The Big Takeaway:
As expected, the 25th anniversary of Raw was a fun show. The highlight was probably the opening segment where Vince McMahon and Steve Austin got to bring back some of their old chemistry, which is something unparalleled in the history of professional wrestling. Aside from the nostalgia, the biggest takeaways were the Miz winning the Intercontinental Championship against Roman Reigns. The final segment had Braun Strowman powerslamming Brock Lesnar through a table.
The famed Raw siren was the first thing you heard as Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcomed fans from the Manhattan Center. Ross threw it to Michael Cole, Booker T, and Corey Graves at the Barclays Center, all adorned in tuxedoes at ringside for one week only.
Stephanie and Shane McMahon started the show in the ring. On behalf ot the McMahon family, Shane thanked every superstar who has ever stepped foot in the ring and all the behind-the-scenes personnel who helped put the show on each week. Shane thanked the fans for making Raw the success that it is. Shane introduced a video of Raw's greatest moments. It featured Daniel Bryan, Edge and Ric Flair's retirement. The Ultimate Warrior speech the day before he died. Shane's return, along with Kurt Angle. Austin spraying Vince McMahon and the Rock with beer.
After the video, Stephanie said they have one special person to thank for all of this, someone who had the courage that it took to make Raw the success that it is, Vince McMahon. He came out to a huge babyface reception. Cole mentioned that Vince, Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett were the announcers on the first Raw. Fans chanted "Thank you, Vince." Stephanie joked that her father may be hard of hearing but they're saying "Thank you, Vince." Vince said he's typically not someone who smells the roses and tonight he's going to smell the roses. Vince started to leave, but Stephanie stopped him and said she had a present for him. It was a gift from people all over the world, she started a GoFundMe account for a plaque commemorating 25 years of Monday Night Raw. Vince looked put off by the fact that it was only a plaque and said it felt cheap, but then again they were in Brooklyn. Vince heeled on the crowd saying all he received was a plaque. Vince said plaque is what is on everyone's teeth. After 25 years of what he's done for fans, all he received was a plaque? After 25 years, he had one person to thank, and it wasn't any members of his family or any of the fans, that person was himself. He didn't need anyone else but him.
Then Austin's music hit and the place acted like Elvis just awoke from the dead. Stephanie vanished at this point as Austin did his typical entrance. He looked in good shape. Vince said it's been a long time since he and Austin have been in the ring together. He said Austin looked great but Mother Nature hasn't been as kind to him. He claimed to be a member of the AARP now, lived in a retirement community, had arthritis problems and is now a senior citizen. But he said Shane was in his prime. Austin and Shane shook hands. Austin raised Shane's arm, then gave him a stunner. Vince grabbed some Miller Lites from a stagehand and said "I don't blame you. He had it coming." Crowd chanted "One more time." Vince said he didn't think Shane could take one more. Steve grabbed a beer, spilt some of it on Vince's suit. Steve took a big gulp. Vince took a small sip. They hugged as Austin's music played. Vince started to leave but noticed Austin wasn't leaving. Steve and Vince tapped beers again, and Austin finally stunned Vince to a huge pop. Shane awoke at this point, only to take another stunner.
Sasha Banks, Asuka, Bayley and Mickie James defeated Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Alicia Fox and Nia Jax via tapout (12:03)
Nia Jax jumped Asuka from behind before the bell and the two sides brawled before the bell like it was a Suzuki-Gun eight-man tag in New Japan. Cole again mentioned that Paiage was out of the Royal Rumble because of a neck injury. Sasha Banks got the heat, which included Alicia Fox giving her a Northern Lights Suplex. Banks put Fox in the Bank Statement for the tapout. As a side note, Graves picked Asuka to win the women's Royal Rumble. Cole selected Jax.
As the babfyfaces posed, Asuka turned on her teammates, throwing Mickey James over the top rope. She leveled Bayley with a roundhouse kick and threw her over the top. As Banks tried to give Asuka a back stabber, but Asuka blocked it, gave Banks a backhand and threw her over the top, as well. Asuka got a mixed reaction as she let it be known she was standing on her own and didn't need help.
Angle talked with a referee backstage about not allowing Braun Strowman to run wild tonight. Jonathan Coachman walked in and said he was glad to see so many of his old friends tonight. They Harvey Wimpleman and the Brooklyn Brawler walked in. Teddy Long, looking very skinny, came in, as well. Then Brother Love showed up saying he loved everyone. Love and Coachman could figure out how to shake hands. Then the Boogeyman walked in with worms coming out of his mouth. The Boogeyman handed Coachman worms straight from his tounge and left.
Ross and Lawler were back at the Manhattan Center. Lawler said he enjoyed the women's match but he was waiting for the arrival of the puppies. Ross said the Undertaker has an unprecedented legacyand threw it to a package of the Undertaker's highlights on Raw over the years, starting with a match from the very first edition of Raw against Damien Demento.
The Undertaker came out in the Manhattan Center to "Holy S___" chants and a Howard Finkel introduction. His biceps looked pretty toned for a 52-year-old man. Undertaker said the carnage began on this sacred ground of evil 25 years ago. For 25 years, he's been digging holes and any person who dared step foot into the dark side got buried. For 25 years, he's taken legends, ripped them off their pedestals and thrown them into the cold, dark Earth. Undertaker said Austin, Mick Foley, and even his own flesh and blood Kane answered to the reaper. They all tried and failed. Undertaker said now, on this sacred ground, he declared for all of those who have fallen, it is truly time you rest in peace. Crowd chanted for one more match as Taker said his catchphrase and he looked annoyed that everyone was chanting as he finished. Ross and Lawler wondered what Taker meant by those words, whether it was a warning to the rest of the roster or something else. He didn't say he was retiring but also didn't challenge anyone to a match at WrestleMania.
