The Most Boring and Exciting Picks for WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Match Winners

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2022

The Most Boring and Exciting Picks for WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Match Winners

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    Credit: WWE.com

    With Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns as the current champions, the 2022 Royal Rumble could be one of the hardest events to predict in years.

    No clear and obvious challengers have been set up, and the roster is rather weak after roughly 120 releases in the past two years. There aren't many options to pick from to avoid WrestleMania 38 being a lackluster "just get through it and move on to next year" type event.

    But while that sounds like we're doomed with nothing but lame paths ahead, it's also a chance WWE could do something out of left field and surprising.

    While there are still some weeks left to build a narrative toward the pay-per-view, let's examine some of the most boring and exciting possibilities for WWE Superstars who may win those epic matches this year.

Boring: Bianca Belair or Rhea Ripley

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Just because something is boring doesn't mean it is bad. Rather, it could be simply uninspired, something we've already seen before, or we just know how the story will play out.

    That would be the case with Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley, who were the two most featured Superstars in the 2021 Women's Royal Rumble match as winner and runner-up.

    Belair has already had her matches with Becky Lynch. If their encounter at SummerSlam was the only time they locked horns and The EST of WWE had spent the past few months trying to earn a rematch, with this being her only option, it would be more justified. Now, if she repeats last year's Royal Rumble and won again just to have a sixth match (third for the title), what's the hook?

    Sure, the match would be good, but that's not worth sustaining four months of promotional material leading to WrestleMania.

    Ripley is in an even worse spot. It's been a while since she fought Lynch, but The Nightmare has absolutely no momentum on her side. The past few weeks, she's been losing alongside Nikki A.S.H. rather than looking like championship material.

    If she were to win, WWE has already dropped the ball rehabbing her image from falling short of expectations. Her losses to Charlotte Flair vastly diminished her push, and by today's standards, she'd be overshadowed by The Man considerably.

    There would be an overwhelming sense that Ripley would play catchup to get to Lynch's level and likely not beat her for the title anyway, rendering the whole thing moot.

Exciting: Raquel Gonzalez

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    Credit: WWE.com

    While looking for options to replace Belair and Ripley as potential women's division winners, there's not a lot to pick from who would be exciting but also realistic. While it would be astonishingly surprising if Aleah James from NXT UK suddenly won, that's simply not happening, and it isn't worth entertaining the thought.

    When it comes to Raquel Gonzalez, though, there's actually a strong chance she gets that honor.

    Gonzalez already had her run with the NXT Women's Championship. That's a sign WWE trusted her enough to put the belt on her, considered her worthy of that responsibility and valued her as a top priority on that brand.

    She's remained relatively protected. Cora Jade took the pin at NXT New Year's Evil and was probably included in the match entirely for that reason just so Gonzalez didn't outright lose.

    With nothing left for her to do in NXT, a jump to the main roster makes sense right now, and a Royal Rumble victory could be the best platform for her. It explains why she switched brands to begin with, immediately catapults her to stardom and creates intrigue about who she might face.

    Gonzalez against Flair is the more likely option, but if WWE has other plans for The Queen, a match with Lynch would still be fresh.

    In the first scenario, Gonzalez could be set up as a major babyface second-generation star ready to dethrone the pompous SmackDown women's champion. Option B opens up the possibility she comes in as a heel and The Man goes back to being a babyface, even.

    That's far more exciting than a straight-up challenge from someone already on Raw or SmackDown, is it not?

Boring: Big E

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Big E's WWE title reign amounted to almost nothing. It's sad, considering how great he is and how happy it made fans to see him finally reach the mountain top, but sometimes, WWE just doesn't set up every champion to be a success.

    Now, The Powerhouse of Positivity is in a lull period. He's too big of a star to not have anything to do at WrestleMania, but he seems to have been pushed out of the title hunt entirely and has no real role in the current landscape.

    That is, of course, unless WWE wants to be incredibly boring with The Road to WrestleMania and has Big E win the Royal Rumble so that he can get his rematch.

