The eyes of the WWE Universe may be on the January 27 Royal Rumble pay-per-view but the company's flagship show has its own high-stakes matches on tap for the January 14 episode, including an Intercontinental Championship defense from Dean Ambrose.
The Lunatic Fringe is not the only champion advertised for in-ring competition on the broadcast as Raw women's champion Ronda Rousey finds herself at the forefront of a tag team match that puts her side-by-side with her No. 1 contender.
Two Challengers Await Ambrose
In recent weeks, the rivalry between Ambrose and Seth Rollins over the Intercontinental Championship—and because of The Lunatic's betrayal of The Architect—has been put on the backburner in favor of Rollins' budding feud with Bobby Lashley.
Monday night, those rivalries will fuse in a massive Triple Threat match for the intercontinental title.
The match is an interesting one in that Ambrose and Lashley have no real beef with each other whatsoever. If anything, it was The Almighty who helped the champion retain in a Falls Count Anywhere match a week ago. Perhaps that is his reasoning for getting a championship match Monday.
Maybe, as is the case so often, there is no rhyme or reason for the match to exist other than to pop a rating and feature three guys who kinda, sorta have issues with each other.
Whatever the case may be, the match should at least be a fun one.
Rollins and Ambrose improved upon their dismal TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view match a week ago, while The Kingslayer and Lashley have demonstrated some solid in-ring chemistry in their few matches together.
The question is who this match is meant to benefit.
Ambrose gains nothing in sneakily scoring a pinfall on Rollins or Lashley to retain his title, nor does The Architect find himself anywhere but where he began should he emerge with the gold.
Lashley, though, can finally build that connection with fans and maybe even some momentum for himself with a strong performance against two guys already respected by the WWE Universe and considered elite.
Do not look for a title change as that does not seem to fit the narrative, and it wouldn't help Ambrose with remaining over in the wake of his heel turn. However, do look for some sort of indication as to whether Rollins' immediate future revolves around the champion or big, bad Lashley.
Championship Enemies, Better Partners?
A week after Sasha Banks earned the right to challenge Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women's Championship at Royal Rumble, The Legit Boss will team with Rowdy for a blockbuster match against Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka.
Rousey has had long-running issues with Jax stemming from their Money in the Bank clash last summer. Banks just defeated The Irresistible Force to earn her championship opportunity.
While recent wins over Jax would seem to suggest the babyfaces have the edge, we have yet to see whether Rousey and Banks can get along, if at all.
There was considerable tension between the two during last week's A Moment of Bliss talk show, in which Banks vowed to teach the champion how to lose with dignity and respect. Could those words haunt The Boss should she find herself on the wrong side of her partner?
Maybe it is Rousey who should watch her back given Banks' history of "me first" attitudes.
Look for tension to reign supreme but the babyfaces to set it aside in the name of victory Monday as a throwaway tag match hardly seems apropos for Rousey's first televised defeat.
Did Somebody Say 'Conspiracy?'
Frustration has set in for The Revival's Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder after a series of championship match defeats that were anything but clean.
Two weeks ago, the illegal member of the team was pinned. A week ago, in yet another attempt to dethrone Bobby Roode and Chad Gable as champions, Dawson found himself pinned despite his foot being draped over the ropes.
This week, the so-called conspiracy is likely to continue as The Top Guys seek retribution, justice and another shot at their first main roster titles.
Whether they can convince the powers that be to give them another shot at Gable and Roode remains to be seen; but given the overwhelming talent of The Revival, it is nice to see WWE Creative doing something productive with them that does not equate to them eating meaningless losses every week.