The Men’s 2022 Royal Rumble embodies WWE’s big problems
The annual Royal Rumble has come and gone, with former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar winning his first Rumble. This follows Paul Heyman’s shocking betrayal, who helped “Beast Incarnate” win his famous belt with Bobby Lashley. In fact, Brock Lesnar’s big win wasn’t a shock. Although he is considered the favorite based on the story between Reigns and Lesnar since October, a Lesnar win seems like a logical choice. Here’s the thing, Lesnar winning the rumble isn’t itself the biggest problem. The company’s lack of developing new stars is the main problem. Aside from Lesnar and Drew McIntyre, no one else seems to be a viable option to win the 2022 Royal Rumble. Hell, the company didn’t even give any of its young stars a career-defining performance. Despite being ridiculed by the Los Angeles Cavaliers, Roderick Strong or Pete Dunn the previous week, NXT stars have been strangely missing. Why not give the audience a glimpse of the new NXT champion, Bron Breakker? Even so, the young stars in the main lineup barely impressed throughout the annual event. AJ Styles holds the record for the longest run in the 2022 Rumble with a time of 20 minutes and 6 seconds. Austin Theory was second with 22 minutes. However, Austin Theory was never seen as a future star on the cusp of the main party, WrestleMania. He wasn’t treated like Iron Man like past stars Sean Michaels or Rey Mysterio. He felt like a guy who took his place and left.
The final four of the Royal Rumble are Brock Lesnar, Riddle, Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre! Shane McMahon made his wrestling debut in 1998. Brock Lesnar in 2000. In fact, Brock Lesnar fought the Roman Reigns for the top title at WrestleMania 31 and 34. Now, Lesnar can always fight Lashley for the belt, but the story strongly supports Lesnar and domination. McIntyre had a long-running feud with Lashley and actually played the Reigns at WrestleMania 35. Riddle, the only rookie in the last four games, was thrown out of the ring by Lesnar like he was nothing. The story of Riddell wanting to be the man who made Bullock retire never worked out because the company had no interest in making Riddell a major event player. WWE’s obsession with Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns highlights that the company only sees two men as true stars, while everyone else exists in their cloud. In creating a fresh and fun game, the creative continues to return to the tired feud that wasn’t so popular in the first place.
This company desperately needs stars! There is no attempt to show the future because WWE cannot stop relying on the past. Brock Lesnar is no longer the future of this company, and creatives need to stop seeing him as superior to everyone else. Lesnar should be in the Undertaker position and put the young star aside. Letting Roman Reigns reign again won’t help the WWE Universal Champion as he is already a well-known name. Why not test the waters with Lesnar vs. Riddle? Or Reigns vs. Bron Breakker? I know Breakker is green and is the current NXT champion, but he’s a hot young star at the moment, and Reigns’ in-ring abilities are more than enough to cover up Breakker’s flaws. Heck, Riddle vs. Reigns also works. With more Reigns/Lesnar likely to play WrestleMania’s main event again, the constant criticism of the rematch and boring storyline has come to the fore. It wouldn’t be a big deal for Lesnar to win if the company was cultivating some people to fight for the top spot, but it didn’t. Big E has been sent back to the middle card along with The New Day. His title reign is a waste of time. Drew McIntyre feuds with the likes of Jinder Mahal and Madcap Moss. They didn’t elevate the former WWE Champion because it would only be a drag on his reputation. Damian Priest’s new gimmick isn’t over. He was actually booed after fighting Kevin Owens for the U.S. championship. He hasn’t done much since winning the championship, and the company actually squandered his main lineup winning streak for a worthless non-championship win. Austin Theory came across as a childish clown, and despite a big win over Finn Balor, it wasn’t seen as a major event. Speaking of Balor, his return to the main lineup was a failure as he went back to being a nobody.
It all came down to bookings, and no one was feeling special or hot at the men’s main event scene. I don’t want to bring AEW into the debate, but Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega were absent from the show at one point, but there was never a void in the main event scene. Adam “Hangman”, Bryan Danielson, Miro, MJF, and Darby Allin are just some of the names that could easily take over the main event scene because the company did a great job of not focusing their show on two single wrestlers. Time for WWE to put a few wrestlers aside and give them the special Roman Reigns treatment. They can’t keep treating people worse than Raines and Lesnar. That’s why Seth Rollins was forced to feud with his ex-Shield brother, because no one in Smackdown even had the star power to get along with Reigns. WWE is in a dire state. Not financially, but if the company keeps booking this thing, fans will keep turning away. There’s a reason they’re now hitting weekly lows of less than 2 million on Monday night.
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