Considering Winners for the 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble

2022 Womens Royal Rumble
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The entrants announced so far for the 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble match at January 29’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view are as follows: Rhea Ripley, Nikki A.S.H., Carmella, Dana Brooke, Zelina Vega, Tamina, Shotzi, Natalya, Naomi, Aliyah, Shayna Baszler, Charlotte Flair, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Mickie James, Lita, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, and Summer Rae. The list of the women set to battle for the WrestleMania 38 championship opportunity of their choice is a varied one, featuring active members of World Wrestling Entertainment’s roster and the customary plethora of surprise entrants. With Rae, Kelly, McCool, the Bellas, James, and Lita set to enter the fray, and Maryse and Beth Phoenix facing off in a mixed gender tag team match at the event alongside their respective husbands Edge and The Miz, the former athletes of WWE’s “Divas Division” are asserting their place in the ongoing women’s evolution. The women’s event at the Royal Rumble dates only to 2018, and this advent came long after many of these former Divas’ tenure with WWE had ended.

Potential 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble Winners

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Mickie James – The Dark Horse

Mickie James, while a pillar of the “Diva” days, was active with WWE until very recently. The news of her entrance ricocheted throughout the pro wrestling industry as a genuine shock. James was released from WWE in spring 2021 but quickly hit the ground running rebuilding her brand in the National Wrestling Alliance and IMPACT Wrestling. She is entering the 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble match as the reigning IMPACT Knockouts Champion, a fact that WWE surprisingly has not shied away from. While it may prove to be an intriguing development, it is unlikely that any of the surprise entrants, James included, will be staying around after the Rumble, making them longshots to be the last woman standing after the 30-woman melee.

As for active, full-time WWE performers who could emerge from the match with a shot at either the Monday Night Raw or Friday Night SmackDown women’s titles at WrestleMania 38, out of the entrants announced so far that leaves Ripley, A.S.H, Flair, Brooke, Vega, Shotzi, Tamina, Natalya, Naomi, Aliyah, Carmella, and Baszler. Their chances at glory are all slim, as well. Aliyah and Shotzi were both called up to SmackDown from NXT in late 2021, but neither has had significant air time or creative development since arriving at the “Blue Brand.”

Diving Deeper Into Full-Time Competitors

On January 10’s Raw, A.S.H’s and Ripley’s unlikely tag team split with a heel turn by A.S.H. as she attacked Ripley. Despite both having been Raw women in the past, neither looks in line for a major push this year, and their tag team split will more than likely propel them into a series against each other. Another pair of former WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, Tamina and Natalya, also seem to be torn asunder, with Tamina relegated to the 24/7 Championship skits and Natalya helpfully rounding out the women’s midcard.  Reigning 24/7 Champion Brooke actually seems to have found her stride with the title, and a partnership with former champion Reggie. The current Women’s Tag Team Champions, Carmella and Vega, the latter also WWE’s first Queen’s Crown winner, seem destined to continue their run as a team for the time being.

Baszler would be an electrifying choice to win the Rumble. Her edgy persona took some considerable dents in 2021, but a rebooted Baszler unleashed in all her vicious glory could easily put Flair or Lynch, whoever she decides to challenge, to their paces with her gritty repertoire of MMA inspired submissions. However, her most recent appearances have seen her serving as something of a thug for hire for WWE official Sonya Deville in her vendetta against Naomi; as for Naomi, the popular and well-executed feud between her and Deville is still coming to a head, which also takes Naomi out of the running for the Rumble’s prospective winner. As for SmackDown Women’s Champion Flair, the only conclusion to which a Royal Rumble win could lead would be another face-off with arch-rival Lynch. Their long-running feud, which blurs the line of kayfabe and their real-life history, is a story WWE will no doubt circle back round to once more, but for now, the memory of their last bout at November’s Survivor Series is still too fresh.

It seems a curious development: the Royal Rumble is currently staffed by women who, for one reason or another, do not seem to be on the trajectory to win it.

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The EST in the 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble

The shadow of 2021’s winner, Bianca Belair, falls long over the upcoming pay-per-view. After being drafted from Raw to SmackDown 2020, Belair’s rise in the women’s division was meteoric. She had a high-profile feud with Bayley, and after winning 2021’s Women’s Royal Rumble event, she challenged then-SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. Their WrestleMania 37 bout made history, as the two became the first African-American women to headline WrestleMania. Belair’s athletic credibility and effortlessly vivacious babyface persona lent to her considerable popularity, which made her stunning loss of the SmackDown women’s title to Lynch at 2021’s SummerSlam a shock to fans and the pro wrestling industry.

After investing so much time in making Belair a star, she found herself in a series of repetitive losses to Lynch and in a midcard feud facing off against Doudrop as 2021 wound down. However, after her final victory against Doudrop, a revitalized Belair has reasserted herself in recent weeks. She only narrowly lost January 10’s triple threat, facing off against Doudrop and Liv Morgan for the right to challenge Lynch at the Rumble, and only after Lynch’s own intervention in the bout, singling Belair out as the woman she most fears facing again.

That distinction may have been foreshadowing that Belair will enter the 30-woman Rumble and, as in 2021, come out victorious. No one has a bigger score to settle with Lynch than Belair, after her humiliating and controversial loss to Lynch, losing the title she had earned under history-making circumstances, and after such a brilliant push, in just seconds at SummerSlam. The loose ends of that storyline, Belair’s quick change of fortunes, and the justice Lynch owes her, loom unspoken over the current Raw Women’s Championship race. Only one woman can emerge from the Royal Rumble with a shot at a championship opportunity at WrestleMania, and to close out the unfinished business between herself and Lynch, it should be Bianca Belair.

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