Preview: Raw is XXX Tonight (1/23/23 – Monay Night Raw Card

Raw is XXX - image of Monday Night Raw crowd

Monday Night Raw turned 30 years old this past January 11, however the WWE slated the commemorative episode, Raw is XXX, for today, January 23. Live from one of WWE’s landmark arenas: The Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, PA. Previously known as The Spectrum, the First Union Arena and Wachovia Center, this building has been home to the WWE since its inception in 1996 when it took over the original Spectrum building.

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The arena was home to In Your House: Mind Games in 1996 with a rather memorable match between Shawn Michaels and Mankind as its main event. It also hosted WrestleMania XV with the first of the 3 Stone Cold vs The Rock matches on the event. It hosted the 2004 Royal Rumble and the 2018 Royal Rumble. The latter coming the day after NXT Takeover: Philadelphia where Andrade Cien Almas and Johnny Gargano had a performance so stunning it was granted a 5-star rating by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer. The first since Money In The Bank 2011.

Raw is XXX Card Tonight

Judgment For Sami Zayn

A big change has been announced as we’ll no longer be holding a “Bloodline Acknowledgement Ceremony” with “all generations of the Bloodline”. Instead, after the drama that unfolded on Smackdown with Unified Universal WWE Champion Roman Reigns, “Honorary Uce” Sami Zayn and #1 Contender Kevin Owens, we’re instead getting a trial for Sami Zayn. To see where he stands. Is he truly Bloodline? Or is he still too attached to Kevin Owens?

The original segment seemed to truly lean into the possibility of an appearance by The Rock. WWE even started releasing new merch. After all, as the promotion said: “All generations of The Bloodline” would be present. However, as reports of ‘The Great One’ potentially not being able to prepare for a proper match at WrestleMania, the segment was changed. Is it all just WWE trying to pull a fast one on us? Or did plans really change at the last minute involving The Rock? Our answer is likely to come. As for Sami, as WrestleMania draws closer, we have to imagine the big turn is approaching. Especially as rumors of what’s planned for him point to something at the Elimination Chamber event.

Horsewomen In The Steel Cage

Monday Night Raw has seen a fair share of notable Steel Cage matches to end many feuds. Edge vs John Cena, Johnny Nitro vs Jeff Hardy, Umaga vs Jeff Hardy, Stone Cold vs The Rock, New Age Outlaws vs Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie and the first ever involving women took place on Raw back in 2003 when Lita and Victoria clashed thanks to “Raw Roulette”. Since then, we’ve seen many other matches in WWE involving women inside Steel Cages but for tonight, we have one that looks to climax a feud that’s been going on for several months. Becky Lynch and Bayley go one on one inside the structure. Will the rest of Damage CTRL find their way around as they have in the past? Will someone try to leap off the top of the cage? Let’s see.

The Legends Are Loose

As is tradition, big Raw, call the legends. WWE busts out its Rolodex of names to bring in. Of course, if you’re going to celebrate such a monumental event, it makes sense to bring in names of the past with significant history with Monday Night Raw. Here’s the current list of announced legends:

  • Ric Flair: Competed in the first 3 episodes of Raw and had its first memorable main event losing to Mr. Perfect in a “Loser Leaves Town” match on its third episode. Of course, he would return in 2002.
  • Hulk Hogan: Hogan never truly had any matches on Raw until 2002 following his return as a part of the NWO, but did have a couple of segments on its first few weeks before leaving for WCW.
  • Shawn Michaels: Michaels has had a laundry list of memorable matches and segments on Raw as well as also competing on the shows debut episode when he defeated Max Moon to defend the WWF Intercontinental title.
  • The Undertaker: He headlined the very first episode of Monday Night Raw against Damien Demento. Of course, he would continue appearing on the show for many years. His match with Stone Cold Steve Austin on the June 28, 1999 edition of Raw is the highest-rated match in the history of the show with 10.72 million viewers watching.
  • Kurt Angle: Angle would be a part of the Raw brand during the second half of 2005, would be GM for the show in 2017 and of course has a constant figure from late 1999 until the first brand split.
  • Lita: Along with Trist Stratus, the two would be the first women’s main event of Raw for the Women’s Championship for the December 6 edition of Raw in 2004.
  • Triple H, Road Dogg & X-Pac: 3 of the 5 members of D-Generation X’s second incarnation. They famously came together the Raw after Wrestlemania 14 with Triple H taking leadership of the group and re-introducing the former 123 Kid and Syxx, now known as X-Pac for a shoot promo against WCW and how he was told that “he couldn’t cut the mustard.” Road Dogg alongside current AEW wrestler Billy Gunn would be added in the main event.
  • Jerry Lawler: Lawler would have his King’s Court segments in early episodes of Raw before becoming a commentator alongside Jim Ross from 1995 for the majority of the show’s history, all the way until 2008.
  • Other legends announced for Raw is XXX include Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Teddy Long, The Godfather, Ron Simmons, Madusa/Alundra Blayze, Jimmy Hart and maybe a few surprises. It would be hard to believe we wouldn’t hear a glass shatter on such a memorable night.

Separation Of The Tag Team Titles

It seems WWE is not going to unify the pairs of Tag Team titles as they’re being defended separately now. The Judgment Day challenge The Usos for the red set of titles tonight. The gothic quartet has been on a hot streak since Dominik’s “life changing” stint in the pokey and seeming raid of Konnan’s closet. Meanwhile, The Usos have been caught up in the constant “is Sami trustworthy” dilemma and dealing with Kevin Owens. Though they were able to give us a classic Usos promo last week to build up this match. Will we see a title change? History has told us that these kinds of historical episodes tend to see title changes. Though, it’s not the only title match of the show.

All Mighty vs The Now

Bobby Lashley gets another crack at the US Championship thanks to, of all people, Omos. As rumblings of a Hurt Business return go about, we’ve seen Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin teaming up. We know MVP was responsible for Bobby Lashley’s suspension being lifted and now, we know that Omos is still aligned with MVP despite MVP’s own intentions of reuniting the group being expressed. Now the current United States Champion, Austin Theory is going to have to deal with all that. The cocky heel who managed to eek a win at Survivor Series over Lashley and Seth Rollins with seeming luck may not be able to escape tonight. If these Hurt Business reunion plans come to fruition. Because, they may very well provide an accidental distraction for Bobby Lashley instead as he’s expressed disinterest in the idea.

AEW Says Hi to Raw is XXX?

In WWE’s promotional package for the event, we can see many moments that also involve current AEW stars. Chris Jericho’s debut, Daniel Bryan’s Yes chants with the crowd among other highlights. This has led to rumors that WWE has contacted AEW with the hopes of some sort of presence. After all, it’s been seen before back when WWE celebrated John Cena’s 20-year anniversary. It was also confirmed that WWE tried to bring in Billy Gunn for D-Generation X’s 25th anniversary, however, that fell through when WWE did not agree to promote AEW, allegedly. So it’s very much possible that AEW alumni that have had notable stints on WWE Raw may say hi in short videos again.

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Chris Jericho has already shared some tweets promoting Raw is XXX. Christian Cage, Mark Henry, Paul Wight/The Big Show, Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson, Jim Ross, Taz, Big Bill/Big Cass, Buddy Matthews/Murphy, Dustin Rhodes/Goldust, the Hardy Boys and the previously mentioned Billy Gunn all had notable stints on Raw after all. Don’t hold your breath for CM Punk though. His Pipebomb segment was very clearly omitted.

All that and more from Raw is XXX as the show is also Raw’s go-home show for the Royal Rumble event this Saturday.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this report and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.