Raw's 25th anniversary show has now come and gone and for the most part it feels like the celebration was a huge success. Things got under way with an extremely well done segment between Stone Cold Steve Austin and the McMahon family who would have had anyone who watched WWE during the Attitude Era feeling extremely nostalgic, all the way up to the DX interaction with Balor Club at the Manhattan Center towards the end of the night. Not only that but WWE managed to pull off some regular angles along the way with all the past Superstar segments and appearances. So often with these types of shows WWE's regularly scheduled programming is put on hold for one night only but with the Royal Rumble this Sunday night that wasn't possible.
Where Monday night's Raw took place was obviously just as important as who was invited back for the show. The idea to split the event across two venues, the Barclays Center and the Manhattan Center, was a novel one and both locations were utilized very well. Both sets of fans were given special moments as Brooklyn got Austin, Lesnar and Strowman while DX, Balor Club and The Undertaker spent the night in Manhattan.
The anniversary show wasn't just held in New York because they could split it across the two venues. Vince McMahon and the rest of the higher ups at WWE knew that for Raw 25 to work the event needed to take place in a pro wrestling hot bed, and there are few fan bases hotter or more invested in the product than the ones in New York. While a lot of the names coming back are ones that everyone would know such as Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels, there were also some more obscure names that hardcore fans might not be familiar with. The last thing anyone wanted on a show that big was a flat crowd at any point.
Giving this show to a New York crowd definitely paid off and those in attendance did not disappoint. Of course there was the big pop when Austin's glass broke and a loud ovation when Strowman's roar echoed around the arena, but some of the lesser known stars would have likely been taken aback with the reactions they got. During a segment in Kurt Angle's office former stars such as The Coach and Brother Love got massive ovations when they appeared on screen. That might not have happened in a lesser wrestling town. The most surprising crowd reaction during that particular segment was the one for The Boogeyman. The crowd went wild when he walked into the room and if we were to hazard a guess we would say that's the biggest ovation he has ever received.
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The more surprising reactions didn't stop there either. Fans were extremely happy to see William Regal during the general managers segment and even popped for John Laurinaitis. Well they booed, but again that's the desired reaction for the innovator of People Power. Wheel Laurinaitis out in front of a crowd in Omaha or Portland and you might not get that same reaction. All of the returning women got warm welcomes too, especially The Bella Twins which bodes well for them potentially entering the first ever women's Royal Rumble this Sunday.
The pops and reactions weren't reserved for returning stars either. As touched upon above amid the comebacks there was a regular show going on. Seth Rollins got a huge reaction when he came to the ring, fans gave Jason Jordan the treatment he deserves, Roman Reigns was made fully aware that he was wrestling in a town where he isn't exactly well liked, and Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar had the fans jumping up and down right until the cameras went off the air.
You only have to look at certain points in wrestling history to know that without a hot crowd those moments wouldn't have been nearly as memorable. When Hulk Hogan turned heel and joined the nWo it wouldn't have been as great to watch if the angry fans weren't throwing rubbish into the ring. The in-house crowd at the All State Arena when CM Punk won the WWE Championship from John Cena and 'left' WWE with it makes that night even more special and memorable than it already is. While nothing that happened at Raw's 25th anniversary was as big as either of those moments, the landmark event in WWE's history was definitely added to by the participation of the crowd. Without them some of Monday night's segments and comebacks would have fallen flat and it was the crowd's reaction to them that likely told a lot of fans at home that what they were watching was special and can't miss.