With approximately 80 wrestlers released last year the WWE limped into 2021 missing much of its shine, youthful exuberance and perhaps losing many, many wrestlers who will be the true future of the business. The WWE hoped to at least begin 2022 putting its best foot forward but just hours before the event was scheduled to begin WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be pulled from the show. His opponent Brock Lesnar was added to the crowded WWE Championship match featuring champ Big E against Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Bobby Lashley.
Then, in the pre-show before the event Ridge Holland suffered what appeared to be a broken nose in his tag team match with Sheamus against Cesaro and Ricochet. He had to leave just minutes into the bout to get medical attention forcing Sheamus to hold his own in a handicap match, which he did very, very well.
Despite these setbacks the WWE put on a solid if flawed Day One show with a main event that posed more questions than answers about the future of the WWE heading into the Royal Rumble later this month.
Before the pretty short main event match started Rollins and Owens are conferring and hatching a plan. It is also interesting to note that Big E doesn’t come out last. Brock Lesnar does.
Lesnar suplexes Owens and Rollins three times each as Big E and Lashley battle on the floor. Big E clotheslines Lesnar out of the ring to the floor only to be rammed into the ring post by Lashley. Lashley spears The Beast through the ringside barricade.
Back in the ring, Lashley takes care of business with Rollins and Owens. Owens and Owens get on the same page kicking Lashley into next week. Rollins splashes Lesnar on the floor. He holds down Lesnar so that Owens can splash him from the top rope. They take the steel steps smashing them into Lashley and Lesnar. Big E slams Lashley through the announce table. Owens and Rollins DDT Lesnar on the steel steps.
Rollins and Owens target Big E in the ring. Big E survives a pop-up powerbomb and a frog splash. Lesnar catches Rollins before he can stomp Big E. Owens, Rollins and Big E get F5s. Lashley spears Lesnar. Lesnar kicks out though.
Lashley has Lesnar in the Hurt Lock. Big E makes the save as Lesnar drops to one knee. Lashley takes a Big Ending. Lesnar crushes Big E with a F5 winning the WWE Championship.
With Lesnar winning one has to wonder what the WWE’s plan is? Do they expect Reigns to be gone for quite some time and therefore have put his feud with Lesnar on hold, will let Lesnar possibly boost Raw’s sagging numbers and will crown a new short-term Universal Champion? Is Lesnar’s run a temporary deal for Raw until Reigns is back in a week or two? No matter which, if any scenario plays itself out, it is a relief to see Big E lose the title belt he never should have had in the first place. Hopefully like the rest of McMahon’s big sweaty men with lots of charisma but very little actual wrestling skill, he will be shuffled back to the mid-card or tag team ranks.
Day One 2022 Results
CESARO AND RICOCHET VS. RIDGE HOLLAND AND SHEAMUS
Ricochet comes down to the ring in what looks like Harlem Heat inspired gear. Cesaro catches Holland in mid-air giving him a backbreaker. Holland is injured when Ricochet goes for a 450 splash but his boot comes down really hard on Holland’s face. Holland is taken to the backstage area with what is reported to be a broken nose. This leaves Sheamus to fight the match alone. Cesaro swings Sheamus then puts him in the Sharpshooter. Sheamus escapes to the ropes. Sheamus takes Ricochet out of the match with a White Noise on the floor. Cesaro collides with the steel post. Sheamus knocks him out with a Brogue Kick for the 1,2,3. Big props to Sheamus for rolling with the punches and carrying the match to a decent conclusion. The mark of a veteran to be sure.
Winners: RIDGE HOLLAND AND SHEAMUS at 9 minutes and 45 seconds.
Rating: 7 / 10
THE USOS (C) VS. THE NEW DAY – WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
In order to give King Woods the royal treatment, he and Woods are pulled part way down to the ring on a wheeled platform.
The WWE is hoping to keep the dudes pulling the platform along off camera but…we catch a glimpse of them which ruins the effect. Too funny.
Michael Cole makes no sense when he asks if The Usos are feeling added pressure because Reigns is not on the card tonight? Not sure how that would affect the Usos, Michael but…okay. Kingston is kicked off the apron and to the floor by Jimmy. Jey clotheslines Kingston on the floor. Jey strikes again minutes later punching Kingston in the face from the floor as the official is preoccupied. New Day just cannot get out of the gate at all.
The Usos waste a lot of time playing to the audience once they have Kingston almost down and out. Kingston hot tags in Woods. Woods outsmarts and outmaneuvers both Usos. Jey takes a shot meant for his brother on the floor. Jimmy smashes Woods face into the announce table. Even a pop-up Samoan Drop cannot put Woods away. Jey and Woods get into a slugfest in the middle of the ring. Kingston takes a shot block to his knee by Jimmy Uso. A half-crab has Kingston reaching for the ropes to break the hold.
