There’s no one formula to what makes a successful Royal Rumble. Ask any WWE fan about their favorite Rumble moment and they are equally likely to gravitate to the heroic triumph of someone seeking a long in the making main event shot, the WWE debut or return of a prominent talent, or an against the odds struggle using the event’s namesake match to claw back something that was lost.

The 2022 edition of the Royal Rumble succeeded by taking some of all of those elements and combining them in logical but satisfying ways during both the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches. With only four other matches on the card, all good to great and one undeniably connected to the main event, the spotlight was where it should always be for this event, one which was helped immensely by playing out in front of a live crowd at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.

While a number of intriguing names provided grist for the rumor mill leading up to the men’s Rumble (“Hey, Cody Rhodes is on a handshake deal with AEW … “), there were few true surprise entrants on Sunday night. Bad Bunny qualified as one, though the award-winning music star is hardly a stranger to WWE at this point, and both he and Jackass personality Johnny Knoxville gave good accounts of themselves. Drew McIntyre was another previously unannounced participant, seeking and getting some payback against Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss. He and Shane McMahon, who entered 28th, were around for the climactic sequence of the Rumble, which featured a “surprise” 30th competitor that wasn’t really a surprise at all.

That’s because it was Brock Lesnar, who watched his WWE Championship slip through his hands to Bobby Lashley, but only because his advocate, Paul Heyman, revealed he had been playing the long game on behalf of Roman Reigns all along. After Lesnar’s title defense looked wrapped up were it not for a referee bump, Reigns — who lost his own match to Seth Rollins by DQ to open the card but retained his WWE Universal Championship in the process — entered the ring and connected with a spear on Lesnar. Accepting Brock’s belt from Heyman, he smashed Lesnar in the face with it, allowing Lashley to cover and claim victory.

Lesnar’s fury proved bad news for Randy Orton, Bad Bunny, Riddle and Shane McMahon, all of whom the Beast eliminated in a span of just over a minute. That left him with just McIntyre standing in the way of what would assume would be a quest for revenge against Reigns at WrestleMania, and he was able to dispatch the Scottish Warrior without too much trouble. A Lesnar-Reigns collision, or perhaps a three-way dance with Lashley for both titles, would seem like good business for WWE.

The key player in the women’s Rumble match earlier in the night entered only a few spots earlier than Lesnar and shared his UFC bona fides: Ronda Rousey paid off rumors of a return by coming out at spot 28. Fellow MMA practitioner Shayna Baszler was the 30th competitor, and for a time, the two women shared smiles while cleaning house.

An intriguing showdown between the two of them wasn’t in the cards, however, as Charlotte Flair made a late push to clear several remaining wrestlers from the ring, including, eventually, Baszler. That left her with only Rousey to contend with in what would have been a history-making instance of a sitting champ winning the Rumble. Instead, Rousey was left the last wrestler standing, and though she could choose to pursue either title, another confrontation with Flair would make both dollars and sense for WrestleMania.

The next WWE Premium Live Event is Elimination Chamber on Feb. 19.


Yes, we can’t get used to calling them Premium Live Events either, but some things don’t change, and one of them is Nick’s contributions to the following recap appearing in normal text while Dale’s appear in italics.

Roman Reigns (champion) vs. Seth Rollins (challenger) – WWE Universal Championship Match

Ever the master of mind games, Rollins comes to the ring through the crowd to the old Shield theme music and with his tactical vest on. He also “treats” the Head of the Table to a Shield Bomb through the announce table (maybe the first time I can remember that the English table gets wrecked before its Spanish counterpart) and carries tons of momentum through the first part of this match. It doesn’t last, however, and Reigns is in his so-called God Mode before too long. “Acknowledge him, St. Louis,” says noted Reigns fan Pat McAfee. A maniacal Rollins offers a Shield fist bump even after he’s been beaten down, but Reigns goes to his guillotine finisher in response. Rollins makes it to the ropes but Reigns refuses to relinquish his hold, giving Seth the DQ victory. Referee Charles Robinson yells at the champ to let go, to which he simply screams “he won’t allow me to let go.” The fans give it to the champ, so if Rollins is turning face for real, this should be a big help.

