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WWE Raw preview (Jan. 3, 2022): Big E’s probably not getting a championship rematch against Lesnar, just like Kofi

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Raw airs tonight (Jan. 3) with a live show from the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. This is the first Raw episode during the four week build towards Royal Rumble on January 29.

Big E’s probably not getting a match against Brock Lesnar for the WWE championship

Big E’s reign as WWE champion ended at Day 1. Brock Lesnar needed a new match on that card after Roman Reigns tested positive for COVID, so The Beast was added to Big E’s originally scheduled Fatal 4-Way match against Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Bobby Lashley. As soon as the new 5-Way match was announced, Brock was the favorite to win the title from Big E, and that’s exactly what he did.

It’s the way Brock won, though, that doesn’t bode well for Big E’s chances of getting that title back. Brock manhandled Big E, Owens, and Rollins at various times throughout the brief match. However, whenever Lesnar and Lashley went at it, The All Mighty dominated Brock. This was pretty similar to the way Lesnar and Braun Strowman were booked in a Fatal 4-Way match at SummerSlam 2017, which set up Braun’s title match on the very next pay-per-view premium live event. Bob Lashley is probably hoping things turn out much better for him than they did for Braun in that highly anticipated but very disappointing title match.

Day 1 ended with Lesnar pinning Big E with an F-5 and having a staredown with Lashley. One of the messages sent with that booking decision is that a singles match of Lesnar vs. Big E for the title is unlikely to happen. If Brock and Big E were going to have that match at Royal Rumble, Brock would have pinned either Kevin Owens or Seth Rollins at Day 1. Instead, WWE had the champ get beat and immediately moved the focus to Lesnar vs. Lashley. It’s not a great outcome for Big E. Kofi Kingston never got his championship rematch against Brock Lesnar, and I doubt Big E does either. At least Big E wasn’t cast aside to make way for Cain Velasquez, so there’s at least that.

Lesnar is a part-timer who was probably not booked for tonight’s episode of Raw as of a few days ago. Will he even show up tonight? My best guess is that WWE will book some sort of number one contender’s match on Raw that will involve Big E and Lashley. Hell, maybe they’ll just go with the originally planned Fatal 4-Way from Day 1 and throw in Uncle Sethy and KO too. Regardless, look for Lashley to secure that top spot over Big E very soon.

The rest of the title scene

With her victory at Day 1, Becky Lynch has now successfully defended her Raw women’s championship twice against Liv Morgan. In the Day 1 match, Becky once again tried to use the ropes to assist her winning pin fall. In what was probably a botch, however, Lynch’s body was too far away from the ropes, and so she beat Morgan without the extra leverage. In kayfabe, the ending we got suggests it’s time for Morgan to step aside and for a new challenger to emerge. However, it’s at least possible the end of the match was supposed to depend on Becky’s cheating in order to justify another championship match for Morgan. Bianca Belair is the obvious next in line. But if Lynch vs. Belair is being saved for WrestleMania, there aren’t a lot of options available for a new challenger, unless Asuka returns or Rhea Ripley suddenly escapes the tag division.

I guess WWE is trying to drag out Dolph Ziggler’s pursuit of the United States championship as long as they can. It seems obvious based on the last 14 years of Dolph’s booking that he has no chance in hell to actually win the title from Damian Priest. Yet here we are with Dolph scoring two consecutive wins over the guy on Raw, one by count out, and one by disqualification. They will have to fight again very soon, maybe even tonight, to settle this.

Randy Orton and Matt Riddle are still the Raw tag team champions after beating the Street Profits at Day 1. Alpha Academy might be up next for the champs, but the babyfaces did dispose of them in separate singles matches last week on Raw, so who really knows?

Nikki A.S.H. issued a challenge to Carmella and Queen Zelina Vega for a Women’s tag team championship rematch against Super Brutality. Nikki is so naive that she doesn’t realize she’s going to fall right on her face once again whenever that match goes down.

Reggie is helping Dana Brooke master the fine art of avoiding jobbers and escaping Raw as the 24/7 champion. They tagged together last week for a win over Tamina & R-Truth. We’ll have to see which jobber Tamina partners up with this week, since she appears to be the only woman interested in Brooke’s belt.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Beth Phoenix showed up at Day 1 to thwart the plans of Miz and Maryse, helping her husband Edge score the win over the A-Lister. A mixed tag team match is probably in the works, with some sort of angle tonight that will set it up for Royal Rumble.

- Finn Balor and Austin Theory were supposed to have a rematch last week on Raw, but the show was thrown into disarray due to COVID and the match never happened.

- AJ Styles and Omos never got to mix it up last week on Raw because the big man wasn’t there. Their recent house show match at MSG was said to be absolutely horrible, which doesn’t surprise anyone who has ever seen Omos attempt to sell offense or wrestle for more than 30 consecutive seconds. With Omos not around, Styles instead took out his frustrations on Apollo Crews and his much crappier giant.

- Veer Mahaan has been coming to Raw for over two months. What’s taking him so long to get here? It could be related to the rumor that WWE Creative never had anything for him. By the time he arrives on Raw, Veer may very well turn into another Funkasaurus from Planet Funk who is funky.

- The men and women’s Royal Rumble matches will take place in four weeks! Jackass star Johnny Knoxville has already declared his entry into field, which leaves about 59 more participants needed across both matches. Does WWE even have 30 women to fill out their match?

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?