Stone Cold Steve Austin Attacked Mr. McMahon and SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon
This was the absolute perfect way to kick off the 25th anniversary of Raw show. As someone who has never seen Stone Cold in person before, it was an amazing experience to see him live here, and the reaction he received from the Brooklyn crowd was unreal. Plus, even at 72-years-old, Vince is still the best heel in the business, and it was cool to see him reunited with Shane and Stephanie before he and Shane were laid out with Stunners. This was a blast of a segment all around that kicked off the night on a high note. The only downside was that nothing that followed came close to topping it.
Sasha Banks, Asuka, Bayley and Mickie James def. Alicia Fox, Nia Jax and Absolution
Didn't everyone on the Raw women's roster, including other heels, hate Absolution just a month or so ago? Anyway, I couldn't believe how long this match lasted. It was well-wrestled, sure, but nobody in the building cared in the slightest. Hell, Asuka attacking the babyfaces afterward was better than anything that happened during the actual match and actually managed to get me somewhat excited for the first-ever women's Royal Rumble coming up.
The Undertaker Returned
Well, this was weird. I expected Undertaker to do what he did in discussing his history on Raw and bringing up his most memorable opponents, but this was completely underwhelming and didn't really accomplish anything at all. I'm among those that believe Undertaker should stay retired after his phenomenal farewell at WrestleMania 33, but it's looking like he'll be wrestling again despite his rumored WrestleMania angle not being set up with John Cena here.
The Miz def. Roman Reigns to Win the Intercontinental Championship
While the first half of this match was painfully basic, they picked up the pace in the second half and delivered a solid TV championship matchup where the crowd was engaged in the suspenseful nearfalls. The Miztourage play their roles remarkably well and the belt belongs with Miz right now, so I was happy with the outcome. As for Reigns, please don't let this mean that this opens him up for a Royal Rumble win on Sunday. The Philadelphia audience (which I will be a part of this year) would probably riot (okay, not really, but you know what I mean).
Christian Hosted The Peep Show with Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan
Honestly, I was totally fine with this being a brief segment because I thought it was short, sweet and straight to the point. It was cool to see Christian back and I enjoyed the verbal back-and-forth Rollins and Jordan had with Sheamus and Cesaro. Additionally, the heat Jordan was getting from the fans was incredible and he seemed to be loving every second of it. The slight tease of tension between Rollins and Jordan should plant the seeds for a possible split during their title defense at Royal Rumble.
Bray Wyatt def. "Woken" Matt Hardy
Aside from the open and Undertaker's promo, this was the first time WWE cut to the Manhattan Center in well over an hour, so I can understand the fans there being angry. And this wasn't even that good of a match! I was shocked WWE didn't bother to advertise it in advance and to have Wyatt win clean in a matter of minutes. Surely this can't be a positive sign for "Woken" Matt Hardy's immediate future in the company, right?
Elias Attacked John Cena
On a side note, Elias' backstage encounter with Chris Jericho that preceded this segment was comedy gold (and only Jericho can get away with wearing a knockoff NJPW t-shirt on WWE TV). As for this segment, I was pleasantly surprised that Elias got the better of Cena. We know he isn't winning the Rumble, but I appreciate that he has a bit of momentum heading into the match. And yes, Samoa Joe was supposed to be in Elias' spot before he got hurt, but I'm in favor of Elias replacing him because WWE should save Cena vs. Joe for when it would matter.
Titus Worldwide vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno Ended in a No Contest
I got a kick out of the several segments throughout the night with The APA playing poker with various Superstars and Legends backstage, but I didn't need to see Slater, Rhyno and Titus Worldwide wrestle a match against each other. The crowd despised this and grew tired of it quite quickly. Thankfully, The Dudley Boyz salvaged this train wreck by putting Slater through a table to a nice pop.
D-Generation X and Scott Hall Reunited; Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows def. The Revival
We've seen DX reunite so many times before that this wasn't anything new, but it was a fun trip down memory lane, nonetheless. The crowd ate up everything they did and Hall doing his thing was a treat, but I especially liked The Balor Club's interaction with the stable, putting them over as big stars in the process. The subsequent match with The Revival was a waste, and I feared The Revival would eat a bunch of finishers, but fingers crossed they don't meet the same fate The Ascension did after that Raw Reunion show three years ago where they too were the whipping boys for The New Age Outlaws and others.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and Kane Brawled
I had mixed feelings on this segment. On any other go-home show for a pay-per-view, it would have been serviceable and made for a decent end to the evening. But with this being a 25th anniversary show, I'm sure fans were hoping for something more. I didn't mind it much at all, but I'd by lying if I said it wasn't slightly underwhelming. It doesn't help that I'm still not looking forward to that Universal Championship Triple Threat match at the Rumble because of its predictability and because I doubt it will be a blockbuster.
I've seen and heard plenty of flack from fans online and even at the arena regarding Raw 25, so I'm well-aware that I'm in the minority when I say that, by and large, I enjoyed it. Did it live up to the lofty hype? No, but there were a handful of highlights with Stone Cold's return being chief among them. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of the Rumble build, which has been extremely lackluster up to this point. Furthermore, hosting Raw 25 from two different locations was an interesting idea in theory, but the execution was terrible because the Manhattan Center got the short end of the stick. Regardless, the cameos were well done and I had an entertaining time.
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