WWE Day 1 is expected to be the start of a new annual tradition, and the company is pulling out all the stops—including a massive Universal title match between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar—to kick off 2022.
Though the period just before Royal Rumble is typically somewhat of a downtime for WWE each year, that is changing. WWE reportedly wants to make Day 1 a marquee event and is doing just that by stacking the card with Reigns vs. Lesnar, Edge vs. The Miz, Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan and a Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE Championship.
While internal issues with Covid-19 have caused concern about superstar availability for Day 1, the expectation is that all top stars will be available for the show after WWE took precautionary measures to keep its biggest Day 1 matches intact. With Day 1, at least on paper, shaping up to be an absolutely loaded show, the booking of the pay-per-view will set the stage for Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season. For better or worse.
So, let’s examine five booking choices WWE must make at the inaugural PPV event.
Edge Destroys The Miz
WWE is paying Edge a boatload of money to work a part-time schedule, and with the company’s part-timer well drying up (Undertaker is retired, Triple H has major health issues, John Cena rarely appears, etc.), “The Rated R Superstar” is arguably WWE’s most important special attraction not named Brock Lesnar.
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In order to justify that $3 million Edge is making per year, he should be pushed strongly, which he definitely has been over the past year-plus. At least on the surface, an upper midcard feud with The Miz certainly seems a little underwhelming, but in reality, his rivalry with the former reality star has been booked well enough to serve its purpose on the road to WrestleMania: To make Edge look good.
Edge vs. The Miz is the definition of a placeholder rival that should be used purely to ensure that Edge builds up some momentum ahead of Royal Rumble. The best way to do that? Give him a resounding victory over The Miz at Day 1.
RK-Bro Retains, WWE Holds Off On Eventual Split
RK-Bro is one of the most popular acts in WWE at the moment, but it’s clear that the unlikely tag team of Riddle and Randy Orton is headed for a split at some point in the near future.
With each week that passes by, it will be more and more tempting for WWE to have Orton—who will almost assuredly be the one who goes heel—turn on Riddle. However, this is a potentially huge moment that would best saved for a show a bit closer to WrestleMania. That way, Orton’s betrayal of Riddle can lead to a WrestleMania match between the two in what could be a show-stealing bout on “The Grandest Stage of Them All.”
While WWE could choose to start the split at Day 1 by having RK-Bro lose the Raw Tag Team Championship to The Street Profits, WWE should have Orton and Riddle retain and then gradually begin the split around Royal Rumble time.
Liv Morgan Pulls Off The Upset
It’s now or never for Liv Morgan.
Over the past two years, Morgan has developed into one of WWE’s most beloved underdogs, but she still has—for the most part—been woefully misused during that span. Now, however, she is getting the biggest push of her career and is arguably the most popular babyface in Raw’s women’s division.
That has led to rampant speculation that Morgan will be the one to dethrone Becky Lynch, one of WWE’s biggest stars, even if it leads to a very brief title reign. If WWE wants Lynch in a marquee WrestleMania match as it should, Lynch could easily win the title back prior to WrestleMania 38 in order to have a big match on the show. After all, what’s the point of this push for Morgan if she’s not going to win the belt?
Having her defeat Lynch in the biggest match of her career would be a great surprise and a true feel-good moment that could give Raw another top female star that it desperately needs.
Big E Loses The WWE Championship But Isn’t Pinned
Big E has performed well as WWE Champion, and there is nothing inherently wrong with his title reign. But he’ll be facing three of Raw’s top stars—Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins—at Day 1, and all three of those stars are certainly deserving of another world title reign.
When Big E won the WWE title back in September, it was more about creating a special moment and helping establish Big E as a top singles star than it was about giving him a long and dominant reign as champion. Big E’s title reign has clearly elevated him to top-tier status already, but lengthy babyface title reigns are almost always less appealing than heel ones.
It would be a better story for Big E to chase a phenomenal heel like Owens or Rollins in route to WrestleMania 38 than vice versa, and WWE can easily make that happen by having Big E lose at Day 1 without being the one to take the pin, an outcome that could potentially create some intriguing scenarios with Owens—who recently signed a huge new contract—or Rollins as champion.
Roman Reigns Retains Thanks To Paul Heyman
Something big is apparently going down when Roman Reigns battles Brock Lesnar at Day 1, and it is going to involve Paul Heyman in some way, shape or form.
The most obvious scenario is that Heyman, who was recently “fired” by Reigns, helps “The Head of the Table” defeat “The Beast” in order to get back into his good graces, and just because that’s the most obvious way WWE can book this, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad move. In fact, it’s the best possible decision WWE could make here.
After all, AEW’s decision to have Adam Page dethrone Kenny Omega was remarkably predictable but also incredibly smart. The same is true of Heyman assisting Reigns at Day 1, which would accomplish several goals: Protecting Lesnar (and keeping him mega-over as a babyface), keeping Heyman with Reigns where he belongs, keeping the Universal title on Reigns and building some more intrigue in route to WrestleMania 38, where Lesnar and Reigns are currently penciled in for another match.
That’s where WWE should deliver the third and final encounter between Reigns and Lesnar, the company’s two biggest stars and the guys who should be headlining the biggest show of the year, which thus far isn’t selling tickets the way that WWE’s flagship show should be.