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Preview and Predictions for WWE’s ‘Royal Rumble’: Is Ronda Rousey Set to Return?

This event is always good for some big surprises and Saturday should be no different.

There’s no other event on the WWE calendar that consistently delivers like the Royal Rumble.

WrestleMania may be WWE’s biggest show of the year, but the Royal Rumble is foolproof in a way that even WrestleMania isn’t. While a lackluster card can make for a bad WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble is always worth watching. You know what you’re going to get every year. The men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches take up most of the pay-per-view and set the stage for the top of the WrestleMania card. The combination of anticipation, surprises and stakes makes the Royal Rumble the perfect pro wrestling concept.

The 2022 edition of the Royal Rumble will take place in St. Louis on Saturday night. The show always promises to be newsworthy, but it’s looking like that may be especially true this year. Rumors have been swirling that Ronda Rousey could soon be making her return to WWE, with an appearance at the Royal Rumble possibly being in the cards. If Rousey does show up at the Rumble, it would be the first time the UFC Hall of Famer and former Raw women’s champion has appeared for WWE since headlining WrestleMania 35 in 2019.

Rousey’s one-year run in pro wrestling from 2018–19 was an absolute coup for WWE. The mainstream attention she brought would have been worth it alone, but Rousey worked hard to become a great in-ring wrestler. No matter who she was facing, every Rousey match felt like a spectacle. Working together with the biggest stars in the women’s division, Rousey made a tremendous impact in the industry and elevated women’s wrestling in WWE to new heights.

After Rousey and her husband Travis Browne welcomed a daughter in September, a return to the ring looks to be possible. Whether it happens now or at some point in the future, there’s only one option for what Rousey’s return feud should be. Becky Lynch needs to face Rousey one-on-one. Every segment they were involved in leading up to WrestleMania 35 felt special. Adding Charlotte Flair to that WrestleMania 35 main event was probably a mistake, but finally getting a Lynch vs. Rousey singles match would make up for it.

The Royal Rumble is also set to feature two huge world title bouts. Brock Lesnar will put his WWE championship on the line in a dream match against Bobby Lashley, while Roman Reigns is defending the universal championship against his former Shield stablemate Seth Rollins.

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

WWE championship match: Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley

This will be the first time Lesnar and Lashley have ever faced each other in a singles match. With both having backgrounds in mixed martial arts, it’s a matchup that’s long felt inevitable. But it’s only happening now because WWE was forced to alter its plans. When Reigns tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Day 1, his universal championship defense against Lesnar had to be pulled from the show. Lesnar was instead added to the WWE championship match at Day 1 and defeated Big E, Rollins, Kevin Owens and Lashley to win the title.

Lesnar and Lashley’s interactions in that fatal five-way match at Day 1 were great. It’s often hard for dream matches to live up to such high expectations, but Lesnar and Lashley are ideal opponents for each other.

Lesnar vs. Reigns is likely to main-event one of the nights of this year’s WrestleMania. Unless it’s going to be a title vs. title match, one of them is going to need to drop their championship before then. That could happen here with Lesnar somehow getting screwed over and losing the WWE title.

Prediction: Bobby Lashley wins

Universal championship match: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins

Reigns vs. Rollins is another match that is happening because WWE had to alter its plans. It appeared that Drew McIntyre was going to be next in line for a universal championship shot, but with McIntyre out of action due to neck issues, Raw’s Seth Rollins is challenging for SmackDown’s top title. Playing off of their history with each other in The Shield has made Reigns vs. Rollins easy to build to, and there’s no doubt that it will deliver in the ring.

It makes more sense for Lesnar to be the challenger if he’s going to face Reigns at WrestleMania. Reigns should retain against Rollins and enter WrestleMania as champion.

Prediction: Roman Reigns retains

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Women’s Royal Rumble match

If Rousey does make her return on Saturday and is in the women’s Royal Rumble match, she should win. It would be a huge mistake to present her as anything other than completely dominant in her return. Lynch vs. Rousey is such a big match that it should take precedence over everything else.

The only bad thing about a Rousey return is that it would further push back Bianca Belair getting her revenge against Lynch. After how Lynch defeated her at SummerSlam last year, Belair needs payback. Delaying that hurts Belair, but she’s enough of a star to overcome it.

Several familiar faces have already been confirmed as returning for the women's Royal Rumble. WWE has announced that Mickie James, Nikki and Brie Bella, Lita, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly and Summer Rae will be entrants in the match.

James (the current Impact Wrestling Knockouts champion) being in the match is an interesting political move. It’s great that WWE is willing to use an Impact star in such a big spot, but it was made necessary by WWE releasing so much of its roster over the last year and having a depleted women’s division. SmackDown women’s champion Charlotte Flair will even be in the Rumble due to the depth and injury issues that WWE is dealing with.

Prediction: Ronda Rousey wins

Men’s Royal Rumble match

Of the announced entrants, there aren’t any obvious candidates to win the men’s Royal Rumble. There are possible contenders like Big E or Kevin Owens, but no one has really been built up for a Rumble win. Much of the build has been centered on “Jackass” star Johnny Knoxville being one of the 30 participants in the match.

There has to be a reason that so few candidates to win have emerged ahead of the Royal Rumble. The best bet is that either Lesnar or Reigns will lose earlier in the night, enter the men’s Rumble, and go on to win the match.

Prediction: Brock Lesnar wins

Raw women’s championship match: Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop

Lynch’s program with Doudrop is similar to the title defenses she recently made against Liv Morgan. Doudrop is really talented and does benefit from being in the Raw women’s championship picture, but she’s ultimately a weak challenger who no one believes can actually beat Lynch. Keeping Lynch strong on the road to WrestleMania is definitely what’s most important. Still, WWE can’t allow Doudrop to just fall back down the card after Saturday. It needs to actually capitalize on the momentum that’s gained from putting someone in a title match.

Prediction: Becky Lynch retains

Edge and Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz and Maryse

The feud between these two married couples has been really fun and has made for some good television. The couples have clearly relished being able to work together on screen. Maryse especially has been a bright spot and adds so much whenever she’s with The Miz.

It’s a bit of a surprise that this mixed tag is happening now instead of at WrestleMania. That must mean that WWE has plans for Edge to move on from The Miz and into a different WrestleMania feud.

Prediction: Edge and Beth Phoenix win

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