Stunners, Blunders & Nostalgia: WWE RAW 25

RAW 25!

Amazing, the 25th Anniversary of Monday Night RAW. Starting out in the Manhattan Center, the mainstay of Monday night wrestling television is home to hundreds of memorable moments. Tonight is no different as more took place as RAW takes place in both the Manhattan and Barclays Center.

So in honor of that this review will feature two writers — Michael “SD” Dworkis, and Bill Bodkin

The Opening Segment:

MD: Shane and Stephanie McMahon thank the fans for all the years or loyalty and highlight some of RAW’s moments. They bring out Vince McMahon, who instantly goes crazy full heel on everyone, belittling a “GoFundMe” plaque which was presented. Now, I don’t know about you, but do Steph and Shane really need to do a GoFundMe? Vince loses his mind, and our second major guest for tonight, Stone Cold Steve Austin arrives. In expected fashion, Austin drops Shane and Vince with stunners and a beer bash to close. Nice touch and sent the live crowd into a frenzy. It was funny to listen to Vince plea for his physical safety, but we knew what was going to happen.

BB: Easily the best segment of the night. It was so obvious that Stone Cold was going to come out and open a can of whoop ass on Mr. McMahon. But you know what? Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. This was such a wonderful segment. Vince was absolutely gold as the douchebag heel who quickly turned into a coward once Austin showed up. His lines about being in AARP, and being a senior citizen were classic. By the way, Stone Cold looks to be in amazing shape, and it’ll never happen, but man if he could have one more match.

Asuka, Sasha Banks, Mickie James, and Bayley defeat Absolution, Nia Jax, and Alicia Fox:

MD: Great match, and I love how the crowd gets behind Nia Jax when she mows everyone down. Everyone got some ring time, and I am impressed with how Absolution manages to stay dominant even with Paige out of action. Asuka lobbing everyone over the ropes might be a sign of this Sunday.

BB: This began the extremely annoying trend of way to many commercials disrupting the flow of the show. I thought the match was fine, but it was the aftermath that made it special. I love Asuka as the lone wolf, the wild card…the Steve Austin-esque character of the Women’s Division.

Backstage: Kurt Angle is joined by The Coach, Harvey Whippleman, Teddy Long, The Brooklyn Brawler, Brother Love, and the Boogeyman.

MD: Nice funny segment with some classic characters. If not for Wikipedia, I wonder how many fans knew who they were.

BB: This was your requisite oddball cameo situation that WWE loves to use. And it seems they especially love bringing The Boogeyman back to WWE as often as they can. This was silly, but fun.

The Undertaker Returns

MD: Back at the Manhattan Center, the Undertaker comes out, but in the newer hooded leather robe. He cuts a promo about his history on RAW. It sounded off. It sounded like he was attempting to do a retirement speech. But the speech sounded as though he messed up or forgot lines. Then the announce team of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler didn’t know what to make of it, so we are all left confused. If that was a retirement speech, maybe he was just too emotional and nothing came out coherent. Maybe WWE will let him have a do-over.

BB: This was screwed from the jump. First, no lights dimmed for Taker? Seriously? Then there was his promo. So three things happened here. One, he was supposed to have a retirement speech but got too emotional and called an audible. Two, he was supposed to say he was back but realized it was a bad idea, and called an audible. Three, this was exactly how it was supposed to happen. Anyway you slice it WWE either has to sweep this under the rug, or do serious damage control. The Undertaker’s last few big appearances have been pretty bad, and he needs one more big showing to make good.

MORE CAMEOS

MD: Backstage, The APA holds their poker court, and taking tons of money from Rhyno and Heath Slater. They are joined by The Million Dollar Man. Makes sense.

At Barclays, We get a special segment featuring past General Managers, John Laurinaitis, William Regal, Eric Bischoff, and Daniel Bryan. I jumped when Bischoff was introduced. Cool moment.

BB: The APA card game is always a fun way to get cameos in, and they really did this later. Of course, Heath being the butt of the joke is never a bad thing. I think it was nice to have the GMs of RAW come out, but man did having Bischoff and Bryan just come out and wave seem to be a waste.

Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz defeats Roman Reigns to become an eight-time titleholder

MD: Not the greatest match, but damn entertaining to hear the entire crowd take an almighty crap on Roman Reigns. I’ll give credit to Reigns, he did have a number of good matches while as champion, and his feud with Samoa Joe was great. I say good for Miz to get reign number eight. He owned the Intercontinental Championship and made it a focus of the show, more than a prop. Miz earns it.

BB: This lacked in execution, but I’m happy with the result.The Miz has become one of, if no the best acts in WWE. He makes the title. However, I feel like WWE needs to move him into the Universal Title picture. He’s worked hard, he’s marketable as hell, and the crowd is ready for it.

MD: Backstage, the poker play gets the additions of MVP, Jeff Hardy, and The Usos. Starting to feel like they are just carting out characters, but aren’t doing much with them.

BB: This was a waste of Jeff Hardy, and MVP. First off, good for MVP being brought back for this show. Met him earlier this year, and he’s a super nice guy. He’s also prime for another run in WWE in my opinion.

Christian’s Peep Show!

MD: Hey! Haven’t seen this guy in a while! He brings out Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan to discuss their reign as World Tag Team Champions. Segment takes an abrupt turn when, the crowd, experiences some irritable bowel all over Jordan. No one likes this guy, and Jordan is milking it for everything. Out comes The Bar and the egg the crowd to chant “You Suck” on Jordan. This is hysterical. Brooklyn is loving it. Brawl breaks out with Cesaro and Sheamus having the last laugh. I love how Jordan’s childlike banter continues to feed the venom from the fans. He is taking the hate and running with it.

BB: It might not have been WWE’s original intention, but Jason Jordan has become a tremendous heel.

MD: Backstage: Alexa Bliss talks about the Royal Rumble, until she is interrupted by SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte, who tells Bliss, “to be the woman, you have the beat the woman…” Ric Flair comes out too. Uh, poor choice of words Charlotte. Flair is old. Oy vey.

More people join the poker game, and Dana Brooke makes some sort of contribution only to make fun of Slater who keeps losing over and over.

BB: This was all fun and games. I never realized the height disparity between Alexa and Charlotte, holy smokes.

We finally get back to the Manhattan Center where Bray Wyatt gets a win over Woken Hardy.

MD: This match fit, with the wild and gimmicky characters of the early 90’s. I was very surprised to see a clean win. It felt like this killed the feud. It was a short match, uneventful. As though all the hype and build just got flushed down the crapper.

BB: I’m really, really hoping that Matt says, “We did war back in 1993 and you defeated me!” Because that would be hysterical, and fitting. If this feud is over, then it was a real waste. The only reason I can see it being over is that they’re going to put Matt into 205 Live due to the recent suspension of a certain former champion.

The Women of RAW’s Past

MD: Back at the Barclays, notable women of the past 25 years are introduced, Kelly Kelly, Terri Runnels, Jacqueline, Lillian Garcia, Maryse, Maria, Torrie Wilson, Nikki and Brie Bella, Michelle McCool, and Trish Stratus. Yeah, I don’t think some of those get that honor. Missing some better choices.  Lita? Stacey Keibler? Ivory?

BB: By this point I was like “can we do more than parade people out to wave?” I honestly think we do see some of these women in the Rumble — Nikki Bella, and hopefully Trish.

Elias meets… Chris Jericho

MD: This earns my vote for best segment of the night. Jericho sings, and Elias makes the list. ‘Nuff said.

BB: Only Jericho could pull this off. Less than three weeks ago he’s headlining the Tokyo Dome, and now he’s back in WWE for a cameo and the crowd goes insane.

ELIAS MEETS CENA

MD: In the ring, Elias is greeted with chants of “stupid idiot” among others, and the Brooklyn crowd can’t make up their minds whether to cheer or boo him. He makes fun of everyone, even Jimmy Fallon. He then sings, making fun of Austin, The Rock, and John Cena. The latter of whom teases a fight, which, makes this segment a surprisingly good one, is seeing Elias come out on top. Thanks to a punch in the nuts.

