To say that the Raw 25th Anniversary show for the WWE is wrestling's most anticipated show in recent memory would be putting things mildly. A show that is confirmed to be jam-packed with former WWE Legends and current WWE Superstars, fans in the WWE Universe are giddy with excitement over who might show, what they might do and how the unique night of wrestling action will unfold.
But, at the risk of being a party-pooper, fans should approach this coming Monday with cautious optimism. Yes, the show will feature names and faces fans remember fondly and yes, the show will be unique and unlike anything Raw currently offers. But, that in and of itself could be part of the problem.
Fans who are ready to call this night the best night in Raw history will likely be disappointed. After all, with so much anticipation, how can the show not underdeliver?
Too Much And Too Packed
Consider the list of names that have already been confirmed for the show. Formers stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, DX,
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, The Undertaker, The Dudley Boyz, APA, Ric Flair, The Bellas, The Godfather, Brother Love, Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis, Ted DiBiase, The Boogeyman, Sgt. Slaughter, Torrie Wilson, Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, and Chris Jericho just get us started as we're really only scratching the surface of names that will need to find a spot somewhere inside the three-hour broadcast.
My question is this, how exactly does the WWE accomplish this feat without segments that WWE fans have historically found unwatchable?
One of the largest complaints with WWE programming when Legends return is the goofy and embarrassing segments written to get these stars to say their catchphrases or bring fans back to the time these stars were popular.
Take for example the return of Brother Love. What fans really want is Bruce Prichard who talks weekly on his Something To Wrestle With podcast to show up too. It won't happen. Or, consider the idea of Jericho showing up and making reference to his New Japan appearance. Again, not going to happen. Instead, he'll likely start slotting people on his List in a segment that moves much too quick for our liking. It won't be anything like the Jericho we've learned to love over the past month.
We'll have panels, backstage interviews, guest referees and silly segments everywhere and the idea that the WWE thinks they can effectively get these people in and give them some of the time they might deserve is unrealistic. The WWE Universe is about to bear witness to the most scattered show in Raw history.
How Nostalgic Is This Really?
With the creation of the WWE Network and the appearances of guys like Austin, Michaels and others on a much more regular basis, how profound an impact can these talents possibly have by showing their faces again?
The Network is great for a number of things, but out-of-sight, out-of-mind is not one of them. We know that many of these talents still have something to do with the company on a semi-regular to regular basis so to see them again won't have the same nostalgic impact as it might have even three or four years ago.
What would be more impactful, is the appearance of unexpected names like Batista or Hulk Hogan. Perhaps, even meshing a new signee like EC3 with an old face like The Rock (imagine the star WWE could build off a promo like that) would take the show to an entirely new level but that's not likely to happen.
At the sake of not appreciating something different, what are fans to expect from a show that will do very little if anything to advance stories and angles leading into one of the company's biggest pay-per-views of the year?
All we know is that The Miz is set to face off against Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Title. If lucky, fans will get a match worthy of the recognition that title deserves. More likely, the match will turn into a spotfest with a number of returning Legends. They've got to get these guys in somehow.
A Letdown of Gargantuan Proportions
Finally, fans need to have the ability to see this show for what it will be. A trip down memory lane, but not a very exciting and adventurous one. Fans should be ready to be disappointed by what these returning stars can actually do and how they'll look.
There may be some that haven't changed much but when The Undertaker shows, how old will he look? If the Hulkster appears, how long will it take him and his incredibly bad hip to get to the ring? Who, of any of the returning stars, can actually do something in the ring? Oh, and which current stars will have to put them over? The Revival? The Miz?
The Raw 25th will be a show worth watching but it won't be without its problems. If the WWE Universe can be ready for segments that move way too quickly, don't showcase what the fans are really hoping to see and the audience can get over the fact that it actually hasn't been that long since they've seen these Legends, they'll be okay. If not, the fastest moving show Raw has ever produced might feel like a long broadcast that offers no real value except a slight trip to a time that was much better than today's WWE.