The Usos attempt to reinjure Kingston’s leg. Woods makes the save to prevent that from happening. Woods hits a flying stomp from the top rope. He gets a two count. Woods get thrown into the steel post. Kingston takes a double super kick and a double Uso Splash. Woods saves the match and Kingston by diving into the ring just in the nick of time to break things up. The Usos pin Kingston with their new version of the Dudley Boys’ 3-D seconds later.
Winners: …and still Smackdown Tag Team Champions, The Usos at 17 minutes and 32 seconds.
Rating: 8 / 10
Big E is interviewed backstage. He knows he faces an uphill battle but he will still be the WWE Champion at the end of the night.
DREW MCINTYRE VS. MADCAP MOSS
This pointless, meaningless match goes on far, far too long.
Pat McAfee cannot believe Madcap Moss has his own pyro. I cannot believe this clown has a spot on the main roster but if you have lost 80 employees I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
Corbin spouts off about being rich and handsome in the ring. Happy Corbin is glad he gets the chance to watch his pal Moss beat the stuffing out of Drew McIntyre. Moss tells some awful jokes and he and Corbin have another one of their atrocious, cringeworthy laughing fits. Meanwhile, Drew is permitted to bring his deadly weapon down to the ring like he is Conan or something.
Moss is bounced around from pillar to post. Drew is distracted by Corbin on the floor. He turns around just in time to slam Moss. Corbin does catch Drew’s attention on the apron. Moss whips him into a steel post. He takes over the match suplexing and shoulder tackling Drew to the mat. Drew leaps out of the way and Moss runs himself face-first into a turnbuckle. Drew takes over again flinging Moss all around the ring. Moss catches Drew in mid-air, stumbles around, bumps Drew into the ropes for a slam in very awkward spot. Drew misses his first Claymore Kick but hits the second for the win. Standing outside the ring Corbin cannot believe the outcome. We saw it coming as soon as the match was announced.
Winner: DREW MCINTYRE at 9 minutes and 42 seconds.
Rating: 6 / 10
Backstage, Kevin Owens calls Lesnar being added to the match a tragedy. He says Lesnar is a “bully” for what he has done to his pal Sami Zayn lately. Owens heads off to speak to Seth Rollins about a plan to deal with Lesnar.
RK-BRO (C) VS. THE STREET PROFITS – WWE RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
A very slow and plodding bout. RK-Bro is accompanied to the ring by some hip-hop group. Why? Who knows? Let’s hope they aren’t another Hit Row in the making. Having one for the brief time we did was more than enough to last me a lifetime. They take their seats in office chairs at ringside which have their names taped to them.
The Profits work over Riddle taking him off his game early on. Riddle has to backpedal and tag in The Viper. The Profits mock Orton’s pose after Dawkins drops Orton to the canvass. Ford enters the ring and has seizure for some reason. No idea what the hell that display was about.
Orton has to save Riddle being pinned by Ford. Riddle tries to kick his way out of the Street Profits’ corner. Dawkins just pounds him into the mat. Orton is hot tagged in as per the usual WWE tag team match format. Orton makes the Profits look like ineffectual fools by double DDTing them off the ropes. Ford throws Orton into the steel post and splashes both RK-Bro on the floor. An assisted RKO from Orton and Riddle pins Ford.
Winners: …and still Raw Tag Team Champions…RK-Bro at 11 minutes and 16 seconds.
Rating: 7 / 10
Drew McIntyre is attacked by Moss and Corbin backstage. He fights them off until Corbin waffles on him with a steel chair. Moss puts a chair around his neck and Corbin bashes him with a massive piece of rigging. Adam Pearce calls for emergency personel as officials tend to Drew.
Kayla chats to Brock Lesnar about the changes to tonight’s card. Brock calls himself a “free agent” and names Heyman as his advocate. He will walk out as the champion tonight…and that isn’t a prediction…that’s a spoiler.
Interesting that the WWE nowadays is promoting a gambling company continuously on their broadcasts. Not something they would ever have done before in the past, especially when they present themselves as PG programming for kids.
EDGE VS THE MIZ
The announcers call this a “must-see” match-up. You are kidding, right?
Miz comes out with Maryse and Edge to his Brood entrance. The Miz slips out of Edge’s crossface. Edge tries again minutes later. Miz is lucky the ropes are nearby. The fight goes to the floor. Maryse distracts Edge. Miz throws Edge into a steel post and the ringside barrier.
