The WWE remembers its past, and makes a toast to its future, as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw…
Sasha Banks, Bayley, Mickie James & Asuka
Nia Jax, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville & Alicia Fox
(Winners via submission: Banks, Bayley, James & Asuka)
Roman Reigns (C)
The Miz (with Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, “The Miztourage”)
WWE Intercontinental Championship
(Winner via pinfall, and new champion: The Miz)
“Woken” Matt Hardy
(Winner via pinfall: Bray Wyatt)
Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil (with Dana Brooke)
Heath Slater & Rhyno
(No winners due to double disqualification)
Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows (with Finn Bálor)
Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder (“The Revival”)
(Winners via pinfall: Anderson & Gallows)
When you look back at some of your fondest wrestling memories, there’s a good chance that they came from various WWE RAW episodes. From Austin and the beer truck, to CM Punk’s pipebomb promo, so many wonderful moments have taken place on the flagship WWE show.
RAW has passed many milestones during its lifetime, but none bigger than this: the 25th anniversary of its first ever episode. For all the criticism that is directed at the show these days, it’s impossible to knock such an incredible achievement. 25 years of weekly wrestling programming is incredible, particularly when you consider all the things that have happened in the business since RAW debuted.
Prior to the show, there was a lot of talk from reliable sources that WWE were planning a huge show designed to rival the now very special “RAW After Wrestlemania” episode, where massive events take place that usually shake up the whole company from top to bottom. This episode was going to have historic and shocking moments, apparently. Well, the only thing that was shocking about this 25th Anniversary episode is that it was ever given the thumbs up to go on air.
Let’s begin with the much-hyped returns of significant names from the past. A backstage poker game (which went on for the entirety of the show) was used to bring in a load of old faces, whilst others got the special treatment of being introduced to the live crowd only to then simply return backstage. Apart from some DX members, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, none of the returning acts really did anything.
We had one segment where some of WWE‘s biggest female superstars were called out (note: the Bella’s had no place being there, unless they are indeed actually tired now). Now, with the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble only six days away, wouldn’t this have been a perfect opportunity to get some legends of women’s wrestling to make passionate promos to the current generation about how important this match is and how each of them should want to do everything to win it? Incredibly, we saw nothing like that. At no point were any legends used to build ongoing storylines or rivalries within the company.
To make matters worse, the wrestling was not very good, either. The Miz and Roman Reigns gave viewers the only good match of the night, with everything else simply there to fill time. Wyatt beating Hardy so quickly was baffling, as was the rather quick loss for The Revival. Sadly, the latter two took place in front of the Manhattan Center crowd, several hundred people who had seemingly spent hundreds of dollars to simply watch RAW play out on some big screens, with some rushed little matches in between. WWE really should have been refunding those fans, if we are honest (and given two of them are close friends of mine, I’ve confirmed that all the horror stories online about the show at the Manhattan Centre are true).
That disappointed group of viewers did get a promo from The Undertaker, though, but it ultimately came to nothing. No one really understood what point he was trying to make throughout, and that seemed to include him too. Lots of ramblings, and absolutely no mention of whether his retirement last year was a fakeout. He didn’t even stop to let the “One more match!” chant fill the hall. At this point, it was obvious that this episode was going to mean very little in the grand scheme of things.
The truth of the matter is, besides a fun opening segment that saw Stone Cold once again lay out Mr McMahon, and a good WWE Intercontinental Championship match, the show lacked any kind of purpose beyond showing some old faces. Where was the build for the Royal Rumble? Where were the legends imposing themselves on the big storylines for one night only? What was the actual point of being in two arenas at once, only to largely ignore one and piss off hundreds of fans as a result? So many opportunities, so little achieved.
WWE RAW is not weekly viewing for TalkProWrestling.com, and this episode was a sad reminder of why. With so much interest in this episode, you would have thought WWE had a strong hand to play. But they didn’t, it was all just a bluff.
Until the next RAW milestone episode…
Match of the Night
Roman Reigns vs. The Miz