The special show was to mark the 25th anniversary of WWE’s flagship weekly show Monday Night Raw, which first aired in the States in January 1993.
As part of the event, the broadcast was split between two locations in New York – a small crowd packed into the Manhattan Centre where the first ever episodes of Raw were filmed, and a far more raucous one assembled just across the city at the Barclays Centre.
As a nostalgic show, the appearances of some old favourites were certainly the highlight of the night – Austin and Vince McMahon squared up in the ring some 20 years after first banging heads as rivals in the ‘Attitude Era’, with the Rattlesnake delivering a trademark stunner to both Vince and his son Shane to kick off the show.
There was also an appearance at the Manhattan Centre by the Undertaker, who appeared to dampen rumours he’d be set for a dramatic return to the ring despite all-but retiring at last year’s Wrestlemania. Addressing the crowd in a shot promo, he said of his past ‘victims’: “I declare for all of those who have fallen, it is truly time you rest in peace.”
The likes of Razor Ramon, D-Generation X, Eric Bischoff, Chris Jericho, Trish Stratus and Ric Flair all featured throughout the night. Given that the anything-goes era in WWE is now well and truly gone, they did have to tone things down a little – for instance, Austin’s beer is now Lite and The Godfather is happily married!
It wasn’t all about the past, though; this show was the final Raw before Sunday’s Royal Rumble and there was a key title change, as The Miz capped his recent return by capturing the Intercontinental championship from Roman Reigns. Reigns now looks a good bet to go on and win the Rumble in Philadelphia.
With so much being crammed into the night, there were parts that felt a little disjointed and rushed. The Manhattan Centre crowd seemed to be short-changed by getting far less screen time than those at The Barclays Centre – just a couple of short matches and short appearances from the Undertaker and DX.
Hall of Fame duo Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were hosts from that location but felt distinctly adrift of the current product, seemingly unaware of some of the talent’s holds and moves, really detracting from the efforts of Gallows, Anderson and Finn Balor on the night. It’s hardly a surprise given pictures surfaced of them appearing to be sound asleep at the broadcast table while portions of the other venue’s action were being shown on screen.
Back at the Barclays, Braun Strowman made yet another big statement by taking out Kane and Brock Lesnar as the trio prepare to meet at the Royal Rumble, while Elias also stood tall after dishing out a beating to 16-time world champ John Cena.
All told, it was an enjoyable enough night for wrestling fans past and present. Short of a cameo – even by video screen – from The Rock, it probably ticked as many boxes as it could during three frantic hours.
WWE Raw 25 Match Results
- Sasha Banks, Bayley, Mickie James, and Asuka DEF. Alicia Fox, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, and Nia Jax via Submission
- The Miz DEF. Roman Reigns to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship
- Bray Wyatt DEF. “Woken” Matt Hardy
- Anderson and Gallows DEF. The Revival
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies