Happy New Year. The first WWE pay-per-view of 2022 is making history because it’s the first time WWE is doing a PPV event on New Year’s Day and it’s appropriately named Day 1.
John: The first-ever WWE Day 1 preview is taking place on January 1st, 2022 in Atlanta. I think it’s an interesting concept that WWE is doing because obviously, we’ve never seen them do a PPV on a Saturday night. However, I think it’s a smart move because a lot of the time people are tired on New Year’s Day if they did something on New Year’s Eve, so maybe they’ll be willing to tune into a WWE PPV on a Saturday night. Then again, with all the health concerns out there, vaccines and all that stuff, there will be less partying than normal this year.
I think WWE did a nice job of building this card with some big matches. The rematch between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar has been brewing since Crown Jewel in October, which was a match that ended in controversy. In addition to that, the WWE Championship match is a Fatal 4-Way where Big E defends against Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Bobby Lashley – all of whom are former WWE/Universal Champions that certainly could win the gold again. I also think they have built up the Becky Lynch/Liv Morgan rematch well. It’s an eight-match card with seven matches on the main show. There’s a lot to discuss for sure.
Joining me for the preview are TJRWrestling writers Lance Augustine, Joel McIntyre, Marc Madison, Alex Podgorski and Kelly Dishnow. Here’s Alex with some thoughts.
Alex: We’re starting 2022 off on a high note. This is going to be a busy week for lots of us with several shows happening. WWE in particular are doing something new with a show on the first day of the year, presumably to start things off on the right foot. And with this show, I think they seem to be going in the right direction. This looks like it’ll be the NEW first step towards WrestleMania, so they’re putting several big matches on. There’ve been lots of rumors circulating about something big happening on this show, especially regarding the main event. Because of that, I’m curious to see how this show will go down and am looking forward to something interesting to start this new year.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.)
Kickoff Show: Cesaro & Ricochet vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland
Lance: This was thrown together and added to the preshow, but sometimes matches like that stand out. I think this has a chance to be one of those matches because of the guys involved. Holland & Sheamus are a good pairing, and Ricochet & Cesaro are old pros. I really wished they were used better, but at least they are on the show. Let’s give them the win because it just feels right.
Winners: Cesaro & Ricochet
Joel: Interesting kickoff show match. It plays up the story of Cesaro and Sheamus/Ridge. I can’t say It’s a match I’m looking forward to it. I think Sheamus and Ridge take it.
Winners: Sheamus and Ridge Holland
Marc: As a last-minute addition to the show, it is really hard to have a sense of how to feel about it. While the alliance of Sheamus and Ridge Holland has built up steam, it’s hard to forget the longstanding success of The Bar. It almost feels as though Sheamus is cheating on Cesaro with Holland. Coincidently, the same could be said about Cesaro with Ricochet. On a night where all acquaintances need be forgotten, fans will have a hard time forgetting the acquaintances on the opposite sides of the ring. If this match took place at midnight, who would be kissing who and who goes home with who?
More importantly, why is this something we’d ask? Likely a combination of hearing this is a last-minute addition, a sleep-deprived father, and the need for better COVID-19 protocol would have made for a more interesting match preview. But hey, let’s flip a coin and say how else can we elevate Holland but with a win?
Winner: Sheamus & Ridge Holland
Alex: This will be a quick, under-ten minute match with fast-paced action to set the tone for the rest of the show. The main story here is that Holland is wrestling alongside his idol, Sheamus. He helped Sheamus beat Cesaro in an important match recently, but then lost to Cesaro when they went one-on-one. There’s a simple but relatable story to be told there. Holland can help Sheamus win, but every time he’s in the ring with or in front of his idol, he chokes under the pressure. That will lead to Sheamus either turning on him and berating him, or pushing him to the extreme in order for Holland to unleash his potential. Either way, at this point it would make sense for Cesaro and Ricochet to win in under ten minutes for that story to develop properly.
Winners: Cesaro and Ricochet
Kelly: This was added last minute for something on the preshow. Ricochet was added to help even the odds up for Cesaro and I think that was a good move. We should get a great match and I don’t think that this will end the feud, likely just adding the next layer to it. I’ll go with the 50/50 booking result here.
