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WWE Raw preview (Jan. 17, 2022): Randy Orton has a tough decision to make

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Raw airs tonight (Jan. 17) with a live show from the Bok Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is the third Raw episode during the four week build towards Royal Rumble on January 29.

Randy Orton has a tough choice to make

Alpha Academy shocked the world last week when they defeated RK-Bro to win the Raw tag team titles. The finish of the match actually saw Randy Orton take the fall, which was a surprising turn of events given that Matt Riddle is always the fall man for their team.

There is now a lot of uncertainty regarding the future of RK-Bro, putting the spotlight squarely on Orton’s shoulders. Riddle idolizes his partner and will surely want to pursue a rematch against Otis and Chad Gable so RK-Bro can win back their belts. But it’s harder to know where Randy’s head is at. He’s always been somewhat reluctant to deal with Riddle’s endless nonsense, but Orton put up with it for this long because it led to championship gold around his waist. Now that he is no longer a tag team champion, Randy might just decide the time is right to focus his attention on singles competition and headlining WrestleMania 38.

Given that the Royal Rumble match is right around the corner, Orton has already won two of those matches in his career, and he’ll be the hometown hero in St. Louis on that night, the Viper has every reason to declare for the match. It’s every man for himself in the Royal Rumble, which means Riddle might just have an RKO waiting for him later this month.

As far as tonight’s episode of Raw is concerned, Randy will have to make a big decision about the future of RK-Bro. Is he willing to stick with Riddle as his partner going forward, or is it time to move on?

The rest of the title scene

Bobby Lashley was disrespected by comedian Brock Lesnar last week. Former Hurt Business members Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin tried to ambush the All Mighty afterwards, which turned out to be a big mistake; Bob took out all of his frustrations on those jobbers. Lesnar is not advertised for Raw tonight, which means MVP and Lashley will have the ring all to themselves as they talk trash on the absentee WWE champion. Lashley will likely explain why he’s so confident that he’ll take that belt from Lesnar at Royal Rumble. If Alexander and Benjamin interrupt him again, perhaps Lashley will have to squash those chumps in an official handicap match.

Doudrop won a triple threat match last week over Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan to earn a Raw women’s championship match against Becky Lynch at Royal Rumble. Belair was about to win the match, but Lynch made sure to stop that from happening, presumably because she wants nothing to do with the EST and thinks Dou is an easier opponent. It’s hard to blame Becky for that logic, considering that Belair defeated Doudrop all three times she faced her on Raw in December. Lynch will grab the mic tonight and give her thoughts on her Royal Rumble opponent. If WWE intends to give Doudrop another win before the Rumble, Liv Morgan might become her chew toy.

The United States champion Damian Priest has officially declared for the Royal Rumble match. He teamed up with the Street Profits in a losing effort last week against Robert Roode, Apollo Crews, and Dolph Ziggler. It’s doubtful the match result will have any implications for Priest’s title given that Angelo Dawkins is the man who was pinned by Ziggler, and Priest already had a series of recent matches with that dirty dawg.

Queen Zelina Vega and Carmella are still the Women’s tag team champions. They didn’t have much to do last week because the only other women’s team in WWE broke up when Nikki A.S.H. turned on Rhea Ripley. Vega and Carmella can probably forget about defending their titles for now and instead look ahead to winning the women’s Royal Rumble match.

Dana Brooke and Reggie have been working well together to fend off Tamina and the handful of other jobbers looking for a piece of Brooke’s 24/7 title. Unfortunately for Reggie, he accidentally ran into Omos backstage last week and pissed off the big man, which means they’ll probably have a match tonight. Reggie will be obliterated because Omos is the best wrestler on Raw in kayfabe, even though most fans can see through the smoke and mirrors and understand he’s actually one of the worst wrestlers in WWE.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Edge & Beth Phoenix have all the momentum on their side right now in their feud against Miz & Maryse. Maryse walked out on her husband last week to get the point across that she isn’t thrilled about competing in a mixed tag match at Royal Rumble. It seems like there is a talk show segment nearly every week in this story. Are any of these wrestlers interested in appearing on a wrestling show to actually wrestle?

- Former WWE champion Big E has yet to win a televised match in 2022. If WWE has plans for him to win the Royal Rumble match, it might be a good idea to remind folks that he’s a formidable threat.

- Last week’s match between AJ Styles and Austin Theory didn’t get a proper resolution thanks to Grayson Waller. Now that Styles has seemingly moved on from his business in NXT, maybe he’ll get a rematch with Theory tonight.

- Finn Balor and Kevin Owens were not on last week’s episode of Raw and have yet to declare for the Royal Rumble match. Balor has missed three consecutive episodes of Raw, raising questions about whether he’ll even be booked for the upcoming Premium Live Event.

- Seth Rollins has bigger fish to fry over on SmackDown than Raw right now, but Raw’s very long three hour time slot isn’t going to fill itself. Perhaps Uncle Sethy will get a tuneup match of some sort tonight as he prepares to fight Universal champion Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble.

- I was looking forward to Alexa Bliss’ return to Raw last week. WWE then reintroduced Bliss by showing us that she’s in therapy and still has some supernatural abilities. It immediately brought back memories of how terrible many of her segments were last year. On the bright side, at least she didn’t have that stupid doll Lilly with her. Bliss should be back for more therapy tonight, so we’ll see if she is making any progress on the road to recovery.

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?