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WWE Raw preview (Jan. 22, 2018): Stiffened wounds test their pride

WWE takes over two boroughs of New York for a BIG night at Raw’s original home at The Manhattan Center and the company’s second home in the city, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

The Headliner(s)

There will be Legends all over the place at both venues. And while some of them will only be there to hit their finishers on Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, who were placed in that role with a promo touting their old school cred last Monday, some of that will be revealing/teasing roles for Sunday’s pay-per-view (PPV)... and beyond.

While the pops for Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho (probably) and others will be loud, it probably will be nothing compared to whatever happens when the gong strikes and the lightning strikes to signal the return of The Undertaker.

But, wait, you say. Didn’t The Dead Man retire at WrestleMania 33? We saw him leave his hat and duster in the ring, break kayfabe to visit with his family, then cut a promo as Mark Calloway about George Strait! Plus, Roman Reigns claimed the yard and The Phenom didn’t argue!

Welcome to wrestling, where HBK is the only person who stays retired. That’s not for sure of course (Taker’s comeback, not Shawn’s commitment to not wrestling), but the rumormongers seem to agree he’ll be in the ring in New Orleans, and WWE was awfully careful to never say “he’s done”.

[sarcasm font] Coincidentally [/sarcasm font], the man reports indicate he’ll be facing on April 8 will also be on hand for the big party tonight. Free Agent John Cena is taking a break from movie making and wedding planning - and representing SmackDown at Survivor Series - to celebrate 25 years of Raw.

Could they interact and set up a dream match a lot of us gave up on last year? That’s the big question. Personally, I’m guessing they will... or that Taker will declare for the Rumble and the set-up will happen there. But we should know a lot more after Raw 25, so we’ll have a lot more to discuss/debate/complain about in a few hours.

The title scene

He’s received treatment at that medical facility, and Universal champion Brock Lesnar is back. What will he have to say to Braun Strowman after The Monster Among Men yanked a whole section of the set down on him a couple weeks back? Did he see Braun flip that semi? Maybe Paul Heyman should tell his client to save it for Sunday. Oh yeah, Kane will also be there... tonight and in the Triple Threat at Royal Rumble.

Getting top billing for Raw 25 above even returning stars like Austin and Scott Hall is the Intercontinental title battle between Reigns and The Miz. The two have traded shots, online and face-to-face, since The A-Lister returned earlier this month, but champ got the last laugh when he defeated Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas last Monday. The Miztourage will probably be looking to help their boss get his belt back, but maybe Reigns will get help from...

... tag champ Seth Rollins. Seeing as his partner, Jason Jordan, has been kept out of the ring with a nagging injury and their opponents for Sunday, The Bar, can’t even beat Titus Worldwide right now.

Did Women's titleholder Alexa Bliss actually get what she wanted last week when Asuka injured Nia Jax? The Goddess has been trying to keep her two biggest rivals at odds with each other. Now if she could just keep her alleged friend Nia away from...

... Cruiserweight champion Enzo Amore. Of course, Cedric Alexander is probably just fine with Zo staying preoccupied with Jax, and hanging with Dave Chappelle and stuff, if it allows him to stay rolling against Amore and his “Train” on the tracks to their bout at the PPV.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Once and future rivals for brand supremacy Shane McMahon, The New Day, AJ Styles and Charlotte Flair will be here to help celebrate... which makes sense since they all used to work here. Will the competitive fire reignite their Survivor Series feud, or will that be saved for the ONE TIME A YEAR RAW AND SMACKDOWN SUPERSTARS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD?

- It’s possible we could see names from the past who are appearing on tonight’s episode show up in either of Sunday’s battle royals, but the ladies especially need a few wrestlers to fill out their 30. Could it be Trish? Will it be Torrie? Plan on being excited... but maybe not too excited.

- We haven’t heard much on Paige other than that she won’t be in the Rumble. She did a good job leading her Absolution troops to a victory last week, though.

- Goldust is a Cruiserweight legend. That is all.

It’s the Royal Rumble ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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