Royal Rumble: 7 Matches The WWE Laid The Groundwork For Ahead Of WrestleMania 38

WWE Royal Rumble
(Image credit: WWE)

WWE’s 2022 Royal Rumble was one for the books, and a night full of surprises. It also serves as the beginning to the “road to WrestleMania,” which means many of the feuds that happen in the event often turn into a high-stakes match at WrestleMania. 

While we can’t know for certain what's coming up in the WWE storylines -- which changed all the time -- it seemed clear at least a handful of feuds were set up during the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Here are some of the matches I see happening at WrestleMania, and why it makes sense for them to happen following the Royal Rumble in St. Louis Missouri, which I attended this year and which could be viewed via pay-per-view or via a Peacock subscription. 

Roman Reigns ignores reporter after Seth Rollins Royal Rumble fight 2022.

(Image credit: WWE)

Brock Lesnar Vs. Roman Reigns 

Brock Lesnar struggled in the first part of his WWE Championship match against Bobby Lashley, but it was only a matter of time before The Beast Incarnate gained the upper hand. Unfortunately, Lesnar’s first surefire pinfall failed due to a knocked out referee, and his second attempt was interrupted by WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Reigns caught Lesnar with a blindside attack, and in a stunning turn of events, demanded advocate Paul Heyman hand him Lesnar’s belt. Reigns then used the belt to further punish Lesnar, setting up Lashley for the easy title victory. Heyman left with Reigns, suggesting the plan to sabotage Lesnar was always in the works. Lesnar’s Royal Rumble win allows him a chance to challenge anyone for the title, and you have to think he’s going to want revenge on his former advocate and The Head of the Table.  

Now, the only question is: Will Seth Rollins somehow be involved? 

Ronda Rousey at the Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE)

Ronda Rousey Vs. Charlotte Flair Vs. Becky Lynch

Ronda Rousey won the women’s Royal Rumble, and per the rules, now gets to choose a match for WrestleMania. In her previous match in the WWE, she dropped the Raw Women’s Championship to Becky Lynch. On paper, it seems obvious Rousey wants another crack at The Man (who recently responded to a rumor about Rousey’s return ahead of the match), but she’s got Charlotte Flair to worry about. Rousey’s elimination of Charlotte Flair makes me think we’re getting ready to run back their epic WrestleMania 35 match with the winner unifying the belts. With that said, a double title match puts one night at WrestleMania at a disadvantage, so I’d have to wonder if Flair doesn’t lose her title before something like that and find a way to insert herself into the drama anyway. 

Sheamus in the WWE

(Image credit: WWE)

Sheamus Vs. Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny’s surprise return during the Royal Rumble was awesome, and likely sets up a future celebrity match for the international superstar to take part in at WrestleMania 38. Right now, I’d wager a match between Sheamus feels the most likely, as he’s one of the two eliminations the singer had in the rumble. Sheamus recently tweeted a not-so-cryptic message that he’s upset about his elimination, so I have to think the seasoned WWE veteran is about to go head-to-head with Bad Bunny in a match. The pop sensation stunned audiences with his moves in the past and at this year's Rumble, but can he deliver again in another WrestleMania? To note, current rumors state Bad Bunny won’t appear at the event, but I feel like we need to just wait and see what's next. 

Nikki Bella in the Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE)

Brie Bella Vs. Nikki Bella 

The Bella Twins’ return was announced well before the Women’s Royal Rumble, and I’m sure fans had expectations about how the former Divas’ return would go. I assumed the plan was for the two to team up, give the fans a blast a taste of nostalgia, and then peace out. With that said, Nikki Bella’s intentional elimination of Brie screams "needs a future storyline," and a story WWE fans might want to see more of. I would not be the least bit surprised if the Hall of Famer Bella twins return for some grudge match between the two at WrestleMania, if only for a fun little match that can fill time between the two days at WrestleMania 38. The Bellas still have a pretty large fanbase, so I'd imagine there’d still be a lot of fans out there who want to see this happen. 

Shane McMahon in WWE

(Image credit: WWE)

Shane McMahon Vs. Kevin Owens

Shane McMahon’s entrance in the WWE’s 2022 Royal Rumble was random, and certainly unexpected unless you read the rumors about his return shortly before the pay-per-view. What’s even more expected is that he was one of the final three wrestlers in the ring and eliminated Kevin Owens in the process. The two had an electric feud in 2017, and it’s something I can absolutely see happening again at WrestleMania. The match gives Owens something to do that’s of note, at a time where it’s a little to late to be inserted into any of the major title pictures. Perhaps this is how Owens works his way back into major title contention, and gets another WWE or Universal championship run many have wanted for so long. 

AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble

(Image credit: WWE)

Omos Vs. AJ Styles

Omos and AJ Styles feuding is nothing new, but with that feud re-ignited at the Royal Rumble, I don’t think it’s wild to believe the two could have some big showdown at WrestleMania, with a classic “big guy vs. little guy” classic. More often than not, the WWE likes to book those as a squash match in the favor of the big guy, but with AJ Styles one of the most technically sound wrestlers in the WWE, there’s an argument he can put on a clinic that picks away at Omos and puts him away despite his superior size and strength. 

Bobby Lashley pinning Brock Lesnar

(Image credit: WWE)

Bobby Lashley Vs. ?

Bobby Lashley has the WWE title, but with Brock Lesnar likely pursuing Roman Reigns for WrestleMania, there’s no clear opponent to defend his title against (which is kind of sad considering how hyped the Lesnar showdown was). The good news? When it comes to rivals, Lashley has no shortage of people to challenge him, and plenty of reason to justify it. I think between Big E, Drew McIntyre, and Seth Rollins, each man has a claim to try and challenge him for a WrestleMania match. Hell, it’s even possible there’s someone we’re not thinking about who will come out of nowhere to make a run on Lashley (perhaps Goldberg will get another shot?), though I think one of the above three is the most-likely. 

Monday Night Raw airs over on the USA network Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET, and SmackDown runs at the same time Fridays on Fox. Both should hold more answers about where wrestlers’ storylines are headed into WrestleMania 38, which will be available to stream with a Peacock premium subscription.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.