Ronda Rousey is back.
This year's Royal Rumble was one of the biggest in years. Ronda Rousey is back! After giving birth just four months ago, Rousey returned in the women's Royal Rumble match and won it. She'll now head to WrestleMania to face a champion of her choosing -- which probably means we'll finally get Rousey versus Becky Lynch.
But that's just the half of it. The other big news is that Brock Lesnar is both a loser and a winner. He lost the WWE Championship to Bobby Lashley, as he was pinned after being attacked by Roman Reigns. Reigns was assisted by none other than Paul Heyman, who is now once again aligned with The Tribal Chief. But the night wasn't all sour for The Beast, who entered the men's Royal Rumble at No. 30 and won it.
It'll be interesting to see how the story shapes out, as Reigns appears to still have business to settle with Seth Rollins. The two opened the show, but Reigns lost the match by disqualification after he refused to let go of his guillotine choke. Elsewhere, Becky Lynch retained her Raw Women's Championship while Edge and Beth Phoenix beat Miz and Maryse.
Scroll below to see full results and analysis from Royal Rumble 2022.
After losing his WWE Championship earlier in the night, Brock Lesnar got some redemption. Lesnar entered the 2022 Royal Rumble at lucky last and won the whole thing.
Lesnar was a wrecking machine once he came in. He had a flurry of quick eliminations, tossing out Randy Orton, Riddle, surprise entrants Bad Bunny and Shane McMahon, and then finally Drew McIntyre, to win.
The Rumble started with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura as the first two entrants. AJ got the first eliminations, ending the night for Bobby Roode, who came in at No. 4, and Nakamura too.
A super fun moment came about 10 minutes in with the entrance of Jackass' Johnny Knoxville, who entered at No. 9. He came in and took down Sami Zayn before confronting AJ Styles. He landed a punch on AJ, before AJ absolutely killed him with a series of punches and kicks. Montez Ford, also in the match, then hit a Frogsplash on Knoxville, and then Zayn eliminated him with a Helluva Kick.
You can say a lot about celebrities in wrestling, but Johnny Knoxville sure didn't want people to go easy on him.
Omos played the role of Rumble big man, as he eliminated both Street Profits as well as Damian Priest. He was elimianted by a gang of people, including Chad Gable, Dominik Mysterio, Austin Theory, Ricochet and AJ Styles.
After that, Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin became the chief eliminators, chucking out the likes of AJ Styles and Rick Boogs. They'd meet their end at the hands of a returning Drew McIntyre, who was taken out at Day 1 by the pair. McIntyre eliminated both, and then demolished them on the outside with the steel steps.
One surprise entrant was Bad Bunny, who last wrestled last at WrestleMania. Bunny came in and hit a flying cross body on Sheamus and a Destroyer on Riddle. In fact, he eliminated Sheamus by ducking a Brogue Kick and tipping Sheamus over the top rope. Moments later, Rey Mysterio hit a 619 on Dolph Ziggler and Bad Bunny tossed him out too.
Shane McMahon got a huge reaction coming in at No. 27, and eliminated Kevin Owens. Randy Orton got an even huge pop as a hometown hero, and quickly eliminated (with the help of Riddle) Big E upon entry. If you were hoping the Royal Rumble would restart a main event run for Big E, you'll be sadly disappointed. Riddle and Orton worked together, also eliminating Otis, until Brock entered. There was a sick moment when Riddle jumped off of a prone Otis' back to hit a flying RKO on McIntyre.
But the fun ended for everyone when Lesnar arrived, as he quickly elimianted everyone in an exhilerating few minutes.
Rating: 4 stars. Very strong build to Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania.
In a fun husband-and-wife mixed-tag match, Edge and Beth Phoenix beat The Miz and Maryse. I was not particularly excited for this -- after Rousey's return and the WWE Championship match, this felt very low stakes -- but it ended up surprisingly enjoyable.
Edge pinned The Miz after Edge and Phoenix hit a double spear on Miz. Edge and Pheonix then planted Miz and Maryse, respectively, with stereo Glam Slams, after which Edge pinned Miz.
The story in the beginning of the bout was that Maryse was doing everything to avoid getting tagged in, as he was deeply afraid of Phoenix. Maryse is sloppy in the ring, but her facial expressions are great. Edge tagged Phoenix in, which means both women had to enter, and Phoenix beat Maryse down.
