25 years of Raw and WWE had all the pieces in place to celebrate it in style. Spread out across two venues in New York City with just about every Superstar who has contributed a great moment to Raw in the past 25 years making an appearance in some form or fashion. It was pretty much impossible for Monday night's anniversary celebrations not to make for a terrific show. What was a tall order was picking just five Huge Takeaways from the three plus hour celebration, but we gave it our best shot.
The opening 10 minutes of Raw felt very much like the show was going to be McMahon appreciation night. Thankfully Shane, Stephanie and Vince were simply leading us up the garden path. Mr. McMahon began insulting the fans and claiming that the only reason Raw has been such a success is because of him. That prompted a man who has been very responsible for the success of Raw to enter the fray, Stone Cold Steve Austin. McMahon's attitude soon changed and when it looked like The Texas Rattlesnake had Stunners on his mind he offered up Shane. Austin obliged, but he wasn't done at just one. Despite hugging the boss after he explained to Stone Cold that he has brittle bones and lives in a retirement community, Austin still delivered a Stunner to the 72 year old. Oh hell yeah!
One of the first names announced for Raw's 25th anniversary show was The Undertaker. A surprising one considering the question as to whether The Deadman is retired or not has been up in the air since we last saw him at WrestleMania 33. The Phenom took to the ring at the Manhattan Center, a building where he wrestled on the very first episode of Raw 25 years ago. Undertaker discussed his history on the show and listed some of the names that he has defeated over the years. How he ended his promo felt a little bit like a retirement speech, but it also felt a little lackluster considering he is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time. Then Jim Ross asked if Taker's speech was a warning, making the sure fire Hall of Famer's in-ring status firmly in limbo like it was before the show.
The Miz ended what was a great 2017 for him on a low note. That low note was losing the Intercontinental Championship to Roman Reigns. Well The Awesome One was awarded the chance to win the title back on one of the biggest stages possible, Raw's 25th anniversary. Miz was clearly in a very confident mood as he squared up to Daniel Bryan who was on the stage with some former general managers when he and The Miztourage decided to make their entrance. That confidence transferred to the ring as well, and with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel running interference you had the feeling it was going to be Miz's night. Indeed it was. While The Big Dog was distracted outside the ring the now eight-time Intercontinental Champion removed a a turnbuckle cover and it was sending Reigns' face first into that which started the chain of events that won him the match.
Judging by what Samoa Joe said just moments before he was injured a couple of weeks ago, The Destroyer was all set to enter into a program with a returning John Cena heading into WrestleMania season. Unfortunately if that rivalry was indeed on the cards it's been shelved for the time being. In the mean time though it seems as if Elias may act as a place holder for The Samoan Submission Machine. The Drifter was interrupted during his anniversary performance on Raw this week by a returning John Cena. The 16-time World Champion was more than willing to have a match there and then, but Elias preferred the sneak attack approach. When Cena's back was turned he found himself getting a guitar smashed to bits over his shoulders. Both men will be in the Royal Rumble match this Sunday so this rivalry is far from over.
25th anniversary or not, Raw ended the way that it almost always should, by furthering a World Title angle. Well in the present day it's the Universal Title but you get what we mean. Kurt Angle had Superstars past and present surrounding the ring so that if things did get out of hand once Kane, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar came to the ring, they could help settle things. Well they weren't much help once things went awry. As soon as Paul Heyman declared that his client was coming for a fight and The Beast started storming towards the ring the rest of the Superstars scattered. Lesnar made short work of Kane, laying him out with an F5, but once again came up short against Strowman. The Monster Among Men slammed the Universal Champion through an announce table and stood over him with his arms raised. If we see dominance like that on Sunday then we will have a new champion.
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