Royal Rumble Favorites Emerge, Rollins vs. Lashley and More WWE Raw Fallout

Kevin Berge@TheBerge_Featured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2022

Royal Rumble Favorites Emerge, Rollins vs. Lashley and More WWE Raw Fallout

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    On the road to the Royal Rumble, WWE Raw stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Monday's edition. And the show focused on the build for the Jan. 29 pay-per-view with a series of big preview matches.

    Bobby Lashley clashed with Seth Rollins in a match neither could afford to lose. Luckily, The Hurt Business and The Usos interfered to make sure it was more of a fun preview for a great contest in the future.

    Becky Lynch continued to taunt her potential challengers. While Doudrop is her immediate threat for the PPV, Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan announced their participation in the women's Rumble match and could be the ones to challenge Big Time Becks as a result.

    The Miz and Maryse continue to play games with Edge and Beth Phoenix, hoping to get the upper hand before their mixed tag team match. This story has moved slowly from segment to segment, but not too far forward.

    Austin Theory finally got his rematch against Finn Balor, and he won handily against one of the best in the company. However, it was a disappointingly rushed performance after so much setup.

    Raw did not follow up well on its strong episode last week, but it did continue to build the excitement around the Royal Rumble.

Booking Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley Was Bad Idea

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    WWE struggles to set up big matches for its weekly shows, and the only way to pull it off is throwing together two men who cannot afford a loss. Just like last week with Seth Rollins vs. Big E, The Visionary was handed another top star to fight on Monday in the form of Bobby Lashley.

    The All Mighty and Rollins are the top two contenders to the world championships of Raw and SmackDown, respectively. But both need more momentum, and there are plenty of wrestlers they could have fought. Instead, they were thrown together.

    Both are great wrestlers with styles that mesh, and the bout had the feel of a big match and a highlight of the night, and it needs to be revisited at the right moment. If Lashley beats Brock Lesnar, or Rollins beats Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble, the two could clash for gold even before WrestleMania 38 on April 2-3.

    WWE must avoid booking matches like this, though. False finishes in the main event of Raw take away from the mystique of a show that needs more big moments.

Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan Look Like Favorites to Win Women's Rumble

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    Bianca Belair has been a priority for WWE since last year's Royal Rumble, and her rise to prominence since winning last year's women's match has been impressive and well-deserved.

    While The EST of WWE has hit some bumps along the road, she still feels like the surest bet to dethrone Becky Lynch.

    However, the only woman who could beat her to the punch is Liv Morgan. Both have been so close to defeating Big Time Becks, but each has fallen short. If the plan is to ensure Lynch loses on a major stage, WrestleMania 38 makes perfect sense.

    Belair and Morgan have to be favorites to win the women's Rumble match. WWE is filling spots rapidly with a number of returning stars, but the focus should still be on the younger women who define the brand all year.

    The EST has never quite been able to defeat Lynch, and Morgan is popular and improving leaps and bounds with each match against Big Time Becks. Both could use the spotlight of a win on Jan. 29.

    It would be a huge moment if Belair became the first to win the women's Rumble twice or if Morgan finally won the big one by surviving one of the most prestigious matches in WWE to etch her name in the history books.

Rushing an Austin Theory Win over Finn Balor Devalues the Feud

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    Austin Theory has been pushed repeatedly by Vince McMahon to go after Finn Balor. This time, it paid off. The young star laid out The Prince and got the pinfall over an established former champion.

    While there is nothing wrong inherently with Theory defeating Balor, this six-minute match never felt like the right moment. Balor was just coming back. He should feel like a bigger deal.

    Instead, this story told over a month was thrown together into a pointless rushed match. It just felt demeaning to Balor, who was just rebuilt in NXT not long ago.

    The Prince deserves better. WWE needs bigger matches for Raw weekly. Why would the company not spend more time building to the moment that Theory finally managed to take down a top star?

Edge and The Miz Feud Now Moving in Slow Motion

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    Edge and The Miz are two great entertainers that know how to tell a compelling story, but the pacing has been all wrong for the build to their rematch. Week after week, it feels like they're just continuing the same segment, adding one new wrinkle.

    The last two weeks of segments could have all been one week of Raw. WWE has lumped together far more storytelling into a single episode of Raw.

    This show needs more variety. Perhaps it is time for The A-Lister or Rated-R Superstar to wrestle on Raw. Beth Phoenix or Maryse could get a tune-up match to show what they can do.

    Get someone else involved. Kevin Owens has a talk show that could work perfectly. The Miz always frustrates someone, so they could use that to put over a young talent.

    Unfortunately, it instead looks like more of the same is coming. Next week, Maryse will have her birthday celebration, which Edge and Phoenix will crash to embarrass Miz and Mrs. days before their WWE Royal Rumble clash.