POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WWE Royal Rumble Preview, Ronda Rousey

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2022/01/28/pollocks-news-update-wwe-royal-rumble-preview-ronda-rousey/

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live tonight at 11:15 p.m. ET with Wai Ting and I reviewing Friday Night SmackDown and AEW Rampage. We will also take your calls to discuss the Royal Rumble on Saturday or any other topics you wish to discuss. The show will be live and available afterward for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**A new POST Puroresu will be released on Saturday with WH Park being joined by Joey Bay to discuss all the latest news in Japanese wrestling.

**Karen Peterson will have coverage of the Stardom card that takes place early Saturday morning from Dolphins Arena in Nagoya. The card is headlined by Syuri’s first defense of the World of Stardom title against MIRAI.

**Wai Ting and I will be live on Saturday night for the Royal Rumble POST Show immediately following the event. We will be live for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café. The free version of the POST Show will be up early Sunday morning.

**The deadline to enter the POST Wrestling Royal Rumble Pool is Friday at 3 p.m. ET and the winners will be announced on Rewind-A-Raw. It is free to enter.

POST DAILY NEWS SHOW

-WWE Royal Rumble Preview
-Guest appearance by Ariel Helwani from St. Louis
-Jonathan Gresham off PWG’s BOLA
-AEW Beach Break ratings
-Friday Night SmackDown & AEW Rampage tonight

WWE ROYAL RUMBLE PREVIEW

WWE presents the Royal Rumble on Saturday night from The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Over 35,000 tickets are out for the event and the show has been promoted strongly this year on the back of two big championship matches and the Rumble matches, which always generate maximum buzz and speculation. Thus far, assessing SummerSlam, Day 1, and the Royal Rumble, it appears the Saturday night experiment has worked for the ticket sales.

The championship picture is more intriguing after the backup plan of placing Brock Lesnar into the five-way match at Day 1 and putting the title on him after Roman Reigns was removed from the show. It creates the intrigue of which title could change hands or if they go with a new idea and do Champion vs. Champion at WrestleMania. Dave Meltzer reports that as of this past week, Reigns and Lesnar were still scheduled to be the Sunday night main event of WrestleMania.

The men’s Rumble is an interesting one because there isn’t a slam dunk option. Big E. is the betting favorite (from BetOnline) followed by Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Drew McIntyre, The Rock, Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Omos, Austin Theory, Damien Priest, Edge, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Riddle.

With two championships and two nights of WrestleMania, it gives you a lot of latitude of who you put over in the match. In 2018, Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated Roman Reigns last to win the match, yet it was Reigns closing WrestleMania in the major title match while Nakamura was thrown into the middle of the show.

Big E. would seem like the favorite and would instantly rejuvenate him after the sudden title loss and little follow-up over the past month. Omos winning is certainly possible as it’s been years since they have gone so hard promoting and protecting a big man like this and they will want to reap those rewards at some point.

More than most years, you could see one or both losers in the title matches re-appearing in the Rumble and that would instantly add more star power. The field also shows you the lack of top stars they have created where it’s hard to envision people at the Finn Balor, Riddle, or even Damien Priest level winning and those are names that should be top-level but each seem to be missing something. Balor has felt more like an afterthought than any point on his main roster run with the recent loss to Austin Theory.

For the women’s match, Ronda Rousey is expected to be on the show in some form or fashion. It doesn’t guarantee she is in the Rumble but if she is, it would be hard to fathom she doesn’t win the match unless she is eliminated as the start of a major story. With Rousey on the books for WrestleMania, this is the obvious event to re-introduce her and will be a major addition to WWE’s programming for ‘Mania season.

PWinsider.com has confirmed that Melina, Cameron (Ariane Andrew), and Aksana are slated to be part of the Rumble.

They went a different route by announcing many of the surprises ahead of time, which ended up helping the promotion of the match, especially with Mickie James. The Knockouts champion has stated publicly she is hopeful of coming out with her championship and her ‘Hardcore Country’ theme as opposed to her WWE theme. IMPACT did a very effective job of taking the attention and trying to run with it and was helped by the news coming out on the night before their pay-per-view where James was already scheduled to headline with Deonna Purrazzo.