Winner – Cesaro and Ricochet
John: There has been a story going between Cesaro and Sheamus/Holland the last few weeks while Ricochet beat Sheamus in the Gauntlet Match last week, so there is a story here. It’s good for Ridge Holland to work with talented wrestlers like Cesaro and Ricochet. It’s how a newer guy like him is going to get better. I think the heel side of Sheamus and Holland will cheat to win and probably pin Ricochet. I’d like to see Ricochet used better, but it never really happens.
Winners: Sheamus & Ridge Holland
Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss
Lance: It seems like Drew McIntyre is in line for a chance at the WWE Universal Title (depending on if you believe dirt sheets or not), but it does feel like McIntyre is getting ready for another main event push. With Reigns and Lesnar scheduled to go at it on this show and most likely at WrestleMania, they will need a buffer match for the Royal Rumble and I believe it could be McIntyre in the title match. Moss has been fine since being pulled up from NXT, but with McIntyre’s positioning, it’s hard for me to see him not winning the match.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Joel: I think this will probably be the last match Drew has before he is inserted back in the top of the card. I can’t say that I’m all too interested in this match. I feel like Drew McIntyre wins this fairly quickly and moves on.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Marc: The back and forth between McIntyre and Happy Corbin has resulted in this? In all fairness, I haven’t followed this rivalry too closely to see how this all played out. From what I can remember, there was an issue over a sword, and then the sword was stuck in a desk that only McIntyre could remove. But it’s been essentially a two-on-one feud with McIntyre against Corbin and Moss. As for a winner of this match, McIntyre should be the one going over.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Alex: This comes across as a pure ‘sacrificial lamb’ sort of match to me. Moss is a guy that, despite having a solid look for a WWE wrestler, just isn’t at that top level just yet. As such, there’s no way he, a Happy Corbin flunkie, will score a win over McIntyre, one of the most heavily-pushed wrestlers of the past five years. The only real question is how this match will end. Knowing that the Royal Rumble is around the corner and McIntyre will be a heavy favorite for that event, I wouldn’t be surprised if McIntyre obliterates Moss and Corbin in just over ten minutes. Such a match should probably be shorter, but it’ll probably go longer so that WWE can pad out the show’s length.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Kelly: This should be an easy win for McIntyre, protecting Corbin from having to take a loss.
Winner – Drew McIntyre
John: I’m a bit surprised that this match was made for the PPV, but if Drew is going to squash somebody in a few minutes then it might as well be a lower-card guy like Moss. Better him than Sami Zayn or somebody else that I like. Drew should win a short match here. Maybe they’ll use it as a feel good buffer match in between some of the title matches later in the show. Drew will likely have a strong January as a favorite to win the Royal Rumble, but I don’t see him winning that match like he did in 2020. I still have high hopes for Drew as a face on Smackdown.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Raw Tag Team Championships: RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) (c) vs. The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)
Lance: RK-Bro has had some singles success recently on TV, but their focus has been on defending the Tag Team Titles since winning them. I think Riddle has benefited from a veteran like Orton and working closely with him has probably done a lot for his in-ring work. The Street Profits are a fun team that has held the gold before. This should be competitive for the most part, but I think it’s time to take the titles of Riddle & Orton, which could lead to a blowoff match at WrestleMania.
Winners and NEW Raw Tag Team Champions: The Street Profits
Joel: I’m really looking forward to this one. The Street Profits had a bit more of an edge last week. We are getting ready to enter Wrestlemania season, so the countdown is officially on for when Randy Orton turns on Riddle. I don’t think it happens here. This will be a great match. I think it’ll get 10-15 minutes. RK-Bro gets the win…but the turn is coming.
Winners/STILL Raw Tag Team Champions: RK-Bro
Marc: This came about as The Street Profits won the RK-Bro Invitational to crown a new contender for the titles. We’re likely to get a competitive match between these four. RK-Bro have been fairly entertaining with everything they say, do, and how they present themselves. John has mentioned in the past how it likely won’t last, and he’s probably right. But they seem to be so head and shoulders above the competition that it’s hard to root against them to not retain here at Day 1.
If a split happens, as mentioned by others in the past, it will likely come leading into WrestleMania rather than here.
