Earlier this week, WWE put on one of its biggest shows ever with the “Monday Night Raw” 25th Anniversary Special. This was exactly what it sounds like with a celebration of the company’s flagship show with a host of big names and special guests. However, it was also the go home episode for “Royal Rumble 2018” and the results weren’t the most positive in the world.

I liked certain parts of the show but there was so much crammed together that it needs a second look. Therefore, today I’ll be looking at the show in a little more detail with a look back at each match and segment. Some of these will be more detailed than others of course but that’s obviously the case. There are just some things that don’t require much discussion so we’ll move past them at a bit of a more brisk pace.

The show opened in the Barclays Center (where everything will be unless otherwise noted) with Shane and Stephanie McMahon introducing a highlight package of the greatest moments in “Raw” history. This is one of the biggest layups the show had as WWE is the undisputed king of history packages and WWE showed that again last night. The video hit on almost every major moment in the show’s long history and set the show off on an incredibly hot start.

That start continued with Vince McMahon coming out and thanking the fans for their years of support. Then his kids gave him an award, which didn’t sit right with the boss. He insulted the fans and CUE GLASS SHATTER! Steve Austin, looking like he could still go 25 minutes at “Wrestlemania XXXIV”, came out, Stunned the male McMahons and consumed beer. This might not have been the most original idea but it was exactly what these people needed to do. Austin vs. McMahon is the biggest feud in the show’s history and it wouldn’t have felt right if this hadn’t happened. It was perfect and I had a great time watching it again.

It worked back then and it works again.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin Stuns Shane and Mr. McMahon: Raw 25, Jan. 22, 2018

Next up was an eight woman tag and this is where the show started to show its biggest problem. I know that it’s the last show before the pay per view but with SO much other nostalgia and historical stuff to focus on, giving a match that didn’t mean much about twelve minutes wasn’t the best idea in the world. The match was fine, but it could have been done in short order, or just a talking segment that broke into a brawl. Either way, it could have been done in a lot less time, which could have been devoted to something else. Asuka cleaning house after the match was all it needed to be and worked well enough.

We had some quick backstage cameos with Jonathan Coachman, Harvey Wippleman, the Brooklyn Brawler, Teddy Long, Brother Love and the Boogeyman. This was a thing that happened and was there for comedy, which was fine. These weren’t the biggest names in the show’s history but they were advertised so throw them in.

It was off to the show’s other venue with the Manhattan Center (decked out in the original show’s look, including an ICOPRO sign just to be awesome) where Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler looked to be a combination of old, tired, bored and later, possibly asleep. This would continue all night and wasn’t a good part of the show, but it wouldn’t have felt right to not have them there.

The Undertaker made an appearance in one of the biggest segments of the night. He looked old and worn out, but the gist of the speech was…..I think that he’s done, but I’m not entirely sold on the idea that he’s going out like this. If Undertaker is really done, I’d expect it to be something MUCH bigger and on a much bigger stage.

This also didn’t address the rumored John Cena vs. Undertaker match at “Wrestlemania XXXIV” but I’m still not sold that it’s not happening. There’s plenty of time to set something up later, even if I’m not wild on seeing the match. Hopefully it doesn’t happen, but last night would have been a good time to set it up if it has to. There’s still time though, and that scares me.


The Undertaker returns: Raw 25, Jan. 22, 2018

Next up was the APA’s poker game and since this was a show long bit, I’ll put them all here. As usual, this means very little as other than nostalgia, there’s very little to talk about. Ted DiBiase was great but at the end of the day, can we please come up with something other than the APA playing poker? The team hasn’t meant anything in the better part of twenty years and for some reason we’re getting this same bit every time.

At some point, you would think there would be another act that they could do but how long of a gap can there be between the APA and ANY other tag team that you could throw in there? I know the titles haven’t meant much, but what does it say that you have to go back almost all the way to the WWF to find a tag act of note? New Day could do this one day but the APA is really the best we can do? That’s a very bad sign.

Some great General Managers were presented. This is a thing that happened and there’s not much to say about it.

Miz regained the Intercontinental Title from Roman Reigns, basically making Reigns’ time with the title seem like little more than a way to keep the title warm. That being said, I like the idea of Miz getting the title back as he’s kind of perfectly suited for it, even though he’s looked like a star since coming back. Give him a big match at “Wrestlemania XXXIV” and everything will be fine. This was the “make it historic” moment ala Nicolai Volkoff/The Iron Sheik winning the Tag Team Titles at “Wrestlemania I” and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s expected at this point and they had a good match in the process.

Christian hosted the Peep Show with Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan as guests. The Bar interrupted and a brawl broke out with Rollins and Jordan having more issues. This story isn’t doing much for me and the rumored Jordan vs. Rollins match at “Wrestlemania XXXIV” sounds like the biggest waste of Rollins I can imagine.

Charlotte and Alexa Bliss had a quick staredown in the back that was nothing more than a way to squeeze in a Ric Flair cameo. Cool, but nothing we haven’t seen a bunch of times before.

