For the first time, WWE holds its annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view on a Saturday, headlined by two Rumble matches that offer plenty of intrigue and foreshadowing on the road to WrestleMania 38.
The women's Rumble could see the return of UFC Hall of Famer and former Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey as has been speculated all week. Our Dave Meltzer has reported that her return is imminent.
In addition to members of the WWE roster, the men's Rumble match will feature a celebrity entrant in the form of "Jackass" star Johnny Knoxville.
A dream match will take place as WWE Champion Brock Lesnar defends against Bobby Lashley. It will be the first-ever singles bout between the two.
Universal Champion Roman Reigns will look to keep his long title reign going as he faces former Shield teammate Seth Rollins, while Becky Lynch defends her Raw Women's Championship against Doudrop.
The show will also see a mixed tag team match between married couples as Edge and Beth Phoenix take on The Miz and Maryse.
Tonight's pre-show begins at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The main card will then start at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Show Recap --
The pre-show was hosted by Kayla Braxton with Kevin Patrick, Booker T, Jerry Lawler and Peter Rosenberg. They said this would be the highest attended WWE show in two years.
Sonya Deville joined the panel after they showed the Royal Rumble numbers video. The panelists made her explain why she was able to flip-flop between authority figure and wrestler. Booker wasn’t buying her explanation. Booker also wasn’t giving Maryse much of a chance in her match tonight.
AJ Styles did a promo. He debuted at the Rumble and has accomplished a lot since then. He’s never won the Rumble but that changes tonight.
There was a great Bobby Lashley video showing his training as he spoke about facing Brock Lesnar.
They asked a bunch of children who they thought would win the women’s Rumble match. One kid said the Bellas Twins, which is a terrible answer.
Damian Priest did a promo warning everyone not to wake his Damian side.
Braxton asked the panelists their picks for the men’s Rumble. Booker actually spoke about the betting odds and mentioned that Big E was the favourite to win with Lesnar coming in second.
They aired a clip of Johnny Knoxville speaking about the Rumble on Jimmy Kimmel’s show.
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins is kicking off the PPV. Enjoy the show, everybody.
2022 ROYAL RUMBLE MAIN SHOW
Michael Cole announced a show attendance of 44,390.
Universal Championship: Seth Rollins defeated Roman Reigns via DQ — Reigns retains (14:25)
The Usos were barred from ringside.
Reigns entered first. Rollins entered through the crowd to the Shield’s music and wore his Shield gear. Rollins still pranced to the ring to the Shield music, which was funny. The crowd popped for this. The announcers said this was getting under Reigns’ skin.
Rollins hit consecutive suicide dives but Reigns cut him off with a punch and drive-by dropkick. Rollins blocked a superman punch on the outside and hit a great-looking one-man “Shield” powerbomb (so a regular powerbomb) through the announce table. Rollins followed with a frog splash for two.
Rollins blocked a spear, hit a buckle bomb and curb stomp for a close nearfall. Crowd thought we were getting a new champion. This was all just five minutes into the match.
Rollins seemed to be going for another stomp but Reigns turned him inside out with a clothesline. Reigns mounted Rollins and hammered away with forearms before hitting a powerbomb for two. Reigns’ didn’t appreciate that Rollins was laughing at him so he tried forearms again but Rollins caught him in a choke. Reigns countered that into another powerbomb.
Reigns drove Rollins into the post and barricade before hitting a superman punch for two. Reigns hit a spear outside the ring and went for a spear in the ring but Rollins countered into a Pedigree for a nearfall.
The crowd chanted “burn it down” as Rollins went for a stomp. Reigns blocked it and a series of counters led to a Reigns spear. Before Reigns could go for a cover, Rollins laughed at him again and offered a fist bump.
Reigns instead applied a guillotine but Rollins just barely got a rope break. (Rollins seemed to be out but when referee Charles Robinson dropped his hand to check if he was still alive, his hand landed on the rope.)
Reigns refused to break the hold so Robinson called for the DQ. The crowd booed. Cole explained that Rollins pushed Reigns over the edge. As Reigns contemplated his actions, the crowd told him that he sucked.
