1/22 WWE Raw Live TV Review: 25th Anniversary edition featuring Steve Austin, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Trish Stratus, and other legends, two venues, Roman Reigns vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Title, Royal Rumble go-home show

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Brooklyn, New York at Barclays Center and New York, New York at Manhattan Center

[Q1] Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler checked in from ringside at the Manhattan Center briefly before turning it over to Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T at Barclays Center. Cole noted that they were at ringside for the evening and added that there were 15,990 fans in attendance at the sold out venue…

Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon were in the ring. They welcomed viewers to the 25th Anniversary show. Shane thanked all of the wrestlers as well as employees, production crew members, and cameramen on behalf of the family. He also thanked viewers for making Raw “the success that it is.” Shane set up a video package of classic Raw moments…

Back in the ring, Stephanie gave the big buildup for the person who made Raw the success that it is. Stephanie introduced her father Vincent Kenny McMahon, who strutted out to his usual entrance theme and a big pop. Cole noted that it was on January 11, 1993 when Vince McMahon, Randy Savage, and Rob Bartlett welcomed viewers to the first edition of Raw.

Once in the ring, Vince, Shane, and Stephanie shared a group hug. Vince said 25 years is truly amazing. The fans chanted “Thank you, Vince.” He told them not to start that. Stephanie said she knew Vince was a little hard of hearing, but they were chanting thank you, Vince. He said he was going to smell the roses for once. Vince started to leave, but Stephanie stopped him.

Stephanie said that the gift was from everyone around the world. She said they started a Go Fund Me account. Shane pulled out a commemorative plaque for 25 years of Raw. “It’s a plaque?” an unimpressed Vince asked. “Feels a little cheap, but then again we are here in Brooklyn.” Vince mocked the fans for chipping in and giving him a plaque.

Vince said plaque is what the fans have on their teeth. He said plaque is clogging their arteries because of all the Nathan’s hog dogs they’ve sucked down. Vince said everyone has been thanking him. He said he had one person to thank in the entire world and it wasn’t his family or the production truck. The fans serenaded Vince with an “asshole” chant. “I didn’t need anyone but me,” Vince said. “There’s not one person in the world that’s ever helped me…” The glass shattered and Steve Austin made his entrance.

[Q2] Austin did his pose on the middle ropes with his middle fingers held in the air and actually shown on television multiple times before they started to cut them off with the camera shot. “Don’t encourage him,” Vince barked at the fans. Vince said it had been a long time since he and Austin had been in the ring together and a lot of things have changed.

Vince said Austin looked great, but Mother Nature had not been too kind to him. He said he’s a member of the AARP and has a heart murmur, arthritis, and he lives in a retirement community. “I’m now a senior citizen,” Vince said. However, Vince said Shane is in his prime. Funny. Stephanie was out of the ring by this point. Austin shook Shane’s hand and then held it up before dropping him with a Stunner.

“I don’t blame you, he had it coming,” McMahon said. Vince pulled out a couple of Miller Lite beers and said it was for old times. They toasted. Vince took a sip and hugged Austin a couple times before Austin dropped him with a Stunner. Shane recovered and toasted Austin, who put him down with another Stunner…

The broadcast team hyped the Intercontinental Title match and the return of Undertaker for the first time since WrestleMania. They also hyped Asuka, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Mickie James vs. Nia Jax, Soyna Deville, Mandy Rose, and Naomi for after the break… They cut back to Austin, who had moved his beer bash to the stage… [C]

Powell’s POV: At age 72, Vince McMahon is still one of the great heels in the business. It was a blast to watch him turn the crowd against him and even more fun to see him and Austin take a stroll down memory lane. The pop for Austin was insane. This was just like old times if only for a few minutes. I hope we actually hear from Austin on the show too, but if that was all we get from him then it was a lot of fun.