Winner: Seth Rollins by disqualification (but Roman Reigns retains the WWE Universal Championship)

Rating: 3.5/5

In what can only be a callback to the dissolution of the Shield, Reigns grabs a chair and wears out Rollins. He then leaves the ring and returns to do it again.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

  1. Sasha Banks eliminated by Queen Zelina at 9 minutes and 44 seconds
  2. Melina eliminated by Sasha Banks at 53 seconds
  3. Tamina eliminated by Natalya at 18 minutes at 54 seconds
  4. Kelly Kelly eliminated by Sasha Banks at 5 minutes and 8 seconds
  5. Aliyah eliminated by Charlotte Flair at 28 minutes and 30 seconds
  6. Liv Morgan eliminated by Brie Bella at 44 minutes and 31 seconds
  7. Queen Zelina eliminated by Rhea Ripley at 25 minutes and 39 seconds
  8. Bianca Belair eliminated by Charlotte Flair 
  9. Dana Brooke eliminated by Michelle McCool at 14 minutes and 57 seconds
  10. Michelle McCool eliminated by Mickie James
  11. Sonya Deville eliminated by Naomi at 29 minutes and 18 seconds
  12. Natalya eliminated by Bianca Belair at 54 minutes and 26 seconds
  13. Cameron eliminated by Sonya Deville at 21 minutes and 1 second
  14. Naomi eliminated by Sonya Deville at 29 minutes and 18 seconds
  15. Carmela eliminated by Rhea Ripley at 25 minutes and 39 seconds
  16. Rhea Ripley eliminated by Charlotte Flair at 56 minutes and 47 seconds
  17. Charlotte Flair eliminated by Rhonda Rousey at 59 minutes and 39 seconds
  18. Ivory eliminated by Rhea Ripley at 31minutes and 14 seconds
  19. Brie Bella eliminated by Rhonda Rousey at 51 minutes and 32 seconds
  20. Mickie James eliminated by Lita at 46 minutes and 11 seconds
  21. Alicia Fox eliminated by Nikki Bella at 42 minutes and 36 seconds
  22. Nikki A.S.H. eliminated by Rhonda Rousey at 50 minutes and 2 seconds
  23. Summer Rae eliminated by Natalya at 40 minutes and 38 seconds
  24. Nikki Bella eliminated by Brie Bella at 50 minutes and 18 seconds
  25. Sarah Logan eliminated by the Bellas at 44 minutes and 9 seconds
  26. Lita eliminated by Charlotte Flair at 55 minutes and 53 seconds
  27. Molly Holly eliminated by Nikki A.S.H. at 48 minutes and 8 seconds
  28. Rhonda Rousey your WINNER at 59 minutes and 39 seconds
  29. Shotzi eliminated by Rhonda Rousey at 54 minutes and 12 seconds
  30. Shayna Baszler eliminated by Charlotte Flair at 58 minutes at 22 seconds

Winner: Ronda Rousey

Match Rating: 4/5

Women’s Royal Rumble stats

Length – 59 minutes and 39 seconds

Most Eliminations – Charlotte Flair, 5

The “Ember Moon Award” for longest time in the match without an elimination – Liv Morgan at 37:19

Longest time in Rumble – Liv Morgan at 37:19

Shortest Time in Rumble – Ivory at 25 seconds

Happenings … 

Being the first non-current wrestler in this bout does no good for Melina, who is unceremoniously dismissed in less than a minute. … With Reggie at ringside, it’s no surprise when he catches Dana Brooke the first time she is thrown over the top rope, though she’s eliminated in earnest shortly after. … Keeping her power jacket on after she’s announced, Sonya Deville heads to the announce table instead of going into the ring immediately. It’s Cameron who gets her to enter the fray, after being told that something happening to Cameron would upset Naomi. Sure enough, Deville quickly eliminates Cameron. … Naomi makes a beeline for Deville and takes her out straight away, but Deville gets payback after Flair throws Naomi over the top rope, pulling her from the apron to eliminate her. … Ivory comes out in her Right to Censor outfit, and keeps speaking into the microphone even as she’s thrown out by Ripley. … Mickie actually has her Impact title belt on and her entrance theme from that promotion plays as she heads to the ring. … A faceoff between Charlotte and Lita has a “best of two eras” feel. … Mighty Molly gets a mighty big surprise when Nikki A.S.H. assaults her before she even makes it to the ring, perhaps because of cape jealousy. … A huge pop greets Ronda Rousey as she makes her WWE return. … Brie Bella eliminates her own sister, undoubtedly out of revenge for the last time they were in the Rumble together. … Flair makes a late push to eliminate a number of competitors, leaving only her and Rousey to settle things.