Reigns grabbed a chair and hit Rollins in the back (as Rollins did to Reigns when he turned on the Shield). Reigns repeatedly hit Rollins with the chair until the chair broke. Reigns was loudly booed as he walked away with his title belt.
The match was really great until the finish.
Ronda Rousey won the Women’s Royal Rumble match (59:50)
Sasha Banks (dressed as Sailor Moon) entered at 1, Melina (with red carpet and paparazzi) entered at 2. The crowd popped for Melina doing the straddle splits into the ring. Melina was clearly emotional and happy to be back. Unfortunately for Melina, Banks eliminated her a minute into the match.
Tamina was 3. Banks gave her a double knee strike off the apron as she entered (but didn’t go over the top rope). Banks tried to eliminate Tamina quickly but she fought her off.
Kelly Kelly entered at 4. Kelly got some offense on Tamina before Banks eliminated her. Aliyah entered at 5, Liv Morgan entered at 6, and Queen Zelina entered at 7.
Zelina eliminated Banks (by kicking her off the apron) which shocked the crowd.
Bianca Belair entered at 8 and hit a flurry of offense before Dana Brooke entered at 9. Michelle McCool entered at 10. She almost eliminated Brooke but Reginald caught her. McCool gave Zelina a Styles Clash before eliminating Brooke.
Sonya Deville entered at 11. She kept her jacket on, which meant she’s still a “WWE official,” and she joined commentary instead of entering the ring.
Natalya entered at 12. Belair tried eliminating her but Tamina made the save. Natalya tried dumping Tamina and Belair at the same time but Tamina fell out as Belair held on and stayed in.
Cameron entered at 13. Cameron got to shine for a moment before Deville entered and decked her. Deville drove Camera into the post and eliminated her.
Naomi entered at 14. Naomi checked on Cameron before going after Deville. Naomi gave Deville a Disaster kick before kicking her out of the ring for the elimination.
Carmella entered at 15 but didn’t enter the ring. Rhea Ripley entered at 16 and chucked Carmella into the ring. Carmella, Zelina and Natalya teamed up on Ripley before Ripley fought them off and eliminated both Zelina and Carmella at the same time with a dropkick.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair entered at 17. Charlotte eliminated Aliyah. Charlotte almost eliminated Naomi but Naomi saved herself. She teased doing something wacky to keep herself in the match but Deville yanked her out.
Ivory entered at 18 to the Right to Censor theme and attire. She looked great. She cut a promo on all the “lost little girls” in the ring. Ripley eliminated her as she continued to rant on the mic, which was great. Ivory yelled, “how dare you” as she lay on the floor.
Brie Bella and her music entered at 19 to a big reaction. She did the Yes chants and the crowd did it along with her.
Impact Knockouts World Champion Mickie James entered at 20 to a big reaction. She had her Impact belt and came out to her “Hardcore Country” music. McCool, her old rival, went right after her but James eliminated her.
Alicia Fox entered at 21. Nikki ASH entered at 22. Nikki entered through the crowd and tried eliminating Ripley from behind but Ripley fought her off.
Summer Rae entered at 23. She went right after Natalya and they slapped each other before Summer knocked her down with a roundhouse kick. Charlotte knocked down Summer as she posed. Natalya eliminated Summer.
Nikki Bella entered at 24. She hit some offense until she was cut off by Belair. Brie saved her and they teamed up with Fox. The Bellas posed with Fox before kicking her out of the ring.
Sarah Logan entered at 25. Logan hit a few moves in before having a nice moment with her old friend Morgan. That didn’t last long because Logan and Morgan were eliminated by Brie and Nikki. The crowd booed the Bellas.
Lita entered at 26 to a good reaction. Lita eliminated James.
Molly Holly, as Mighty Molly, entered at 27. She was decked by Nikki ASH as she entered (outside the ring). Nikki also chucked her into steel steps. Nikki pushed her in the ring before immediately eliminating her.
Ronda Rousey entered at 28 to a massive reaction. Rousey attacked several women before eliminating Nikki ASH. Rousey avoided being eliminated by Nikki Bella. Brie then eliminated Nikki Bella on purpose.
Shotzi entered at 29. Rousey eliminated Brie. Shayna Baszler entered at 30 and Rousey was happy to see her. Baszler kneed Ripley before handing out suplexes to Belair, Shotzi and Lita.
