Twenty five years ago a this 12-year old wrestling and music fan had the beg his parents to stay up late to watch WWE (than WWF) make it’s late night debut with Monday Night Raw, what would become a weekly live wrestling bonanza that we all talked about in home room the next morning. As I grew so did the show. Going from 2 hours to 3 hours, touring the country instead of staying put at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and changing its name until it finally became known as it is now – RAW.
So after decades of naysayers RAW was set for tonight. The 25th Anniversary of its inception was set and pushed as an event for the ages. So big that WWE would use both The Hammerstein Ballroom and Barclays Center in New York to bring it full circle. Sure I now at 37 years old know everything is scripted and not to expect much from the Legends brought back for the occasion I still hoped they’d bring it. Sadly tonight’s 25th Anniversary of RAW was just one big disappointment with a few highlights.
The night started strong with Stone Cold Steve Austin doing what he did best, drinking beer and kicking Vince McMahon’s ass. Setting the bar high that even a ladder wouldn’t have saved tonight’s show because after that everything went downhill with occasional highs. And I do mean occasional. The 8-Woman Tag Match to continue to push about the first Women’s Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble event this weekend was what we’d seen from the Women’s Division for the last two months. Same superstars battling with the same results. I think more people watched their Twitter feed than the match in the Barclays Center during the match.
Then a quick change to the Hammerstein Ballroom for The Undertaker, a mainstay for decades on RAW, to make his appearance and just talk since he’s officially retired since last years WrestleMania. And while my initial reaction was to want him to give us one more match I quickly remembered how he struggled through his last match last year and took it for what it was – just a promo to fill time with a big name they couldn’t ignore.
And while on the Hammerstein Ballroom I have to say I pity those who bought tickets for that half of tonight. Aside from The Undertaker, a subpar Bray Wyatt versus Matt Hardy pity match, and a DX segment they got nothing but 205 Live matches (the Cruiserweights that barely cut it on RAW) and that’s it. Not even screens to watch what was happening at the Barclays Center. This photo with edited graphics of Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim Ross says it all.
The one thing I think WWE might’ve hoped would go over big was John Cena coming out to confront Elias. But they couldn’t have been more wrong. New York wrestling fans have called out Cena for years for being one of the worst Superstars on their roster but tonight the NYC fans took it to the “Nightmare Level” for any wrestler. After serenading him with “John Cena Sucks” when he first entered the arena the building went silent. Completely silent except for his entrance music. That’s every wrestler’s and WWE staff members worst nightmare. Even having Elias flatten Cena didn’t get much reaction. Leaving the night a pure flop.
Sure they closed with a DX reunion that had them “pass the touch” to Balor Club to end the night and Hammerstein which was nice but seen too many times in recent years at other RAW highlight nights and it caught my attention. But I also predicted how they’d treat The Revival – everyone taking their shots for a big pop. So while the almost full DX reunion, Kevin “Diesel” Nash being the missing living member, was nice it just wasn’t that sweet.
Tonight’s RAW had so much potential. Especially being right before the Royal Rumble they writing team could’ve used the Barclays Center to continue the current storylines towards this weekends event while giving equal time to the old school at The Hammerstein. But it would also mean the writers would’ve had to be creative instead of just plugging in the classic “go best of the rehashed stories” idea. The RAW 25th Anniversary turned out to just be a visit down memory lane with anyone who pays $9.99 a month for the WWE Network can do all year long without the promises of a big performance.