Miz eventually tagged himself in, and then had a staredown with Phoenix, who was keen to throw down with Miz. Miz did a great job at acting indignant about a woman wanting to fight him, and then did a great job of getting his ass kicked by said woman. With Pheonix attending to Miz, Maryse hit Pheonix in the back of the head with her purse, which had a brick in it. Again though, Maryse's in-ring skills are lacking and the alleged brick shot looked very weak, more like she was pushing the purse into Phoenix's back rather than hitting her in the head. That was the story of most of their action. Well laid out, but not executed very well.
I will say this for Maryse though -- later in the match she did manage to hit a very sweet flying hurricanrana on Edge. The high point of the match came following that hurricanrana, when Miz planted Edge with a Skull Crushing Finale which the crowd bought as a finish. It wasn't to be though. Miz and Maryse setup a double Skull Crushing Finale on Edge, but Phoenix interrupted. They hit the dual spear on Miz, and then got the Glam Slams for the win.
Rating: 3.5 stars. Better than I expected, but I hope Edge moves on to better things now.
We have ourselves a new WWE Champion.
Bobby Lashley defeated Brock Lesnar after Roman Reigns interfered. Reigns hit a spear on Lesnar and then was handed the WWE Championship by Paul Heyman, and then blasted Lesnar with it. Lashley then pinned Lesnar for the win.
The match wasn't as explosive or intense as I'd hoped. Lashley and Lesnar grappled, exchanging German Suplexes. Then Lashley hit two spears on Lesnar, and went for a third on the outside but missed, crashing through the barricade in the process.
Back in the ring, Lesnar hit a procession of German Suplexes on Lashley, counting as he went. Eventually, Lashley managed to put Lesnar in the Hurt Lock. Lesnar struggled to fight out, and ultimately did so by running Lashley into the corner. Unfortunately, that's where the referee was, so he was squashed by the two big men. Lesnar then hit an F5, but inadvertently swung Lashley into the referee, so the ref was out and couldn't count the win for Lesnar.
With the ref down, Roman Reigns ran in and blitzed Lesnar with a spear. As noted, Heyman gave him the WWE Championship, and then Reigns clocked Lesnar with it, just like he did at Crown Jewel. After the match, Heyman left the arena with Reigns -- so Heyman has switched sides yet again.
Rating: 3.5 stars.
Becky Lynch retained her Raw Women's Championship by defeating Doudrop. She got the W after hitting a Manhandle Slam frrom the middle rope.
This was a solid but not excellent bout. It had several disadvantages, and never got into a strong flow. Lynch is still beloved by the audience, but she's still cast as a heel. That makes it inherently difficult for her opponents, who struggle to get the crowd behind them because the crowd really just wants to cheer Lynch. Making matters worse, Doudrop is the far bigger of the two. It makes it harder to get sympathy when you're the giant facing a villanous David.
And, of course, there's the issue that we know that Doudrop was never going to win this match. Following a Rumble match that saw the return of Ronda Rousey, this match had a lot going against it.
Still, it was far from bad. It was a big woman versus smaller woman style affair, with Doudrop using her weight advantage to literally crush Lynch. She hit a gnarly canonball in the corner, and a painful-looking senton. Lynch used her nimbleness to her advantage, using the top rope and outmaneouvering Doudrop. Wrestling 101.
The finish came when Lynch attempted a Manhandle Slam, which the announcer's pointed out she'd never been able to do on Doudrop before. Doudrop fought out, and put Lynch on the top rope for a big impact move. Lynch got free, and managed a Manhandle Slam while perched on the second rope.
Rating: 3 stars.
The first of two Royal Rumble matches ended with a surprise return and win. Ronda Rousey won the Rumble, after entering at No. 28, by last eliminating Charlotte Flair.
The final four came down to Rousey, Flair, No. 30 entrant Shayna Baszler and Bianca Belair. Flair, who was on an elimination tear after tossing out Lita and Rhea Ripley, got both Belair and Baszler out of the Rumble. Belair had Baszler up for the Kiss of Death, but Flair lifted Belair up from the hips and eliminated both Baszler and Belair at the same time.
Flair and Rousey didn't have much of an ending stretch. The two stared each other down, and then Flair jumped Rousey in the corner, Rousey caught Flair's leg and tossed her over.
