The road to WrestleMania 38 started off with fireworks.
ST. LOUIS — The Royal Rumble is the jump-start on the road to WrestleMania.
The 2022 installment on Saturday from The Dome at America's Center began that road in earnest, with Ronda Rousey winning the women's Royal Rumble and Brock Lesnar victorious in the men's edition. Rousey and Lesnar earned world championship matches against the champion of their choosing in the main events of WrestleMania, which occurs over two nights on April 2 and April 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The women's Royal Rumble marked the return of Rousey, the former UFC women's bantamweight titleholder and former Raw Women's champ. She appeared for the first time on WWE television since losing to her belt to Becky Lynch in the main event of WrestleMania 35 back in April 2019.
Rousey entered the Rumble at No. 28 and the announced crowd of 44,390 came unglued at the sight of the superstar. The "Rowdy" one marched right into the ring and cleaned house, eliminating five women in total. It came down to Rousey and SmackDown Women's champion Charlotte Flair.
With the crowd on their feet, Rousey and Flair circled one another. Flair rushed in and attempted a boot to the face. But Rousey caught the leg and flipped Flair over the top rope to win her first Royal Rumble.
Early in the show, Lesnar lost his WWE championship to Bobby Lashley after Roman Reigns — with the assistance of Lesnar's now-former advocate Paul Heyman — used a spear and then hit him with the belt to cost "The Beast" the gold. Lesnar was then the final entrant at No. 30 and wrecked shop by immediately eliminating four people.
It came down to Lesnar and Drew McIntyre. The former two-time WWE champion eliminated Lesnar at the 2020 Royal Rumble. This time, Lesnar got the better of the exchange by tossing McIntyre over the top rope to win his second Royal Rumble.
The former two-time WWE Champion Drew McIntyre makes a surprising return, coming back from a neck injury. He immediately tosses Corbin and Moss over the top. He rolls under the ring and puts a beating on them.
Actor and star of "Jackass Forever," Johnny Knoxville comes in at No. 9 to a loud reaction. He got in a little offense on Sami Zayn before getting attacked by Styles and then frog splashed by Montez Ford. Zayn walked over and tossed Knoxville over the top to be eliminated. A fun little spot.
The main event of the Royal Rumble is here as we have the 30-person Men's Royal Rumble. No. 1 is former two-time WWE champion AJ Styles and No. 2 is Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. Here we go.
Edge and Beth Phoenix bests The Miz and Maryse. A double spear followed by double Glambombs led to Edge pinning Miz. That's exactly what the match needed to. Nothing special but fun. A cool moment after the match as Edge and Phoenix took their kids out of the crowd, picked them up and walked to the back.
Lesnar hit the F5 but Lashley's legs knocked out the referee. Reigns runs down to the ring and delivers a spear out of no where. Reigns walks over to Paul Heyman, who hands Reigns the belt. Reigns hits Lesnar with the belt. Another referee enters the ring and counts to three and we have a new WWE Champion in Bobby Lashley. Heyman and Reigns leave the ring together and the crowd is upset. What a turn of events.
If you thought it would be a technical match, think again. Lesnar and Lashley are punching stiff, tossing each other around with German Suplexes and spears from Lashley. Momentum of the match has shifted as Lashley went for another spear but this time on the outside. Lesnar moved out of the way and Lashley went through the barricade. Lesnar is tossing around Lashley with relative ease.
Lynch defeats Doudrop to retain the championship. Doudrop was on the top rope. Lynch came up and executed an impressive Exploder Suplex to get the one, two, three to remain the Women's Champion of the Raw brand. A better than expected match. It will be interesting if we see any type of face off between Rousey and Lynch.