Rousey and Baszler faced off like they might have a friendly battle but they were cut off by Charlotte. Natalya also went after Rousey. Rousey fought off Natalya before eliminating Shotzi. Belair eliminated Natalya. Natalya came back in the ring just to get tossed out by Rousey.
Lita gave Charlotte a Twist of Fate. Lita went to the top for a moonsault but Ripley knocked her off the rope. Charlotte eliminated Lita and the crowd booed.
Ripley drove Rousey into the ring post before Charlotte booted Ripley from the ring.
Belair and Charlotte had an exchange before Belair got Baszler up for the KOD. Baszler fell out of the ring as Charlotte also chucked out Belair.
Charlotte and Rousey were the final two and the crowd was very excited. Rousey countered a big boot and fairly quickly eliminated Charlotte to win the Rumble match. The crowd cheered.
Rousey pointed at The Sign as fireworks went off.
Becky Lynch defeated Doudrop to retain the Raw Women’s Championship (12:58)
The crowd seemed distracted early in the match. Apparently (according to Sean Ross Sapp on Twitter), the WrestleMania signed was burned by pyro and the crowd under that sign had to be moved from that section as they removed it. Lynch noticed what was happening and said it was because she was straight fire.
Lynch tried a Disarmer but Doudrop lifted her up and hit a powerbomb followed by a cannonball for two. Doudrop tried a Vader bomb but Lynch got her knees up and followed with a Molly-go-round for two. As Doudrop laid over the top rope, Lynch brought her down with a diving leg drop for two. Doudrop followed with a Big Ending for two.
Doudrop went to the corner for a Banzai drop but Lynch went after her and hit a Man-handle slam off the middle rope for the pinfall win. The finish was cool.
It’s not her fault but I can’t remember the last time the crowd was this quiet for a Lynch match.
Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) defeated Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) to win the WWE Championship (10:14)
Heyman turned on Lesnar.
Lesnar and Lashley tied up but it went nowhere because they’re equally strong. They tied up again and Lesnar went behind and hit a German suplex but Lashley got right up. Lesnar was amused. Lashley returned the favour and hit a German and Lesnar was impressed. Lesnar hit consecutive Germans and Lashley landed right on his damn head.
Lashley popped up with a bloody lip and was pissed. He hammered away, countered an F5 and hit a spear. Lashley knew that wouldn’t be enough so he hit another spear. Lashley tried a spear through the barricade but Lesnar moved and Lashley crashed through it. Lashley posted Lesnar but ran into the post himself. Lesnar followed with four German suplexes.
Lesnar set up for the F5 but Lashley countered into the Hurt Lock. Lesnar pushed Lashley into the corner but smushed the referee in the process. Lesnar followed with an F5 but Lashley knocked down the referee again. Lesnar covered Lashley as the crowd counted but of course, the ref was down.
Roman Reigns appeared and speared Lesnar. Reigns stared at Heyman who handed him the WWE title belt. The crowd gasped. Reigns nailed Lesnar with the belt as the crowd booed. Heyman left with Reigns.
Lashley crawled on Lesnar and got the three count to win the title. MVP handed Lashley the title and the two celebrated. (The crowd was booing until they realized they were getting a title change.) The match itself was pretty fun.
Ronda Rousey will be on Monday’s Raw.
Edge & Beth Phoenix defeated The Miz & Maryse (12:29)
Miz and Edge wrestled as Maryse did what she could to avoid Phoenix. Miz realized Phoenix was behind him and wasn’t concerned until Pheonix laid into him. Phoenix hammered away at Miz until Maryse clocked Phoenix from behind with her purse. Maryse applied a camel clutch but Phoenix fought her off and they knocked each other down with a double clothesline.
They each tagged which led to Edge running wild on Miz. Phoenix tossed Maryse from the ring before giving Miz a powerbomb. Edge followed with a flying elbow drop for two. Maryse drove Phoenix into the steps as Edge gave Miz a flapjack. Maryse helped Miz avoid a spear and Maryse used a hurricanrana on Edge as Miz distracted the referee.