Returning legends (using that word liberally) for the Rumble included Kelly Kelly, Michelle McCool, Cameron, Ivory, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Mickie James, Alicia Fox, Summer Rae, Sarah Logan, Lita and Molly Holly. Lita got the biggest pop at all when she entered at No. 21.
The match's No. 1 and No. 2 entrants were Sasha Banks (in awesome Sailor Moon-themed gear) and Melina, of MNM fame. The announcers spoke up Melina like a formidable legend, a 5-time women's champion, but Sasha eliminated her immediately. Sad times for Melina. Sasha was a Legend Killer here, also eliminating Kelly Kelly in mere moments.
Banks reign of terror was ended by Queen Zelina Vega, who entered at No. 7. Tamina dumped Banks onto the apron, and Vega caught her with a big push kick for the elimination. A surprisingly brief run for Banks.
Cameron, Naomi's old dancing partner from the Funkadactyls, was a surprise entrant. She ran wild, but was cut off by Sonya Deville, who's feuding with Naomi. Deville quickly eliminated Cameron, but the next entrant in the Rumble was Naomi. Naomi got the better of Deville, eliminating her from the match. Deville reappeared minutes later, helping Charlotte to eliminate Naomi.
There was a nice moment where Might Molly came in a surprise entrant, but she was ambushed on her way to the ring by Nikki A.S.H., who was waiting by the ring barricades. Nikki eliminated her, getting good heat from the crowd.
Rating: 3.5 stars. It was an OK Rumble. A lot of the action was sloppy, as has been the case with most women's Royal Rumbles, a lot of which is due to much of the field being made up by wrestlers who only perform once every few years. There were long stretches of time where it felt like not much was happening, though it was nice to see the familiar faces.
And of course, Ronda Rousey's return. Ronda looks out of practice, and her offense wasn't as impactful as you may hope. There were some submission holds and a lot of punches in the corner, but many of her strikes looked underwhelming. But she's a super athlete and performer, so she's almost assured to get back to form in a quick period of time. And she still absolutely has a star aura, which is the most important thing.
WrestleMania season just got much more interesting.
Royal Rumble 2022 opened with a huge match: Roman Reigns defending his Universal Championship against Seth Rollins. If you were thinking Roman versus Rollins would be a one and done, think again. This was a strong match that served to setup a rematch at the next pay-per-view.
It ended with Roman Reigns locking a guillotine choke on Rollins. Rollins got his hand on the ropes, but Reigns refused to break the hold. The referee disqualified him, and after the match Reigns destroyed Rollins with a chair.
The bout started memorably. The story going into it is that Rollins is in Reigns' head. To continue that, Rollins came out like the gang used to in The Shield. He entered to The Shield's music, wore The Shield's riot gear and came to the ring through the crowd. It was a great start.
The match itself was a fun back and forth, filled with some outstanding nearfalls. Rollins had control at first, and about 7 minutes into the match hit a huge trifecta of offense. First he smashed Reigns through an announce table with a powerbomb, then inside the ring he landed a combo of a Buckle Bomb followed by a Curb Stomp. Reigns was fantastic here, getting his shoulders up at the last millisecond. The crowd bought it as a finish, and there was a "This is awesome!" chant after Reigns kicked out.
Another fantastic nearfall came after Reigns cut down Rollins with a spear outside. Reigns chucked him back in the ring and setup for a second spear. Rollins countered it with a mid-air Pedigree, which also got a two count to a huge reaction.
After some more back and forth, Reigns hit another Spear on Rollins. Rollins, continuing to play mind games, started laughing (while also selling his ribs) and said he'd always love Roman, and tried to get Roman to do the old Shield fist bump. In a fit of rage, Reigns locked Rollins into the guillotine.
Rollins valiantly fought to get to the ropes, and after it looked as though he passed out he managed to finally grab onto them. Reigns refused to break the hold, so he got disqualified. Afterwards, he demolished Rollins with a steel chair, a throwback to Rollins breaking up The Shield in 2014 by hitting Reigns in the back with a chair.
Rating: 4 stars. The action was very good, leading towards great. I thought the ending was lame at first, but that's not a fair assessment because it absolutely worked. The crowd showered Reigns with a defeaing chorus of boos. WWE overuses screwy finishes, but this was a good one. I'm excited to see where this goes next, so mission accomplished.