Hey everyone! Welcome to Mansfield’s Matchups. This will be the name of the column I will write for my predictions for every WWE PPV event going forward. I’ve wanted to get back into writing more regularly, and since I don’t know if I would be able to be up to doing a regular weekly column, I’m going to at least do these. So, hope you enjoy, and let’s get started!
The Royal Rumble is just days away, and I don’t know about you, but I REALLY need a Royal Rumble right about now. Many fans consider it their favorite night of the wrestling year, even above WrestleMania, and it’s hard to argue against that. Last year was great, though being in the Thunderdome kind of hindered it to a point, but still gave us, in my opinion, a Top 10 Rumble. This year, we have our first Royal Rumble with fans in two years. And, if it was anything like 2020’s, we are in for a treat! While, I’ll be honest, I haven’t been the biggest fan of WWE shortening their PPV (excuse me, PLE) time length, especially for the Big 4, so while I’m not as thrilled with the smaller number of matches (granted, we do have 2 Rumbles to get through), hopefully that gives each match enough time to shine. WWE seems to be coming into 2022 all guns blazing, and if they keep their momentum started at Day 1, this year’s Rumble will hopefully prove to be a memorable one on the road to WrestleMania 38. So, let’s get to the matches!!
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Becky Lynch ( c ) vs. Doudrop
I love Becky Lynch. She’s fantastic. But, I’ll be honest, this is the match that I’m looking forward to the least. Doudrop (dear goodness that name is so dumb, please change her name back to Piper Niven again and maybe we’ll take her seriously again) just honestly doesn’t do it for me as a challenger. She’s a placeholder challenger. Does she have “some” support behind her? Yes, I give her that, but turning her heel after she had just turned face seems like she may end up being the female equivalent of the Big Show in terms of how many times she’s gonna have a heel/face turn (though I think Nataya may already have that distinction at this point). Don’t get me wrong, Becky will do everything she can to make this a great match, and I really do hope that it surprises me and makes me a Doudrop believer, but I still don’t think it will. In any case, this match is the easiest to predict on this card and there’s a -4780912% chance that Becky Lynch loses this match.
WINNER – Becky Lynch retains
MIXED TAG TEAM MATCH
Edge and Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz and Maryse
It’s no secret that Edge is in my Top 5 favorite of current superstars and of all time. This storyline has been one of the best things going on an otherwise bland Raw (except for everything that RK-Bro touches because that is just pure gold all the way around). Adding Maryse and Beth into the mix, especially after Day 1 was exactly what the fans have wanted. I love a good couple vs. couple mixed tag. And, for Miz and Maryse, this is their own tie breaker as they lost to John Cena and Nikki Bella at WrestleMania 33, and then beat Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella at Hell in a Cell in 2018. Edge and Beth are Hall of Famers. While it may not seem that they *need* to win, it makes the most sense if this is the only time Beth will be involved. There doesn’t need to be a trio of matches with Edge and Miz (though I wouldn’t be opposed to it), so I think the Rumble will be the end of their feud with Edge and Beth getting the win as Edge starts to build towards whatever marque match he will have at WrestleMania (please, oh please, almighty WWE let it be A.J. Styles). Edge got the pin in match #1, so Beth will pick up that 3 count at the Rumble for her and her hubby.
WINNERS – Edge and Beth Phoenix
Roman Reigns ( c ) vs. Seth “Freakin” Rollins
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins are magic together, not only on the mic, but in the ring. To see their roles reversed this year compared to how it was in the 2014-2016, and how both have grown, shows that this has the potential to be match of the night. Years ago, Rollins was the cocky chicken-s**t heel Champion and Reigns was the powerhouse babyface who was getting over with the fans like a bad rash. Now, Reigns is the wildly over dominant heel Champion and Reigns is the widely over athletic and cocky tweener (who seems to be playing face in this one? Maybe? I think?). With the roles reversed, and neither holding anything back (heck, Rollins mentioned Jon Moxley on SmackDown), they are going to showcase why they were chosen as the current golden boys for the company. Not only that, but their promos on SmackDown have been must see and there is a genuine feel that Rollins could be the one to finally beat Roman, especially with Jimmy and Jey Uso banned from ringside. On one hand, it seems really lack luster for Reigns to lose the Universal Championship to an already bona fide cemented star at a PPV (whoops, there I go again, PLE) instead of making a brand new mega star when eventually taking the L for the belt. BUT, with the whole huge plans changing due to Reigns getting Covid back at the beginning of the month and his planned opponent for Day 1 winning the WWE Championship (oh, we’ll get to that), could WWE really be planning on doing what many fans have speculated: have the WWE and Universal Championships switch brands at the Rumble? Could Reigns LOSE to Rollins and then face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania?? Personally, I honestly don’t think Reigns vs. Lesnar even needs ANY belt at this point. BUT, the WWE Championship is objectively the bigger of the two main world championships in World Wrestling Entertainment, and WWE has been trying to formally, officially, and definitively crown Roman Reigns as the face of the company by beating Lesnar for the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania since WrestleMania 31 in 2015. This is 2022. That’s 7 years they’ve been at this. And now they finally have it to where they can finally get their wish with the fans finally accepting the results. But is Rollins the right person to end THIS reign?? I don’t know. On a personal note, I thought it should’ve been Big E, but that obviously didn’t happen. But if there is one person who knows Reigns better, and has beaten Reigns in major title matches in the past, it is objectively The Visionary, Seth “Freakin” Rollins.