In terms of a winner, Rousey and Bianca Belair are the betting favorites followed by Alexa Bliss, Asuka (out since July), Bayley (has been out since July with a torn ACL), Rhea Ripley, Charlotte Flair, Raquel Gonzalez, Sasha Banks (the injury is legitimate and she is not expected to be on the show), Liv Morgan, Paige, Naomi, Io Shirai, Lita, Shayna Baszler, and Mandy Rose. The most hilarious option is Candice LeRae, who is pregnant and listed at 100/1 odds, when in fact, her odds are exactly 0 percent.

In the other matches, Brock Lesnar is a -230 favorite over Bobby Lashley, Roman Reigns is -240 against Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch is a huge -1200 favorite over Doudrop, and Edge & Beth Phoenix are listed at -500 against The Miz & Maryse.

Here is the full card with the kickoff at 7 p.m. ET and the main show at 8:
*WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (champion) vs. Bobby Lashley
*WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (champion) vs. Seth Rollins
*Mixed Tag: Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz & Maryse
*Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (champion) vs. Doudrop
*30-man Royal Rumble (Announced: Angelo Dawkins, Montez Ford, Rey Mysterio, Dominik, Austin Theory, Johnny Knoxville, Sheamus, Damian Priest, Big E., AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Omos, Randy Orton, Riddle, Chad Gable, Otis, Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, Kofi Kingston, and Sami Zayn)
*30-woman Royal Rumble (Announced: Charlotte Flair, Bianca Belair, Liv Morgan, Rhea Ripley, Nikki A.S.H., Tamina, Carmella, Queen Zelina, Dana Brooke, Lita, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Shotzi, Natalya, Shayna Baszler, Aliyah, Naomi, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, Mickie James, and Summer Rae)

WRESTLING NEWS

**Ronda Rousey appears to be a lock to appear for Saturday’s show, the only question is how she is utilized on the show and the angle coming out of it. Dave Meltzer had previously reported that she is on the books for WrestleMania, so the Rumble makes all the sense in the world to be the show where she is brought back and gain the most attention for a return.

**Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri on the eve of the Royal Rumble. WWE has announced the following for tonight’s show at 8 p.m. ET on Fox:
*Seth Rollins delivers a personal message to Roman Reigns
*Naomi vs. Sonya Deville
*Big E. & Kofi Kingston vs. Happy Corbin & Madcap Moss
*Cesaro & Ricochet vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland (Holland’s first match since Day 1 where he broke his nose)

**Here are the matches set for AEW Rampage, which were taped on Wednesday in Cleveland and airs at 10 p.m. ET on TNT and streaming on TSN Direct in Canada:
*AEW Tag Team Championship: Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus vs. Private Party
*TBS Championship: Jade Cargill (champion) vs. Julia Hart
*FTR vs. Lee Johnson & Brock Anderson
*Jon Moxley vs. Anthony Bowens

**Randy Orton was interviewed by Ariel Helwani of BT Sport to promote the Royal Rumble. It was very interesting to hear him speak about his reluctance to do interviews as he doesn’t look forward to them, gets nervous, and doesn’t know if he is a great interview. Orton discussed breaking into the industry and the doors that were opened for him by his Dad and working with Tom Prichard to learn the fundamentals and was signed right away, largely based on his look and lineage.

Orton was also on The Ringer Wrestling Show and described his bout with COVID-19 last year that removed him from television. Orton appeared on the June 21st edition of the show and the following week he was off with the explanation on television that he wasn’t there “due to circumstances beyond our control”. Orton was gone for seven weeks and didn’t return until the August 9th edition of Raw: (Transcript is courtesy of Gisberto Guzzo and Jeremy Lambert at Fightful.com)

In June, I got COVID, I missed seven weeks of TV because my blood inflammation levels were so high that they were worried it was going to turn into Myocarditis or Endocarditis or something. I had all this time and I had lost 20 pounds during COVID, I had it so bad. I was stick thin. I was like, ‘Okay, I have a chance to rebuild here. I’m either going to do it this way or do it that way.’ I cut the alcohol, cut the sugar, started training a little harder, started seeing another physical therapist for some issues with my shoulder and back because we’re always staying up on these injuries. Here we are six months later and I’m feeling the best that I’ve felt physically since I can remember.

