The Road to WrestleMania 38 officially kicked off on Saturday, January 29 with an eventful night at the matches that included some of the craziest WWE moments in recent memory, both scripted and not. With two Royal Rumble matches, a few spectacular championships bouts, an intergender tag match with an unexpected tribute, and the WrestleMania sign catching fire, there was a lot to unpack during the first major WWE event of the year (Sorry, WWE Day One).
But now that the dust has settled and our ears are no longer ringing from Seth Rollins’ showing up in full Shield gear like its 2013, we can look back on the night that was Royal Rumble 2022 and its craziest moments. Let’s unpack nine of those now…
Seth Rollins Coming Out Of The Crowd In Full Shield Gear
As far as I am concerned, The Shield is the greatest WWE faction of the 21st Century and there’s a case for it being one of the best of all time. That being said, just imagine how stoked I was when I heard “Sierra, Hotel, India, Echo, Lima, Delta, SHIELD” when Seth Rollins came out to take on Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship.
That pop for Rollins was HUGE and that visual of him walking through the crowd was the perfect way to set the tone for the show. And yeah, it was all head games to mess with Reigns, but wrestling is at its best when it’s a spectacle. And a spectacle it was.
Mickie James Entering The Royal Rumble With The Impact Knockouts Championship
One of the bigger stories going into the Women’s Royal Rumble was the inclusion of Mickie James, who just so happens to be the Knockouts Champion at Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA), aka one of WWE’s biggest competitors. Having one of the former superstars released by WWE in 2021, James’ return was announced in the weeks leading up to the Rumble, so it wasn’t a surprise to see her. But what was surprising was the fact that she came out with her title around her waist and was introduced as such, which is absolutely bonkers considering how WWE used to handle outside promotions.
Ronda Rousey Making Her Surprise Return To Win The Women’s Rumble
Ronda Rousey’s long-awaited WWE return at the Royal Rumble was one of the worst kept wrestling secrets in recent memory, but that still didn’t diminish the ovation she received when her number was called. As soon as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “Bad Reputation” started playing in the Dome at the America’s Center, the place went into a frenzy with nearly all of the 44,000 fans in attendance jumping out of their seats.
And yeah, it was pretty much a given that Rousey would win and potentially set up a rematch with Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 38, but again, no one really cared in that moment. We were all just excited to see one of the most exciting WWE superstars back in the ring picking up where she left off three years ago.
Ivory Making A Surprise Return As Her ‘Right To Censor’ Persona
Despite only lasting 30 seconds in the Women’s Royal Rumble match, Ivory coming out as a member of the “Right to Censor” stable (a parody of the Parents Television Council from the final years of the Attitude Era) made me jump with joy like I was a middle schooler watch Raw in 2000. Modern rumbles are known for their surprise entrants, and this was honestly one of the best because it was about as out of left field as it gets. The obnoxious siren, “warning” being repeated over and over again, and Ivory continuing to degrade the crowd while being eliminated made this a perfect moment.
The WrestleMania Sign Catches Fire
Traditionally, competitors in Royal Rumble matches point to the WrestleMania sign hanging high above the crowd. At this year’s event, it was the fans pointing up to the sign, but not because they were going to main event the Showcase of the Immortals. No, they were pointing up because it was set on fire by the pyro after Ronda Rousey’s Rumble win.
If the crowd seemed preoccupied and not into the Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop Raw Women’s Championship match, it wasn’t because of what was happening in the ring, it was due to the small army of technicians extinguishing the blaze and evacuating a large section of seats. And then it happened again at the end of the show.
Roman Reigns Causing Brock Lesnar To Lose The WWE Championship
My personal favorite moment of Royal Rumble 2022 was Roman Reigns interfering in the WWE Championship match, which allowed Bobby Lashley to defeat Brock Lesnar and capture the title for the second time in his career. Everything about this moment was pulled off flawlessly from Reigns making his way to the ring and telling his manager Paul Heyman (who also represents Lesnar) to hand him Lesnar’s belt to Reigns hitting Lesnar with it and finally Heyman leaving Lesnar alone to lose the match.
Watching this live was something to behold. The body language and non-verbal storytelling by all involved turned this into an iconic moment kickstarting the next chapter in Reigns and Lesnar’s shared history.
Kofi Kingston’s Botched Royal Rumble Moment
Kofi Kingston’s tradition of pulling off phenomenal saves to avoid elimination ended rather abruptly at Royal Rumble 2022 when the New Day member and former WWE Champion failed to catch himself after being thrown out of the ring by Kevin Owens. It is hard to say if this was the plan all along, but honestly it looks like he was supposed to nail the landing and find some way to get back into the ring. And considering Kingston was only in the match for 21 seconds before being eliminated, it feels like he was intended to remain in longer, especially with former stablemate Big E. coming out two spots later.
Shane McMahon Making His Return
Shane McMahon making his on-screen return to WWE during the Men’s Royal Rumble match made for another crowd-pleasing moment (especially for the two guys in front of me dancing to his catchy entrance music). Though rumored heavily throughout the week leading up to the event, seeing Shane O’Mac coming in at the 28 spot (and lasting five minutes) was pretty, pretty awesome. And while it was strange to see him be one of the last men standing, it’s never a bad thing to see the part-time wrestler pull off some death-defying stunts.
Bad Bunny Showing Off His Improved Skills In The Men’s Royal Rumble
Bad Bunny first got involved with WWE at Royal Rumble 2021 and would go on to have one of the better WrestleMania 37 matches a few months later. And though he stepped away to focus on his music career and world tour following the two-day event, you kind of knew he’d be back. Not only did Bad Bunny return for the 2022 Rumble, he actually looked really good in the ring and showed some improvement from his first turn with the company, pulling off a Canadian Destroyer on Riddle not long after entering the ring. Hopefully he sticks around for the Road to WrestleMania.
You can watch all of these moments and everything else that went down at Royal Rumble 2022 streaming on Peacock Premium. And with WWE officially on the Road to WrestleMania, expect even more in the months to come.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.