Following last night’s Raw-dominated Survivor Series, tonight’s edition of WWE’s flagship show comes from the same Staples Centre in Los Angeles with three hours to regale us with tales of triumph from Sunday, and prepare for Tables, Ladders and Chairs (oh my) in just four weeks. Aside from lots of boasting and set up, what can we actually expect from tonight’s Monday Night Raw?
It seems reasonable to forecast opening with the Cheshire Cat-like grins of Commissioner Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and Acting GM Baron Corbin. Since it was briefly brought up last night, expect Corbin to be promoted to full-time GM as reward for the clean sweep, and expect that to garner a reaction from Kurt Angle. Of course, we won’t see Corbin on-screen tonight without an appearance from ‘Monster Among Men’ Braun Strowman, who has now earned his shot at revenge on Corbin. Strowman may also address the fact he’s still, as far as we know, the number-one contender for the Universal title. Nobody expects that belt to be defended at TLC, so don’t expect anyone to show any interest in it outside of maybe the commentary team and (hopefully?) Paul Heyman. Look for Corbin versus Strowman to be booked for TLC, with the GM finding himself a partner tonight to take on Angle and the Monster – probably Drew McIntyre, if it happens.
One title that will be defended at TLC in San Jose is the Intercontinental Championship. WWE have four Monday nights between now and the next network special to get Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose red hot again. We’ve seen them beat down, sneak attack and square off against each other many times before, so here’s hoping we see a different kind of build for a month. Something more cerebral, saving the physical interaction for the PPV. Having said that, it’s not something we can reasonably expect from the typically ‘rinse, repeat’ Creative department, so look for some sort of attack tonight by Ambrose. Probably something involving a table, ladder or chair.
The Authors of Pain should also be defending their newly won Raw Tag Team Championship at TLC, so with any luck, tonight we can expect to see number-one contenders named. Or at least a process announced by which number-one contenders will be determined. If they’re looking to establish AOP as the massive powerhouse duo they look like: a) they wouldn’t have had them nearly lose a handicap match to Rollins a couple weeks ago, but besides that; b) they’ll push Lucha House Party as the first contenders, and let AOP toss them around the ring like rag dolls. It feels like it could go that way, or they go with Chad Gable and Bobby Rooooooo getting the first crack, only to lose and go into their inevitable break-up program. Sadly, we never know what to expect with the tag division, we can only hope for the best.
Last but far from least on the Raw championship front, Ronda Rousey should be defending her Raw Women’s title against Nia Jax. Logic says Rousey should have the night off this evening, since she’s probably still wrapped in gauze after the horrific Kendo stick beating from Charlotte Flair last night. But health be damned, Rousey will come out wearing her scars, welts and bruises like badges of honour. Expect to see Jax and her new buddy Tamina interrupt whatever Rousey’s saying to the SmackDown women, and probably take full advantage of a broken Rousey. Whoever comes out for the save (Ember Moon? Sasha and Bayley?) ends up in a tag match later tonight.
It’s hard to keep saying Elias is the biggest and best thing Raw’s got right now when he doesn’t even get to appear on the biggest stages. Nonetheless, expect The Drifer to gain some measure of revenge against Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush for stealing his spot on the men’s elimination team for Survivor Series. Also expect this to be a match made for TLC. Lashley’s recent pushes have been stop/start since his return, so it wouldn’t seem to make any difference to his character if Elias eventually gets the better of him too. On the other hand, Elias going down to Lashley long-term, after the momentum he’s been building, could be a deal breaker. Either way, if we don’t get to see someone out of these three take a guitar to the head tonight, it’s coming.
How does Dolph Ziggler rebound tonight after his second pinfall loss to Shane McMahon in a month? He and McIntyre kinda sorta came to the ring together last night, but the pairing is declining in value. McIntyre and Finn Balor seem set to continue their Battle of Britain after some shots last night, so even with his booking issues, at least Balor’s got something to work with. Ziggler looks lost in the shuffle, yet again, only really called on when they want someone to bump like a maniac. If anyone on the roster has reason to go Cody Rhodes or Punk on the company, it’s Ziggler. You’d like to think we could expect him to address this tonight, but they’ve already done that character too. Who knows what to expect for Ziggler. Jinder Mahal’s not busy, neither’s Apollo Crews… maybe one of them?
Overall, expect a lot of highlight photo packages from Survivor Series (God forbid they show videos, some folk might not watch the Network replay if video is shown!), and a lot of bits to get things going for TLC. Expect the Universal title to take a back seat again for a while. Like, a back seat in a different car, on a highway you’re not driving on, in a different county. Although it would be great to see Heyman tonight for a, “Brock’ll see you all again soon!” promo. And expect to feel, after tonight’s show, that last night’s Survivor Series was at least respite from the same matches we’ve been seeing on Raw week after week. On a scale of one to five, with five being, “Joey Styles Says Oh My Gawd!” and one being, “Mike Adamle’s on Commentary,” look for tonight’s Raw to rate a two.