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Preview and Predictions for WWE’s ‘Day 1’: Whose Side Is Paul Heyman On?

The rematch between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns hinges on the loyalty of man who has stood in both of their corners.

WWE is kicking off 2022 with the first New Year’s Day pay-per-view event in company history.

Day 1 will take place in Atlanta on Saturday night and could mark the beginning of a new tradition for WWE. A tie-in with the New Year’s Day holiday creates another marquee event on the WWE calendar, helping to bridge the gap between Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble. It’s a celebratory way to ring in the new year while also setting the stage for Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season.

The next chapter in the Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar rivalry will play out as they face off for the universal championship at Day 1. Lesnar is getting another shot at the title after outside interference led to him losing to Reigns at Crown Jewel back in October. The major question coming out of that match was what Paul Heyman’s intentions were when he threw the universal title belt into the ring. Who did he want to help: Reigns or Lesnar? The belt landed in between them, and Reigns used it as a weapon following interference by The Usos.

WWE often struggles with consistent week-to-week storytelling, but everyone involved in the Reigns vs. Lesnar feud has played their role so well. As a babyface, Lesnar is the perfect challenger for Reigns. Heyman has been the centerpiece of everything, never letting you truly know where his loyalties lie. During the build to Day 1, Reigns fired Heyman as his special counsel after being fed up with questioning Heyman’s loyalty. Reigns attempted to beat down Heyman after firing him, but Lesnar made the save for his former advocate.

What makes the story so compelling is that there are multiple viable options for where WWE could go next. Heyman could reunite with Lesnar and help him win the universal title on Saturday—or this all could have been a ruse and Reigns and Heyman will be back together after Heyman helps him retain.

The WWE championship picture also presents a few different potential directions going forward. Big E will put his title on the line against Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Bobby Lashley in a fatal four-way match at Day 1. All three of Big E’s challengers are credible threats to his title. Rollins is the top male heel on Raw and is due for another world title reign. Owens just signed a new contract with WWE and could get a push to go along with that. And Lashley is always one of the most protected wrestlers in WWE.

In another one of the top matches at Day 1, Liv Morgan will challenge Becky Lynch for the Raw women’s championship. It will be the biggest match of Morgan’s career as she looks to become a champion for the first time.

Here’s a full rundown of the Day 1 card, along with predictions for each match:

Universal championship match: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

Whatever best sets up a rematch at WrestleMania should be the finish here. Having Lesnar lose two straight matches to Reigns usually wouldn’t be the best way to build up a third meeting, but it will work if done correctly. If Heyman realigns with Reigns and helps him retain, Lesnar needing to win the Royal Rumble to get another universal title shot would be a fun way to get to the WrestleMania match.

Prediction: Roman Reigns retains

WWE championship match: Big E vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Lashley

This might end up being the match of the night at Day 1. Featuring four of the top wrestlers on Raw, it will be fast paced and all action.

Big E’s title reign has lost a bit of momentum recently. There’s still plenty of time for it to get back on track, but he hasn’t been protected as much as a top star should be. Big E and Rollins would seem to be the two most likely options to walk out of Saturday’s PPV with the WWE championship. Either way, a singles program between them should be next. Big E can pin Owens and remain WWE champion going into the Royal Rumble.

Prediction: Big E retains

Raw women’s championship match: Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan

Becky Lynch is going to defeat Liv Morgan at Day 1, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision. Sure, there are plenty of logical reasons for why Lynch should win. She’s one of the biggest stars in WWE and it makes sense to keep her strong heading into WrestleMania season. Lynch will definitely be in a featured spot at WrestleMania, if not main-eventing one of the nights of the show.

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But a loss here would really damage Morgan. Falling short of winning the Raw women’s title would just prove that everything Lynch has said about her leading into Day 1 was true. It would prove that Morgan isn’t at Lynch’s level and isn’t capable of winning when it matters. An impressive showing in a loss would help mitigate that a bit, but it wouldn’t be enough. The story that’s been told is one where Morgan has to prove Lynch wrong by beating her. Morgan is a talent worth investing in. A loss wouldn’t irreparably damage her career, but it would be a lot to overcome.

Prediction: Becky Lynch retains

Edge vs. The Miz

Working with The Miz is a departure from the intense main-event feuds that Edge has taken part in since returning to the ring in 2020. With Maryse already being involved in the feud and Beth Phoenix leaving her commentary position in NXT, it appears that we’re going to get a mixed tag team match between the two married couples at some point. Miz winning here is probably the best way to get to that match.

Prediction: The Miz wins

SmackDown tag team championship match: The Usos vs. The New Day

No matter how many times they face each other, The Usos vs. New Day is always great. Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston have had the advantage over The Usos ahead of this match. That would usually indicate an Usos victory, but a title change with the babyfaces winning would be a good way for WWE to start the year.

Prediction: The New Day win

Raw tag team championship match: RK-Bro vs. The Street Profits

Randy Orton and Riddle’s WrestleMania plans may dictate the result of this match. If they’re going to split up and face each other, we’re getting close to the point where that angle should begin. If they’re going to stay together, they shouldn’t drop the titles any time soon. The Street Profits are a great team, but it doesn’t feel like RK-Bro’s partnership needs to come to an end quite yet.

Prediction: RK-Bro retain

Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss

Drew McIntyre will either be challenging for the universal championship at the Royal Rumble or he’ll be one of the favorites to win the men’s Royal Rumble match. Baron Corbin’s sidekick Madcap Moss won’t put up much resistance as McIntyre gets a dominant victory here.

Prediction: Drew McIntyre wins

Cesaro and Ricochet vs. Sheamus and Ridge Holland

This will be the pre-show match for Day 1. Cesaro has been feuding with his former tag team partner Sheamus and Sheamus’s new partner Ridge Holland since Holland was called up from NXT in October’s WWE draft. This likely won’t be the end of their feud, so Sheamus and Holland should get the win.

Prediction: Sheamus and Ridge Holland win

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