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WWE Raw preview (Jan. 2, 2023): Starting the new year with a bang

Raw airs tonight (Jan. 2) with a live show from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the sixth episode of Raw during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble, which takes place on Jan. 28.

WWE is starting the new year with a bang

Following last week’s skippable Raw clip show, WWE isn’t screwing around to kick things off on TV in 2023. Bianca Belair and Austin Theory are essentially the top champions on the red brand, and both of their belts are on the line tonight.

Belair defends the Raw women’s championship as the hometown hero against Alexa Bliss. Bray Wyatt still has some kind of spell over Bliss, and it’s introduced a degree of unpredictability and danger to her behavior over the last few weeks. That being said, Alexa is still the clear underdog in this title fight because Bianca is just that damn good.

Tonight’s episode also includes Theory vs. Seth Rollins for the United States championship. Rollins is the former titleholder and wants his belt back. Will Bobby Lashley make an appearance here and influence the finish of the match? It’s not exactly clear what Bob’s status is after being fired and then unfired by Adam Pearce last month.

This episode feels more important than the typical Raw due to these two title matches and the fact that it’s WWE’s first TV show of the year. If the goal is to get fans hyped up for Royal Rumble, tonight would also be a good time for a surprise or two, perhaps in the form of a returning Brock Lesnar or Edge.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Bronson Reed returned to WWE on the Dec. 19 episode of Raw and helped The Miz defeat Dexter Lumis in a ladder match to win back all of his money. There should be an explanation tonight that sheds some light on the relationship between Miz and Reed.

- Bayley defeated Becky Lynch a couple weeks ago with assistance from the rest of Damage CTRL. Will The Man find a friend to help her deal with these heels, or can she take them out all on her own? Candice LeRae also has a bone to pick with Bayley’s faction, for what it’s worth.

- The Bloodline has a KO problem. Kevin Owens is chasing WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, and he’s had several confrontations with WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos along the way. If Owens is on the show tonight, it would be a good time to grab a mic and speak his mind following his big tag team victory with John Cena over The Bloodline on SmackDown.

- AJ Styles suffered a broken ankle at a house show last week. Where does that leave Mia Yim and the Good Brothers heading into Royal Rumble?

- The Street Profits found a way to pin Finn Balor a couple weeks ago on Raw. The Judgment Day will likely seek revenge tonight on Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins.

- Baron Corbin hasn’t wrestled on TV since the Dec. 5 episode of Raw and doesn’t have a direction at the moment.

- MVP might just be putting The Hurt Business back together. Would a new incarnation of the group include Omos among its ranks?

- When we last heard from Asuka, she left for Japan teasing a gimmick change.

- Royal Rumble will be here before you know it, so WWE needs to pick up the pace when it comes to announcing official entrants for the men and women’s Rumble matches. Rhea Ripley is a current favorite in the women’s match, and I’d bet that she kicks someone’s ass tonight to assert her dominance over the field.

What will you be looking for on Raw?

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