The Royal Rumble, one of the biggest and most entertaining events of the year for WWE, returns on Saturday night with a loaded card from The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The event is the official start of WrestleMania season, the build toward the promotion’s iconic event, held this year on April 2 and 3.
In addition to the traditional Royal Rumble matches on the men’s and women’s side, WWE champion Brock Lesnar, universal champion Roman Reigns and Raw women’s champion Becky Lynch will all be in action in title defenses. FInally, The Miz and Maryse will meet Edge and Beth Phoenix in a mixed-tag match featuring four former champions.
With all that in mind, there’s a lot that could happen on Saturday night and almost all of it with huge ramifications for WrestleMania.
Let’s take a closer look at who our CBS Sports experts predict will come out on top at WWE Royal Rumble.
2022 WWE Royal Rumble predictions
Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz & Maryse
This rivalry should end on Saturday with Edge and Beth Phoenix’s hands raised. It is the natural conclusion to the rivalry between the two couples. Edge is clearly WWE’s A-side and Phoenix should not return just to put over Maryse, a fellow part-timer. Edge and Phoenix with their hands raised is the most likely outcome. Pick: Edge and Beth Phoenix — Shakiel Mahjouri (also Brent Brookhouse)
Raw Women’s Championship — Becky Lynch (c) vs. Doudrop
It’d be hard to imagine Doudrop picking up the title in this matchup in regular circumstances, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine as WrestleMania approaches. Lynch will be in a featured spot at WrestleMania and will be in that spot as Raw women’s champion, possibly defending against the winner of the women’s Royal Rumble. Doudrop can boost her profile with a good performance and that should be the bigger goal here. Pick: Becky Lynch retains the title — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)
Universal Championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Seth Rollins
My thought process is generally one of getting to Lesnar vs. Reigns at WrestleMania without having both titles tied up in the bout. So, who loses their belt? Lesnar won the title as a sort of knee-jerk reaction to Reigns’ removal from Day 1 after his COVID-19 diagnosis. Meanwhile, Reigns has built a record reign as champion. With that in mind, getting back to the story of Lesnar hunting Reigns and the universal title makes sense, which means Rollins has to take the loss here. Pick: Roman Reigns retains the title. — Brookhouse
WWE appeared keen on having Seth Rollins enter WrestleMania with a world championship around his waist before the chaos of Day 1. Much has been made in-storyline about Reigns’ inability to conquer his ex-Shield buddy in championship matches. If Reigns is going to enter the Royal Rumble and earn his shot at Brock Lesnar (we’ll get to that in a second), he has to drop the title to Rollins that same night. Pick: Seth Rollins wins the title — Mahjouri
WWE Championship — Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Bobby Lashley
As stated on the Reigns vs. Rollins prediction, WWE getting back to Reigns being chased by Lesnar requires Lesnar to drop the belt. Raw is in a much better place with potential challengers to Lashley for WrestleMania than SmackDown for Lesnar. There are plenty of ways for Lashley to beat Lesnar, including just picking up a completely clean win. WWE has finally fully turned Lashley into a force and they can keep building that at the Rumble. Pick: Bobby Lashley wins the title — Brookhouse
WWE just loves strapping championships around the waist of former UFC heavyweight juggernaut Brock Lesnar. It would be odd for the promotion to present one of its most accomplished stars with the WWE championship, only to take it away 28 days later. Furthermore, Lesnar needs to look fearsome heading into the eventual rematch with Reigns. Lesnar vs. Lashley is a mouth-watering main course of MMA and pro-wrestling goodness. Lashley should be made to look competitive with Lesnar but, ultimately, the result will be “and still.” Pick: Brock Lesnar retains the title — Mahjouri
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Candidly, there are more likely choices to win this year’s Rumble than Naomi. There are reports of an impending return for Ronda Rousey by WrestleMania and that has people convinced that she will return on Saturday night. WWE may also opt to right how wrong they did Bianca Belair at SummerSlam by having her prevail over 29 other women. In-storyline, there are few better contenders than Naomi. She has been wronged by authority figure Sonya Deville at every turn, especially in moments of victory over SmackDown Women’s champion Charlotte Flair. What better way to navigate around Deville’s treachery than by winning the Rumble. Pick: Naomi to win — Mahjouri
Personally, I hope the fact that WWE has loaded up the women’s rumble with entrants who aren’t even active WWE-contracted wrestlers has been eye-opening for the promotion. While I appreciate Shak’s Naomi pick and the idea of her going on to a WrestleMania spot and a title win, it just doesn’t feel like the “big swing” that WWE is going to want to take for their biggest show of the year. With that in mind, there are two solid choices. First, they could have Bianca Belair win a second Royal Rumble match and really build up her legacy. Or, they could call in Ronda Rousey. With the rumors of a Rousey return swirling, it just feels like an easy play to have Rousey win the Rumble and go on to a featured main event spot at WrestleMania against either brand’s champion. Pick: Ronda Rousey to win — Brookhouse
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
As the final step of our three-step predictions, Lesnar, having lost his title to Lashley earlier in the night — possibly through interference from The Usos — immediately locks back in on Reigns and forces his way into the Rumble. Lesnar then rips through the competition before winning the whole thing and going on to choose Reigns as his WrestleMania opponent. For a little added boost, MVP and Lashley get to claim Lesnar ran away from his conqueror and a rematch can be kept in the back pocket for somewhere down the road. Pick: Brock Lesnar to win — Brookhouse
Let me make it clear, Roman Reigns should not win the Royal Rumble. Rumor has it Reigns was scheduled to drop the Universal championship to Brock Lesnar at Day 1 and that Seth Rollins was expected to capture the WWE championship that same evening. WWE could course-correct by having Reigns lose to Rollins, perhaps courtesy of some Lesnar shenanigans, and then enter the Rumble to get his revenge against “The Beast Incarnate.” Pick: Roman Reigns to win — Mahjouri