Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe: Latest Rumors and Preview for WWE Raw Jan. 1

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterJanuary 1, 2018

Credit: WWE.com

WWE Raw will celebrate New Year's Day with its bruisers and beasts at the forefront.

Samoa Joe will challenge Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship in a battle of powerhouses. Monday's episode in Miami's American Airlines Arena will also feature the return of universal champion Brock Lesnar.

Reigns and Joe clashed last week for the gold, but The Big Dog derailed the match by smashing his foe with a steel chair. There wasn't a definitive conclusion as a result. That won't happen this time around.

Raw general manager Kurt Angle announced that if Reigns is disqualified in the rematch, he will lose the IC title:

The Royal Rumble pay-per-view will be on the horizon as the red brand delivers its first show of 2018. That means more Superstars are sure to declare themselves entrants at the event's trademark Battle Royal, feuds will begin to heat up, and the PPV card will continue to take shape.

Read on for a look at Monday's show, complete with info culled from backstage news, the Raw preview on WWE.com and storyline projections. Raw will then air at 8 p.m. ET on USA Network.

             

News, Rumors

Superstars continue to tease pairings for the upcoming Mixed Match Challenge tournament.

In a clip WWE released via social media, Nia Jax talked about partnering with Braun Strowman. Raw women's champ Alexa Bliss, meanwhile, seemed to show a touch of interest in tagging with Elias.

Monday's show may offer more hints.

Should Strowman show up on Raw, he may not be at full strength, though. Dave Meltzer noted on Figure Four Online, "Strowman was off the last three days with a very bad flu."

Meltzer also reported WWE pulled Paige from the house show tour after she suffered an injury Saturday.

"A stretcher was brought out, but she could walk under her own power, though she did need help getting to the back," Meltzer explained. "After the show, she was able to go out, and the injury at least at that point wasn't thought to be serious."

Both Paige and Strowman are scheduled to be in Miami on Monday. PWInsider's Mike Johnson reported, "We haven't confirmed that either have been cleared for in-ring competition, but they will be there and available for appearances if WWE requires them to appear."

          

Raw Streaks

Hideo Itami has begun his tenure on the main roster looking unstoppable.

Last week, he knocked off Brian Kendrick to continue a recent roll. Per CageMatch.net, Itami is 4-0 since his call-up from NXT, including two wins on Raw.

It's best not to bet against him for the moment as WWE is clearly looking to build him up.

Curt Hawkins, on the other hand, is the star of a much different kind of story. He is in the midst of a historic losing streak.

The former tag team champ has lost 35 consecutive TV and PPV matches, per CageMatch.net. His last win in that category came back in November 2016.

His ongoing struggles should continue to be a Raw subplot in 2018.

           

Preview

Cedric Alexander will get his crack at Enzo Amore and the Cruiserweight Championship on Monday.

By winning a second-chance Fatal 4-Way match and getting past Drew Gulak, Alexander earned the No. 1 contender's spot. The high-flyer will now look to shut up the braggart champ and claim his first gold in WWE.

Gulak is sure to play into the narrative. He has been Amore's loyal lackey and a protector of the champ. The spotlight he's been getting and the abuse he's suffered from Amore of late, however, suggests a potential babyface turn coming up.

Uncertainty reigns for the Raw Tag Team Championship scene.

Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan dethroned Cesaro and Sheamus last week to claim the titles, but they aren't a cohesive team. They only teamed up because of Dean Ambrose's injury, and they have a clear dislike for one another.

Rollins and Jordan's evolving relationship promises to be spotlighted as they hunt for their newly won championships.

Itami isn't yet in the title hunt, but he's quickly headed in that direction. The newcomer from NXT left Kendrick with broken bones in his face last week. He moved on to defeat Jack Gallagher afterward.

Now, Itami will be looking for a new challenge, and Kendrick's injury could mean more airtime for Gallagher. He'll have the motivation to take out Itami after the striker left his ally injured.

Lesnar's return, meanwhile, will see him advance his feud with Strowman and Kane.

All three men are set to fight in a Triple Threat match for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble on Jan. 28. The Beast Incarnate's part-time schedule has forced The Monster Among Men and Kane to carry the load for this feud. WWE will now have another chance to script some Lesnar-centric moments for it.

Hopefully, Strowman's 2018 looks a lot like his 2017, meaning he delivers memorable moments of destruction.

In addition to the build for that bout, Reigns and Joe's IC title clash will highlight Monday's show. The two warriors have excellent chemistry with each other, and their bad blood has intensified in the past few weeks.

Angle's added stipulation increases the chance Joe takes home the IC crown to kick off the new year.

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