunted back to the midcard of Smackdown and he throws some guys around and splashes KO before walking into the Brogue Kick from Sheamus. Is it me or are they leaving money on the table by not teaming up Sheamus and Riddle as Bro Kick? I’ll let them have that for free. Bad Bunny is #27 at 41:54, whoever that is. He comes in with a dive and hits KO with a headscissors, and then bonds with Riddle before turning on him for a destroyer. Hey, finally someone gets to look good in this match! And he actually eliminates Sheamus at 43:00 after ducking the Brogue Kick. Maybe they should put the belt on him. He then sets up Rey for a 619 on Dolph and tosses HIM at 43:56 but makes the mistake of turning on Rey and takes a stunner from KO as a result. Shane McMahon is #28 at 44:38 while Rey gets tossed out by Otis off-screen. Shane throws out KO at 45:08. Come on now. Randy Orton is #29 at 46:14 to FINALLY wake up the crowd. RKO for Big E and he’s out at 47:09. Hope you enjoyed that push while it lasted. RKBro double-teams Otis and tosses him at 47:29. And finally, Brock Lesnar is #30 at 48:22 as predicted ON THIS VERY BLOG earlier today. Kudos to the guy who emailed that idea this morning, and more kudos to me for publishing it and taking credit for it. Orton is out at 49:30. Bad Bunny takes the F5 and he’s back into musical obscurity at 49:46. Riddle out at 49:52. Shane is out at 50:00. That leaves Brock and Mac and Brock just throws him out to win one of the worst ever Rumbles at 51:15. This was a complete parade of midcard geeks and ended up so rushed to the finish that they didn’t even hit the one hour mark in a match with 30 people. **
The whole booking scenario of Brock winning his second Rumble after only dropping the WWE title less than an hour earlier was clever, I guess, but this whole show was a run of bad finishes and it’s a no from me as far as recommendation. Having “clever” finishes is fine if the wrestling is great to back it up, but this didn’t have that. Thumbs down.