Winners: RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle)
Alex: Have you ever wondered why titles in wrestling don’t end up meaning anything? It’s because they get passed around between short title reigns. For this match, I’m hoping Orton and Riddle get different treatment and have a very long reign. To do that, they’ll have to overcome Ford and Dawkins, and I think they’ll do it. The oddball pairing of Orton and Riddle tends to work, and both of them have performed well in the ring as of late. Plus, WWE likes to promote records when it makes their wrestlers look good, and IIRC Orton recently broke some record about most WWE PPV appearances. I think he’ll continue adding more feathers to his cap when he and Riddle beat the Street Profits after a pretty competitive fifteen minutes.
Winners and STILL RAW Tag Team Champions: RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle)
Kelly: This will be a great match between two great teams. I was kinda hoping it would be the Mysterios instead of The Street Profits, but I’m good either way. It’s still a little too soon to pull the plug on RK-Bro but the split is going to be coming soon. They should be given plenty of time to work some magic. It should be a really fun match and a contender for the opener, while I believe Usos/New Day is the better opener choice. I don’t foresee RK-Bro dropping the tag titles until their split.
Winner – RK-Bro
John: There’s not much of a story here since they are two face teams, but that’s okay with me because I really like both teams. The Street Profits won a four-team tournament to get a title shot. Randy Orton has done a great job of working with Riddle. As I reflected back on the year in my 2021 WWE Johnny Awards column (cheap shill), I commented that Orton must be so happy being part of this story considering how bad the feud with Bray Wyatt/Alexa Bliss was earlier in the year. Riddle is very likable as a goofy, stoner babyface that can really go when the bell rings. I like The Street Profits and it wouldn’t shock me if they won the titles before WrestleMania. That Orton/Riddle split may be teased around Royal Rumble time. Not yet, though. I feel like the champs are going to retain here.
Winners: RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle)
Edge vs. The Miz
Lance: These two have been trading barbs on the microphone over the last couple of weeks, and I have enjoyed most of it. The timing of the segment being right after Punk and MJF had their outstanding back and forth is questionable, but it is still better than most of the other things on WWE TV. I have liked Edge since I was a kid, and The Miz isn’t nearly as bad of a worker as some people might think. I have a sneaking suspicion that Maryse and Beth Phoenix will play a role in the feud, but that’s down the road. For this show, I think The Miz picking up a win here gives him some credibility back after being on a hiatus from TV.
Winner: The Miz
Joel: This is one of my favorite matches on the card. I didn’t think it would be when the match was made, but they’ve sold me on it. The Miz with Maryse instantly makes him a top talent. I think Edge is buying his time until his Wrestlemania program. I do believe Beth eventually gets inserted into the feud to combat Maryse. With that said, I think The Miz gets the win and the rivalry continues until the Rumble.
Winner: The Miz
Marc: We think we know you. Well, we think we know this feud, but the one person we’d think would have gotten involved to this point hasn’t. From nearly every forum, group, or chat with someone, there is someone clamoring for Edge’s wife Beth Phoenix to appear in this feud. If there is any time for her to get involved and appear, this would be the night. For both involved, it’s been a great opportunity for both men to get the better of the other on the microphone.
This story has had its moments of nostalgia with Edge tapping into the past with the Brood light and music appearing. But how will they fair here? Will Edge get the same kind of match he got out of Seth? It isn’t likely. But a win here for the Rated R Superstar could be what we think we know…will happen?
Alex: They’ve tried to build this up as some big blood feud, and so far it seems to be working. They’ve traded barbs in talking segments, but now is the time for action. I think this will be an intense match, but it won’t be the end of things. If there’s one thing Miz is very good at (as shown by his 15-year career on the main roster), it’s being an obnoxious jackass that you want to see get what he deserves. He’s really good at making people hate him, which is why one of two things will happen at Day 1. One, Edge will get so furious he’ll snap and disqualify himself and then get mocked for it afterward by Miz who’ll think he got the last laugh. Or two, Miz will do some underhanded shtick (possibly involving his wife Maryse) and get a cheap win. Either one of those directions will lead to a rematch at the Rumble that will lead to the opposite man winning. That’ll be followed by a tiebreaker at WrestleMania involving both of them and their respective wives wrestling as well (in a sort of repeat of WrestleMania 33). It might not be the most innovative direction, but it’s predictable and it actually would make sense in this context.
