Raw airs tonight (Jan. 29) with a live show from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. This is the first episode of Raw during the four week build towards Elimination Chamber 2024, which takes place on February 24.
CM Punk looks like a tired old man
CM Punk came up short at this weekend’s Royal Rumble match, making it to the final two wrestlers before being eliminated by Cody Rhodes. As a result, Punk will have to find a new way to compete in one of WrestleMania’s two main events.
Elimination Chamber 2024 takes place in less than one month in Australia, so it’s at least possible that WWE will soon announce a men’s chamber match to determine World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins’ challenger at WrestleMania. If that’s the case, Punk will probably be given an automatic pass into the chamber match.
Alternatively, it’s possible that WWE will keep things simple and instead book a one-on-one match between Punk and Drew McIntyre at Elimination Chamber, with the winner moving on to challenge Rollins at WrestleMania. The point is, Punk’s goal of main eventing WrestleMania is still alive and well, even with his failure in the Rumble.
I’ve spoken to a handful of friends and family about what they thought of Punk’s performance, and they all said the same thing: he looked like a tired old man! Punk was breathing real heavy during the Rumble match and moving in slow motion at times. It didn’t exactly inspire confidence in the idea that he is still the Best in the World and prepared to headline the most important wrestling event of the year.
CM is in the building tonight, and he’ll likely address what went wrong in the Rumble. Is there some way he can change the impression he gave off in the Rumble that he’s physically a step or two behind where he needs to be in order to belong in a world title match at WrestleMania? Will Punk begin to turn heel and blame the fans for his shortcomings? Which wrestler(s) will interrupt and try to make fun of him for losing his first televised match back in WWE?
The bottom line is that by the time tonight’s episode of Raw is over, we should have a clearer idea of Punk’s potential path to the other main event of WrestleMania.
The rest of the title scene
WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Finn Balor defend the belts tonight against Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. Will R-Truth get involved and accidentally screw everything up for Damian Priest once again?
Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER defends the gold tonight against Kofi KIngston. Kingston’s underwhelming showing in the Royal Rumble didn’t send the message that he has what it takes to beat the longest reigning Intercontinental champion of all-time.
Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley has a lot of challengers on her radar right now. The most prominent one is Bayley, who just won the women’s Royal Rumble and said she’s coming to take Ripley’s gold at WrestleMania. Before we get there, though, Rhea will have to be in a showcase match when she returns home to Australia for Elimination Chamber. Could she end up defending her belt inside a chamber match on that card, or will she instead find herself in a singles match with someone like Becky Lynch, Nia Jax, or Liv Morgan? We should get that answer tonight.
Cody Rhodes won the men’s Royal Rumble match and gets to once again challenge WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania. I’m sure that’s what Cody will want to talk about when he has the mic in his hand tonight. But which heel on Raw will replace Shinsuke Nakamura as Cody’s TV feud in the meantime?
Katana Chance and Kayden Carter lost the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship to The Kabuki Warriors last week on SmackDown, which opens the door for Damage CTRL to show up on Raw whenever they want. Will Bayley’s group crash Raw tonight in order to assert their dominance over the rest of the roster?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Jey Uso vs. Bronson Reed is booked for Raw. Both men have made it clear that they plan to win singles gold in 2024, so a win here could perhaps lead to a future Intercontinental title match.
- Bron Breakker, Naomi, Andrade, Jade Cargill, and Omos are some of the wrestlers who appeared in the Royal Rumble matches but are not yet assigned to either the Raw or SmackDown roster. Will there now be a bidding war between Raw GM Adam Pearce and SmackDown GM Nick Aldis to secure these talents on the road to WrestleMania?
- Sami Zayn returned to WWE at Royal Rumle. It sure looks like he wants revenge on Drew McIntyre for putting him on the shelf towards the end of 2023.
- Jinder Mahal had a conversation with Adam Pearce last week. Does that mean we’re going to see more of the Modern Day Maharaja on the road to WrestleMania?
- Ricochet is finally back on WWE programming. Will he have an attitude change after being a non-factor on WWE TV for the last two months?
What will you be looking for on Raw?