Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Monday Night Raw 25th Anniversary
Date: January 22, 2018
Location: Manhattan Center, New York City, New York/Barclays Center, New York City, New York
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T., Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
Now this is a big night with the show having been build up for several months and a slew of guest stars booked for the night. The show is also being run from two arenas, including the location of the first ever episode. I’m more excited for this than I am for Sunday’s Royal Rumble so let’s get to it.
This is as good of an opening as you can get:
JR and King welcome us from the Manhattan Center, complete with an ICOPRO sign.
The regular announcers’ team welcome us from the Barclays Center.
Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon are in the ring to open the show with Stephanie doing that ever present growling introduction. Shane thanks us for being here along with all the people behind the scenes who make this happen. With that, Shane introduces us to the long highlight reel of Raw moments. This was released on the site’s YouTube page and is very awesome with almost every major Raw moment ever.
Back in the arena, Stephanie introduces Vince, who absolutely has to be here for the opening sequence. Vince nearly dances in the ring and says twenty five years is quite the accomplishment. The fans chant THANK YOU VINCE (which Stephanie explains to him) but Vince says enough of that and we’re off to the festivities. Vince goes to leave but Stephanie and Shane have a present for him.
They have a plaque commemorating his twenty five years of Raw….and he’s not happy. Vince goes on a rant about it being cheap and how plaque is the horrible stuff on the people of Brooklyn’s teeth. There’s only one person who should be thanked for all of this and that’s Vince himself. As he goes off about how great he is……the glass shatters.
After Austin does his usual entrance, Vince praises Austin’s look but says he’s had his own share of health problems. His bones are broken and brittle and he has arthritis and he even lives in a retirement home. Vince: “But my son Shane is in his prime!” Austin raises Shane’s hand and gives him a Stunner to the delight of the fans. Vince produces beers and the fans chant ONE MORE TIME! Vince: “I don’t think Shane can take another one!” They drink their beer and hug but Austin looks at Vince, followed by one more Stunner for old times’ sake. For some reason Shane gets up and takes one more Stunner.
Sometimes you don’t need words:
This was just about the perfect opening as you have to have Vince there for something like this and if there’s Vince, there must be Austin. All those Stunners over the years were a huge part of the show and Austin is arguably the name that more people would associate with Raw than anyone else. This was great and the only way things should have gone to start.
Absolution/Alicia Fox/Nia Jax vs. Bayley/Sasha Banks/Mickie James/Asuka
There’s a big brawl before the bell and Asuka has banged up ribs. She’s still able to kick Sonya to the floor though and we take an early break. Back with Asuka hip attacking half of the villains off the apron before it’s off to Jax vs. Banks. That goes fairly badly for Sasha who gets caught in Alicia’s northern lights suplex for two.
We hit the chinlock until Banks gets double teamed in the corner. Everything breaks down and we take a second break because it’s not like there’s a lot of stuff to get to tonight. Back with Banks grabbing the Bank Statement to make Fox tap at 11:58. The stuff after the break was less than fifteen seconds long.
Rating: C-. This was fine all things considered but at the same time, there’s some other stuff going on tonight that they need to cover. That’s kind of the problem with having this big special on the same night as the go home show for the Rumble. They have to build things up but at the same time they have to get to the big special features. The match was fine, but probably should have been shorter.
Post match Asuka throws her partners over the top in a Sunday preview.
Kurt Angle is in the back when Jonathan Coachman comes in. Coach talks about all the faces he’s seen around here, so cue Harvey Wippleman and the Brooklyn Brawler who offer cigars. Cue Teddy Long for the required dancing. Brother Love comes in (he scared me to death as a kid) and declares love for everyone until Boogeyman comes in, complete with the worms in the mouth…which he hands to Coach. A lot of staring ensues.
Sometimes you need random cameos:
In the Manhattan Center, JR and King (who mentions puppies) introduce a nice video package on Undertaker’s greatest Raw moments.
Here’s the Undertaker, with the lights not going out for his entrance in a strange visual (flashback to his original). For twenty five years, he’s buried souls who dared to challenge him and buried them in the cold dark earth. Steve Austin, Mick Foley, his brother Kane have all fallen before the reaper and now, after all this time, they may rest in peace. JR: “Is that a warning?” The music plays again and no one interrupts. I’ll believe it’s over when I don’t see him at Wrestlemania but that seems to be the case at the moment.
We go to the APA’s office with Heath Slater losing all of his money in a poker game as Rhyno shakes his head. Someone comes in and throws some money down….and of course it’s Ted DiBiase. They deal him in and we get the evil laugh. Still the greatest villain of all time for my money.
Here’s are some of the all time greatest General Managers: Johnny Ace (with a red suit and blue tie), William Regal, Eric Bischoff (to a ROAR) and Daniel Bryan. Miz and the Miztourage interrupt though and it’s time for one of the big matches.
Intercontinental Title: The Miz vs. Roman Reigns
Miz is challenging. They take their time to start until Reigns pops him with a right hand. The Miztourage offers a distraction though and Miz sends him into the steps as we take a break. Back with Reigns hitting the corner clotheslines, followed by a running big boot. The apron dropkick connects but the spear is countered into a rollup for two with the feet on the ropes. The YES Kicks keep Roman in trouble but the big kick is countered into a sitout powerbomb for two.
