Raw airs tonight (Jan. 9) with a live show from Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. This is the seventh episode of Raw during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble, which takes place on Jan. 28.
Vince McMahon ruins everything
Tonight is the first episode of Raw since Vince McMahon officially returned to the WWE Board of Directors at the end of last week. Vince’s crusty old hands remain off the television product for now, but it sure does feel like the clock is ticking on Triple H’s creative vision for WWE that we’ve seen in action over the last six months.
WWE programming has been noticeably better since Triple H assumed power last July. But you better enjoy it while you can, because it’s hard to believe that Vince won’t eventually make a power play to take back his old spot as head booker away from his son-in-law.
In some ways, it’s fitting that zero matches are currently announced for tonight’s card, because that lack of planning was a hallmark of Vince’s latter years in charge. Considering how much better things have been in WWE with Vince’s absence, his return casts a dark shadow over everything, even as he remains out of the booker’s chair for now.
The title scene
Alexa Bliss has some explaining to do after she snapped and brutally attacked Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair last week. Their championship match ended in DQ, as Bliss once again seemed to be under the spell of Bray Wyatt. Was she faking the whole thing, or is Alexa heading back into Wyatt’s grip? Either way, a title rematch between Bliss and Belair should be on the way soon, likely at the Royal Rumble.
Austin Theory cheated to successfully defend the United States championship against Seth Rollins in last week’s main event. WWE is teasing that we’ll find out what’s next for Theory tonight, which makes it sound like his feud with Rollins is over.
WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns will defend the gold against Kevin Owens at Royal Rumble 2023, just like he did on the 2021 Rumble card. The part-time champ doesn’t typically work Monday nights, but the rest of The Bloodline has been hijacking Raw looking to take out Owens. I expect that pattern will continue tonight.
If Jimmy and Jey Uso crash Raw as part of a Bloodline invasion, will Adam Pearce force them to defend the WWE tag team titles against either the Street Profits or the Good Brothers?
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions IYO SKY and Dakota Kai have been busy helping Bayley get the better of Becky Lynch of late. Will Lynch find a tag team partner to go after the tag titles as part of her revenge against Damage CTRL?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- With the Royal Rumble event only a few weeks away, WWE needs to announce a lot more names for the titular gimmick match. Upper card stars like Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Finn Balor, and Rhea Ripley should officially join the field on tonight’s show.
- The Rumble is one of the biggest wrestling events of the year, which means Brock Lesnar should be resurfacing any week now, and maybe Edge as well.
- WWE is going hard on making sure you remember how great Cody Rhodes was last year before he got injured. It feels like they’re getting ready to announce his return in the Royal Rumble match rather than leaving him as a surprise entry.
- Bobby Lashley is listed in the advertising for tonight’s show on WWE’s web site. He hasn’t been around since Adam Pearce fired and then unfired him last month. Will Lashley return as a heel looking to reform the Hurt Business?
- Dexter Lumis defeated Chad Gable last week, while Johnny Gargano was nowhere to be seen.
- Creative has nothing for Baron Corbin. Is it possible that he won’t make the cut for the Royal Rumble match?
- WWE hasn’t done much of anything to follow up on Bronson Reed’s debut from a few weeks ago. It would be surprising if another week goes by without The Miz explaining what their relationship is.
- Is Asuka ready to return from Japan yet, possibly with a gimmick change?
- Dominik Mysterio says he’s a changed man after serving hard time. Will we see proof of his claim on tonight’s broadcast, or is he full of shit?
What will you be looking for on Raw?