by Amanda Why
The big celebration has finally arrived. After months of advertising, it’s the RAW 25th anniversary show. It’s also the go home show for Royal Rumble. The preview is mostly about the celebration, telling us to expect a plethora of legends, and a visit from some SmackDown superstars as well. There will be more in the build up for Braun Strowman, Kane, and Brock Lesnar. The only pre-advertised match, is Roman Reigns defending his Intercontinental title against The Miz.
I’m Amanda, and I’m here to guide you through this special addition of RAW. Settle in, there’s a lot going on.
The Opening Segment
Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross were hosting in the Manhattan centre, with the normal commentary team (all dressed up) in the Barclays. Stephanie and Shane McMahon opened the show. They started by thanking everyone from production crews to fans for making the show special, then showed the video package WWE released a few days ago.
Afterwards, Stephanie brought Vince McMahon out. He said a few words, then they presented him with a commemorative plaque, which he said it was cheap – but they are in Brooklyn – and that plaque is the stuff on your teeth. He managed to turn the crowds from ‘Thank you Vince’ to ‘Asshole’ in just a few sentences – impressive. It was amusing to watch Stephanie McMahon tease him about losing his hearing though.
First guest of the evening, Stone Cold Steve Austin, finally broke up the McMahon’s chatter. Vince McMahon told Austin he’s a senior citizen now, trying to talk his way out of a stunner, but offered Shane as a sacrifice. Austin raised Shane’s hand, then hit him with one. Vince and Austin had a beer and a hug, then Vince McMahon took a stunner too. Kudos to him for that. To wrap things up Stone Cold gave Shane a beer, and another stunner.
Not going to say too much about the matches this week. Let’s face it, that’s not what this show was about. So, here’s all the in-ring action, then we can get on with the special stuff.
– Nia Jax, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville and Alicia Fox vs Asuka, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Mickie James – This started with a full-on brawl, but the ref eventually got control and the match began. It was a bit ‘house show’, everyone got a minute or two to do their thing. Eventually, another brawl erupted, this time on the outside. While everyone was scrapping, Sasha Banks submitted Alicia Fox with the Bank Statement. Post-match, Asuka chucked all her teammates over the top rope – just practicing for Sunday.
– Roman Reigns vs The Miz – Intercontinental Championship match – Unsurprisingly, this was a very good match, but The Miztourage were a huge factor. Reigns let himself be distracted by beating them up, and almost found himself on the end of a Skull Crushing Finale. They interfered again, the ref tried to eject them, but they got on the apron, Reigns superman punched them, Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale, and Reigns kicked out.
Miz had removed the pad from the second turnbuckle while the ref was distracted by Reigns and the Miztourage on the outside. He got out of the way when Reigns charged him, and Reigns hit the exposed turnbuckle face-first. Miz hit another Skull Crushing Finale and pinned Roman Reigns to become an eight-time Intercontinental Champion.
– Bray Wyatt vs Matt Hardy was at the Manhattan Centre. JR and Lawler speculated about Sister Abigail and talked about Matt Hardy being ‘woken’. The match was short and unremarkable, but not bad. Bray Wyatt won with Sister Abigail.
– Titus Worldwide vs Heath Slater and Rhyno – was declared no contest after it descended into chaos, then turned into a Dudley Boyz segment (see below).
– The Revival vs The Club – The final match of the evening. Gallows and Anderson not only had Finn Balor on the outside, they had the whole of DX. The ‘Too Sweet, Whoop Whoop’ chants were annoying, but the match was short. Karl Anderson pinned Dash Wilder after a Magic Killer. Scott Dawson tried to pick a fight with Razor Ramon, and ended up taking everyone’s finisher.
Guests and Legends – The Segments
– Jonathan Coachman, Harvey Whippleman, Brooklyn Brawler, Teddy Long and Brother Love had a lovely catch-up in Kurt Angle’s office, until The Boogeyman turned up and freaked everyone out. He gave Coach a handful of worms from his mouth, then left.
– Over at the Manhattan Centre, Lawler and JR introduced the video package for The Undertaker. Then ‘Taker himself made his entrance. He said that the carnage began on this sacred ground of evil 25 years ago, and for 25 years he’s been digging holes and buried anyone who’d dared to step into the dark side. He mentioned Stone Cold, Mick Foley and Kane as examples. With the crowd chanting ‘one more match’, he said that on this sacred ground he now declared, that for all those who had fallen, it is truly time that they rest in peace. Not sure what to make of that, JR asked if it was a warning, but it sounded like a retirement to me. Undertaker looked emotional when he was saying his final lines, but it was a little ambiguous. Maybe that was the plan.
– The APA playing cards with Heath Slater and Rhyno was a recurring segment. The first time we visited them they were joined by The Million Dollar Man who threw a wad of cash down, and asked to be dealt in. The next time we saw them they’d been joined by the Usos, Jeff Hardy, and MVP. By the next visit Titus Worldwide, including Dana Brooke, and Natalya had joined the party. The final time, New Day was there too. Slater and Rhyno, and Titus Worldwide, were told to leave when Slater got caught cheating, and they tried to start a fight. Ron Simmons said Damn when Ted DiBiase won.
