Ranking the 10 Best Moments of Men's and Women's WWE Royal Rumble 2022 MatchesJanuary 30, 2022
Ranking the 10 Best Moments of Men's and Women's WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Matches
Despite WWE pulling out two big guns to win the 2022 Royal Rumble matches in Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar, this year's contests may go down as among the most bland in the event's history.
Normally, it's a bigger spectacle with more surprises, feel-good moments and unpredictability. On Saturday, though, the writing was on the wall, and a lot of those two hours were spent killing time until the inevitable happened.
But as bleak as that sounds, there were still a few moments worth praising for being fun, shocking or an example of proper booking.
Let's look back on the top 10 moments from the two Royal Rumble matches!
10. Melina's Entrance and Exit
One of the best parts of the Royal Rumble is not knowing who will come out next and then being surprised when you hear the familiar music of a legend who hasn't been seen in quite some time.
Melina had never competed in a Royal Rumble, so it was nice to see her, even if it was just for a brief stint. She's someone who accomplished more than enough to be worthy of a Hall of Fame induction down the line and unfortunately doesn't often get mentioned in the same breath as some others who paved the way for the women's evolution.
After hitting her iconic entrance splits, she had tears in her eyes as she locked horns with Sasha Banks, who was able to eliminate her rather quickly. While that could have been a downer, it was saved when The Boss did splits of her own to taunt her for a fun character bit.
9. Drew McIntyre Returns from Injury
When it was announced that Drew McIntyre was out with an injury to his neck, it was assumed it could even be asking too much for him to return by WrestleMania. So to hear his music hit and see him enter Saturday was a welcome surprise.
Admittedly, this didn't resonate with the crowd anywhere near as much as some other injury-returns in the past. John Cena in 2008 or Edge's two returns in Royal Rumbles were far bigger deals, as those injuries had them on the shelf for months prior.
Not enough time passed for fans to start to miss The Scottish Warrior. In some cases, fans might not have even been aware he was gone. But it still provided a sigh of relief to know he's doing well and can be counted on to not miss out on these big events.
8. Brie Bella Eliminates Nikki Bella
The last time The Bella Twins were in a Royal Rumble, Nikki turned on Brie and eliminated her toward the end. They could have been the final two if they continued to work together, but the sibling rivalry was too much to overcome.
This time, the tables were turned. They once more paired off and fought alongside each other—as they should have—to toss out Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan. It all seemed like they were back on the same page, only for Brie to take advantage of Nikki on the apron, knocking her down.
In theory, the same logic applies as before. If cooler heads had prevailed, they both could have done better. But getting revenge on her sister was probably a win in and of itself, and it was nice to see a callback to even the score between them.
7. Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar Surprise Entrances
Let's face it: If this list were written up by WWE's staff, these two would be at the top and the hyperbole of how wonderful and surprising their victories were would be nauseating.
With that being said, it would be ridiculous not to include them on this list, even if there are negatives that come along with the positives.
These two entrances were double-edged swords. The first few moments when they came out were adrenaline-inducing, as neither was announced for the match. Undoubtedly, many fans—the majority of whom don't read spoilers or overanalyze like us reading and writing these articles—were genuinely surprised.
Then, though, the realization hit in that it was obviously their matches to lose. So the wins were formalities, and we just had to watch the rest unfold. That's when the mood went from happy surprise to bitter cynicism about predictability and watching the setup for a rematched-filled WrestleMania.
Until that dawned on fans, these were both great moments, and the way WWE will spin it going forward is that they were two of the best things to happen in Royal Rumble history, so get ready to hear that for years to come.
6. Bad Bunny Holds His Own
Last year, Bad Bunny performed and had a surprise involvement in the Royal Rumble. This time, he was a legitimate competitor who managed to hold his own rather well, all things considered.
It's strange because so much attention was put on Johnny Knoxville's appearance, which was rather dull in comparison. In just a minute or so, Knoxville was out of the ring without doing much more than taking a frog splash from Montez Ford, but Bad Bunny stuck around for longer than half the field at just shy of eight minutes.
Any time a celebrity does a Canadian Destroyer is worth praising, and Bad Bunny even scored two eliminations, which is more than 22 other Superstars in this match can say!
5. Ivory Gets Censored
Ivory was one of the biggest stars of the women's division who had yet to appear in a Royal Rumble. Like Melina, just having her in the match at all was something worth smiling about, but the way it was done was much better and worthy of a higher spot on this list.
