“WWE Holiday Week” is over, but the action never stops. Raw is in Providence, Rhode Island.
After many rumors and conflicting reports - some of which earned Finn Bálor a new meta-gimmick*, others that said next month’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view might be without Raw’s version of a World title - Universal champion Brock Lesnar will return to our screens tonight.
And he’s back to address the two potential #1 contenders, Braun Strowman and Kane. Those two monsters have been feuding since Undertaker’s baby brother put The Monster Among Men in a garbage truck at TLC. A main event match last Monday which was supposed to end their rivalry by moving one of them into a program with Brock ended instead in double countout, and left us without answers.
Now Lesnar’s back to talk about it. Or, Paul Heyman is, anyway. Last I checked, booking wasn’t officially among The Beast Incarnate’s many powers, but if the powers-that-be are willing to waive the 30-day defense rule for him, they’ll probably give him whatever challenger or challengers he wants.
Whether internet fans like you and me like it, it does sound like we’re heading to a multi-man in Philadelphia on Jan. 28. If Strowman’s previous match with Brock, and his series with Kane, are any indication, it probably won’t be a five-star affair, but at that show, it doesn’t need to be. And the presence of The Devil’s Favorite Demon protects Braun from a pinfall loss while keeping the champ on his date with WrestleMania destiny.
So, we all know where we’re headed. Let’s see if they can make the ride enjoyable.
* Are the Twitter jokes and new merch leading somewhere? Will this end up being more “B+ player” or “Cesaro Section”? Any chance The Demon (or his more leather jacket-y alter ego) finds his way into this scene on the Road to WrestleMania?
The title scene
Over Roman Reigns’ shoulder, the Intercontinental championship has been showing up and delivering great matches - at least for the few weeks we’ve had The Big Dog’s challenge series running. After putting down Jason Jordan and Cesaro in recent weeks, WWE.com’s official preview for this show is teasing a new challenger, but at some point, Roman is going to have to deal with Samoa Joe. Joe’s not only been a consistent thorn in the side of all Reigns and his Shield brothers, but he’s proven to have the champ’s number.
Alexa Bliss and her Women's title had mostly been sticking to the sidelines as the undefeated Asuka padded her record win streak and Paige’s new Absolution stable ran roughshod over Raw. But those storylines have been colliding, and when The Anti-Diva, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville made to surround The Empress of Tomorrow, the ladies of Team Red came to her side... including the champ. Absolution put down Sasha Banks, Bayley and Mickie James at Tribute to the Troops. Will they have to deal with Asuka and The Goddess tonight?
Also at TTTT, tag champs The Bar took a loss in six-man action alongside Samoa Joe against Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Reigns. That capped a bad week for Cesaro and Sheamus, who also lost their one-on-one battles with The Hounds of Justice on Raw last week. Will they be able to raise their game, or are they just keeping the belts warm for Seth and Dean?
Real world events forced a bit of a reset, but we’re finally getting a match to determine who will next challenge Cruiserweight champion Enzo Amore. Will it be Cedric Alexander, or Zo’s right-hand man Drew Gulak? “Gabba” Gulak reluctantly ditched his Team Powerpoint partner Tony Nese to stay allied with the champ last week, but he looked conflicted. A collision aboard The Zo Train seems inevitable. Will a babyface Drew be the thing that finally results in a winning “Campaign for a Better 205 Live”?
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Fans familiar with his work in TNA rejoiced when Matt Hardy awoke, but after a second straight week of split screen promo work with feud-mate Bray Wyatt, some in the WWE Universe got restless. Is it already put up or shut time for The Woken One?
- When he’s not concerned with hOw ValuablE he’s peRceived to be by management, Finn is rehabbing his win/loss record with a healthy does of matches against Miztourage members Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel.
- Dana Brooke finally had an angle advance when she joined Titus Worldwide as their “official statistician and head of research and development”. Her former running buddies Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows think her new gig makes her a nerd, though.
- General Manager Kurt Angle’s son has been getting a lot of time on television, and winning support from fans (ironically) as a whiney, thinly-veiled heel.
- Speaking of Angle, expect lots of Mixed Match Challenge talk and possibly even segments devoted to Team Red’s potential pairings for the upcoming Facebook Watch series.
Six weeks until Royal Rumble!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?