1. Asuka, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Mickie James vs. Nia Jax, Alicia Fox, Soyna Deville, and Mandy Rose (w/Paige). Part of Jax’s entrance was shown and then they aired a condensed version of three of the babyface entrances before showing Asuka’s full entrance. Jax took a cheap shot at Asuka before the bell, leading to all eight women fighting. The referee calmed things down and gave Asuka a chance to recover before starting the match. Asuka dominated Deville with kicks. Deville took a powder heading into a break. [C]

[Q3] Jax and Banks tagged in. Jax slammed Banks to the mat and got a two count. The heels isolated Jax heading into a break. [C] Banks battled back, but Deville shoved her off the middle rope, which led to the other women fighting at ringside. In the ring, Banks performed the Backstabber and Bank Statement on Fox for the win…

Asuka, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Mickie James defeated Nia Jax, Alicia Fox, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose in 12:05.

After the match, the babyfaces posed together. Suddenly, Asuka shoved James off the middle rope to the floor. When Bayley approached Asuka, she was blasted with a spinning back fist. Asuka kicked Banks in the gut and tossed Bayley over the top rope. Banks went for a Backstabber, but Asuka held the ropes and ended up tossing Banks to the floor moments later…

Powell’s POV: The match was decent, but the post match angle was very well done. I thought they might go with Jax winning the match to emphasize her size and strength heading into the Rumble, but I actually enjoyed watching Asuka buzzsaw her fellow babyfaces to establish that it’s every woman for herself even more.

Backstage, Angle told a referee that he couldn’t afford to have another incident when Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, and Kane are in the same ring. Jonathan Coachman entered the room and hugged Angle. Harvey Wippleman and Brooklyn Brawler joined them. Teddy Long was next to enter the room. Brother Love also arrived to a strong pop. Next up, Boogeyman entered the room with worms hanging out of his mouth. He pulled some out and gave them to Coachman…

The broadcast team hyped Undertaker’s return for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: I expect to see a lot of these rapid fire legends appearances since the company has booked so many for this show. You have to think Bruce Prichard is back as Brother Love due to the success of his podcast. He was obviously a key player behind the scenes, but it’s not like Brother Love was a big part of the Raw era.

[Q4] Some classic still shots aired… Ross and Lawler checked in from Manhattan Center. Ross noted that Undertaker was on the first edition of Raw. He set up a video package on Taker’s career…

The gong sounded inside Manhattan Center and the Undertaker made his entrance. Legendary WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel introduced Taker and the fans chanted “holy shit.” Once Taker was in the ring, the fans chanted his name. Taker said it began on this “sacred ground of evil” 25 years ago. He said he’d been digging holes for any person who dared to step foot into the dark side.

Taker said he’s taken legends and ripped them off their pedestals and threw them in the cold, dark earth. He said Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and even Kane had to answer to the reaper. “They all tried, they all failed,” Taker said. “And now on this sacred ground, I declare for all of those who have fallen, it is truly time you rest in peace.” Ross questioned if that was a warning. Lawler said he didn’t now what it was but it was scary…

Cole hyped the IC Title match for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see the Manhattan Center crowd get something big. They’ve been sitting around watching the Barclays Center show on a big screen until this point. That said, I wonder if we will still see Taker appear at Barclays Center or if anyone else will end up doing double duty.

[Q5] The APA were playing cards with Heath Slater and Rhyno inside their office. The APA won. There was a knock on the door Ted DiBiase showed up and threw a big stack of money down on the table. “Well, fellas, what’s your price?” DiBiase asked before sitting down at the table…

Ring announcer JoJo introduced some of the general managers from the past. John Laurinaitis was booed. William Regal received a good reaction. Eric Bischoff got a nice pop. Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan was introduced and Barclays Center erupted with the usual Yes! chants as Bryan shook hands with the fans on the stage. Bryan led the fans in the Yes! chant.

The Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel made their entrance for the Intercontinental Title match. Miz walked out and went face with Bryan. Booker said he was surprised that Bryan would show his face on Raw (following Survivor Series). Eventually, Roman Reigns made his entrance for the title match…

2. Roman Reigns vs. The Miz (w/Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel) for the Intercontinental Championship. Cole noted that Michael Strahan sent out a video wishing Miz good luck. Miz leapt off the top rope and into a punch from Reigns during the opening minute. Miz came back and knocked Reigns off the apron following a distraction by Axel. Miz ran Reigns into the ring steps. [C]

[Q6] Reigns was in control coming out of the break and connected with a Drive By on the floor before rolling Miz back inside the ring. However, Miz avoided a charging Reigns in the corner and then rolled him up and used the ropes for leverage while getting a two count. Miz threw the Daniel Bryan style kicks at Reigns, who blocked the last one and then powered him up for a powerbomb for a two count at 9:00.

Dallas distracted Reigns, allowing Miz to connect with a clothesline in the corner. The referee ejected Dallas and Axel. The Miz connected with a Skull Crushing Finale off another distraction for a really good near fall before the minions left ringside. Reigns ended up charging Miz in the corner. Miz moved and Reigns’ head hit a turnbuckle that somehow became exposed…

The Miz defeated Roman Reigns in 12:25 to win the Intercontinental Championship.

After the match, the broadcast team showed replay footage of Miz removing the turnbuckle pad while Reigns was fighting with Dallas and Axel at ringside…

The broadcast team hyped Lesnar, Strowman, and Kane for later in the show, plus the DX reunion… [C]

Powell’s POV: I’m happy they’re not going with Reigns as IC Champion into WrestleMania for a match against the WWE Universal Champion. Granted, I still expect Reigns to challenge Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, but there was no need for Reigns to hold the IC Title going into that match. This came off like a big win for Miz even though Reigns was protected with the exposed turnbuckle. Will his latest moment of tension with Daniel Bryan lead to a match? Only if WWE medically clears Bryan (or both guys leave the company).

More classic Raw still shots were shown… The APA’s card table added Jeff Hardy, MVP, and The Usos to go along with DiBiase, Rhyno, and Heath Slater…

Christian stood in the ring and hosted a Peep Show segment. He even had his own sign and graphic. Christian welcomed fans to the show and said he missed them.

[Q7] Christian said he knows about tag teams after being a nine-time tag champion and thought he’d seen it all. He introduced Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan. Cole noted that Edge was unable to attend due to “prior obligations”. The crowd booed when Jordan started talking. He said he knew they were there to discuss their tag title defense. The fans booed whenever he tried to speak. Jordan said it was an honor to be in the presence of Christian and the other legends. Jordan invited the crowd to stand up and give his father a round applause. No luck.

Sheamus and Cesaro made their entrance. Sheamus claimed they’d been signing autographs all day for fans who expect them to regain the Raw Tag Titles. Cesaro said it’s not Angle who sucks, it’s Jordan who sucks. The fans roared. Sheamus and Cesaro led fans in singing “You suck” at Jordan. A fight broke out. Rollins took out Shemaus with a suicide dive. Jordan held Cesaro in the ring, but Cesaro got free and Rollins caught Jordan with a flying knee…

Powell’s POV: The live crowd’s reaction to Jordan was fun and bodes well for his heel run. Rollins accidentally kneeing Jordan at the end is a nice tease for a possible meltdown between them on Sunday. I feel for the fans at Manhattan Center so far. Some of them paid big bucks to watch the show on the big screen and some forgettable dark matches.

Backstage, Charley Caruso interviewed Alexa Bliss. She mentioned the Royal Rumble and questioned whether Bliss believes she will still be champion at WrestleMania. Bliss said she isn’t just a champion, she’s a goddess. A horrible “woooo” could be heard. Charlotte entered the picture and said the only reason Bliss is Raw Champion is that she’s on Smackdown Live.