WINNER – Seth “Freakin” Rollins, new Champion
Brock Lesnar ( c ) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Bobby Lashley w/ MVP
A dream match that literally everyone has been BEGGING the WWE for ever since Bobby Lashley returned to WWE in 2018. And we are FINALLY getting it! Am I a little surprised it’s at the Royal Rumble and not say SummerSlam or WrestleMania? Yeah, that’d be a pretty safe bet. Especially because it’s almost guaranteed that LEsnar is winning, even though it is universally agreed that Lashley should objectively win any match that was to ever happen between them to firmly establish his complete dominance. Am I a little concerned about that at this point? Perhaps. But ever since returning at SummerSlam, Lesnar has been the best he’s been since returning to WWE in 2012. This babyface Lesnar is entertaining and enthralling and gosh it feels weird to cheer Paul Heyman, am I right?!?! Nevertheless, I am excited for this match! We got a small taste of it during the Fatal 5-Way at Day 1, so the seeds have been planted for an all out fight. Plus, with Heyman and MVP lurking at ringside, seeing how they will interfere and how each will be dealt with makes it for must-see viewing to see who between these two behemoths can actually get the other down for that 3 count for the greatest prize in the industry. While, personally, I would love for Lashley to win the title from Lesnar to get that rub that only so few have gotten since The Beast’s 2012 return, but with how plans seemed to have changed, I just don’t see it happening now, unfortunately. Perhaps SummerSlam, but I think Lesnar retains after only just winning the title at the beginning of the month.
WINNER – Brock Lesnar retains
30-WOMEN ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
When it was announced publicly on SmackDown that reigning Impact Knockouts World Champion Mickie James would be entering the Royal Rumble, the IWC rightly lost its collective mind, and that is saying something! The proverbial “Forbidden Door” seems to have been Mick Kicked down and it is great to see! Mickie was announced alongside Hall of Famers Nikki and Brie Bella and Lita and Legends Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, and Summer Rae (whatever your thoughts are on Summer Rae being called a “Legend”, this is what WWE is referring to her as). Now, normally, like most people, I try to stay as far away from any spoilers for surprise returns for the Royal Rumble as I can, and being on Facebook and Twitter makes that particularly difficult. So when WWE announced these returns in advance, I was a bit shocked, but realized there had to be a reason. Yes, increase eyes and ticket sales is obviously the top one, but I think with so many top stars out with injury such as Bayley and Sasha Banks, and with Becky and Charlotte as the Women’s Champions of their respective brands (we’ll get to Charlotte here shortly), WWE needed that extra star power for this Rumble in advance. I would love to see Asuka return or someone like Io get called up, but we’ll see. Charlotte will be the only one of the four Horsewomen to be in the Rumble this year, and that is saying something also, especially since she’s entering as SmackDown Women’s Champion. I don’t expect her to have the full Brock Lesnar treatment from the 2020 Rumble, but I think it’s safe to say whoever eliminates her is facing her at WrestleMania. Now, who will that be? Some have speculated Mickie James. I think it’s more likely Charlotte eliminates Mickie in all honesty, but if WWE is smart, they should have Charlotte and Mickie as entrants #1 and #2 holding their belts up together facing off to start off this Rumble. Michelle McCool has already teased a match of her vs. Charlotte and that would be a gem to watch, so it all depends on what WWE is thinking and how Michelle feels, cause Michelle McCool is still a very big name. The two women who I could see eliminating Charlotte are my SmackDown pick to win and my Dark Horse pick to win. With Toni Storm now gone from WWE (insert sad face here) the next Superstar on the SmackDown women’s roster that can easily gain and ride the momentum she already has from her NXT days is Shotzi. She is more than capable and, even though she’s playing a heel right now, I think a match between her and Charlotte would absolutely blow the roof off of AT&T Stadium. My dark horse pick is someone they’ve already teased a rivalry with Charlotte with, Lita. Once it was announced that Sasha was out, WWE contacted Lita and had her appear on SmackDown. She said flat out that she has one more run in her and wants to win the Rumble, only to be confronted by Charlotte. If that wasn’t the beginning of the tease for a major match between them at WrestleMania, I don’t know what is. Lita vs. Charlotte would be an absolute barn burner of a match and Lita, like her best friend Trish Stratus before her, deserves that one last run. On the Raw side of things, while Bianca Belair is seen by many as the favorite to win, I just don’t see her winning two years in a row. Bianca has lost a lot of momentum since her squash to Becky at SummerSlam, but I don’t think winning the Rumble again is the way to build it back up. To me, that would seem a cheap way to do it. Honestly, WWE should wait for Bianca to get her win back till SummerSlam where she first lost to Becky so she can keep getting built back up and gain that momentum again naturally. There is also, now, on social media, the very loud buzz of the potential return of the Rowdy One, Ronda Rousey. Simply put, if Ronda is returning, this match is going on last and she is winning and facing Becky Lynch at WrestleMania so they can finally get their one on one match, flat out. Nothing more to be said about that.
