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WWE Raw preview (Jan. 7, 2019): Make believe

We’re back to doing it live, starting with Jan. 7’s Raw in WWE’s southern home base of Orlando.

The Headliner(s)

Many internet wrestling fans are jaded. But even if you’re a glass half full kind of viewer, the upcoming showdown between Braun Strowman and Universal champion Brock Lesnar needs some attention.

There are a couple reasons for that. One is, we’ve seen it before. In a few different configurations, but always with the same outcome... LOLBROCKWINS.

Another is that in between losing to Lesnar, it’s difficult to tell who Strowman is. Is he the conniving heel we saw last summer? The big, loveable lug who makes kid’s WrestleMania dreams come true, and clowns Paul Heyman with Christmas props? Somewhere in between?

Whether the Monster Among Men is goofy or serious, face or heel, the important question Raw needs to answer - and with only a handful of shows and probably only one more appearance by the Beast Incarnate before Royal Rumble, they need to start tonight - is why we should believe this Lesnar vs. Strowman match will be different than the ones we’ve seen before.

How should they do that? That’s creative’s job (and I hear it’s f***ing hard). But I hope it’s different than what we’ve seen before. Namely, let’s not have Braun complaining about Brock’s schedule as Roman Reigns has done in the past, and Seth Rollins has already started doing in anticipation of a ‘Mania match with Heyman’s client. I’d also suggest that Braun either be supremely angry about his past failures to capture the title, or be showing off an aptitude for strategy.

If you’ll allow me a brief moment of fantasy booking (don’t get upset if this doesn’t happen though, as it’s just some jamoke on the net talking out of his butt), there’s an idle cult leader type who Strowman used to follow currently doing nothing. His plans never worked out terribly well as a bad guy, but maybe as a babyface manager-type...

Whatever it is, this program needs a fire lit under it - stat. The official preview for this week’s show hints at a brawl, which wouldn’t be a bad way to go, either alone or in combination with some other ideas.

C’mon, “new era” of WWE television. Give us a new era of Braun vs. Brock.

The title scene

With her rivalry with Nia Jax (hopefully) finally over and her own WrestleMania program (probably) not starting until Jan. 27 in Phoenix, Raw Women’s champion Ronda Rousey will spend this week chatting with the person she took the belt from. Rowdy is the first guest on Alexa Bliss’ new talk show, A Moment of Bliss.

In his first big act as part of the council of McMahons, Triple H gave his former protege Seth Rollins a motivational speech. Was Rollins destroying Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush a sign Haitch brought out the old Architect, or more evidence that Intercontinental champ Dean Ambrose is really under his skin? And how pissed off will Seth be after yesterday’s Bears game?

The ruling family has booked a Tag Team championship lumberjack match between reigning titleholders Chad Gable & Bobby Roode and The Revival. Not sure how surrounding the ring with wrestlers solves the issue from the last match (when the pinfall which secured the champs’ victory wasn’t on the legal Top Guy), but I’m okay with any reason to watch these fellas wrestle. And surrounding the ring with other teams should start some new feuds, too.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Being live for the first time since his death means tonight will be full of farewells to WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund. Including one from arguably his most famous interview subject, Hulk Hogan.

- The controversial Hulkster isn’t the only star returning to Raw tonight, brother. John Cena will also be on the show. After giving some shine - and some advice - to SmackDown’s Becky Lynch last week, what’s next on the 16 time WWE World champ’s itinerary?

- He followed up his series of losses to lose the General Manager position with... losing a battle royal for a chance to face Ambrose (eventually won by Apollo Crews, who came up short in his title match the same night). Then Baron Corbin got his butt kicked by Elias. The Lone Wolf will get a chance at revenge tonight.

- Drew McIntyre emphatically ended his feud with Dolph Ziggler during and after their steel cage match last week. What’s next for the Scottish Psychopath? Other then the Rumble match, that is. Could it involve frequest rival and fellow Rumble entrant Finn Bálor?

- The women’s roster not only has a Rumble line-up to complete, but we’re still awaiting details on the tag belts Vince McMahon announced on Christmas Eve. Either way, Sasha Banks & Bayley keep racking up wins. That’s gotta be good for either story.

- There’s rumors the NXT call-ups they’ve been bugging us about for weeks could start showing up tonight. With competition from the college football national championship game, WWE will probably pull out all the stops to try and start the new year on a good note.

Three weeks until Royal Rumble!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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