Ric Flair entered the picture and said that Bliss might be the champion tonight, but Charlotte will be champion until she decides to hang up her robe. Flair and Charlotte woooo’ed together… [C]

An Edge video package aired… The APA poker game added Natalya and Titus Worldwide. Natalya won a hand. Dana Brooke said she crunched numbers and Heath Slater lost a lot of money…

[Q8] Bray Wyatt made his entrance at Manhattan Center. A referee wearing the old blue shirt and bow-tie was in the ring. Woken Matt Hardy made his entrance…

3. “Woken” Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt. Lawler used one of JR’s lines by saying that Hardy is goofy as a pet coon. They even have the old Ico Pro banner hanging from the balcony at Manhattan Center. Hardy was on the offensive until Wyatt caught him with a running cross body block. [C] Hardy some blood on his teeth coming out of the break. Wyatt ended up hitting Hardy with Sister Abigail and pinning Hardy clean…

Bray Wyatt beat Matt Hardy in 5:55.

Powell’s POV: They gave the match away on television without any build and put over Wyatt clean. Ugh. It’s nothing that Hardy’s character can’t avenge, but I can’t help but wonder if this is a sign that Vince McMahon isn’t down with the Woken World.

Back at Barclays Center, JoJo introduced some of the big female names: The Bella Twins, Maryse, Kelly Kelly, Lilian Garcia, Jacqueline, Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Terri Runnels, Maria Kanellis, and Trish Stratus…

A graphic noted that in the 25 years of Raw, nearly 800 different wrestlers have had at least one match on the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: The ladies looked great and were well received by the live crowd.

[Q9] Elias was shown walking backstage with his guitar when he crossed paths with Chris Jericho. The fans erupted with Y2J chants. Jericho pointed out that Elias had a lot of scarves around his neck. Jericho said he had a song for Elias and asked if he could use his guitar. Elias said no. Jericho had his own guitar. The song consisted of Jericho calling Elias a stupid idiot and saying he made the list…

More Raw still shot photos aired… A shot of the Empire State Building was shown. Cole noted that the top of the building had red lighting for Raw 25 (true story)…

Elias sat in the ring with his guitar and did his usual introduction. He said it took 25 years for WWE to find him, but they finally got it right. Elias pointed out that Jimmy Fallon was in the front row (good fans booed). Elias sang a song in which he took jabs at Steve Austin, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, and Fallon.

John Cena’s entrance theme interrupted Elias. Cole noted that Cena was on NBC’s “Today” earlier in the day and would compete in the Royal Rumble match on Sunday. “Oh, so now we’re awake, now we’re loud?” Cena said to the fans. Cena pointed out a beachball party that had started just as it ended.

Elias told Cena to shut his damn mouth. “No one wants to hear you,” Elias said before claiming they came to hear him. “And you ruined it.” Cena said that if he ruined it, Elias should do something about it. Cena removed his t-shirt to reveal that he’s been eating nothing cut Cheetos since his last appearance (kidding, same old Cena physique).

Elias said he doesn’t take orders from Cena or the Brooklyn scumbags. Elias went for a cheap shot on Cena, who worked him over and gave him the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena set up for his finisher, but Elias slipped away and low blowed him. Elias went to ringside and grabbed his guitar, which he ended up slamming over the back of Cena. Elias picked up Cena and performed the Drift Away finisher on him…

Powell’s POV: Elias’s comment about Cena last week was the sign we figured it was in terms of him being the replacement for Samoa Joe as Cena’s adversary in the Royal Rumble and likely beyond.

[Q10] The broadcast team hyped the Royal Rumble event… Backstage, New Day joined the APA poker game and played with pancakes rather than chips. Slater thought he won because of a full house. Dana Brooke revealed that he’d been cheating. Bradshaw said it was a game of civilized people, not barbarians. JBL said that if Slater wanted to fight he should go to the ring. Rhyno, Slater, and Titus Worldwide apparently took them up on it. DiBiase revealed he had a royal flush. Simmons delivered his “Damn!” line… [C]

Mark Henry was shown walking backstage. He came across The Godfather, who introduced him to a woman named Olivia. Henry shook hands with Olivia. Godfather informed Henry that Olivia is his wife…

4. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke) vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno. Crews held up Slater before suplexing him heading into a break a couple minutes into the match. [C]

[Q11] The teams fought coming out of the break and the referee called for the bell.

Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews fought Heath Slater and Rhyno to a no-contest.

Immediately after the bell, The Dudleys made their entrance. Both teams stood by one another on the floor. Slater tried to rally the troops to go after the Dudleys, but they all shoved him inside the ring. The Dudleys performed the Wassup spot. Bubba called for the tables. The Dudleys put Slater through a table with 3D.

Powell’s POV: Barclays Center seemed to be losing patience with this show too before the Dudleys showed up. It’s worth noting that Rhyno helped shove Slater inside the ring and then stood by and watched even as D-Von pulled the table out from underneath the ring in front of him.

Backstage, Caruso interviewed WWE Champion AJ Styles, who told her he brought someone to do the interview with him for the 25th Anniversary edition. Styles introduced Gene Okerlund, who brought up the handicap match at the Royal Rumble. “Well, let me tell you something, Mean Gene,” Styles started only to apologize and say that he’s always wanted to do that. Styles said he wouldn’t let Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn become the first-ever co-champions…

Graves hyped the DX reunion for after the break… [C] Addition historic still shots were shown. CM Punk sitting on the stage received the biggest reaction…

Back in the Manhattan Center, the lights went out and the DX theme song started. Triple H came out with glow sticks and tossed some to the crowd. Shawn Michaels took his lap around the inside of the ring while Hunter stood on the ropes. Ross called them a future Hall of Fame faction. The fans chanted DX.

Michaels said everyone has asked him for his favorite moment over the last 25 years. He said he can’t remember 25 minutes ago. He brought up the kielbasa sausage. Hunter cut him off and said he couldn’t tell that story. He tried to tell another story, but Hunter cut him off.

[Q12] Michaels said he used to be the boss of the group and now Hunter is the boss of everything. Michaels worked in a plug for WWE Network that was booed. Hunter called it a good, cheap plug and said Shawn still has it and so do the fans in the building. He said it all started at Manhattan Center 25 years ago. Hunter said the fans were the spark that started the fire that became the inferno that is WWE. “And 25 years later, we are here because of you,” he said.

Triple H said that 20 years ago he and Michaels started something special. He said they would walk to the ring every week with Rick Rude and Chyna and they would do whatever the hell they felt like doing and say whatever the hell they felt like saying. Hunter said DX was always at the forefront. He said whether it was being with fans on the first episode of Raw or driving a tank to the front door of WCW and starting a war or being at Raw 25.

Triple H said they came to Manhattan Center because it’s home for Raw. Hunter said DX will be at the forefront of the next 25 years. “So let’s start that right now,” Hunter said. He asked the fans if they were ready. “When I said we, we didn’t come alone,” Hunter said.

“The New Age Outlaws” Road Dogg and Billy Gunn made their entrance. Road Dogg did his usual NAO introduction. Road Dogg said Hunter was right when he said they didn’t come alone.

Sean “X-Pac” Waltman made his entrance. Fans chanted 1-2-3 when Waltman tried to talk. Waltman said he knew it was a DX reunion, but they couldn’t have a 25th celebration without… Scott Hall made his entrance to the Razor Ramon theme and the graphic listed him as Razor Ramon. [C]

Ramon did the “hey, yo” line. He said you can’t have a party without The Bad Guy. He said he’d been watching Raw 25 and said everyone agrees it’s “too sweet.” Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson made their entrance. Ross and Lawler agreed that they had a bad feeling about what was happening. Instead, DX and Balor Club did the “too sweet” hand gestures in the middle of the ring. The Revival came out and it led to an impromptu match…

5. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. “The Revival” Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson. Balor and DX remained at ringside. In the end, Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer on Wilder. Anderson pinned Wilder to win the match for his team…

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson beat The Revival in 1:50.

