WWE has announced that current WWE Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins will defend his title against former champion Jinder Mahal on the January 15 episode of Monday Night Raw, which is being promoted as a special MLK Day edition of the flagship show.
Lead Up To The Match
Rollins won the vacant WWE Championship back on November 26, 2023, defeating Bobby Lashley, Baron Corbin and The Miz in a Fatal 4-Way match at Survivor Series after the title was relinquished by former champion Cody Rhodes due to injury . Rollins is currently in his second reign with 233 days and counting as champion.
Meanwhile, Mahal has voiced frustration recently about feeling overlooked in WWE. On the January 13 episode of SmackDown, NWA World Champion Nick Aldis told Mahal that the blue brand was the “land of opportunity” and wished him luck on Raw .
Mahal is a former WWE Champion, having held the title for 170 days in 2017 after defeating Randy Orton. He has an astounding stat of having held the WWE Championship longer than legends like The Rock, André the Giant and Ric Flair .
Confirmed Match Details
WWE has confirmed that Rollins vs. Mahal for the WWE Championship will take place on the January 15 episode of Raw. The show is being held in North Little Rock, Arkansas and will have extra significance by airing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States.
In addition to the title match, the episode will also feature the return of Gunther. Other names scheduled for the show include R-Truth, The Judgment Day, The Street Profits, Asuka, Becky Lynch and Candice LeRae .
Preview And Predictions
With Rollins’ 233 day reign on the line against the challenger Mahal, this match is difficult to predict. Many fans believe Rollins will retain the gold , while others see Mahal potentially pulling off the upset thanks in part to frustration over feeling held back in WWE. Some predict outside interference or a dusty finish leading to a rematch at WWE’s upcoming premium live event . Four others see potential for a title change to take place.
According to reports, SmackDown General Manager Nick Aldis is interested in signing Mahal . Aldis has claimed on Twitter that SmackDown is the “land of opportunity” so if Mahal fails to win the WWE Championship, he could potentially jump to the blue brand.
Bleacher Report sees the match as an opportunity for WWE to capitalize on Mahal’s momentum. A title win would establish Mahal as top heel on the Raw brand .
Potential Next Directions
If Rollins retains the gold, WWE has a number of options creatively:
- Rematch with Mahal at Royal Rumble or No Way Out
- Feud with Gunther, who is returning on Raw
- Feud over the title with Cody Rhodes upon his AEW contract expiring shortly
- Drop the title to Rhodes at WrestleMania in April
If Mahal pulls off the shocking win, he could have a run as champion heading into WrestleMania. WWE could even draw inspiration from how Mahal initially won the WWE Championship in 2017 by having The Singh Brothers interfere or a legend play a role:
- Have The Singh Brothers help Mahal cheat to win
- Potential assistance from WWE legend The Great Khali
- Transition into a feud with Cody Rhodes
- Drop the title to Rhodes at WrestleMania
There is certainly no shortage of interesting directions WWE could take coming out of this championship match on Raw.
Notable Past and Present WWE Champions
|Number of Reigns
|Total Days as Champion
|Longest Single Reign
Table shows selected notable former WWE Champions and their title reign information compared to current champion Seth Rollins and his opponent Jinder Mahal
The January 15 MLK Day episode of Raw now has a stacked line-up anchored by Seth Rollins defending the WWE Championship against former champion Jinder Mahal. This will be an unpredictable match that some see Mahal even potentially winning.
It remains to be seen whether Mahal will pull off the upset or if Rollins will retain, perhaps due to interference or with outside help. There are naturally many potential next directions for the Raw brand and world championship picture based on the outcome.
But tonight promises to be an exciting and potentially landscape-shifting night in WWE with all the action emanating live from North Little Rock!
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