Winner via shenanigans: The Miz
Kelly: I hate to say it, but I am just not feeling this feud. The promos have been good, outside of the Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony, but I just can’t get invested in this feud. I can think of far better opponents for Edge right now. I think that we will get a Beth Phoenix appearance here to counteract any Maryse interference. I’ll go with an Edge win and hope he moves on to a better opponent.
Winner – Edge
John: I don’t believe this is a feud that is going to carry all the way to WrestleMania, but they could get two PPV matches out of it. They could have Miz win here, then interact in the Royal Rumble and then have another match at Fastlane or Super Showdown or whatever takes place before WrestleMania. I’d much rather see Edge against Kevin Owens or AJ Styles at WrestleMania, for what it’s worth.
Since everybody is mentioning Beth Phoenix, what I think happens is that Maryse plays a factor in the finish. Maybe she trips Edge or fakes an injury to distract the referee to allow Miz a chance to cheat to win, I don’t know. After that is when you bring Beth in because Edge can say he has somebody watching his back to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’ll go Miz winning here and then Edge wins when they have a rematch.
Winner: The Miz
SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (c) vs. The New Day (King Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)
Lance: These two teams have been in the tag team division of WWE for a long time. They have done battle a few times, and for the most part, they have done well. The Usos are in the midst of the best run of their career and people will point to them in this era when talking about their greatest achievements. The New Day has been a favorite of Vinny Mac and the fact that they are still around, proves that point. Plus, two of the three members have gone on to win big singles titles in WWE, so that’s not too shabby. I can’t see The Usos losing the titles just yet, but this is a toss-up.
Winner(s) and STILL Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The Usos
Joel: There are plenty of rivalries that I get tired of seeing the matches for. This is not one of them. I could see The Usos and New Day wrestle every week. I feel like The Usos will win this one. The storyline with Roman isn’t going to fall off the rails yet. I think Wrestlemania may be the beginning of the end but until then, I think both will stay on top. This will probably be the match of the night if they are given time.
Winners/STILL Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The Usos
Marc: It’s been done time and time again, and yet if any match is a sure thing to be a great tag team match, it is this one. The history between The Usos and New Day has been longstanding. We’ve seen them in a cage, a Hell in a Cell, and moments in which one team would compromise their success for the betterment of the other (see; The Usos forfeiting a match so Kofi Kingston could go to WrestleMania).
These teams are sure to give all involved another solid match. The result is a toss-up as a loss by The Usos doesn’t stray away from the family storyline of: “I hate it when my cousins lose, but they’re family, and we can make it through anything. “That said, Zelina Vega is a co-holder of the Women’s Tag Team Championships, and she’s a Queen, so anything is possible. For the sake of the storyline, let’s go with The New Day.
Winners: AND NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions, The New Day
Alex: This will be your token demolition derby match with lots of crazy high spots and ‘this is awesome’ chants from fans. After all, these two teams know each other incredibly well and have had several great matches together in the past. They know each other deeply, which leaves us with an important question. Since this is a regular match without a stipulation, will they give us yet another match that we’ve seen before, or will they tell a different story and build upon what they’ve done in the past? That, I think, will be the difference between a good match from these four wrestlers and a great match. If they give us more of the same, then there won’t be any reason to watch anymore. As for who wins, I’m going with the Usos. As a unit alongside Reigns, they’ve proven themselves to be an incredible force, and I think it’s too early for them to lose their titles. They need to lose them when such a loss would really mean something, which unfortunately isn’t this show.
Winners and STILL Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Kelly: This should be the opening match. We’ve seen a lot between these two teams lately and I expect this to be the blow off to their feud. Both teams need to move on from here, regardless of the result. I think The Usos will retain to keep the Bloodline angle running strong for now but I can also see The New Day winning here as well. This match result could foreshadow the Universal Title match but it shouldn’t have any bearing on it. I think I’m just not ready for another New Day tag title run right now. I think the King Woods gimmick needs to run its course first before there’s another New Day tag title run.
Winner – The Usos
John: I don’t know how many Usos vs. New Day matches I have reviewed in the last seven years, but it’s a lot and every time they wrestle it’s always going to be in that three-star plus range. I’d like to see some newer teams emerge in the tag team division although I understand why WWE wants to keep featuring New Day since Xavier Woods won King of the Ring and Kofi Kingston is so reliable. I feel like The Usos could lose the titles at any time and then get them back soon after. I just wonder if WWE can build up other teams because it’s important to plan for the future. Anyway, I’ll go with The Usos retaining, but I think a title change is possible so WWE can say “it’s a New Day in a New Year” or something like that. It should be the usual great match in the 10-15 minute range.
