Ranking the 7 Most Likely Men's and Women's WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Winners

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2022

Ranking the 7 Most Likely Men's and Women's WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Winners

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    Rhea Ripley, Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair all have a fighting chance of winning this year's women's Rumble match.
    Rhea Ripley, Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair all have a fighting chance of winning this year's women's Rumble match.Credit: WWE.com

    Unlike in years past, there are a few names who could realistically reign supreme in this weekend's men's and women's Royal Rumble matches at the same-titled pay-per-view.

    Of course, the unpredictability surrounding the outcomes of both Battle Royals is partially due to WWE not uilding any real stars in the last year. Damian Priest, Austin Theory, Liv Morgan and Doudrop all have potential and have been built up well as of late, but none of them are in a spot where it makes sense for them to win a Rumble at this point.

    There have been years when WWE has booked the most obvious pick to come out on top and others when the company has branched out and gone with someone new. We've gotten repeat winners as well and that can also be risky depending on the story being told.

    Many notable names have already declared themselves for the men's and women's Rumble matches, including former champions, current champions and WWE Hall of Famers. That said, it's entirely possible the 2022 winners will be people who have yet to announce their involvement in either contest.

    Based on the landscapes of Raw and SmackDown heading into Saturday night and what the WrestleMania 38 card could look like, these are the seven most likely candidates to punch their ticket to The Show of Shows with a Rumble win.

7. Bayley

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Being out of sight and out of mind for the last six months doesn't make Bayley any less likely to come out on top in this year's women's Rumble match.

    The longest-reigning SmackDown women's champion suffered a torn ACL right while training before WWE returned to the road last summer. The original timetable for her return was nine months, which would see her come back right after WrestleMania 38 on April 2-3.

    However, countless Superstars have managed to return from injury ahead of schedule when fans least expect it. Most notably, John Cena shocked the world when he battled back from a torn pectoral to win the men's Rumble in 2008, while Edge returned after six months out to claim victory in 2010.

    With Sasha Banks out for another month or two, Toni Storm reportedly quitting the company and many others getting released, the WWE women's division could use another star the caliber of Bayley right now, and the Rumble would be the perfect time for her to make her grand comeback.

    It would also be a mystery as to who she would choose, as well as whether she'd return as a heel or as a babyface. She has history with both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair but has never faced either of them one-on-one on a stage such as WrestleMania.

    Bayley has never had a major singles match at 'Mania before, and a Rumble win will make that happen for her.

6. Alexa Bliss

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The only explanation behind WWE bringing Alexa Bliss back before the Royal Rumble instead of having her return as a surprise in the women's match is that she's about to undergo another character transformation.

    The vignettes of her attending therapy haven't been the best and can have only further reinforced the idea that her supernatural persona has to go. She has played the role remarkably well, but it's hit a wall creatively and most definitely run its course.

    As of this writing, Bliss has yet to declare herself for the Rumble. It's unlikely she'll return to her roots as The Goddess as soon as Saturday night, but she could jump to the front of the line for a shot at the Raw Women's Championship if she won the Battle Royal.

    Becky Lynch and Bliss have history from five years ago when they traded wins over the SmackDown Women's Championship. That said, it'd be a different dynamic now with Big Time Becks portraying the unbeaten bad guy, but that's what would make this match and feud so enticing.

    Bliss also having unfinished business with SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair from last fall makes her a logical contender to come out on top in the women's match.

5. Big E

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    Credit: WWE.com

    For as amazing of a moment as it was when Big E cashed in Money in the Bank to become WWE champion in September, the follow-up could have been so much more.

    The New Day man made the most of his four-month reign by taking on all-comers and having the best matches possible. Unfortunately, the focus was never fully on him as champ and he wasn't positioned as the face of Raw as much as Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley were before him.

    Worse yet, he was the one who ate the losing fall to Brock Lesnar in the Fatal 5-Way at the Day 1 pay-per-view. He's had some strong mic work on Raw since then, but nothing he's been involved in has indicated WWE intends to move forward with him in the main event scene, at least not any time soon.

    That doesn't mean he should be counted out as a potential Royal Rumble winner, though, as he makes more sense to emerge victorious for the men than just about anyone else. The story essentially writes itself with Big E wanting his rightful rematch and having to overcome the odds in the annual Battle Royal to get it.

