Raw 25 was the most anticipated Raw in years and while the show offered a trip down memory lane with a whack of stars from the past, few moments of the show actually delivered and those stars weren't put to good use. The hope that the 25th anniversary of the longest-running episodic show on television would be the best Raw fans had seen in some time just wasn't possible with the amount the company had to cram into one three-hour broadcast.
So too, the fact that the show emanated from two locations didn't help as the audience was asked to sit through lengthy breaks in the action.
Knowing that the show was bound to underdeliver, here are your winners and losers from Raw 25 on January 22, 2018.
One of the few past WWE Superstars to really deliver was Austin who looked in better shape than he's looked in some time and hadn't changed his tune when it came to the treatment of the McMahon family. He did exactly what everyone thought he'd do which was deliver Stunners all around.
Vince played the sassy but scared senior citizen villain well and Shane was sacrificed in an effort to get on Austin's good side. It was a smart way to open the show considering Austin vs. Vince was probably the most iconic feud in the history of Raw. It made fans feel like the rest of the show would be just as strong.
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It was a good idea on paper to broadcast from both the Barclays Center and the Manhattan Center, but in reality it backfired on the company. In particular, the Manhattan crowd grew hostile thanks to wasted matches and uneventful promos that took place between almost all of the noteworthy moments happening down the street at the Barclays location. It was particularly unfair to the fans who'd spent hundreds of dollars on tickets to watch most of the show on television screens. Those in attendance started a bull s--t chant, letting WWE know they were not impressed.
In a show that was bound to be overrun with short appearances and lacked the timing required to make the Intercontinental Title match memorable, WWE actually succeeded in offering a quality match between The Miz and Roman Reigns and giving the title back to The Miz was the right choice.
The crowd was clearly into the match and the two had excellent chemistry. It was as close to a great match for the IC Title that WWE was going to be able to deliver in such a jam-packed show. The Miz is on his way to becoming a huge star in WWE.
If this return was the Undertaker's goodbye, it lacked the emotion of the goodbyes offered by Daniel Bryan and Edge. But, fans aren't sure if this was Undertaker's goodbye as he never actually confirmed it with an affirmative. Jim Ross asked, "is that a warning?" and Jerry Lawler responded, "I don't exactly how to read that."
This summed things up for everyone watching as Undertaker didn't challenge anyone and he didn't officially retire. He came out, he said some stuff and left ominously. If he's gone, having him leave at the Manhattan Center was a mistake since the lack of crowd response was noticeable.
Knowing that there was never an opportunity to do anything other than have short backstage segments to cram in all the stars WWE was bringing back, the poker game, the Angle-run segments with Brother Love and Coach did their best to try and offer something of value but it really just didn't work.
It's not anyone's fault really. How was the WWE supposed to make this work? What was disappointing was the current Superstars that seemed to get highlighted during these moments. It was an odd choice to go with Heath Slater as the star of many of these segments.
Thank you WWE for doing the right thing with Elias and thank you John Cena for allowing Elias to get the rub in a segment that made him look strong and show the WWE how much the fans are into Elias getting a strong push.
His song wasn't exactly the best way to start things but the segment finished strong and Elias came out looking like gold when all was said and done. That he started his night clashing with Jericho was just icing on the cake. Whether this translates into Elias battling Cena at the Rumble and getting another win is unknown but we can only hope.
To suggest this writer is sad Bray Wyatt got the victory would be foolish. I've long been the guy who's been upset with the WWE for wasting Wyatt's talents. That said, the point of this match was lost on me.
It was too short a match to really advance the idea and while it's clear this is not the end of their battles, what was the point? Matt Hardy did not look strong here in his loss and the WWE just seems off when it comes to how they are presenting his character.
What was the point of this segment? Clearly, WWE felt that a tables moment with Bubba Ray and D-Von was worth ensuring they showed up on TV, but to have the whole match with Heath Slater and Rhyno vs Titus Worldwide (likely the two biggest filler groups in WWE) was nonsensical considering other storylines and moments got rushed.
Heath Slater is funny and an asset to WWE but not on a night when the company is trying to figure out how best to fit in all the moving pieces. And, what was with everyone siding with the Dudleys afterward and ditching Slater? The whole segment was just silly. If WWE wanted the Dudley "pop" so badly, why let them go in the first place?
This was a golden opportunity to make The Revival and formidable team and gain heat on the old faction that used to run WWE. Any option would have been better than the one the company chose which was having Dawson and Wilder simply roll over for the sake of a cheap crowd reaction.
The reunion wasn't nearly as exciting as it could have been and thus, it made it even more painful to watch an up and coming tag team get the shaft. The only good news here is that Gallows and Anderson got the nod. They've deserved better for a long time.
As expected, this was hurried and a waste in terms of throwing out extra talent to get them on TV. The legends that surrounded the ring did nothing but get front row seats to another dominant performance by Strowman, a waste of space by Kane and a Brock Lesnar who appears to be repeating the same storyline he's done far too many times now.
When he said things would get sacrificed due to other ideas, this was one of those sacrifices. It was not well done. Especially annoying was Big E who tried to steal the moment by acting like a horny teenager.
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