Big E's Main Event Push Is Dead and More WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Hot Takes

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2022

Big E's Main Event Push Is Dead and More WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Hot Takes

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    Any massive WWE event worth anything should create emotional responses to the men, women, storylines and in-ring action that unfolds throughout. The 2022 Royal Rumble did just that while kicking off the Road to WrestleMania 38.

    A buzzworthy night saw a huge title change and two competitors cash their tickets to the Grandest Stage of Them All, but it was the demise of one star's main event run, uncertainty surrounding the main event scene of the company's flagship show and a noticeable lack of depth that had fans buzzing by night's end.

    Those topics are at the center of the hottest takes from the first true WWE extravaganza of 2022. 

Roster Cuts Ruined Men's Royal Rumble Match

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    It became very clear, very quickly in the Men's Royal Rumble match Saturday night that the mass roster cuts that dominated headlines in 2021 diminished the depth of the WWE roster. As a result, the contest was a who's who of guys with next to no chance of actually winning the damn thing.

    Too many tag team specialists and midcard fodder took the crowd in St. Louis out of the match. It was reminiscent of the stretch from 1995-97, where there was only a handful of realistic winners and an overabundance of filler elsewhere. Those matches were, like Saturday's, lackluster affairs in which heat was nonexistent and the outcome was void of any real drama.

    It is not evident how much guys like Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman and Aleister (now Malakai in AEW) Black help bolster lineups until WWE asks us to out our faith in tag team guys like Chad Gable and Angelo Dawkins and the owner's 52-year-old son, Shane McMahon.

    That is no slight to any of them, who work damn hard year-round to earn a spot on premium live event cards. It greatly diminishes the excitement for the match, though, when fans feel like they are just hanging out, waiting for the next big star to pop up and it's an overabundance of time in-between. 

    As was the case Saturday night.

    Brock Lesnar winning made sense within the context of the storyline WWE has been telling for months now, and even though predictable, that is not a bad thing.

    Having to wait 50 minutes to get there, with no other really viable option, is, and the reason for that can be traced back to the layoffs that diminished the roster depth over the last year.

Raw Main Event Scene Is a Mess After Bobby Lashley's Win

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    If you left Saturday's event wondering what the hell is going on in the Raw main event scene, you are not alone.

    Bobby Lashley regained the WWE Championship by defeating Brock Lesnar via controversial means when Paul Heyman shockingly betrayed The Beast and Roman Reigns downed him with the title. The outcome propelled the Lesnar-Reigns feud forward and set up the events of the night's finale, but it left many questions to be answered surrounding the red brand.

    Who does Lashley defend against from here?

    Seth Rollins is still mired in his feud with Reigns over the Universal Championship, Big E is back on SmackDown (more on that in a moment) and neither Kevin Owens nor AJ Styles appear poised for big WrestleMania runs based on their treatment in the Men's Royal Rumble match.

    Perhaps Lashley defends against Edge? Does WWE book a big ol' messy, multiman match to maximize the usage of the various stars on the brand? 

    That there are so many questions may be good for drama and intrigue, but it is also an indictment on the Raw creative team in that there is no clear path, no one strong enough to stand out, despite an abundance of talented individuals and believable main event stars.

    Hopefully, we begin to get a feel for what the flagship show's marquee bout will be at WrestleMania through some strong storytelling beginning as soon as Monday night.

Big E's Main Event Run Is Officially Over

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    If you thought Big E would be "just fine" after losing the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar in eight minutes at Day 1, you probably had second thoughts when he was inexplicably shifted to SmackDown, where he has been shoved into a tag team feud pitting himself and Kofi Kingston against Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss.

    If you still were not worried about his future prospects and held out hope that he would rebound and return to the main event scene by way of a Royal Rumble match victory, you likely had your heart ripped out when he was dropped with an RKO from Randy Orton and thrown over the top by The Viper and Riddle, crashing to the floor along with your hopes and dreams of a Big E WrestleMania run.

    It was a devastating moment for fans of his, like this writer, who really did hold on to hope that his treatment was less of a replica of Kofi Kingston's in the wake of his WWE Championship run. Instead, it has been eerily similar, cast aside after a couple of months of holding the title in favor of the guys WWE officials actually want to headline the biggest show of the year.

    The nonchalant manner in which he was given the ball, then had it ripped from his grasp was yet another instance of WWE having a potential massive, fresh new star on its hands, only to inexplicably allow him to fade back into the heap.

    We know the company can make stars. They did it with Bianca Belair last year. Why it allowed Big E to just dwindle away, losing his credibility and championship is a question best left for those who made that decision.

Bianca Belair Still Poised for WrestleMania Run Even in Defeat

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    Unlike Big E, whose main event run is dead and gone following his Royal Rumble appearance, Bianca Belair is not going anywhere. The EST showed up and showed out in another strong, lengthy performance in the 30-woman match. Best of all, the fans are still completely behind her.

    Typically, any time WWE puts its creative efforts behind a star and gives them an opportunity to run at the top of any division, fans turn on said performer a little. They are, after all, now the promotion's "chosen one" and they need to be knocked down a peg or two.

    Not Belair, though. The former women's champion was a clear favorite to win the match Saturday night in St. Louis, and her elimination late was met with gasps and boos, an indicator that the young performer and WWE have gotten it right with her push to the top of the women's wrestling world.

    Besides that, the biggest takeaway from the contest was that Belair was the last remaining Raw competitor in the Rumble match. With Becky Lynch retaining her title against Doudrop later in the night, it sets up a scenario in which The EST will look to avenge her loss to Big Time Becks at SummerSlam.

    Considering we have seen that match more than once before, and Ronda Rousey is a name that captures attention beyond the wrestling industry, it made sense not to have Belair win her second straight Rumble match.

    If anything, that may have ruined that goodwill.

    She is still set to make a big WrestleMania splash, win the title that has eluded her since August, against one of the biggest and brightest stars on the roster. Rumble win or not, she's in great shape as The Showcase of the Immortals draws near.