Ask most fans, and they’ll tell you the 2022 Royal Rumble, in particular the men’s and women’s matches, were a disaster. The company saved some of their worst booking decisions for a traditionally great show and some rumors have Shane McMahon even being sent home over how poorly things went. Non-finishes, interference, talent backstage not being used, and more all led to a chaotic and disorganized show that wasn’t well received.
Does that mean WWE can’t turn chicken sh– into chicken salad? Of course not. In fact, there were some pretty important moments that went down at the Rumble, that if WWE was smart, they’d revisit.
Ivory Made The Most Of Less Than Two Minutes
While most of the returning female legends were forgettable — sans maybe Molly Holly and Mickie James — Ivory stood out. The reason? Her Right to Censor gimmick was immediately booed by the live crowd and for all the right reasons. Walking to the ring with a microphone and calling all the women in the match “little girls”, in just seconds, she disrespected everyone and turned the audience with only a few words. Whoever thought to do this was bang on.
Ivory is a legend. She’s been a part of pay-per-events for over five decades, and she was smart enough to use her two minutes at the Rumble on Saturday to make an impression. That kind of work can and should lead to a more regular role on television. The Right to Censor gimmick is timeless. Considering how large a role social media now plays in the industry and in society, there is material there for months. Whether she’s a comedy act or a full-blown heel, WWE needs more females to work more regularly. Offer her a spot and see if she accepts.
Gain Underground Support For Big E
Big E got shafted. He lost his WWE Title to Brock Lesnar, he hasn’t looked great trying to get back in the main event picture, and he was largely irrelevant during the Royal Rumble. All of that can be used to gain a groundswell of support reserved for the likes of stars like Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston. The fans badly want to see Big E do well. They’ll want it even more now that they believe WWE is casting him aside and going with bigger fish like Lesnar.
Whether it was Shane’s poor booking or Kofi’s botched guardrail spot, WWE has an opportunity to turn what happened to Big E around and use it. In the short term, fans are going to hate screwing over such a beloved former champion on a repeated basis. In the long-term, if you do it right, a movement will begin to make him the champion again.
Promote Lashley vs. Lesnar II
The Lashley vs. Lesnar match gave fans a tease of what they wanted — a back-and-forth battle of brute strength, sure will, and MMA experience. Then the match turned into an angle where Paul Heyman inexplicably screwed The Beast Incarnate and Roman Reigns came down and speared Lesnar. Lashley got the pin, became the champion and the two had a little face-to-face on Raw, but WWE needs to follow through on a one-on-one, not put these two inside the Elimination Chamber and call it completed business.
Their match at the Royal Rumble actually did a decent job of setting the stage for a real singles encounter that brings with it an actual winner. This was a good tease, even if that’s not what WWE meant it to be. Fans might be upset with the way this match finished, but that will only make them want the real thing even more because the WWE Universe got a quick taste of how good these two could be if given the time.
Explore A TNA Feud
Perhaps WWE figured no one would notice, but near the start of the Men’s Royal Rumble Robert Roode and AJ Styles squared off in the ring and fans chanted “TNA, TNA.” WWE would be wise to pay attention to the buzz and old-school TNA feud might generate. With the “forbidden door” now opening a crack in WWE, there’s a relationship there that WWE can use and old footage of some classic matches could work their way into a present-day battle between a couple of TNA legends.
Whether it’s Roode vs Styles or someone else, there’s a market there and a good chunk of fans would love to see WWE go there. WWE can’t and shouldn’t deny the fact that fans like these past rivalries and would love to see them rehashed on a larger stage. The talent would probably enjoy it too.
Never Forget What Worked In The Past
Sometimes, a stark reminder of why a show is successful in the first place needs to come in the form of a critical slap across the face. Perhaps it will take WWE being taken to task for this year’s Royal Rumble to stick with the formula of past Royal Rumbles. Part of the problem with the 2022 Rumble is that WWE seemed to deviate away from what worked and made the match a fan favorite. Traditionally, the Royal Rumble matches are full of surprises. This year, WWE either told everyone who was joining or the people they did bring back did little to move the needle.
No disrespect to Bad Bunny — who had maybe the best in-ring psychology of anyone in the Rumble — he wasn’t a believable member of the final four, and he wasn’t a surprise. WWE tweeted a photo of him visiting backstage with The Undertaker hours before his entry. His slot would have been better served to come earlier and treated like a special event who had no chance of winning, while not showcasing he was even there would have been the smarter way to go.
This year’s Rumble was a lesson learned the hard way but still a valuable lesson. WWE can use the next few weeks to bring back some of the people they flew out to the Rumble but didn’t use. Those individuals can even moan and complain about how they were brought in, but their spot in the Rumble “magically” disappeared. Someone has to have been behind that. Who? There’s a storyline there.