Raw: “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey
Dark Horse: Lita
30-MAN ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this match in all honesty. This match is honestly so unpredictable this year, it really reminds me of the 2017 Rumble where it really seemed like anyone could win it (and then Randy Orton did and we were all sad cause it wasn’t The Undertaker). I’ve thankfully managed to stay clear of any major spoilers for entrants in this match, so it genuinely feels exciting. Let me just say right off the bat, I’m not going to predict any Forbidden Door entries for this match, cause I just want to be surprised if we get any. If we do, I’ll probably crap myself, but if we don’t, I honestly won’t be too disappointed. In terms of star power itself, I’d say this Rumble falls between a great ⅔ good and ⅓ meh of names entered this year, but that’s probably because there’s only five entrants from SmackDown so far with a majority of the Rumble field coming from Raw, which is arguably a somewhat weaker roster except for the main event scene. This match is so hard to pick because there are so many people it could be, especially with the prospect of Seth “Freakin” Rollins bringing the Universal Championship back to Raw. This Rumble definitely feels like a Raw win Rumble, but I have to pick a SmackDown winner as well, so I hope we get more names announced on SmackDown. For SmackDown, the only name I can see winning this is Roman Reigns. Losing the Universal Championship, I can see him taking someone’s spot and entering and winning to go on to challenge Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania for the WWE Title. While Drew winning again would be great, WWE seems like it still wants to go in the direction of Reigns vs. Lesnar for a championship at WrestleMania, even though the match doesn’t need it. Plus it would give Reigns MASSIVE heat to win the Rumble again on the way to face Lesnar for the title again at WrestleMania AGAIN. On the Raw side, boy howdy, do I have some options! My dark horse pick will also be coming from Raw, so I will save him for last. But, of the Raw superstars currently announced so far, there are at least three clear potential winners: Big E, Kevin Ownes, and A.J. Styles. All three are getting big pushes again, with Big E coming off losing his WWE Championship to Brock LEsnar at Day 1, Owens looking dominant in his heel turn that everyone is loving, and A.J. being back to a babyface and absolutely stealing the show with his matches. Seth Rollins vs. any of these three at WrestleMania would be money. So, between these three, who do I pick for Raw? Kevin Owens vs. Rollins was already done at the WrestleMania in the Performance Center, so I honestly am not sure about picking him, even though it would be huge. A.J. Styles winning a Rumble and fighting for a title at WrestleMania would be great, but seeing as everyone wants Edge vs. Styles at Mania, I’m inclined to not pick A.J. That leaves Big E. Big E has been having a MASSIVE run since December 2020, and rightfully so. Losing to Brock was not the plan, he was supposed to retain till Reigns got Covid and plans changed. Big E, coming off that loss at Day 1, to turn around and win the Rumble to win the Universal Title at WrestleMania would make him a mega star. BUT, with all that said, in looking at the direction WWE seems to be going with this, I have to go with the smart pick and go Kevin Owens for my Raw pick. Now, the dark horse is someone from Raw not even announced for the Rumble, which is an absolute shame and that is Finn Balor. I admit, I originally had Walter/Gunter slated to be my dark horse, but it really seems unlikely at this point, especially with word that WWE higher ups are disappointed with NXT 2.0 and it remains to be seen if the NXT and NXT Women’s titles will even be offered as options this year to the winner. Now, back to Balor. Vince only sees him in the Jeff Hardy position now, which is a travesty and the reason I’m picking him as my dark horse and not my main pick, because he has EVERYTHING (yes, I’m a big Finn Balor fan). He’s got the in ring skills, the mic skills, the personality, and the adoring fan base, and was the first ever Universal Champion, Finn Balor. Balor has not been the same on the main roster since he won then relinquished the Universal Championship. And what a comeback story that would be: to win the Royal Rumble and win the Universal Championship at WrestleMania from the very same man he beat for it at SummerSlam 2016. Balor deserves a big time match, and while Vince may not be high on him, a lot of the WWE Universe is, and I think if Finn isn’t even in the match, there’s a chance WWE may have a repeat of the 2014 Rumble debacle on their hands. But, let’s hope that doesn’t happen and that this Rumble delivers big time!
Raw: Kevin Owens
SmackDown: Roman Reigns
Dark Horse: Finn Balor