Quick Takes on WWE and the Forbidden Door, Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, MoreJanuary 10, 2022
Quick Takes on WWE and the Forbidden Door, Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, More
One of the top takeaways from 2021 in wrestling was that AEW was able to bust down the "forbidden door" and work with as many promotions as possible to make many dream matches and moments a reality for fans. As we enter 2022, it appears WWE will be getting in on the fun just in time for the ever-exciting Royal Rumble event.
It was announced during Friday's SmackDown that among the iconic competitors set to take part in this year's women's Royal Rumble match will be none other than Mickie James, the reigning Impact Knockouts champion. Even more shocking was that Pat McAfee referred to her as such on commentary, which was unheard of prior to that point.
Even the lines of WWE's Brand Split are being blurred as Raw Superstar Seth Rollins showed up later that same night to confront Roman Reigns. All signs point to the two colliding for the Universal Championship at the Rumble, begging the question of what Rollins' future holds on the blue brand.
AEW had an equally newsworthy week as well with multiple new champions being crowned in Jade Cargill, Jurassic Express and Sammy Guevara. Although Guevara will be recognized as the interim AEW TNT champion until the return of Cody Rhodes, an argument can be made for the situation being needlessly complicated.
This installment of Quick Takes will break down all of these huge happenings and delve into how the forbidden door could further factor into the Rumble, AEW's latest acquisition, Becky Lynch's next Raw Women's Championship challenger, and more.
WWE Should Utilize the Forbidden Door for Additional Royal Rumble Surprises
Fans were excited to see AEW forge relationships with IMPACT, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and other promotions in 2021 because of the endless possibilities they created. WWE not getting involved at all was hardly surprising given their reputation of not playing well with others, but that might be changing coming into this new year.
Mickie James being acknowledged as the Impact Knockouts champion on WWE TV last Friday was unprecedented. Regardless of whether James is under an IMPACT contract or not, WWE working out a deal to include her in the upcoming women's Royal Rumble match and potentially bring the belt with her is certainly significant.
Truth be told, this sort of thing has always been an option available to WWE. It was more a matter of whether they wanted to make it happen, and now that they've seemingly had a change of heart (if only to get people buzzing about a Rumble match that lacks star power), it opens up the (forbidden) door to other intriguing possibilities as well.
WWE has done virtually every surprise imaginable in the 30-plus years of the Rumble. Countless legends have returned, retirements have been broken, and up-and-comers from NXT have popped up on countless occasions.
One thing WWE hasn't explored too often, however, is using wrestlers from other companies in a Rumble. Provided that something is in it for that company (whether it be additional exposure or some sort of a talent exchange), it's an idea that should be considered and could lead to anyone from Kazuchika Okada to Chris Jericho making a shocking appearance.
AEW Shouldn't Sign Notable Names They Don't Have Immediate Plans for
AEW president Tony Khan indicated in a recent interview with Scott Fishman of TV Insider that he intends to be more discerning in 2022 when it comes to talent acquisition and who he should sign. He added that more people will on their way to AEW in the weeks ahead.
The latest star to announce their "all elite" status this week was Jake Atlas after a breakout performance on Tuesday's edition of Dark followed by a great match against Adam Cole on Rampage that Friday. Atlas was not used to his full potential during his time in WWE/NXT and is a quality addition to the AEW roster.
That said, it's imperative that AEW keeps Atlas' momentum going by continuing to feature him regularly going forward to ensure he actually gets over with the audience (depending on the severity of his knee injury, of course).
That is where AEW has previously failed competitors such as Jay Lethal and Lee Moriarty in the past. There was a ton of buzz around both signings, but neither man has been involved in anything of note since joining AEW and have largely sat on the sidelines as of late.
AEW's roster has definitely reached a point where the company must be careful with who he brings in and use them accordingly (a.k.a. avoiding WWE's old philosophy of signing everyone from free agency). Kyle O'Reilly and Ruby Soho found their place right away, but there are a number of names who have flown under the radar due to Khan not having anything for them creatively.
Mapping out the Raw Women's Championship Picture Until WrestleMania 37
Following her latest successful defense of the Raw Women's Championship at the Day 1 pay-per-view, Becky Lynch walked into Raw last Monday with a massive target still on her back. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't long before she was met with more challengers in the form of Liv Morgan and Bianca Belair.
Lynch was the last woman standing at the end of the segment, but that doesn't mean she has avoided facing either talented competitor. Rather, a Triple Threat between Belair, Morgan and Doudrop will be held this Monday on Raw to determine her next opponent at the Royal Rumble.
Belair and Lynch have unfinished business from late last year. The Rumble would be a fine place for them to settle their score unless the idea is for Belair to get her moment by beating Lynch for the belt at WrestleMania 38.
Morgan had her best matches to date against Lynch but has already been beaten twice and therefore isn't the best option of the three. Doudrop winning would create a heel vs. heel dynamic, but if nothing else, it's a match that's never been done and the two of them could have a quality contest together.
Rhea Ripley and Alexa Bliss are also options for WrestleMania, but the strongest story WWE can tell with Lynch at the moment is with Belair getting her revenge for what happened at SummerSlam. That should be where all roads should lead, and in the time, Lynch can continue racking up wins over Morgan, Doudrop and the rest of the Raw women's division.
Interim AEW TNT Championship Is Pointless Unless Cody Rhodes Is out Indefinitely
A big change was made to AEW's Battle of the Belts special when it was announced on Friday night that Cody Rhodes would be replaced in his AEW TNT Championship match with his brother Dustin Rhodes due to not being medically cleared to compete.
Cody confirmed on social media shortly afterward that his absence was COVID-19-related and that he's currently quarantining with family members that tested positive. Assuming he'll be back within the next week or two, introducing an interim TNT champion makes matters more complicated than they need to be.
Guevara vs. Dustin on Saturday night very well could have been a non-title affair and it still would have been an excellent match. Considering Cody just became TNT champ three weeks ago, an eventful unification isn't going to mean as much as AEW likely expects it to.
The TNT title situation was already in a bit of a mess as a third match between Sammy and Cody wasn't necessary in the first place. Neither man benefits from beating the other at this point and someone's irrelevant reign is going to have to be cut short.
The sooner AEW can move beyond this program, the better.
Should Seth Rollins Join SmackDown Full-Time for Roman Reigns Rivalry?
SmackDown has seriously been struggling over the last month with talent departures and injuries, and the timing couldn't be worse as the road to WrestleMania gets underway.
With Brock Lesnar temporarily shifting his focus over to the Raw brand and its WWE Championship, WWE needed a high-profile opponent for Roman Reigns to defend his Universal Championship against at the Royal Rumble. He's already beaten a majority of the SmackDown roster and pulling someone from Raw was the only option.
Enter Seth Rollins.
Although the match will pit too heels against each other, they have such a rich and storied history together that it will hardly matter. Plus, Reigns vs. Rollins had been teased several times throughout the spring and summer of 2021, so this match at the Rumble will give them a chance to finally pay it off.
Beyond this program, Rollins may be best suited on SmackDown going forward. He and Kevin Owens have had a fun thing going as partners, but other than that, the Raw roster doesn't necessarily need him as much as SmackDown does.
Regardless of whether he's a babyface or a heel, The Visionary can fill the void left by Jeff Hardy and the injured Drew McIntyre. SmackDown could use all the help it can get at the moment and adding Rollins to the Friday night mix permanently certainly wouldn't hurt.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.