BB: Elias seems to be stepping in for Samoa Joe who looked to feuding with Cena next. Elias has really, really turned himself around from his NXT Days. I remember seeing him at an NXT house show and he was so awkward. Now, he’s fully realized himself as a wrestler and character, and he’s become a top act in WWE.

MD: The New Day and their pancakes join the crowd at the poker game, which Heath Slater is found cheating, and for some reason the leads to a match between Slater and Rhyno against Titus O’Neal and Apollo Crews. However, Ted Dibiase adds to his millions by winning the entire pot, leading to a “DAMN!” from Ron Simmons. Cute conclusion.

BB: This was a thing.

WELCOME TO DUDLEYVILLE

MD: Mark Henry meets up with The Godfather who introduces a lovely lady, who is his wife! That’s where Simmons should have popped up with a “Damn!” moment.

BB: This was just silly for silly sake.

MD: Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Titus Worldwide goes to a double DQ, and then The Dudley Boyz arrive, with Heath Slater being sacrificed for a 3D through a table.

BB: They let this match go on way too long, but The Dudley pay off was well worth it.

 In the Manhattan Center, we get a reunion of Degeneration X!

MD: HBK attempts to talk about past stories, but he sounds like he is suffering from major jet lag or had a few drinks before showing up. Triple H takes the time to thank the fans and show appreciation for the fans to keep WWE rolling for all these years. They bring out The New Age Outlaws followed by X-Pac. Road Dogg looks old, Gunn looks beefed up, and X-Pac looks like he’s sick and sounds terrible. In a travesty, they cut to commercial when Scott Hall comes out. What in the blue unholy hell? Who the crap made that decision?! Finally, back to the show, Hall says it’s just “Too Sweet” which brings out The Balor Club!!  They did say the words after all. Before Billy Gunn can hit his catchphrase, they are interrupted by Balor Club’s opponents tonight, The Revival.

BB: Loved this. It really saved the lackluster Manhattan Center segments. They did all the right things here – pop the crowd, and give the rub-ski to The Balor Club, who definitely needs it.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeat The Revival.

MD: Maybe Dash and Dawson are being punished for their shoot last week. You know, where they may have gone a little too far when trying to break the fourth wall? Fun bit where post-match, all members of DX hit their signature moves on Revival, capped off by Finn Balor hitting a Coup de Grace. Nice segment, the massive Too Sweet was pretty cool to see.

BB: I don’t see this as a punishment at all. Manhattan Center just got the quick matches. Why makes 18,000 people in Barclays sit around longer than they needed to?

Final Segment of the Night: Kurt Angle brings out EVERYONE, including “the legends” for the face off with Brock Lesnar, Kane, and Braun Strowman.

MD: I don’t know about you, but this was FREAKING HORRIBLE. Within moments, Lesnar F5’d Kane, and then Strowman plows Lesnar through the announce table to end the show. That was it.

I’m all for bringing out guest wrestlers from the past, to either show up or hit their big move. However, at times it seems a bit forced, and uneventful. Where at times during the show it was “Oh wow they are here!” but others came off as “Oh… look, yawn, they hit their move, and that’s it.” It’s where a novelty gets used too much it feels like it jumped the shark. The show started out great, some funny segments, and some good matches early on, but as the show went on, it began to feel more of a rush, cramming as much in as possible. I am glad there was a celebration of RAW and the 25 years of history, was it perfect, no, but it did what it was supposed to do. 25 years of history, and onward to 25 more.

BB: This was particularly stupid. I was fine with the wrestlers getting in the ring to separate Kane and Braun, but they all scattered too easily and too quickly when Brock came out. It was kinda stupid. What wasn’t stupid was Brock Lesnar closing the sweet Baby Jesus out of Braun, and then Braun brutalizing everyone. That was cool.

Overall this was a fun, but definitely flawed RAW. It was hyped to the gills and outside of a great opening and a cool Jericho cameo, this came off as a lot of good ideas that went to waste.

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