Raw airs tonight (Dec. 18) with a live show from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. This is the fourth episode of Raw during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble 2024, which takes place on January 27.
WWE needs to come up with an exit plan for GUNTHER
Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER was looking forward to finding a new challenger for his belt after he beat the crap out of The Miz last month at Survivor Series. But the Ring General’s stablemates in Imperium let him down last week during a six-man tag team match against Miz & DIY. GUNTHER now finds himself defending the title against The Miz tonight, this time with the added stipulation that if Miz loses he can never challenge for the belt again during GUNTHER’s reign.
GUNTHER’s multi-match feud with Miz shows that WWE is having a difficult time finding a proper exit plan for GUNTHER’s reign as champ. Since breaking the record in September, GUNTHER has successfully defended his belt against mid-carders Tommaso Ciampa, Bronson Reed, and The Miz. The assumption I’m making is that GUNTHER will need to drop the title in order to move up the card for something bigger on the road to WrestleMania. The record is already broken so there isn’t an obvious goal for GUNTHER to chase if he remains champion; it feels like he’s cooled off somewhat as he’s feuding with a guy like Miz who can’t be taken seriously as a threat, at least not based on the way both wrestlers have been booked in 2023.
Perhaps I’m making a poor assumption and WWE isn’t thinking at all about an exit plan for GUNTHER’s championship reign. In that case, GUNTHER will either continue doing his tour of the mid-card heading into WrestleMania, or top guys like Cody Rhodes might have to suddenly become more interested in pursuing the Intercontinental title instead of the World Heavyweight championship.
Who is the right man to eventually dethrone GUNTHER as champion? Could it be Jey Uso? Sami Zayn? LA Knight? Brock Lesnar? This is the question WWE needs to find an answer for. One thing we’re practically guaranteed to learn tonight is the answer is not The Miz. It will take a miracle for there to be any outcome other than GUNTHER continuing his 550+ day record-length run as Intercontinental champion and ridding himself of the A-Lister for good.
The rest of the title scene
The Creed Brothers are on a roll, and tonight they will try to win the WWE tag team titles from Finn Balor and Damian Priest. The Judgment Day has hit a bit of a rough patch and are determined to remind everyone that they run Raw. Meanwhile, Julius and Brutus tried to save Cody Rhodes from Shinsuke Nakamura last week, and that could bite them in the ass tonight if Shinsuke is looking to pay them back for sticking their noses in his business.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Piper Niven and Chelsea Green are also defending their belts, this time against Katana Chance and Kayden Carter. It might just be time for Chelsea and Piper to drop the belts after holding onto the gold longer than most people probably expected.
CM Punk isn’t avdertised for Raw tonight, which means World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins can focus all of his energy on Drew McIntyre. Drew gets another title shot against Seth in two weeks. What will Rollins say when he addresses McIntyre tonight?
Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley destroyed Maxxine Dupri last week. Ivy Nile has been brave enough to get in the champ’s face, but that strategy is going to end very badly for her one of these weeks.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Cody Rhodes and CM Punk are the two favorites to win the Royal Rumble match. Will any new names officially join the field tonight?
- Things didn’t go so well for Rhodes last week, as he once again fell victim to Nakamura’s red mist. Will Cody issue a challenge for a rematch with a stipulation or gimmick in mind?
- Becky Lynch and Nia Jax are about to settle a score from five years ago when Nia broke Becky’s face. Will their match be booked for the Day 1 episode of Raw?
- Ricochet hasn’t wrestled on Raw since he was knocked loopy in early November. Now that he’s back on TV again, will Ricochet return to in-ring action tonight?
- Jey Uso could use a win after dropping matches to Rollins and McIntyre over the last couple of weeks. This sounds like a job for JD McDonagh.
- WWE’s web site says the “war is far from over” between Bronson Reed and Ivar.
- Where the f*** is Omos?
What will you be looking for on Raw?