Bray Wyatt beat Matt Hardy in a very short match in the Manhattan Center which isn’t the best sign for Hardy’s future. If he’s already losing clean in less than three minutes on “Raw”, what does that mean for the character going forward? Maybe this is the start of a much bigger story between the two of them (it’s how Wyatt vs. Finn Balor started) but it comes off like Vince has already given up on the story and Hardy as a whole, which is REALLY bad all things considered.

Some female talent was presented and WWE actually compared Kelly Kelly, Terri Runnels, Maria Kanellis and Torrie Wilson to Trish Stratus. The Bella Twins were there as well (because of course) and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but STOP GYRATING AND DANCING ALREADY! I get that it’s their signature but it’s like the only thing they knew how to do. That wasn’t the place to keep doing it over and over but for some reason it kept happening. Other than that (and Wilson somehow looking better than she did when she was active), this was another thing that happened with no one being in Stratus’ league.

Oh and if the rumors are true and Lita didn’t appear here because she simply wasn’t invited: SCREW OFF WWE. We can sit through another DX reunion later and Lita, who was a huge star in her own right, isn’t important enough to even remember? That’s inexcusable and embarrassing at the same time.

Elias ran into Chris Jericho, who sang a song about putting Elias on the List. This wasn’t long and felt like a BIG waste of Jericho, which I hope isn’t pettiness over him appearing with New Japan. He’s Jericho. It’s ok to treat him like one of the biggest stars of all time. The moment was funny, but Jericho deserved a bigger stage. Even if it was a bigger backstage segment due to scheduling issues, Jericho should have gotten more.

We weren’t done with Elias as he came to the ring to sing a song, only to have to deal with John Cena. In quite the nice surprise, Cena got in a fight with him and was left laying, giving Elias a heck of a rub. That’s a great sign for Elias, even though he’s likely getting tossed by Cena on Sunday. At least they gave him something though and that’s WAY more than I would have guessed when Cena’s music hit. This was a major highlight for me and one of the best things WWE did all night.

Mark Henry ran into Godfather and thought Godfather’s wife was his latest woman of the night. This was short and funny, though it could have easily been cut.

I thought it was funny.

The Godfather has grown up: Raw 25, Jan. 22, 2018

In the payoff from the poker game, Titus Worldwide vs. Heath Slater (who had been accused of cheating)/Rhyno went to a double DQ. The Dudley Boyz (with D-Von looking like he had gained 50lbs since retiring) came in and put Slater through a table, with Rhyno helping get the table out and cheering the Dudleys on, making him the MVP so far. It was fine and Rhyno was great, which is all you could have asked for out of something like this.

AJ Styles was interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund and said he’ll win on Sunday. Short and simple, serving basically as a way to say Styles will be at the pay per view.

Then came the big problem of the night. In the Manhattan Center, D-Generation X reunited (again) with Shawn Michaels and HHH doing their thing (Michaels is old, HHH is awesome and DROVE A TANK UP TO WCW IN 1998, SINGLE HANDEDLY WINNING THE MONDAY NIGHT WARS IN THE PROCESS) and the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac making their own cameos. Then Scott Hall came out and it turned into a Kliq reunion because HHH is the boss of the company.

After a very abrupt commercial, the Balor Club came out for a Too Sweet off. Now if that was where this ended, everything would have been fine. But no, we needed to bring out the Revival for a clean loss in two minutes to Anderson and Gallows, followed by the group beatdown at the hands of the old guys. You knew this was coming and that still doesn’t make it any better.

Why did this need to happen? To give DX another moment to show how awesome they were? Or to show that “wrestlers” like Revival have no business in WWE? There was no one else who could have taken this beating? You couldn’t have had Slater get beaten down like this? Or just done the Too Sweet thing to put over the Balor Club? Of course not, because this worked SO well for Damien Sandow at Raw 1000 and SO well for Ascension when they came up to the main roster. It’s serving the old guys at the expense of the old talent, which is a big reason why WWE is having a lot of the problems it’s having.

Oh and how in the world did Hall not reference losing to the 1-2-3 Kid? Something like “I still can’t believe I lost that match” would have been fine. But that might have taken away from their time spent beating up Revival and that needed all the time it could have had.

Then in a VERY fast ending, Kurt Angle brought out Brock Lesnar, Kane and Braun Strowman for a big brawl with Strowman cleaning house and standing tall to end the show. This couldn’t have felt more tacked on if they tried and really should have been earlier in the show. Let Austin close things out or something but don’t end it with something that could have ended any given episode.

Here’s how it ended.

Braun Strowman, Brock Lesnar and Kane collide before the Royal Rumble event: Raw 25, Jan. 22, 2018

Overall I still think the show is still acceptable but they would have been MUCH better served not doing this on the same night as the go home show for the pay per view. There was too much going on in a single night and it hurt what should have been a very special night. What we got was good, but cramming so much stuff (and giving the Manhattan Center fans so little) into one night was a big mistake and it really didn’t work.

Change the order up a little bit, don’t waste the Revival, and don’t split the show in two (either in different arenas or in different things the show tried to accomplish) and this could have topped Raw 1000. It’s good, but this could have been a classic if there weren’t so many big problems to work around.


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