Another apron dropkick takes the Miztourage out and Reigns slips out of the Skull Crushing Finale for another Superman Punch. Bo Dallas grabs the foot though and Miz hits his corner clothesline. That means a double ejection but Reigns hits them one more time, allowing the Skull Crushing Finale to connect for two. Back up and Reigns tries the spear but hits an exposed turnbuckle pad. The Skull Crushing Finale makes Miz an eight time champion at 13:13. A replay shows that Miz got the pad off when Reigns was beating up the Miztourage for a nice surprise.
Rating: C. This was a booking decision more than anything else and there’s nothing wrong with that. The loss lets Reigns drop the title before he wins the Universal Title at Wrestlemania (THIS TIME FOR SURE!) and the win gives Miz something else to do, especially now that he’s less than three months away from the most combined days as champion (and only one reign behind Chris Jericho’s record).
Back to the poker game with the Hardys, the Usos, and MVP playing as Slater continues to lose his money.
It’s time for the Peep Show with Christian. He knows a thing or two about being a Tag Team Champion so his guests are Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins. Jordan takes over for Seth and talks about what an honor it is to be here but the crowd won’t let him talk. Jordan eventually talks about Kurt and asks the fans to applaud him. Cue the Bar to say that all the fans are because of them, not all the legends. They’ll be getting the titles back on Sunday and it’s because Jordan sucks. We hit the YOU SUCK song and the brawl is on. Sheamus gets knocked to the floor but Seth’s springboard knee hits Jordan.
Alexa Bliss is annoyed at being asked if she’ll still be champion at Wrestlemania. Charlotte comes in and MY GOODNESS she towers over Alexa. She says Alexa doesn’t have the stature to be champion and Ric Flair himself comes in to say Charlotte is going to be champion until she decides to hang up the robe. Flair appearing was great, though they’re teasing the heck out of one of these two losing before Wrestlemania.
Video on Edge, who isn’t here tonight.
More people are at the poker game, now including Natalya and Titus Worldwide. Heath loses again, this time to Natalya’s queen high flush in hearts. Dana has counted it up: Heath has lost a lot.
Bray Wyatt vs. Matt Hardy
In the Manhattan Center and this match takes place here? Sister Abigail is broken up in the first five seconds as JR tries to figure out what Sister Abigail is. Matt grabs a Russian legsweep and drops the middle rope elbow to the back of the head. The Twist of Fate is broken up and Bray runs him over as we take a break. Back with Matt hitting a running corner clothesline but having his bulldog broken up. The Side Effect gets two on Bray but Sister Abigail is good for the pin on Matt at 5:48. Not enough shown to rate but that’s quite the abrupt loss in the first match between these two.
Back in Barclays, here are some of the greatest female talents ever: the Bella Twins, Maryse, Kelly Kelly, Lilian Garcia, Jacqueline, Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Terri Runnels, Maria Kanellis and of course Trish Stratus as the big name. This group is declared as trailblazers so I have a good laugh as we cut away.
They did some great stuff:
Elias is walking through the back when he runs into Chris Jericho (in an Alpha Club shirt). Chris compliments his scarves and asks if he can play a song he’s written about Elias. He can’t borrow the guitar but worry not because Jericho has his own. The song is about Elias being a stupid idiot and HE JUST MADE THE LIST! Jericho loads up the pen but says he’s kidding. Jericho: “NO I’M NOT! YOU JUST MADE THE LIST!”
Here’s Elias in the ring to talk about how amazing it is that it took Raw twenty five years to find him. WWE stands for Walk With Elias but the fans won’t let him play his song. Elias wants to sing it for the fans but points out Jimmy Fallon in the front row. The song is about the various legends, including talking about how Shawn’s time is passed and Undertaker is a decrepit old man. He’s going to the Royal Rumble but here’s John Cena to interrupt.
Cena asks the crowd if they’re loud now and points out that both he and Brooklyn have balls because there they are (it’s a beach ball in this case). Elias tells him to shut up because the fans are there to see Elias but Cena ruined it. Cena tells him to do something about it but Elias says no and teases leaving. The fight is on of course and Cena hits his finishing sequence but the AA is cut off by a low blow. A guitar to the back leaves Cena laying and Drift Away makes it even better. I’m pleasantly surprised here as this was a very solid rub for Elias who took some of Cena’s best and left him laying. Good stuff here.
New Day is at the poker game now with Woods betting pancakes. Slater FINALLY wins a hand but is accused of cheating. A fight nearly breaks out and Bradshaw says if you want to fight, do it in the ring. Oh I can feel the Revival’s death coming from here. Titus Worldwide and Slater/Rhyno leave but DiBiase wins with a royal flush. As he rakes in the chips, Ron Simmons says his catchphrase.
Mark Henry is in the back and runs into the Godfather and….some random woman. Godfather brings up Sexual Chocolate but Henry says that was a long time ago. Henry seems to hit on the woman….and it’s Godfather’s wife. Mark smiles and isn’t sure what to think.