Doudrop (challenger) vs. Becky Lynch (champion) – WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match

Doudrop shoves Lynch to the mat and the champ shakes it off. Lynch doesn’t like what she is seeing and rolls out of the ring. She connects with a kick from the apron and goes up top. Becky nearly gets caught, but is able to splash Doudrop in the corner. Dou with a headbutt and goes up top. The champ rolls out of the ring. A running forearm has nearly no effect, so Becky rolls out again. Doudrop gives chase, but Lynch dodges her. Doudrop crashes and burn into the ring steps. Lynch locks in a sleeper. Doudrop escapes. Lynch sends her to the mat with a missile dropkick. Doudrop with a back suplex after the champ slaps her. Dou drops the champ with a body slam and follows with a senton. Lynch looks for the Dis-Arm-Her and transitions into a triangle. Doudrop breaks the hold with a powerbomb. She knocks Becks into the corner and lands a cannonball. The champ kicks out at two. Doudrop looks for a splash from the second rope, but the champ blocks it by getting the knees up. Lynch goes up top and hits a Molly-Go-Round. Doudrop breaks the pin with malice. Doudrop with head butts from the apron. Becky gets Doudrop caught over the ropes and then drops the leg from the top turnbuckle. Doudrop with a Big Ending, but the champ kicks out. Becky catches Doudrop on the turnbuckle. She hits the Manhandle Slam and covers to get the win.

Winner … and still WWE Raw Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch by pinfall

Rating: 3/5

Bobby Lashley (challenger) vs. Brock Lesnar (champion) – WWE Championship Match

What can only be considered Vince McMahon’s dream match gets underway cautiously, with the two titans each getting the upper hand once in their first two lockups. After surviving some German suplexes and evading an F5, Lashley hits two spears, though he also appears to be bleeding from the mouth. He lines up Lesnar for a spear on the outside, but Brock moves and Bobby goes flying through the barricade solo. The champ hits several more suplexes in the ring, looking like he’s taken control. Lesnar is finally able to hit the F5, but the ref takes a bump in the process and is out cold on the floor to prevent a count. That gives Reigns a chance to run down and spear Lesnar, who turns to menace Paul Heyman … except Heyman hands him Lesnar’s title belt. It was a setup all along, it seems. Reigns smashes Lesnar with the belt and walks out with Heyman, and MVP hustles to revive his client. Lashley covers Lesnar while another ref conveniently hustles to the ring, and we have a new champ after a heaping helping of hijinks. I’m trademarking that, by the way.

Winner … and new WWE Champion: Bobby Lashley by pinfall

Rating: 4/5

The Miz and Maryse vs. Edge and Beth Phoenix

At the sound of the bell, Beth chases Maryse out of the ring. She catches her in the ring and Miz has to pull his wife to safety. Maryse quickly makes a tag. Miz gets in Beth’s face, allowing Edge to blindside him. Miz with the IT Kicks to Edge. Miz with a backbreaker/neck breaker combination. Miz distracts the ref, allowing Maryse to slap Edge. Beth Phoenix runs her off with a chair. Edge with a DDT and both men are down. Edge kicks Miz out of the ring, so Maryse tries to stop Edge from tagging out. She does not stop him. Phoenix pounds on Maryse and leads her around the ring by her hair. Miz wants Phoenix to hit him. She slams Miz into corner and beats him down. From behind, Maryse hits Beth with the loaded purse. Maryse rolls her over, but can’t get the pin. Maryse breaks a nail, but that doesn’t stop her from applying a chin lock. Phoenix gets to her feet and both women knock each other down with a clothesline. Miz and Edge tag in. Edge takes the fight to Miz and goes up top. Maryse distracts him, allowing Miz to catch Edge up top. Phoenix takes out Maryse on the apron. She picks up Miz and power bombs him. Edge drops the elbow from up top and covers. Miz kicks out. Maryse yanks Beth off the apron and runs her into the ring steps. Miz is hit with a flapjack. Edge wants the spear. Maryse grabs the leg. Edge misses and spear and Maryse hits him with a hurricanrana. She then hits Beth with a DDT. Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale, but Edge kicks out. Miz and Maryse set up Edge, but Phoenix makes the save. They both spear Miz. Edge picks up Miz and Beth picks up Maryse. They both hit the Glam Slam. Edge and Beth cover their respective opponents and get the three count.

