As 2021 draws to a close with another draft in the books, we are getting ready for another Road to WrestleMania in 2022.
With a new year can come new opportunities. New opportunities can lead to new first-time champions. Let’s take a look at the four main championships on Raw and Smackdown (WWE Universal, WWE Champion, Raw Women’s and Smackdown Women’s) and see who could be that first-time winner in 2022.
The WWE Championship is currently held by Big E on Raw. Big E realized his dream in 2021 and captured the WWE title for the very first time. Who could replicate this feat in 2022? I would point towards the current United States Champion, Damian Priest. Priest recently underwent a gimmick change, dropping his archer of infamy character and bringing out a more aggressive side. I think this more aggressive side is leading towards a heel turn early next year to line him up as a formidable challenger to Big E’s WWE Championship.
As I pointed out in my recent Five First Time Men’s Champions column, Priest has all of the tools necessary to be the main champion. If WWE plays their cards right, they could make that new Latin star they have been looking for all of these years. All he needs is to have Creative not screw up the execution, as they are prone to do. Priest can be a money player with the proper push and support.
WWE Universal Championship
Roman Reigns has had a death grip on the Universal Title since he captured it last year. All indications point to him carrying it into WrestleMania 37 for a showdown with Brock Lesnar. Smackdown’s problem is, outside of Drew McIntyre, there is nobody credible to take the title off of Reigns. McIntyre has been to the top of the mountain on Raw as a two-time WWE Champion.
If we look at my Five First Time Men’s Champions column, three names stand out: Damian Priest, Jey Uso, and Cesaro. Priest is likely capturing the WWE Championship. That leaves Cesaro and Jey Uso. Cesaro definitely has the fan support, but I’m sure Reigns would put Uso over if the story fits.
I’m going to back Cesaro as he so rightly deserves a meaningful title run and can believably beat Reigns, Lesnar, or McIntyre for the Universal Title. I personally would rather have a Cesaro title run before a Jey Uso title run.
Raw Women’s Championship
Recent events on Raw have shuffled Bianca Belair out of the title picture with Liv Morgan picking an opportunity to face Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Title. While I do not believe that Morgan will be successful in that match, Lynch will make Morgan look like she belongs in the title conversation.
I still believe that Belair will be the one to topple Lynch for the title, but 2022 should be Morgan’s time to shine. While a win at the 2022 Royal Rumble is possible, I believe that Morgan will win the 2022 Money in the Bank briefcase and will successfully cash it in. I think back to this year’s Money in the Bank lead up with Morgan giving Belair a nod while glancing back at the briefcase hanging over the ring and that may be revisited next year.
As I’ve pointed out in my Women’s Revolution 2.0 and 2021 Draft Benefit columns, Morgan has the following and fan support to be extremely successful as a champion. All she’s ever needed is the proper push to take her to the next level. Morgan has youth on her side but that doesn’t mean you can just sit back and wait either.
Smackdown Women’s Championship
I think 2022 will finally be the breakout year for the one and only, Shayna Baszler. As I pointed out in my 2021 Draft Benefit column, Baszler is finally free from her dead end tag team with Nia Jax and was leaving Raw showing glimmers of her old NXT woman-wrecking beast self. I think the new scenery on Smackdown will serve as the launching pad for Baszler to return to her “roots” so to speak.
The Smackdown Women’s Division was beefed up in the 2021 Draft, giving Baszler new fresh opponents to face. Smackdown also has a lot of new young talent that can benefit from working with Baszler as they get built up.
There was a good reason why Becky Lynch wanted to drop the Raw Women’s Championship to Baszler at WrestleMania 35 and it is now time for WWE to capitalize on that. A proper push and title run for Baszler can revive a slightly stagnate women’s division and bring it back up for another Women’s Revolution.
These are my picks for first-time champions for 2022. Agree or disagree? Let me know on my social media channels, Facebook and Twitter (@ciscowebwiz76) and let’s talk about it.