Titus Worldwide vs. Heath Slater/Rhyno
Titus chops Rhyno to start before it’s off to Crews vs. Slater with Heath starting in on the arm. A very delayed vertical suplex puts Heath down and we take a break. IN THIS MATCH??? Back with the match being thrown out at 5:40. Again not enough to rate but this seems like a means to an end.
Cue the Dudley Boyz (including Bubba, who was named ROH GM two days ago and D-Von, who looks rather huge) as everyone bails to the floor. Slater gets thrown back inside for What’s Up (with Booker commenting on D-Von’s weight gain). It’s table time of course (with Rhyno pulling the ring skirt back) and the 3D drives Slater through it for good measure. This was a HUGE relief as the Revival wasn’t destroyed for no apparent reason.
AJ Styles is in the back and has his own interviewer: Mean Gene Okerlund. AJ does his best Hogan impression to Gene (AJ: “Sorry I’ve always wanted to do that.”) before talking about facing Kami on Sunday. He has a small window to fight on Sunday but if he does it right, they’ll hear him announced as still being champion. Gene looks confused.
Back to the Manhattan Center and here’s DX for the big reunion. Well just Shawn and HHH to start. Shawn has been hearing people ask HBShizzle what his best moment in the 25 years have been. He can’t remember 25 minutes ago but he does remember something about a big sausage, which HHH cuts him off. Then one time they were all in Christmas stuff but HHH says no again.
Shawn gets annoyed because he used to be the boss of this group but now HHH is the boss of everything so Shawn doesn’t get to do anything anymore. All you have to do to see all those moments again though is sign up for the WWE Network. HHH talks about the fans starting the fire and now they’re here because of him.
We hear about some of the history of DX, including a rare Chyna name drop. HHH talks about going to WCW in a tank (it wasn’t a tank) and starting a war (which had started well over a year prior) but now they’re here because the Manhattan Center is home. They’re not here alone though because here are the New Age Outlaws. Maybe Road Dogg can ruin Raw now.
Dogg does his usual and here’s X-Pac for another surprise (I mean, assuming you didn’t see the graphics all night long). The crowd cuts X-Pac off with a 1-2-3 chant but there’s one more surprise: Scott Hall. Back after a VERY abrupt break with everyone in the ring and Ramon saying Hey Yo. He calls this whole thing too sweet….and here’s Balor Club. They all do too Too Sweet…..and it’s the freaking Revival to get the legends burial.
Revival vs. Anderson and Gallows
Revival jumps them before the bell and it’s Anderson in early trouble. A headlock is broken up in short order and it’s off to Gallows for the kicks to the head. The Magic Killer ends Dawson clean at 2:00.
Revival goes after DX and takes the finishers, because this worked so well for Damien Sandow. X-Factor, Shake Rattle and Roll, Fameasser, Sweet Chin Music, Pedigree and Coup de Grace, followed by Billy getting in his catchphrase. So glad they had Revival, one of the best teams in a long time, to do this. To be fair they’re wrestlers and we don’t have room for that around here.
Angle brings out all of the legends and people from the poker game to surround the ring for the closing segment as we go to a break at 11:03. Back with Angle bringing out Braun Strowman and Kane, who are held apart by a lot of the wrestlers. Paul Heyman comes out and introduces Brock Lesnar for a fight. Here’s Brock…and everyone but Kane and Strowman bail in fear. Brock runs over Strowman and hits an F5 on Kane but Strowman is back in to knock Lesnar to the floor. The running powerslam through the announcers’ table plants Lesnar to end the show.
Overall Rating: C-. This show was trying to do two things at once and it made them both suffer. There was actually a bit too much wrestling going on and some of those longer matches (which to be fair were only in the first half of the show) were cutting down on time that could have been used for the nostalgia stuff. The problem is you have to do that for the Rumble, leaving less time for the big anniversary material.
The anniversary stuff was fine enough, but it really peaked at the beginning and was kind of downhill from there. Going back to the Manhattan Center was fun, though it really felt like the crowd there got screwed a bit. Other than DX and Undertaker’s short appearance, almost nothing there felt important or special and that’s not a great sign. Throw in the stupid, stupid, STUPID beatdown of Revival (who not only got taken out by the old guys but also lost a clean two minute match) and Terri Runnels/Kelly Kelly apparently being trailblazers and some of this stuff left a lot to be desired.
As for the Rumble build….eh. Once the big names for the Rumble are set, there’s not a lot that can really be done to build to the pay per view. We know all of the main roster women in the Rumble and most of the men are already set so there’s only so much you can do here. What we got was ok, though the triple threat stuff isn’t doing anything for me.
Now there was a lot of good stuff as well, including Miz winning the Intercontinental Title back (thanks for keeping it warm Roman), Elias beating Cena down, the lack of Undertaker vs. Cena being made (though that could change), some of the cameos (Henry and Godfather made me laugh) and of course Austin and Vince. It wasn’t the worst show, but I was expecting a lot more and didn’t get really close to it, which is rather disappointing. Still though, it could have been much worse.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the History Of In Your House.
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