Rating: 4/5

Props to Corey Graves for one of his funniest lines in maybe ever, covering for Maryse’s loaded purse by claiming that “a lot of designers include bricks as standard.” Heh.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

  1. AJ Styles eliminated by Madcap Moss at 29 minutes and 2 seconds
  2. Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated by AJ Styles at 5 minutes and 47 seconds
  3. Austin Theory eliminated by AJ Styles at 24 minutes and 6 seconds
  4. Robert Roode eliminated by AJ Styles at 4 minutes and 28 seconds
  5. Ridge Holland eliminated by AJ Styles at 24 minutes and 47 seconds
  6. Montez Ford eliminated by Omos at 16 minutes and 18 seconds
  7. Damian Priest eliminated by Omos at 19 and 32 seconds
  8. Sami Zayn eliminated by Ridge Holland at 13 minutes and 22 seconds
  9. Johnny Knoxville eliminated by Sami Zayn at 13 minutes and 11 seconds
  10. Angelo Dawkins eliminated by Omos at 16 minutes and 3 seconds
  11. Omos eliminated by a group with AJ Styles getting the final push at 20 minutes and 20 seconds
  12. Ricochet eliminated by Happy Corbin at 23 minutes and 46 seconds
  13. Chad Gable eliminated by Rick Boogs at 27 minutes and 4 seconds
  14. Dominik Mysterio eliminated by Happy Corbin at 23 minutes and 46 seconds
  15. Happy Corbin eliminated by Drew McIntyre at 32 minutes and 15 seconds
  16. Dolph Ziggler eliminated by Bad Bunny at 43 minutes and 46 seconds
  17. Sheamus eliminated by Bad Bunny at 42 minutes and 53 seconds
  18. Rick Boogs eliminated by Happy Corbin at 30 minutes and 39 seconds
  19. Madcap Moss eliminated by Drew McIntyre at 32 minutes and 12 seconds
  20. Riddle eliminated by Brock Lesnar at 49 minutes and 46 seconds
  21. Drew McIntyre eliminated by Brock Lesnar at 51 minutes and 8 seconds
  22. Kevin Owens eliminated by Shane McMahon at 45 minutes
  23. Rey Mysterio eliminated by Otis at 44 minutes and 12 seconds
  24. Kofi Kingston eliminated by Kevin Owens at 37 minutes and 5 seconds
  25. Otis eliminated by RK-Bro at 47 minutes and 22 seconds
  26. Big E eliminated by RK-Bro at 46 minutes and 55 seconds
  27. Bad Bunny eliminated by Brock Lesnar 49 minutes and 37 seconds
  28. Shane McMahon eliminated by Brock Lesnar at 50 minutes and 5 seconds
  29. Randy Orton eliminated by Brock Lesnar at 49 minutes and 4 seconds
  30. Brock Lesnar is your WINNER at 51 minutes and 8 seconds

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Rating: 4.5/5

Men’s Royal Rumble Stats

Length – 51 minutes and 8 seconds

Most Eliminations – Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles with 5

The “John Morrison” for longest time in the match without an elimination – Austin Theory at 22 minutes and 6 seconds

Longest time in Rumble – AJ Styles at 29 minutes and 2 seconds

Shortest Time in Rumble – Kofi Kingston at 21 seconds

Happenings: Johnny Knoxville makes a surprisingly energetic entrance, executing a double leg takedown on Sami Zayn and pointing at the WrestleMania sign. He also picks a fight with A.J. Styles, which … yeah. He’s eliminated by Zayn, who then gets dumped out by Styles. … Styles and Omos go head to head as well, with A.J. taking a nasty bump that sends him to the floor, but not over the top rope. … Chad Gable manages to get everyone on the same page, strategy-wise, and Styles is able to land a Phenomenal Forearm of sorts while Omos is being held by multiple wrestlers to eliminate the big man. … McIntyre, a somewhat surprise entrant, wastes no time getting rid of the Happy Folks, then leaves the ring (without getting eliminated) to beat up on Moss and Corbin some more. … Kingston does a breathtaking fall to the outside and almost catches himself on the barricade, but his feet do hit the floor and he’s out in less than 30 seconds. … As he has in past appearances, Bad Bunny impresses, pulling off a number of moves and eliminating Sheamus. … RK-Bro runs wild once both members are in the ring, but Lesnar’s arrival makes an even bigger impact, and he quickly throws out Orton and Bad Bunny — and then everyone but McIntyre.

WWE Royal Rumble 2022 - January 29, 2022

The Dome at America's Center, St. Louis, MO

No need to overcomplicate things. The Royal Rumble can work well with a number of different themes, and the 2022 show borrowed bits from several winning recipes of the past and combined them like a tasty stew. Logic isn’t always the winner on WWE cards, but it’s hard to say it didn’t walk away from St. Louis with its hand raised on Sunday night, and that bodes well for the buildup to WrestleMania over the next few months.