    What's bland about that is that it can be summed up in one sentence: Big E wants the title back, so he fights Lesnar or Reigns, and in a few months, he most likely loses again.

    If WWE had faith in him holding the belt, he would have had a better run and would likely still be champion. There's almost no chance at all he would regain the title at WrestleMania, so why waste a Royal Rumble win on someone doomed to come up short?

    Hopefully, Big E has some other spotlight on The Grandest Stage of Them All that feels like a good enough consolation prize for dropping the title.

Exciting: Gable Steveson

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Remember, an exciting choice isn't necessarily someone who could be high up on the predictions. Quite the opposite, in many cases.

    That would be where Gable Steveson comes into play, as he's yet to have a single match in WWE.

    The Olympian was ringside for Day 1 but didn't get involved whatsoever. No big angle was started about his in-ring debut or anything of the sort to build to this victory.

    Imagine how out of the blue it would be if he simply appears as one of the random entrants and actually wins the thing?

    On the podcast Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard, it was mentioned several times that one of the original ideas pitched for Royal Rumble 1993 was to have Scott Steiner come in as a surprise entrant, win it and go to WrestleMania IX to win the title. Vince McMahon rejected the idea and The Steiner Brothers remained a tag team.

    Since Bron Breakker just won the NXT Championship and it would be highly unlikely he'd be in that position (though that would certainly be another exciting pick), what if a similar logic applied to Steveson?

    As an unknown entity, his win would be incredibly intriguing. Which champion would he pick, and how would that disrupt what feels to be an obvious clash between Lesnar and Reigns?

Boring: Goldberg

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Goldberg has always had a relatively simple act even at the height of his powers. He's a bull who charges head-first into his opponents, spears them, picks them up for a Jackhammer, pins them and then asks "Who's next?"

    Rarely does anything break the mold, so we know what we're getting. He'd cut the same promos we've heard a thousand times in the following weeks just to lose to Lesnar and/or Reigns.

    On top of that, Goldberg wouldn't have a great match with either of them. He'd be the weakest link of the trio since he simply doesn't have a wider moveset.

    If you take out promos and the match itself, what's the hook for February and March to keep fans invested? He'd be winning just to cross Royal Rumble off his list, and we'd all know he wouldn't walk out of WrestleMania with the title.

Exciting: The Rock

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    Credit: WWE.com

    A part-timer like Goldberg does nothing to spice things up, but The Rock is an entirely different scenario.

    The Great One is not only a much bigger overall star both in the wrestling business and pop culture in general, he's also wrestled less frequently in comparison, keeping him much fresher in the eyes of the fans.

    Any time The Rock makes an appearance, the crowd erupts. The only time in over a decade that he wasn't met with pure love and adoration was when he tried to endorse Reigns at Royal Rumble 2015 and the audience just wasn't having it.

    But that's a fun wrinkle in what would be the most exciting part of this, which is a match against The Tribal Chief. It's something that WWE has to try to make happen either at this year's WrestleMania or in Hollywood in 2023.

    Given how next year feels like the more obvious location, it would be extra exciting to see that WWE jumped the gun and pushed plans up to WrestleMania 38. That would catch fans off guard.

    No matter what else would be on the card, the WWE Universe would be sold on the show and ratings would increase for Raw and SmackDown in February and March from viewers hoping to see The Rock's appearances and promos.

Boring: Sasha Banks

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Sasha Banks is amazing and has more than etched her name into a Hall of Fame spot as one of the best to ever lace a pair of boots. But outside of gushing over her as a performer in general and raving over her overall career, what would be interesting about a win for her this year?

    Yes, it crosses something off the bucket list that she arguably already should have done. But the time to do it was when Bayley was champion in 2020. WWE decided to nix that, give the Royal Rumble to Flair so she could destroy Ripley's momentum, and put Banks and Bayley in a do-nothing Fatal 5-Way at WrestleMania 36 instead.

    For 2022, if The Boss wins, she either fights Flair or Lynch. We've seen it time and time again. Repeating that match and slapping the WrestleMania logo on it doesn't make it suddenly new again.