**Brandon Thurston has the quarter-hour breakdown for AEW Beach Break on Wednesday. The show started off big with the peak in overall viewership of 1,222,000 and maintained for the second quarter with the ladder match occupying the first half of the show. The ladder match started with 565,000 in 18-49 and grew in the second quarter and those were the high points of the show.

**WWE is advertising Brock Lesnar for the Elimination Chamber card on February 19th in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. They are also advertising Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch for the show.

**In an interesting stat that Sheamus mentioned this week, he won the Royal Rumble exactly ten years ago to the day in the same city of St. Louis as this year’s event. It is also Sheamus’ birthday today as he turns 44.

**Stardom presents its Nagoya Supreme Fight 2022 pay-per-view card early Saturday morning at 3 a.m. ET from Dolphins Arena in Nagoya, which Karen Peterson will be covering for the site. Below is the lineup:
*World of Stardom: Syuri (champion) vs. MIRAI
*World of Stardom Contendership: Mayu Iwatani vs. Giulia vs. Tam Nakano
*Wonder of Stardom: Saya Kamitani (champion) vs. Unagi Sayaka
*Goddesses of Stardom: Hazuki & Koguma (champions) vs. Maika & Himeka
*SWA World Title: Mina Shirakawa vs. Thekla
*Utami Hayashishita & AZM vs. Momo Watanabe & Starlight Kid
*Future of Stardom: Hanan (champion) vs. Lady C
*Battle Royal: Saki Kashima, Fukigen Death, Rina, Waka Tsukiyama, Mai Sakurai & Momo Kohgo

**PWG presents its annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament on Saturday & Sunday from The Globe Theatre in Los Angeles. Both nights are sold out and is one of the major independent events of the year, although there is no ability to watch this show live unless you are in attendance. Jonathan Gresham announced on Friday that he is off the shows after coming down with COVID and was the reason he missed last Sunday’s GCW card at the Hammerstein Ballroom. As of this writing, PWG has not announced a replacement, although, with the shows sold out, they could leave it as a surprise. Below is the loaded line-up for the first night with winners advancing to compete on Sunday:
*Aramis vs. Rey Horus
*Daniel Garcia vs. Kevin Blackwood
*Jack Cartwheel vs. Lio Rush
*Alex Shelley vs. Lee Moriarty
*JD Drake vs. Black Taurus
*Davey Richards vs. TBA (replacement for Gresham)
*JONAH vs. Buddy Matthews
*Bandido vs. Mike Bailey

**GCW is beginning to announce its shows for The Collective as part of WrestleMania week in Dallas, Texas. The big news is that there will be two nights of Joey Janela’s Spring Break from Fair Park in Dallas, which is the location for all GCW events that week. Below is the current set of shows announced for The Collective that will be streaming on FITE TV:
*Thursday, March 31 – Glory Pro at 11 a.m.
*Thursday, March 31 – Joey Janela’s Spring Break 6 – Part 1 at 8 p.m.
*Thursday, March 31 – For the Culture at 11:59 p.m.
*Friday, April 1 – Gringo Loco’s The WRLD on Lucha at 8 p.m.
*Saturday, April 2 – The Greatest Clusterfuck at 12:01 a.m.
*Saturday, April 2 – Mission Pro Wrestling at 3 p.m.
*Effy’s Big Gay Brunch – Details TBA

**Kurt Angle has been spotted in St. Louis with a picture posted by Wrestling INC. It didn’t appear he was dressing up in disguise either.