– John Laurinaitis, William Regal, Erich Bischoff and Daniel Bryan were brought out in a display of General Managers. The Miz came out, and had a stare down with Daniel Bryan on his way to the ring.
– Christian hosted the Peep Show with Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan as guests. Jordan interrupted a very excited Rollins, and got booed every time he tried to speak. He sucked up to Christian, the other superstars, and the fans. Then he got onto to thanking his dad, Kurt Angle, telling everyone Angle doesn’t suck, and Rollins and Christian looked like they wanted to disappear. The Bar came out. They said all the superstars had been queuing up to get photos with them, and that they all expected them to get the titles back on Sunday. It’s not Angle who sucks, it’s Jordan, then they sang ‘You Suck’ at him until Jordan flew at them, and Rollins had to help out. Unfortunately, Rollins misjudged a flying knee meant for Cesaro and took out Jason Jordan with it. He managed to do it without smiling as well.
– Alexa Bliss was asked about the Royal Rumble match winner facing her at WrestleMania, would she still be champ? Charlotte Flair butted in to give Bliss some grief, then brought her dad out. Ric Flair said Charlotte will be the champion until she decides to hang up the robes, and some ‘Woo’ing happened.
– Some of the greatest female superstars of all time were brought out to the stage – Bella twins (Nikki was the only one of the group in ring gear), Maryse, Kelly Kelly, Lilian Garcia, Jacqueline, Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Terri Runnels, Maria Kanellis, and Trish Stratus. Like the GM’s they just stood on the stage like the Hall of Fame group does at WrestleMania.
– Elias and Chris Jericho met in a corridor. Jericho pointed out Elias’ scarves, sang him a song about him being a stupid idiot, and put him on the list. Elias then went to the ring and sang a song about how all the legends were past it. John Cena was the one to cut him off, after Elias said he has no balls, just like Brooklyn.
Cena retorted that both he and Brooklyn had balls, and pointed out a beach ball being confiscated by security. Elias got back in the ring and told Cena to shut up because no-one wants to hear him, he ruined everything. Cena challenged him to do something about it, Elias said no, then tried to sneak attack. Cena was too quick. He got in the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but when he went for an AA, Elias struggled down, low-blowed him, hit him with his guitar, then hit the Drift Away. This is a huge elevation for Elias, thanks to WWE needing a replacement for the injured Samoa Joe.
– Mark Henry met The Godfather and his wife in a corridor. He should probably have introduced her as his wife to save Henry’s blushes…
– The Dudley Boyz came to the ring after Titus Worldwide vs Slater and Rhyno was abandoned. They Whassup’ed Heath Slater, then 3D’d him through a table. Everyone else, including Slater’s partner, held up the Dudley’s hands in celebration.
– AJ Styles was interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund about the handicap match on Sunday. Styles started to answer in a Hulk Hogan voice, because he’d always wanted to. After the initial excitement Styles just talked about his strategy for Sunday.
– Back in the Manhattan Centre for Degeneration X. Shawn Michaels ran around until he was puffing and blowing, and sounded knackered. They did a bit with Michaels trying to tell inappropriate stories, and Triple H stopping him. Then Triple H started talking about RAW beginning in that very building, and the history of DX. They brought out the New Age Outlaws and Road Dogg did his bit, then brought out X-Pac. X-Pac brought out Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), and they cut to an ad break. By the time we came back, Hall was talking. He said that RAW 25 was ‘Too Sweet’, and Balor Club came out. They joined up with DX in a mega ‘Too Sweet’.
The Revival came out, and we got the final match. The Manhattan Centre section of the show closed with Scott Dawson taking everyone’s finisher, with Finn Balor’s Coup de Grace as the final move (passing the torch maybe), and an ‘if you’re not down with that, we’ve got two words for ya’ moment.
– Back to the Barclays centre to close the show proper. Kurt Angle led the roster, the guests, and the legends to the ring to try to keep control over the meeting of Braun Strowman, Kane, and Brock Lesnar. It didn’t work. A group of superstars managed to keep Braun Strowman and Kane apart, but it all broke down when Paul Heyman brought out Brock Lesnar, and everyone got out of the way. We got a preview of Sunday’s triple threat, and Strowman put Lesnar through the announce desk to finish the episode.
So, the verdict on the 25th anniversary edition? The split venue didn’t really seem to work, and the Manhattan Centre crowds lost out a bit (although it apparently got better for them after the cameras were off). There was just enough Royal Rumble prep to remind us it was the go home show, but it felt a bit lost in everything else. The nostalgia trips were nice, but it would have been good to see more interactivity with some of the legends. There were a lot of them though, and there is only so much you can fit into three hours. All in all – some of it could have been better, most of it was good, a few bits were great. Here’s to the next 25 years.