A double axe handle drives Edge to the mat. Miz rushes into a corner. Edge dodges. Miz crotches himself. The Miz complains to the official about a “slow count” following a DDT. Edge drives Miz face-first into the arena floor. Miz bashes Edge’s head into the announce table like six or seven times. Edge reverses a Skull Crushing Finale slamming Miz’s head into the table instead.
Miz slaps on a figure four putting the pressure on Edge’s hurt knee, leg. Edge reverses the figure four. The official catches Miz using the ropes to pin Edge. Maryse puts Miz’s leg on the ropes so the official has no choice but to break Edge’s crossface submission. Miz and Edge lay out each other out with double boots. Edge hip tosses the Miz from the top rope to the mat. Miz leap frogs the spear. Edge hits the steel post. Maryse clocks Edge in the head with her purse. Edge kicks out of a Skull Crushing Finale.
Out comes Beth Phoenix huffing and puffing on the entrance way like she is having an asthma attack. Beth chases Maryse around the ring and up the entrance way. Beth warns Miz she is going to “whip his ass”. When Miz turns around Edge spears him winning the match.
A good match but a feud, angle we have seen too many times with the Miz. It is boring, recycled material.
Winner: Edge at 20 minutes and 22 seconds.
Rating: 8 / 10
Time for Bobby Lashley to yack about the main event. MVP praises Brock Lesnar. He says Lashley is not concerned though. He welcomes the addition of Brock Lesnar. He is going to take pleasure in making Lesnar tap out to the Hurt Lock.
BECKY LYNCH (C) VS. LIV MORGAN – WWE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Another match that is far too long. It is also sloppy and blundering here and there. This goes to Becky Lynch’s in-ring performances only being as good as the person she is facing which in turn goes to her competence as a wrestler.
This is a battle of The Overrated against The Mediocre.
Becky Lynch comes out dressed like a clown…once again. This time what is even more side-splittingly hilarious is she actually has two stuffed animal goats sewn into the shoulders of her jacket. Greatest Of All-Time, get it? Her absurd wardrobes really are redefining the terms tacky and silly. How can we take someone dressed like this seriously?
Liv knocks Lynch to the floor savagely bouncing her head off the announce desk. Live takes it to Lynch stomping her in a corner. Lynch gets her foot on the ropes to halt an arm lock. A frustrated Lynch stomps around the ring overacting as per usual. Liv slams Lynch off the top rope for a two count. Lynch swings Liv into a corner and guillotines over over the bottom rope. Minutes later Lynch makes some more melodramatic and overblown confused looks on her face, playing with her lip and other such nonsense. Someone give her some acting lessons fast because her attempts are laughably bad.
Lynch walks around the ring arguing with the crowd with the look on her face like she needs to go to the bathroom immediately. Liv slings Lynch into a turnbuckle. A shotgun drop kick off the ropes gets Liv a two count. Liv turns a Disarm Her into a pinning combination. She executes a sunset powerbomb out of a corner for a two count as Lynch just kicks out again. Lynch misses a leg drop from top rope. A drop kick from Liz makes Lynch roll out of the ring. Liv dives onto Lynch on the floor. Lynch rams Liv’s head off the announce table again and again. Liv throws Lynch into the steel steps. Liv stomps on Lynch’s arm on the steel steps.
Liv drops Lynch with an arm breaker from the top rope. Lynch rolls out of a Disarm Her. Lynch blocks Liv’s ObLIVion and Manhandle Slams Liv to the mat. She is supposed to use the ropes for another illegal pin but Lynch isn’t in position to do so. Her legs are just flailing in the air in this botched ending. The best match Liv Morgan has ever had although it proves that she still hasn’t reached main event status yet. It is a marked improvement from her previous work in WWE and she seems to have the will and determination to push forward and make those strides.
Winner: …and still Raw Women’s Champion…Becky Lynch at 16 minutes and 45 seconds.
Rating: 7 / 10
Seth’s turn to spout off on Lesnar. Rollins chuckles that this was supposed to be a one-on-one match with Big E and all of these other people have wormed their way into it. He is going to stomp heads and win.
Johnny Knoxville announces he is going to be in this year’s Royal Rumble. Oh, boy. Groan.
BIG E (C) VS. BROCK LESNAR VS. SETH ROLLINS VS. KEVIN OWENS VS. BOBBY LASHLEY – WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Winner: …and your new WWE Champion…Brock Lesnar at 8 minutes and 25 seconds.
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Day One 2022
Two standout matches, a really short main event that had all sorts of promise and a slew of average, unexceptional bouts. They weren’t awful. They just weren’t memorable and neither are the overwhelming majority of the feuds presented which probably speaks to the WWE’s weak television ratings. An okay show, not a great one.