**Edge & Beth Phoenix were doing the media rounds this week to promote the mixed tag match on Saturday. They spoke with Muscle & Fitness and noted that their two kids would be attending their first pro wrestling show on Saturday. Edge discussed the process of recovery and maintaining his physique and conditioning at the age of 48:

You know, at 48 years old, it takes a lot longer to recover than it did at 28 and I still wanna do this at a level where I make it hard for people to follow me, and that’s the goal. But, because I’m trying to live up to that, it makes getting into the gym paramount. There’s no ‘ah, I can take today off’. I can’t. I just can’t. Even if that just means stretching and cardio for that day, that has to happen and I think, really, the biggest shift for me is when it turned from motivation, and using something to motivate me, to turning into discipline and that was a huge shift in mindset to be able to pull this thing off. And we gotta wear spandex! You know, so there’s a lot of different things — OK, I gotta look the part, but I also gotta be able to move the part.

Beth Phoenix gave the following response about her future inside of the ring:

I never close any doors in wrestling, because I don’t want to be called out as a hypocrite later when it’s like ‘you’ve retired like, five times!’ So, I feel great, I don’t have any injuries that prevent me from wrestling, I don’t know what the future brings but I do know that this moment … all I can worry about is this moment in time, and if this is my last match, what a way to go out than beside my husband, in front of my kids, you know, in a stadium, and the Royal Rumble is my favorite pay-per-view so it’s got a fairy tale written all over it.

**WWE will have a special Royal Rumble edition of The Bump on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET featuring guests Paul Heyman, Steve-O, The Miz, and Maryse. It will stream on Peacock and WWE’s social channels hosted by Kayla Braxton, Matt Camp, and Ryan Pappolla.

**GCW has added a four-way match with Mascara Dorada (the former Gran Metalik in WWE), Blake Christian, ASF, and Gringo Loco for their card in Houston, Texas on February 4th.

**The promotion has also announced 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Gringo Loco for the Don’t Tell Me What To Do event in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sunday, February 20th at The Showboat.

**LA Fights has added a match between Peter Avalon and Dark Sheik for its events on Saturday, February 26th at the Ukrainian Cultural Center. The show will stream live and free on the GCW YouTube channel.

**Big Vin, who won the battle royal on the GCW card this past Sunday, will face Charles Mason on the Jersey Championship Wrestling card on February 19th in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

MMA NEWS

**During his Q&A with ESPN+, UFC president Dana White addressed his absence at the end of Saturday’s main event at UFC 270. White was not present to wrap the championship around the waist of Francis Ngannou with matchmaker Mick Maynard filling that responsibility. White also didn’t participate in the post-fight press conference as he usually does. Speaking to Laura Sanko, White addressed the issue and said he left after the co-main event “because there was stuff going on backstage that I was dealing with” and didn’t elaborate on what those issues were. He was adamant he was not being disrespectful towards Ngannou. It came after a contentious series of events between the promotion and its heavyweight champion as Ngannou spoke on The MMA Hour this past Monday that his manager was threatened with a lawsuit by UFC officials on the day of the fight for allegedly speaking with Nakisa Badarian, the business partner of Jake Paul and a former executive with the UFC.

**Francis Ngannou’s manager Marquel Martin confirmed to ESPN that that heavyweight champion will be undergoing surgery for his right knee injury that he sustained several weeks prior to the fight with Ciryl Gane. Ngannou noted after the victory against Gane that he suffered a fully torn MCL and damage to his ACL with the injury occurring on December 28th while training. Martin tells the outlet that Ngannou plans to travel back to Cameroon and will have surgery once he returns to the U.S. with an expected recovery time of nine months.

**ESPN was the first to report that one of the biggest fights of 2022 is expected to take place in May. The outlet reports that UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira will defend his championship against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 on Saturday, May 7th with a location yet to be finalized for the event. Oliveira (32-8, 1 NC) won the vacant 155-pound title last May defeating Michael Chandler, and defended the title against Dustin Poirier in December. Gaethje (23-3) challenged for the title against former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2020 where he was submitted but rebounded by defeating Michael Chandler last November at UFC 268 in one of the year’s best fights.

