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    Tuesday, February 1, 2022

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Royal Rumble 2022

    Brock Lesnar and Drew McIntyre in WWE Royal Rumble 2022

    Upon the conclusion of this year's Royal Rumble, many fans were already declaring it the worst Royal Rumble event ever. Some were saying that, and some were simply calling the men's Royal Rumble match the worst ever. No matter what it was, however, one thing's for sure: it was yet another mismanaged event that no doubt contributed to WWE's sliding perception among wrestling fans, taking yet another chunk from the company's already battered goodwill (if there was any left).

    For whatever my opinion is worth, however, I believe the event was just crushed under the weight of great expectations. It's not the worst ever—that's just the hyperbole of the present—but a lot of it was pretty disappointing. Among a fanbase that's starved of something big to absolutely love about the WWE and its current product, the onus is on the company to deliver them a feel-good moment. 

    Of course, not everyone sees the same thing in the same way, and by now we all know that what one (or many) may not like can be treasure in another fan's eyes.

    But apparently, to many, they just wanted something they could get behind. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins ended in a feel-bad story development that, even though it made psychological sense, was still undeniably deflating for many people in the moment. A lot of people still don't have a good impression of Ronda Rousey, especially in the wake of Becky Lynch's rise to the top. More Roman Reigns interference is bound to result in more heartbreak, and the cherry on top is that they used the men's Royal Rumble match to take away a potential star-making moment to provide a rote avenue to get Brock Lesnar back to the main event of WrestleMania.

    If there's any lasting impact to the WWE viewership from all the disappointment created by this year's Royal Rumble, it's mostly because the company's indefensible practices and frenetic, whimsical booking by its mastermind are starting to come back and bite it in the ass. They're trying to tell a story the only way they know how—pretending everything is still normal, but things aren't normal anymore. 

    There's a hostile audience that feels like they've been neglected, waiting at the gates, torches and pitchforks in hand, demanding that they be satisfied, especially when they know the other kingdom is more likely to give them what they want.

    On the other hand, one can wave them away as dissatisfied and disenfranchised constituents, especially when you've still got a lot of loyalists willing to buy your product and defend everything you do. But you wouldn't want to keep pushing your luck; even the loyalists will want something new, fresh, and satisfying, and they will want it eventually.

    In the bigger picture, however, Vince McMahon has created such a tradition with the Royal Rumble that even this underwhelming outing won't be enough to keep people from tuning in again next year. Not to undermine anyone's anger and dissatisfaction, but the event and the match themselves are the draw, and they will continue being the draws for as long as it's around. We've seen people get really mad—remember the 2015 Rumble?—and it's still one of the most must-see events in the WWE's calendar. 

    McMahon is banking on your short-term memory, as one year is enough for everyone to forget their feelings about this edition.

    Royal Rumble 2022 Rating: B

    Match of the Night

    It doesn't have a fun ending, but the Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins is easily the best match on the show, by virtue of being hard-hitting and also the first match of the night. Many people will complain about the ending, but as I mentioned above, it makes full psychological sense that Reigns would go off the rails. Fans who claim they like storytelling in wrestling shouldn't be complaining too much about this, as anyone who enjoys a good story will and should know that sometimes, the best tale isn't the one that's satisfying. I respected that they stayed true to Roman's character to the point that they'd make the match fall flat.

    Photo from WWE

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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Royal Rumble 2022 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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