25 years of Monday Night RAW gets celebrated in a unique fashion while the Rumble looms.
Monday Night RAW celebrated its 25th birthday last night. As the show approached the WWE did everything in their power to promote the major event. With legends, current stars and a heavy dose of nostalgia, Monday night finally arrived. The show kicked off from the Manhattan Center, the home of the early days of RAW. Fans watching at home would hear a pair of familiar voices, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. So far, the show was off to a great start.
Soon, the voices of the Attitude Era would pass the baton to the show emanating from the Barclays Center. Shane and Stephanie would kick off their portion of the show and invite Vince down to the ring to thank him for 25 years. Suddenly, the sound of broken glass, Stone Cold Steve Austin! Austin would send fans back to 1998 with a pair of stunners to Shane and one to Vince. And as soon as the nostalgia began, we were reminded heavily that this was still a regular RAW.
That’s where the fun began to wane for me. With the Royal Rumble just days away, there was no way at all that this show could be the nostalgia ride and go home show that creative desired. Even with three hours to fill, it felt like there wasn’t enough time at all for either show. The real downward spiral became apparent when we would rarely see the Manhattan Center throughout the show. So there were people that paid hundreds of dollars to see a retro show, which the WWE basically promoted, and then most of the night was watching RAW on a giant screen.
Now there would be matches and segments from the Manhattan Center throughout the night. Bray Wyatt would defeat Woken Matt in a back and forth affair. The Undertaker would make an appearance and send an ominous message to the WWE Universe. The highlight of the retro portion would have to be DX, Razor Ramon (yes I know he did the Scott Hall schtick, but I’m respecting what was the intent) and the Balor Club. Catchphrases, Too Sweets, and a parade of finishers onto The Revival and that was it.
Nostalgia and the future don’t mix well on RAW
I feel that both shows would have been exponentially better if they were independent of one another. If it could’ve been a nostalgia show, like a RAW 1000, and a show that built new stories, then great. But it wasn’t. Throughout the night it repeatedly felt like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Now I know I’ve been a tad negative, and, well, it’s not uncalled for. There were parts of the show I really enjoyed. When I heard the siren kick off RAW from the Manhattan Center, I felt like a kid again. With a show like this though, it just felt like a lot of underhand pitches were missed and there were too many strikeouts. JEFF HARDY WAS A BACKGROUND ACT IN A FRICKEN POKER GAME!!!!
This should’ve been a layup for the creative team. It could have been something as simple as separating except for special crossovers with the legends and current roster. This would have given them the opportunity to give the crowd at both arenas what they paid for. Again, this may seem negative but I will wholeheartedly admit that I popped for a ton of the legends segments. It just felt as the show went on that the mapping of who appeared where just didn’t fit. The Dudleyz would’ve blown the roof off of the Manhattan Center, but were at Barclays.
The Royal Rumble becomes the focus again
In what were some of the biggest stories coming from RAW heading into the Royal Rumble were The Miz regaining the IC Title and the giant brawl at the end of the night. The Miz and Roman Reigns had another match that stole the show. On a night like tonight, it wasn’t too difficult but these two have great chemistry. Despite the hate that he gets, Roman Reigns bell to bell is money and The Miz knows his role and character so well.
Even just the short staredown between The Miz and Daniel Bryan before the match was perfect. After a wild back and forth and some shenanigans from the MIZtourage, The Miz leaves Brooklyn as the IC Champion. The finish came after The Miz removed a turnbuckle pad and sent Reigns into the exposed buckle, 1-2-3 and The Miz is an 8x IC Champ.
After sending much of the locker room and legends to ringside, Kurt Angle calls upon Strowman, Kane, and Lesnar. As one would expect, the day one ish hit the fan quick. The men going after the Universal Title on Sunday began to beat the hell out of one another. Lesnar would get a quick upper hand just for Braun to dominate again. A wild way to end an at times fun, at times exhaustive RAW 25 anniversary/go home show. Kane, Strowman, and Lesnar have all done whatever it seems to make this match a must watch. Braun looks like the monster the WWE desperately needs going into Sunday.
So with RAW 25 in the rearview mirror and the Royal Rumble as our next destination, the go home show landed some and missed some punches. I am truly excited for the Royal Rumble but it’s also my favorite event each year. I can understand what was the goal for RAW 25, it just feels like they should’ve treated the night like two separate shows. If I had to rate the show I would fall around a 6/10, I had high expectations coming in with how they promoted it and felt like something was missing. But, the Royal Rumble is just days away and I couldn’t be more excited. The best event of the WWE calendar will be kicking off in 3…2…1…