Winners: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Liv Morgan
Lance: Becky Lynch has been on fire since returning and, along with Charlotte, has been one of the best women’s wrestlers we have seen in this era. She has the swag, but also has the in-ring work to back it up. Liv has been up and down over the last little bit, and she hasn’t been able to have that long sustained push I am sure she was hoping for. It is a big spot to be against Lynch in a match like this, but Morgan isn’t the one to take the title.
Winner and STILL Raw Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch
Joel: This is one of the more interesting matches. With the result of their last match, It seems they are setting up for something. With as much hype that they are putting into this show, it feels like they need a title change. I feel like they are setting up for this to be Liv Morgan’s moment.
Winner/NEW Raw Women’s Champion: Liv Morgan
Marc: If any match has the potential to elevate someone from challenger to a contender, it is this one. Fans saw a good enough match between Lynch and Morgan weeks ago. It certainly set the state for Lynch to win using underhanded tactics. A match with a mixed result is another possibility to help forge their rivalry forward. Unfortunately, we could see it all end here with Morgan losing here, and the dream ends.
That said, another match result that leaves it open for the two to have a third match at the Royal Rumble is intriguing. What if Morgan wins, but not the title? We have a moment in where Morgan/Lynch III could square off to end their feud at the end of the month and open the door for another challenger leading into WrestleMania.
Winner: via disqualification, Liv Morgan (Becky Lynch remains champion)
Alex: I’m hoping that WWE does something unexpected and adds a special stipulation to this match. After all, Morgan had a title shot earlier and lost due to Lynch using the ropes. Maybe I’m being a bit too hopeful, but it’s a new year and I’m trying to start it on a more optimistic front. Anyway, this match will likely go between twelve and fifteen minutes and will probably start with Morgan taking Lynch down and beating her up to get revenge for her earlier cheating. From there, Lynch will find some cheap avenue to get an unfair advantage and will either make Morgan tap out or pass out. Personally, I’d rather see the latter because it would be a Steve Austin-esque booking direction. If Morgan never gives up but passes out from the pain, people would respect her more for her toughness.
All of this is probably too much wishful thinking, but hey, it’s the first show of the year and I’m hoping WWE tries something unexpected, and why not do it here, in the division that’s in desperate need of more top stars?
Winner and STILL RAW Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch
Kelly: This match is very intriguing to me. I can see this match going either way. I can see the reasoning for Becky retaining the title and can see the reasoning for Liv winning the title. Liv should be Raw Women’s Champion at some point in 2022. I think the much better story would be Becky cheating to win again thus sending Liv on to win the 2022 Women’s Royal Rumble and that is where Liv will finally defeat Becky for the title. Becky will still make Liv look like a legit star after this match and in the eventual title change.
Winner – Becky Lynch
John: The only women’s match on the card (unless something else gets added) has been built up well over the last two months with Liv Morgan stepping up as a viable challenger to Becky Lynch’s title. I just think about the women’s Raw roster right now and how Bianca Belair failed to take that title off Becky Lynch in the second half of 2021. My feeling is that they are going to go back to Belair vs. Lynch at WrestleMania and Becky’s still going to have that title when she drops it to Belair. With that said, if Morgan wins, I would be happy for her because I think she works hard, she’s popular with the fans and has earned more opportunities. I just feel like it’s still going to be Becky’s time as champion. If Morgan does win, maybe she drops it back to Becky in a month or two and if that happens then that could do more harm than good. This is a tough call. I’m just going with Lynch because I think about the next three months when WWE goes back to the Bianca Belair push on Raw again.
Winner: Becky Lynch
WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way Match: Big E (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Lashley
Lance: This is the most interesting match on the card, at least to me, with the outcome not being as clear as some of the other matches. All of these guys in the match have held with the WWE Championship or Universal Championship, so they are all used to being in a big spot. Big E had a nice title win in September that I was excited for, but since then, his run has been kind of forgettable. It’s not his fault, he just hasn’t felt like “the man”. He beat Lashley for the title, who was coming off an awesome run with the title himself. I like both Owens and Rollins and that makes picking a winner here that much more difficult.