[Overrun] After the match, Balor and the DX members entered the ring to celebrate with Anderson and Gallows. Dawson spun Ramon around and jawed at him. Ramon threw his toothpick at him. X-Pac performed a facebuster on Dawson. Road Dogg performed his punches and a kick. Gunn performed a Fameasser. Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music. Triple H performed a Pedigree. The DX guys motioned to Balor, who performed the Coup de Grace on Wilder. Gunn set up the “suck it” line for the crowd to fill in. Hunter raised Balor’s arm…

Powell’s POV: A solid Manhattan Center portion of the show conclusion. I don’t know that it was enough for most of those fans to feel like they got their money’s worth given the long drags between segments, but at least they got some star power there. It was fun to hear the live crowd do the Marty Scurll chirps along with the too sweet chant.

Back at Barclays Center, Kurt Angle’s music played and he headed to the ring with a slew of legends (who all previously appeared) and several current wrestlers, who all surrounded the ring. Cole hyped that Lesnar, Strowman, and Kane were up next on Raw. [C]

Angle stood in the ring and plugged the WWE Universal Championship match for the Royal Rumble. Angle introduced Braun Strowman first. Once Strowman was in the ring, Angle introduced Kane. Some of the active wrestlers stood between Strowman and Kane in the ring.

Paul Heyman introduced himself and then Brock Lesnar from the stage. Heyman said he was there to bring the fans something relevant. He said his client was there for a nostalgia trip, he was there for a fight. Heyman dubbed Lesnar the most relevant personality in the 1,287 episodes of Raw. Lesnar made his entrance.

Strowman met Lesnar at ringside, but was quickly taken down. Lesnar entered the ring and put Kane down with an F5. Strowman recovered and caught Lesnar with an elbow and a forearm before clotheslining him to ringside. Strowman ended up powerslamming Lesnar through the broadcast table. Strowman’s music played. Cole said Lesnar was hurt. He also questioned whether the same scene would occur on Sunday at the Royal Rumble. Strowman celebrated in the ring while Lesnar continued to sell the powerslam at ringside to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A good final segment with Lesnar looking badass before Strowman got the better of him. They never bothered to make Kane look strong during the build to the match and they didn’t even try in the go-home show.

Overall, Raw 25 was bloated with a ton of appearances and one more venue than truly needed. In retrospect, I can’t help but wonder if they would have been better off advertising some big names and then saving the rest as surprises so that it felt more special when they appeared. It wasn’t a bad show, it just felt like it peaked in the opening segment with Steve Austin and Vince McMahon. They had plenty of reminders for the Royal Rumble match and that should go a long way if they pop a rating. Even so, the build to the Rumble has been very disappointing his year as WWE seems to be taking the approach that the Rumble matches will sell the event and thus they don’t have to do a great job of building up to either one. I will be by later tonight with my Raw audio review available exclusively to our members. Join us by signing up via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.

Join us on Saturday for NXT Takeover: Philadelphia live coverage, and on Sunday for the WWE Royal Rumble event.


Readers Comments (4)

  1. Vince’s makeup looks horrible. He looks like he aged 10 years in the last few months.

  2. Wellll this will be a review full of nothing but kissing the a$$ of WWE.

    • Kenta Kobasham Brothers January 23, 2018 @ 1:19 pm

      “Overall, Raw 25 was bloated with a ton of appearances and one more venue than truly needed” doesn’t quite equate with “full of nothing but kissing the a$$ of WWE”.

      I do find there is an inverse correlation between people who use words like “reality” or “truth” in their online handles & the amount of reality or truth in their actual posts.

  3. The emptiness of nostalgia was really felt tonight.

    And what a horrible thing WWE did to all those people at the Manhattan Center who paid a lot of money for a 205 Live match and a very short tag match at the end. But apparently wrestling marks really are marks.

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