Maryse gave Phoenix a DDT as Miz gave Edge a Skull Crushing Finale for a nearfall. Miz and Maryse tried teaming up but Phoenix gave Maryse a spear before Edge and Phoenix both speared Miz.
Edge and Phoenix each hit Miz and Maryse with Glam Slams and Edge pinned Miz for the pinfall win.
Brock Lesnar won the Men’s Royal Rumble match
AJ Styles entered at 1, Shinsuke Nakamura entered at 2. They had a nice exchange before Austin Theory entered at 3. Robert Roode entered at 4. Roode and Styles faced off which led to a brief “TNA” chant. Pat McAfee also mentioned their “impact” before Styles eliminated Roode.
Ridge Holland entered at 5 as Styles somewhat randomly eliminated Nakamura. Montez Ford entered at 6. Damian Priest entered at 7. Sami Zayn entered at 8.
Johnny Knoxville entered at 9. Knoxville, who wore a ridiculous outfit, took down Zayn and clobbered away at him. Styles beat the shit out of Knoxville and Ford gave Knoxville a frog splash. Holland put Knoxville on the apron to eliminate him but Zayn kicked him out instead. Styles eliminated Zayn.
Angelo Dawkins entered at 10. Omos entered at 11. Omos quickly eliminated Dawkins and Ford. (I was hoping Ford would have a good showing in this match but that didn’t happen.) Ricochet entered at 12. He dropkicked Omos before Omos dropped him.
Chad Gable entered at 13. Gable spoke with everyone in the ring and devised a plan to go after Omos. Gable sent Priest after Omos but Omos easily eliminate him. (So much for Damian.)
Everyone teamed up to eliminate Omos as Dominik entered at 14. Styles ran toward the group and helped eliminate Omos. Baron Corbin entered at 15 and he eliminated Ricochet. Dolph Ziggler entered at 16. They said Ziggler has entered more Rumbles than anyone besides Kane.
Corbin eliminated Dominik. Styles eliminated Theory. Sheamus entered at 17. Holland got eliminated as Sheamus entered (I didn’t see by who, but it might’ve been Styles). Rick Boogs entered at 18. Boogs did a crazy impressive press slam of Gable and chucked him out of the ring.
Madcap Moss entered at 19. Corbin gave Styles a backbreaker and Moss eliminated Styles. The crowd booed this. Riddle entered at 20. Riddle immediately gave Moss a German suplex but was swarmed by Corbin. Corbin and Moss eliminated Boogs.
Drew McIntyre entered at 21. McIntyre easily eliminated Moss and Corbin. McIntyre left the ring (without eliminating himself) to beat up Moss and Corbin. He attacked them with the steel steps.
Kevin Owens entered at 22. Owens and McIntyre went right after each other and Owens gave him a pop-up powerbomb. Rey Mysterio entered at 23. Mysterio ran wild briefly until Owens gave him a stunner.
Kofi Kingston entered at 24. Owens pushed him into the barricade and both of his feet touched the floor. I don’t think this was supposed to be the elimination, but it was so obvious they didn’t try to pretend that Kingston was still alive. The referee told him he was out. The crowd booed.
Otis was 25. Big E was 26. He suplexed Owens and Riddle.
Bad Bunny entered at 27. He hit Sheamus with a high cross and took Owens down with a leg scissors takedown. Riddle wanted to be his friend but Bad Bunny gave him a Canadian Destroyer. Sheamus went after him but Bad Bunny dropped the rope to eliminate Sheamus. Rey and Bad Bunny teamed up to eliminate Ziggler. Bad Bunny tried eliminating Rey but he blocked it.
Shane McMahon entered at 28. He went right after Owens and eliminated him.
Randy Orton entered at 29. He gave Big E an RKO before eliminating him with Riddle. Riddle leaped off Otis’ back to give McIntyre an RKO. RK-Bro eliminated Big E together.
Brock Lesnar entered at 30. Lesnar beat the crap out of a few people before eliminating Orton with no problem. The crowd booed. Lesnar gave Bad Bunny an F5 before eliminating him. Lesnar also eliminated Riddle and Shane.
The final two were Lesnar and McIntyre. They had a quick exchange that led to Lesnar tossing McIntyre out of the ring with an F5.
Brock Lesnar is the Rumble winner.