It wasn't just Ivory heading to the ring to smile, acting proud to be there, punching and kicking a few Superstars and getting tossed out like so many others do. Instead, she reverted to her Right to Censor gimmick and hammed it up as a heel.
As one of the more memorable eliminations and a standout comedic spot, she even managed to give Rhea Ripley a boost with her being the one to shut her up.
4. Sonya Deville's Continuing Feud with Naomi
There absolutely had to be a moment in this match when Sonya Deville messed with Naomi's chances to win. It felt like such a gimme that if WWE didn't do it, it would have been one a baffling mistake.
Thankfully, this was a four-part process that checked off all the boxes.
First, Deville kept up her persona that when she has her jacket on, she can't be touched by not stepping in the ring right away. This is a typical heel move to try to further one's chances to win, which fit nicely.
Once Cameron came in and Deville realized she is Naomi's friend, her malicious side came out. She went straight for Cameron and tossed her over the top rope just to get back at her rival.
Naomi was the next entrant, conveniently—something WWE abused too much in these matches, breaking the suspension of disbelief, but by itself here, it worked—and got a bit more revenge for all these months by eliminating Deville.
To round it all out, Deville stuck around long enough to interfere and prevent Naomi from saving herself, causing her to be eliminated. A petty move like that was the right call to help keep Deville's mean streak going.
3. There Can Be Only 1 Superhero
No one ever seems to have a bad word to say about Molly Holly, as she seems to be a saint. That's what made it all that much better when she came out with her colorful Mighty Molly superhero costume and a beaming smile, just to be wrecked by Nikki A.S.H.
"There can be only one superhero" apparently, as A.S.H. went at Holly like a true villain, threw her into the steel steps and eventually dumped her to the outside.
This heel turn is still in its infancy, but this has easily been the best selling point. Spoiling a legend's appearance was a great way to get over A.S.H. as a delusional scourge instead of the bubbly, hyper-positive babyface who wasn't working out.
2. Mickie James Gets a Proper Entrance
As soon as Mickie James was announced as being an entrant in the Royal Rumble, the biggest talking point was how WWE would handle her entrance. Would she be relegated to her WWE character with her traditional music? Would there be any acknowledgement of her time outside the company?
Thankfully, WWE did the right thing and didn't try to sanitize her appearance, slap a "former legend" sticker on her and call it a day.
Not only did she enter to her "Hardcore Country" theme, but she was wearing the Impact Knockouts Championship belt too. It was referred to as the Impact Women's Championship, but it's still better than the alternative!
This is far from the equivalent of how All Elite Wrestling has the so-called Forbidden Door regularly open, but it's at least one step in that direction. The more WWE can acknowledge that other companies exist without trying to place its fans in a bubble, the more everyone can relax and enjoy professional wrestling instead of getting caught up in company competition and feeling like the fans need to choose sides.
It's not a full apology for how poorly she was booked and treated in recent years, though it was more than many others have gotten.
1. Dealing with Omos
Again, this would never be at the top of an official WWE list, particularly over Rousey and Lesnar, but sometimes simplicity is as good as it gets.
A trope of the Royal Rumble is the giant multiple people need to gang up on to eliminate. Knowing how huge Omos is, he was an obvious candidate for that role this year, and it all went down well.
After scoring two eliminations and showing that he was a force to be reckoned with, Chad Gable—in full arrogant pipsqueak mode—gathered everyone up to say he had a plan, since he's so smart after all. His big idea was a no-brainer that everyone sold perfectly with a sense of "duh" mixed with "but it still makes sense, so I'm on board."
Gable's suggestion that Damian Priest should attack Omos first because he's the biggest of the others in the ring was funny and logical. He was the sacrificial lamb to put up a distraction so that the others could capitalize.
While it's a shame Priest didn't get to do more, being eliminated by Omos is much better than being fodder for someone of a less imposing stature. Then, after everyone got together, having AJ Styles be the one to put the final nail in the coffin for Omos was exactly how the elimination needed to go in order to wrap up their animosity.
It doesn't always have to be the biggest surprises and most awe-inspiring spots that are the best. Sometimes, it comes down to the most logical booking for the tried-and-true tropes that make up the backbone of the Royal Rumble.
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.