I would like to think Big E retains and takes the title to Mania, but the way things are shaping up on the card, I don’t know if that would happen or not. This will be competitive, but at the end of the day, I have a feeling Lashley might be in line for another run with the title. I do believe two or three of these guys will be featured at WrestleMania for the same title.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Bobby Lashley
Joel: This is another interesting match. My heart tells me Big E. Before Kevin Owens re-signed, my gut told me he was taking the pin. Now, I’m not so sure. I could see them giving Owens the title as a way to thank him for staying. I’m intrigued by the apparent babyface turn of Bobby Lashley. I still can’t see Big E dropping the title right now. It’s going to be a great match, but I think Big E keeps the title.
Winner/STILL WWE Champion: Big E
Marc: This match really has a lot of fun outcomes that could come from it. Each of the men involved have held either the WWE or Universal Championship. They all have a legitimate claim to the title and, in doing so, could walk out the champion. The match involves four different personalities but, in doing so, also very different wrestlers that have been one’s the fans have been drawn to.
While some may be cynical about Big E’s title reign, I’m not. A match like this really puts the best the Raw brand has to offer in one match and really help to elevate E in the process. Whether I learn more with my heart than my head, I think E retains. A rematch one on one with Bobby Lashley at a future event is quite intriguing.
Winner: AND STILL WWE Champion, Big E
Alex: Assuming the match isn’t changed due to Seth Rollins announcing he has COVID, I can really see this match going in one direction. Big E will find himself surrounded by three enemies, including a united front in the form of Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens. Lashley might try to even the odds with him here and there throughout the match, but for the most part Big E will fight alone. And even though he’ll put up a valiant effort, I think he’ll end up overpowered and lose, which will set up a more interesting story of him chasing the title and reclaiming his glory.
The question is, who gets the fall and the title? I’m going with Owens here, and not just because he allowed Vince to breathe a sigh of relief and re-sign with WWE instead of going to AEW. Lashley’s story as dominant champion has already been told and it was pretty good. Seth is ok as well, but I’m a bit tired of seeing him with the belt, especially when he’s portrayed as a chickens**t nine times out of ten. And as I said earlier, Big E just doesn’t do it for me. No matter what he does, I don’t see that serious and focused edge that should come from the guy holding the most coveted belt in the company. That leaves Owens, who will pull a surprise win by screwing Rollins over and stealing the belt. Doing it that way will set up two stories for the Rumble and possibly into WrestleMania: Big E exacting his revenge on each of them starting with Lashley, and Rollins and Owens fighting over the title.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Kevin Owens
Kelly: Wow, there are so many different ways that this match can go. All four competitors have a good case to walk out of the match as WWE Champion. Bobby Lashley had a strong run earlier this year and should be a multi-item champion by the end of his career. Kevin Owens just inked a new deal and should have another title run or two in him. Seth Rollins has been on a really great run as of late and a title run right now with Becky still champion could make for some fun TV. A Big E win here would be a major capstone win that he should have gotten at the Survivor Series.
I want Big E to retain and carry on as WWE Champion, but I just get the feeling that this match is just a way to get the title off of him without him actually having to take the fall.
Winner AND NEW WWE Champion: Seth Rollins
John: I think this match has been built up very well. I realize some fans probably want to complain since it was a Big E vs. Rollins singles match, then Owens was added to make it a triple threat and then Lashley was added to make it a four-way. However, I don’t really mind it because I think these four guys are outstanding performers and WWE really structures these main event level 4-way matches very well.
I like Big E a lot and it’s been fun seeing him with the WWE Championship since September, but I get the feeling that either Rollins or Owens is going to win. We know Owens signed a new deal with WWE recently, so I think it’s certainly possible that Owens gets the WWE Title. Maybe they have Edge beat him for the title at WrestleMania to have Edge complete his comeback by winning gold again. Rollins is another good option because he’s a great heel that always has awesome matches. Plus, it’s been a few years since Rollins has held a major title in WWE. Why not now? It would be fun to see again. A Lashley win is fine too, but I think with him it’s more about him potentially turning face and maybe he’ll have a rivalry with Owens or Rollins after that.