    Big E has proved he belongs toward the top of the card and can thrive with the right booking. A Rumble win would provide him with the second chance at superstardom he deserves.

4. Drew McIntyre

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Much like Bianca Belair, Drew McIntyre has his sights set on a second Royal Rumble triumph this weekend, even though he's been out injured with a legitimate neck injury since the Day 1 PPV.

    The Royal Rumble changed the career of the Scot when he won it in 2020. He entered the annual Battle Royal as a favorite, but no one knew he'd able to maintain his main event spot coming out of it and still be a big star two years later.

    His last year in WWE has been filled with plenty of ups and downs, but regardless of who he's been paired off in a program with, he hasn't lost sight of one day regaining world title gold. Winning the Rumble again would afford him that opportunity.

    Granted, McIntyre has only been gone for a few weeks, but absence makes the heart grow fonder and it would still be a fun moment for him to return and end up in the final four. His archrivals, Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss, have already been announced as participants, so the Scot can eliminate them en route to winning the whole thing.

    Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar appears to be on the books at WrestleMania 38, but The Scottish Warrior can easily be inserted given his history with both men on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

3. Rhea Ripley

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Despite being a member of the NXT roster at the time (albeit on the verge of being called up to the main roster), Rhea Ripley was considered a heavy favorite to win last year's women's Rumble match. She's in a similar spot a year later, and the odds of it happening are arguably higher now than they were then.

    The Australian followed up her strong showing in the 2021 women's match by beating Asuka for the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37. But her character was ill-defined during her reign and Charlotte Flair getting the better of her at almost every turn didn't help matters.

    Now that her alliance with Nikki A.S.H. has officially come to an end, she's free to branch back out on her own and focus on reclaiming the Raw women's title. The Nightmare could use a Rumble win to get her career back on track and reestablish herself as a force in the women's division.

    Ripley and Becky Lynch, who is expected to hold the gold through WrestleMania 38, have only faced off once before in a brief bout on NXT TV in November 2019. It's high time they run that back, and there's no better place to do it than at The Show of Shows.

    If Lynch vs. Belair remains the 'Mania plan, Ripley could still reign supreme in the Rumble, journey over to the blue brand and avenge her many losses to Flair by taking the SmackDown Women's Championship from her.

    That would be the ultimate win-win situation for everybody.

2. Bianca Belair

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It's been over two decades since WWE last had someone win back-to-back Royal Rumble matches. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin accomplished the feat in 1998 after emerging victorious in the bout the year prior.

    Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels are the only other people to win two straight Rumbles, so Bianca Belair would be in elite company if she could pull it off as well on Saturday.

    All signs point to Belair vs. Becky Lynch being the Raw Women's Championship match at WrestleMania 38. Not only is The EST of WWE yet to beat Lynch one-on-one, but Big Time Becks also prevented her from becoming the No. 1 contender on Raw, indicating WWE plans to revisit that rivalry sooner rather than later.

    As such, Belair should be considered the front-runner to win the women's Rumble once again. Such an impressive accolade is certainly befitting of The EST.

    It's possible Belair earns a title shot some other way between now and WrestleMania (i.e. Elimination Chamber), but a history-making victory this weekend would offer the hottest start to the build for that bout.

1. Brock Lesnar

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It was just two years ago when Brock Lesnar entered the men's Rumble match as WWE champion and laid waste to nearly half of the entrants. He'll be carrying that same title into this year's event for a major championship clash with Bobby Lashley.

    It's a dream contest many years in the making, and not only does it promise to be an all-out hoss fight but it's also genuinely unpredictable who will win. After all the trash talking Lesnar has done in the weeks preceding the PPV, The All Mighty defeating him for the belt would be the best bet.

    That would then make The Beast Incarnate a much likelier candidate to join the annual Battle Royal and take home his first Rumble win since 2003.

    That puts Lesnar back in the Universal Championship mix and would explain how he'd be able to contend for that belt despite being fresh off losing the WWE title.

    It's not going to be the most popular outcome (though the reaction in the building may suggest otherwise), but it's one fans should expect to see come to fruition.

    Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns is the undisputed endgame of their long-running rivalry, and if it's going to headline one of the two nights at WrestleMania, The Beast should probably win on Saturday so the concept isn't devalued and no one else is overshadowed.


    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.