WWE Raw preview (Jan. 31, 2018): Auld acquaintance

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Raw returns to Detroit, or at least they did last Friday so they could tape the action we’ll see tonight on USA Network. In fact, you can find out what they taped by clicking here– but where’s the fun in that?

The Headliner(s)

She beat Nia Jax. Again, really, since we all know she was going to beat her at Money In The Bank before Alexa Bliss got involved. In between Jax matches, she beat Bliss. We don’t know what the future holds for the Goddess, but even if she’s cleared to return and despite her resume, she’s not a particularly compelling match-up for the current Raw Women’s champion.

The matches we really want to see Ronda Rousey have don’t appear to be in the cards until the spring.

So with Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch probably not options for a month or so, and certainly not for tonight’s show… what’s the Baddest Woman on the Planet to do? We can think of a couple options.

[Author’s note: I really try not to do too much fantasy booking. I’m a firm believer in not telling anyone how to do their job, I enjoy seeing what creative professionals come up with on their own & find my experience as a viewer is better when I don’t get too attached to my own ideas. But, to paraphrase Jimmy Jacobs, writing previews for pre-taped holiday episodes is f***ing hard.]

1. There’s some new tag belts coming down the chimney, courtesy of old McMahon-ty Claus, right? Ronda has a couple good friends – one she submitted then hugged it out with just last week, another holding gold down in NXT (a brand which was at one point rumored to be in the women’s tag team championship mix). She doesn’t need to add being the first to hold those to her historic list of accomplishments. And while a horrible, mean-spirited part of my black soul would like that just to watch Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection stans have meltdowns, I don’t think it would happen. It would give Rousey and either Natalya or Shayna Baszler something to do for a few weeks, the team could lose & exit the field without Rowdy taking a pin and it could set up another program for her like…

2. Give me a Ronda vs. Ruby Riott match or I’ll riot! Possibly even with two ‘t’s! Seriously, there’s history here from Super Show-Down to Tribute To The Troops, and Ruby delivered a compelling match at Fastlane earlier this year when she faced Charlotte Flair. I don’t want her to be pigeon holed as a “filler challenger”, but being trusted to work good, safe, exciting matches with top stars isn’t a bad role to own. Riott can interfere in a Rousey & Natty or Shayna match that allows her beloved teammates Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan to move closer to winning tag gold, piss off Ronda and… voila! The champ has a program that will get her through to WrestleMania season that won’t involve watching general fan apathy toward Nia cause her to lose that momentarily nuclear #Facebreaker heat!

Book it! Or something else that will genuinely feel free and exciting while we wait for Rousey’s program with two of SmackDown’s top stars to start.

The title scene

Universal titleholder Brock Lesnar isn’t due back for a couple weeks, and his Royal Rumble challenger Braun Strowman was just here last Monday. So don’t expect much advancement in their feud. It’s possible Paul Heyman could show up to sing an “Auld Lang Syne” parody and the Monster Among Men could appear to dress him like baby new year. But let’s hope not.

WWE.com’s official preview for this episode reminds us that Shane McMahon said the automatic championship rematch is no more, so Seth Rollins is S.O.L. for the easy path at revenge against Intercontinental champ Dean Ambrose. Something tells me he’ll still find a way to get back at his former Shield brother, though.

Normally, we’d guess their loss on last week’s pre-taped holiday show would mean Top Guys out. But we’ve got another pre-taped holiday show this week, and Tag Team champions Chad Gable & Bobby Roode’s win over The Revival last week is tainted by the fact they didn’t pin the legal man. Resolve to give us more of Dash & Dawson as something other than jobbers in 2019 please.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

– Former tag champs Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre will settle their differences in a steel cage tonight. Hopefully it will go on last and end the streak of Baron Corbin main events. We’re pulling for Drew, but rumor is it isn’t his month to be pushed, so expect a run-in from the guy who has one more day left on his, Finn Bálor. We all know those cages don’t keep anybody out.

– The Scottish Psychopath does have the Rumble match to look forward to on Jan. 27, though. Who will join McIntyre & R-Truth in the over-top-rope battle royal for a ‘Mania title shot? Will any ladies give Carmella some company?

– Elias is basically the Raw singles version of The New Day now, minus the history-making title reign. He’ll be singing us a New Year’s tune tonight (phew, another good sign that Brock’s advocate won’t) and then probably shooting Jinder Mahal with a confetti gun or something wacky like that.

Four weeks until Royal Rumble!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?




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