My lean is going with Rollins, but I think Big E retaining is a strong possibility as well. They could always have Big E retain, then Rollins faces Big E in a singles match at Royal Rumble and that’s where Rollins gets the titles. I just feel like there needs to be a major title change at this show and since I’m avoiding title changes in other matches, I’ll go with it here. If Seth isn’t there due to COVID reasons then I’ll go with Big E retaining the title. This might be the match of the night and I see it going around 15-20 minutes. I’ll be very surprised if it’s not a great match.
Winner AND NEW WWE Champion: Seth Rollins
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
Lance: These two, along with Paul Heyman, have been a part of the best story in WWE in 2021. Reigns is at the absolute top of his game right now and has been a good heel and great champion since winning the title over a year and a half ago. Lesnar took some time off during the pandemic, and when he came back, he had a new look and a fresh babyface character. I think Lesnar has been great, which is no surprise, and these two have really brought out the best in each other. Even with the Heyman promo on Smackdown and the package WWE produced, I still think he will play a role in this feud.
If you wanted to give the title to Lesnar, this show is probably the one to do it on, although I don’t know what his dates look like coming up. It’s my belief that Reigns will keep the title here, and lose it at WrestleMania. As much as I like Lesnar, I would much rather see Reigns put over a younger guy that might deserve a chance with the title. If it is Lesnar vs. Reigns at WrestleMania, I can’t see Reigns beating him three times since Roman won at Crown Jewel, a possible win here and then WrestleMania after that.
Winner and STILL Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
Joel: Probably the most intriguing match on the card for the most intriguing story in wrestling. I think this match will get plenty of time. I think Paul Heyman will return and cost Brock Lesnar the match thus revealing the swerve. This story has gotten my attention more than anything else so far. I’m still not bored by Roman’s title reign and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.
Winner/STILL Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
Marc: I’m unsure what to think of this match. On the one hand, we’ve seen them face each other time and time again. Both have played the role of face and heel. The advocate has been a special counsel. How will this match be any different? What will make fans care more about this? Is it the loss of the championship by Reigns to Lesnar? Both have defeated the other and done so in convincing fashion.
I’m unsure how excited this matchup should make me. Could other variables like Sami Zayn play a role in the past weeks run this course in this match? Will Paul Heyman play a key role once again in this match, as many have rumored? Does a win for either man really excite the fans? I’m not sure. We’ve seen this narrative played out in the past; however, if it leads to a Reigns/Rock eventual matchup down the line to humble the head of the table with the creator of the table.
Winner: AND STILL Universal Championship, Roman Reigns.
Alex: As I write this, Roman’s reign as Universal Champion stands at ~485 days. He only needs to hold the belt for 18 more days to break Lesnar’s record. And personally, I want to see that happen. Lesnar doesn’t need to cut Roman’s momentum from underneath him just create a nonsensical swerve. There are many fans that still care about statistics and numbers, even if WWE management doesn’t. As such, having Reigns promote himself as the longest-reigning Universal Champion is a simple and easy marketing tactics to sell tickets and interest for WWE’s upcoming shows during their busiest time of the year. Lesnar winning would accomplish nothing; he doesn’t show up often throughout the year and many people bemoaned his time as absentee champion in 2014-15. Reigns, however, still has potential to be a solid draw and an entertaining act as long as he remains champion. There’s an easy story to tell of different challengers rising to the occasion to try and dethrone him. To make sure that happens, I see Reigns winning at Day 1. But he won’t just win; he’ll win decisively. Even if Reigns is supposed to be a heel, I see him planting dropping Lesnar to the canvas and winning with such decisive finality that Lesnar will have no reason to challenge him in the future.
Also, for what it’s worth, what outcome does Lesnar winning yield? That would lead to a complete repeat of 2015 with Reigns winning the Royal Rumble and challenging Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania. But we’ve already been down that road. It’s part of WWE history. There’s no way anyone in that company would be so obtuse that they’d re-hash the same direction just to re-write history in their favor, is there?
Winner and STILL WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
Kelly: My initial thought was Roman Smash. We all know that Round 3 will be at WrestleMania. With the latest Covid issues within the WWE, it’ll all come down to if Roman is going to stay around or walk away for a little bit like he did initially. Roman has not broken Brock’s title reign record yet, which I think the whole point of all of this is supposed to be. I think Roman will stick around for now, so Roman Smash.
