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Monday Night Raw preview: Quick thoughts about Jan. 2 episode

Monday Night Raw comes live from Nashville tonight and I provide some quick thoughts and opinions before the show.

Wrestling: WWE-Wrestlemania Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

WWE Monday Night Raw comes live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville tonight as the company rings in the new year with its first show of 2023.

As we prepare for another episode of the WWE’s flagship show, I’ll give some of my quick thoughts about Raw and what’s in store on the card.

Bianca Belair vs. Alexa Bliss

This is a very interesting Raw Women’s Championship showdown they have here to open up the year and I think they’ve built this up well in just over a month. Since Survivor Series, they’ve gone from subtly hinting at Bliss wanting a shot at the title to her outright hitting the champ over the head with a glass vase two weeks away. The character transformation of Bliss has been good too and while it was initially eye-roll inducing to suggest a possible reconnection with Bray Wyatt, they’ve done a good job at explaining that there is some lingering affects from her being possessed a few years ago.

With Smackdown doing a sudden change this past Friday with Charlotte Flair beating Rousey for the belt, I wonder something similar happens tonight with the Raw title. We’re still four weeks away from the Royal Rumble and there’s no clear direction for either star for that particular show. I’m sure we’ll get a sense of where things are going tonigjht.

Austin Theory vs. Seth Rollins

This one-on-one showdown will be the culmination of a simmering feud that persisted throughout the back half of 2022. Theory, Rollins, and Bobby Lashley all traded the United States Championship during that period of time, so the latter two have experience facing each other in big title matches.

While this matchup should deliver, again, I wonder where both superstars are going heading into the Rumble. I’ve mentioned this before but Rollins is above the U.S. title scene at this point and it seems like he’s in a giant holding pattern until the WWE title situation finally gets cleared up. There is a question over his direction heading into ‘Mania season and...wait, a minute...

Cody Rhodes

During last week’s Best of 2022 clip show, we heard from Rhodes for the first time in months where he updated us on his injury status and his plans for 2023. The last time we saw Rhodes, he battled through a torn pec to beat Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match over the summer before going away. He has to be returning at the Royal Rumble, right? The company wouldn’t do this interview unless they wanted to subliminally signal to us that his return is imminent.

A potential Rhodes return would open up numerous possibilities. He could go after Roman Reigns for his belts, of course, but he could also target Rollins again and finish off their blood feud from last year. I’d keep an eye on the commentary team possibly mentioning him tonight.

Other thoughts

  • Give us Royal Rumble qualifier matches. Smackdown is starting their’s up this Friday and we need these things to get us hyped for the pay-per-view. I also like when there’s matches where superstars fight over the the number they enter at. Everyone should be fighting to be No. 30.
  • Bronson Reed was the latest former NXT star to return from the shadow realm when he interfered on behalf of The Miz in his ladder match against Dexter Lumis two weeks ago. A Reed vs Lumis rivalry was something I didn’t expect to see on the main roster and I’m curious how that will go, especially during Rumble season.