**Damon Martin of MMA Fighting reported that Jeremy Stephens is no longer under contract with the UFC with his deal expiring after his last fight in July. Stephens (28-19, 1 NC) would be among the longest-tenured fighters with the UFC having fought for the first time with the company in May 2007 and had 34 fights with the promotion. Stephens has struggled with his last win occurring in February 2018 and has since gone 0-5 with 1 no contest and is coming off a submission loss to Mateusz Gamrot last summer. Stephens competed against some of the top names as both a lightweight and later at featherweight with victories over such names as Rafael dos Anjos, Marcus Davis, Darren Elkins, Dennis Bermudez, Renan Barao, Gilbert Melendez, Choi Doo-ho, and Josh Emmett.

**Eagle FC, which is the promotion that Khabib Nurmagomedov is attached to as a promoter, will hold its first U.S. event tonight from Miami, Florida. The event will take place from the FLXcast Arena featuring several former UFC fighters including the return of former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. He is coming back at the age of 42 after retiring in 2018 following five consecutive losses in the UFC.

Below is the card for tonight’s event:
*Tyrone Spong vs. Sergei Kharitonov
*Rashad Evans vs. Gabriel Checco
*Ray Borg vs. Cody Gibson
*Ramazan Kuramagomedov vs. John Howard
*Raimond Magomedaliev vs. Anthony Njokuani
*Arman Ospanov vs. Dylan Salvador
*Yorgan De Castro vs. Shaun Asher
*Miles Hunsinger vs. Demarques Johnson
*Firdavs Khasanov vs. Shawn Bunch
*Sitik Muduev vs. Ayadi Majdeddine

**Bellator holds its first event of 2022 on Saturday night from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, and airing on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET. The card is headlined by Ryan Bader and Valentin Moldavsky to unify the heavyweight championship. Bader (28-7) won the heavyweight title in January 2019 after winning the Grand Prix but hasn’t fought at heavyweight since September 2019 as he has fought at light heavyweight for his past three fights. Moldavsky (11-1) became interim champion by beating Timothy Johnson last June and won his previous six fights going back to July 2017. Benson Henderson (28-11) is also competing on the card and needs a win after losing his previous three fights. His opponent is Islam Mamedov (20-1-1) and has not lost a fight since 2009. Mamedov previously fought in World Series of Fighting/PFL and made his Bellator debut last July by defeating former lightweight champion Brent Primus by split decision.

Below is the card with the main card fights airing at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime Saturday night:
*Bellator Heavyweight Championship: Ryan Bader vs. Valentin Moldavsky
*Benson Henderson vs. Islam Mamedov
*Aiden Lee vs. Henry Corrales
*Sabah Homasi vs. Jaleel Willis

PRELIMINARY CARD
*Darrion Caldwell vs. Enrique Barzola
*Saad Awad vs. Chris Gonzalez
*Dalton Rosta (the fighter featured on AEW programming with American Top Team) vs. Duane (not The Rock) Johnson
*Blaine Shutt vs. Nikita Mikhailov
*Lucas Brennan (son of former fighter Chris Brennan) vs. Benjamin Lugo
*Ben “Big Tuna” Parrish vs. Sullivan Cauley

A featherweight fight between Fabricio Franco and Weber Almeida was removed from the card after Franco missed weight by 5.2 pounds on Friday.

ON THIS DATE

The 2007 Royal Rumble took place from San Antonio, Texas, and had a terrific ending to the Rumble match with The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels as the final two. It was incredibly heated for the final minutes and ended with The Undertaker winning with the two coming back together for their series of WrestleMania matches in 2009 and 2010. That year’s Rumble also featured a spectacular Last Man Standing match between John Cena and the late Umaga.

The first-ever women’s Royal Rumble on this date in 2018, which was won by Asuka. The match took place in Philadelphia and culminated with the arrival of Ronda Rousey after the match to kick off her WWE run.

*****
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