Winner – Roman Reigns
John: I have been writing for weeks that the obvious result here is that Roman Reigns wins thanks to some interference of some kind from Paul Heyman. It was a few weeks ago when Reigns “fired” Heyman due to Heyman telling Reigns that he was protecting Reigns from Brock Lesnar. Roman didn’t like that, so that was it for Heyman. I can see them having a spot in the match similar to what happened at Crown Jewel when Heyman tossed the Universal Title towards Reigns and Lesnar without favoring one guy over the other. This time, I think Heyman will do something to make it look like he’s siding with Lesnar (since Reigns fired Heyman), but instead, Heyman will help Reigns leading to Roman getting the win.
There are a lot of reports from the Wrestling Observer about the long-term story being that WWE likely wants to do Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania. The Crown Jewel match ended in controversy, this one will probably end in controversy and maybe WrestleMania is where Lesnar beats Reigns for the Universal Title. It wouldn’t shock me if Lesnar won the Royal Rumble in four weeks time even though I know people will counter my take saying that Lesnar doesn’t “need” to win. Of course, he doesn’t need it, but sometimes the story matters more than anything and if you have Lesnar get screwed out of the title again here then having him win Royal Rumble will make fans happy again since they like babyface Lesnar. Even if Brock didn’t win the Rumble, he can still obviously get to the Reigns match at WrestleMania.
These guys usually have good matches together and I think the Atlanta crowd will be hot in terms of supporting Lesnar throughout the match. Sometimes Brock will have a 20-minute match, but I think it will be more like 10-13 minutes here. My pick is Reigns winning in controversial fashion once again.
Winner: Roman Reigns
If you didn’t see the great Reigns/Lesnar video package that was shown on Raw, check it out below.
The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most
Lance: WWE Championship Fatal Four-Way.
Joel: Liv Morgan vs Becky Lynch.
Marc: WWE Championship Fatal Four-Way.
Alex: Reigns vs. Lesnar.
John: WWE Championship Fatal Four-Way. I think it will be a great match and I’m intrigued by the booking decision.
The Match I Care About The Least
Lance: Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss.
Joel: Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss.
Marc: Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss.
Alex: RK-Bro vs. Street Profits.
John: Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss. Drew is one of my favorites, but this isn’t a major PPV match for him.
Lance: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar.
Joel: Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar.
Marc: The Usos vs. New Day.
Alex: WWE Championship Fatal-4-Way (between 20 and 25 minutes).
Kelly: WWE Championship Fatal-4-Way.
John: WWE Championship Fatal-4-Way going about 20 minutes.
Lance: Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss.
Joel: Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss.
Marc: Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan.
Alex: Usos vs. New Day (12 minutes max).
Kelly: Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss.
John: Drew McIntyre vs. Riddick Moss. Drew should win in under seven minutes. Claymore Kick and it’s over.
Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)
Lance: I will go with a 6.5 here because I think it’s a cool concept to have a show on New Year’s Day, but the card is so-so. There are going to be some standout moments, but for the most part, I think it’ll be an average show.
Joel: 9. I’m probably biased because I’m going to be there but I feel like they’ve done a good job building this show. That’s probably because there was no pay per view in December. The more time you have to build your shows, the better they usually are. It’s not that complicated.
Alex: 6.5 – The lineup for this show is ok, but I don’t think it’s enough to set the world on fire. Then again, January is going to be a super busy month for fans and us on the site here as well. There’s the Royal Rumble (which I’m always looking forward to), plus a big Dynamite show in the first week. Then there’s New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom, which is over three nights this year. And you can bet we’ll have that covered for you like we cover all these big shows.
Kelly: 5 – It’s an interesting concept that the WWE is going to try out and I think it might be successful if executed properly. Of course, it could go horribly wrong as well.
John: It’s about a 7.5 out of 10 for me. There are a lot of good matches on this card that should be above three stars with a few of them likely reaching that four-star level. Aside from McIntyre/Moss being a shorter match, I think everything else will get plenty of time and be very good in terms of in-ring action. For fans that need more than just great matches, it may be a disappointing show. One of the issues I have is that they are all regular matches. Let’s get some stipulations out there or come up with match concepts to differentiate one or two matches from the rest of the card. It just feels too basic of a lineup. With that said, I’m excited for the show just to see how some of the big matches go.
John: I’ll be back with a review of WWE Day 1 on TJRWrestling.net on Saturday night, so check that out live or any time after it’s over.
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