    Banks either predictably beats them or loses and renders her Royal Rumble victory a waste. All her promos leading up to WrestleMania would focus on bickering over who was a bigger deal in The Four Horsewomen and Women's Evolution and nothing would break new ground.

    On paper, Banks winning makes sense, but the Royal Rumble victories that are most memorable are the ones that are shocking or lead somewhere interesting; not the ones that feel paint-by-numbers. Just think back to Randy Orton winning in 2017, if you haven't already forgotten that.

Exciting: Someone Not on the Roster

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    Credit: WWE.com

    One of the biggest appeals to the Royal Rumble match is how it allows for outsiders to have a little fun and participate.

    Johnny Knoxville will even be competing this year. Technically, that would be exciting, but let's hope WWE doesn't go down that avenue.

    Already, several legends have been announced for the 30-Woman spectacle. Seeing Kelly Kelly, The Bella Twins, Michelle McCool, Mickie James, Lita or Summer Rae—or any unannounced surprises along those lines for the men's or women's matches—would get the crowd pumped.

    Anyone not on the active roster winning would generate considerable buzz, even if we're already familiar with them.

    Think back to when AJ Styles was the third entrant in 2016. The roof would have blown off the place even more if he went the distance.

    The same can even apply to Johnny Gargano, to an extent. While he's far from a nonentity as far as the WWE roster is concerned, he's technically no longer employed by the company. Never leaving NXT and seeing nearly everything from before the NXT 2.0 era being tossed aside lately with so many releases, it would be shocking if Gargano returned, entered the Royal Rumble and won it.

    Even a no-name from the indies nobody's ever heard of would be exciting because nobody would know what would happen next.

Both Boring and Exciting: Drew McIntyre

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    Drew McIntyre is in a bit of an odd situation as he'd fit the bill for both a boring and exciting pick, arguably splitting the difference.

    He is out of action with a neck injury that should likely keep him out of this year's match. A return in just a few weeks would be surprising, and he'd get a pop from the crowd, but not as much as other examples in the past.

    Not enough time has passed, nor has there been a big enough emphasis on his injury to make his return feel epic like John Cena's in 2008, for example. A few weeks off after wrestling at Day 1 means nothing to the average lapsed fan who might not have even noticed.

    Part of the WWE Universe would be bored knowing it's the 2020 winner having another go-around and likely just challenging Reigns and/or Lesnar in matches we've seen before or a Triple Threat.

    On the flip side, the more obedient fan would bite into how WWE would pitch it, which is that he fought through an injury and is looking to redeem himself and regain a world title. But who would he pick? Tune in to Raw or SmackDown for the answer!

    With a bit of foresight, it falls into a trap of predictability. But if you shut your brain off and go with the flow, it's interesting he could set up a repeat of WrestleMania 35 with two belts on the line and a Royal Rumble challenger between the champions.

Both Boring and Exciting: The Four Champions

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    It was announced on SmackDown that Charlotte Flair will be competing in the Royal Rumble this year with the intention to win and choose her own opponent. While champions have entered the match in the past, none of them have won it without the belt itself being on the line.

    Technically, Lesnar and Reigns have yet to be inserted into the men's match, but stranger things have happened. Even when all 30 participants are announced, there are frequently last-second replacements during someone's entrance and swerves that make it so The Beast Incarnate and The Tribal Chief aren't 100 percent guaranteed not to appear.

    In theory, seeing any of these three—as well as Becky Lynch—win the match would be simultaneously exciting and somewhat boring, depending on what you focus on.

    It's exciting to see something happen for the first time ever and ponder who the champion would pick. But now that Lesnar's already challenged Reigns for a title-for-title match, we already know what that match would be.

    Flair hasn't done the same, but many fans would likely argue it's boring to see The Queen in that position for another year outright anyway. Another WrestleMania, another year where Flair gets the largest share of the spotlight in the women's division. Same old stuff.

    WWE could go with a champion winning and build intrigue over who they'll pick in a reverse of the norm, or further accentuate the rut the company's been in by showing there's no faith for anyone but these four Superstars and fans are in for a WrestleMania that feels the same as the last five or six.

         

    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.

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