The APA Proection office was open. JBL and Faarooq were playing cards with Heath Slater and Rhyno. Slater thought he had a winning hand with a pair of threes. JBL showed him a full house. Then someone walked in and tossed a stack of hundred dollar bills on the table. It was Ted DiBiase, who asked what was their price and he laughed his laugh.
The Miz defeated Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns to win the Intercontinental Championship (13:23)
Next was some of the famous Raw GMs. John Laurinaitis (in a bright red suit), William Regal (NXT chants), Eric Bischoff (big pop), and Daniel Bryan came out to a big reaction. Bryan shook hands with his father-in-law before leading everyone in "yes" chants. Then the Miz came out with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Miz and Bryan had a staredown. Reigns made his comeback with a series of clothesline to catcalls. Reigns called for a Superman punch, but Miz rolled out of the ring. Reigns caught Miz with the Drive-By. Miz sidestepped a Reigns charge. Reigns' left shoulder went into the post as Miz tried to get the pin with a schoolboy cradle and his feet on the ropes, but only for a two count. Miz threw the yes kicks. Reigns blocked a kick and hit the Liger Bomb for a two count. Reigns gave Dallas and Axel a Drive-By, threw Axel into the apron and sent Dallas head-first into the post.
After Reigns threw Axel into the timekeeper's table, Miz jumped Reigns from behind. Reigns hit a Superman punch for a two count. Reigns called for the spear, but Dallas grabbed his leg while Miz clotheslined Reigns in the corner. The referee ordered Dallas and Axel to the back. As Miz argued, Reigns hit a schoolboy cradle for a two count. Dallas and Axel jumped up on the apron, again distracting Reigns. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a two count. Miz tried another Skull Crushing Finale, but Reigns elbowed his way out. Reigns attempted a spear, but he ran into a turnbuckle that somehow was pulled off. So Reigns hit nothing but steel and Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the pin. On replay, they showed Miz pulling the turnbuckle off when Reigns hit the Drive-By on the MizTourage.
Reigns got the usual big show reaction from a crowd full of hardcores. Which is to say heavy boos. Before the match, Cole said the Intercontinental Championship has changed hands 51 times on Raw.
Backstage, Jeff Hardy, MVP and the Usos had joined the APA card game. Slater thought he had a winning hand with an ace high. MVP showed off four kings to take the pot.
Christian was in the ring for the Peep Show. He said he knew something about tag teams since he was a nine-time tag team champion. Christian said his guests won the Raw Tag Team Championships on their first night as a tag team and introduced Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan (big boos). Cole mentioned Edge couldn't be there because of prior obligations. Jordan interrupted Rollins while he was in mid-sentence and said it was amazing to be tag team champions. Jordan was booed loudly every time he tried to talk, just like Reigns last year after WrestleMania. Jordan said it was an honor to be in Christian's presence. Jordan wanted to thank the fans for their continued support as he continued to get jeered lustily. Rollins sat stonefaced as Jordan tried to get the crowd to stand up and give Angle a round of applause.
Cesaro & Sheamus came out. Sheamus said that Jordan had it all wrong. All of the superstars and legends have been lining up to get autographs and pictures with him and Cesaro. Sheamus said the same superstars and legends all expected them to reclaim the Raw Tag Team Championships on Sunday at the Royal Rumble. Cesaro said that Jordan sucks to big cheers. Cesaro and Sheamus actually led the crowd in chanting "you suck." Jordan went after Sheamus. Rollins gave Sheamus a tope. Then Jordan held Cesaro so Rollins could give him a springboard knee, but Cesaro moved and Rollins hit Jordan. Sheamus and Cesaro just laughed at the champions and left.
Charly Caruso introduced Alexa Bliss backstage. Caruso said that history will be made with the first 30-woman Royal Rumble match. Caruso asked Bliss if she thinks she will still be champion after WrestleMania. Bliss said she was a goddess. Charlotte walked in and said the only reason Bliss was Raw Women's Champion is because she's on SmackDown. Charlotte said to be the woman, you have to beat the woman. If you don't believe him, you can ask him yourself. Flair walked in and said Bliss was lovely, but her daughter will be champion today, tomorrow and as long as she wants. Charlotte and Flair did the "whoo!" together.
Titus O'Neil, Natalia, Devon Dudley and Dana Brooke were at the APA card table. Slater thought he won a hand with a straight, but Natalia beat him with a queen-high flush. Brooke said she had totaled things up and Slater had lost a lot of money.
Bray Wyatt defeated Matt Hardy (5:48)
This match was in the Manhattan Center. Lawler and Ross wondered who Sister Abigail was. I guess we're supposed to forget we were about to be introduced to Sister Abigail in October before Wyatt got the mumps. Matt Hardy hit the Side Effect and went for the Twist of Fate, but Bray Wyatt backed him into the ropes, then pinned him with Sister Abigail. Seemed like the blowoff of the program as Hardy is being treated as a comedy figure.
JoJo introduced some of the great female stars of Raw history. Brie and Nikki Bella, Maryse (clearly showing), Kelly Kelly (looking as young as she did when she debuted) Lillian Garcia (looking almost as young as Kelly), Jacqueline, Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Terri Runnels, Maria Kanellis (who Cole mentioned is expecting), and Trish Stratus (biggest pop of all) were all introduced.
Chris Jericho did a backstage segment with Elias while wearing his "Alpha Club" T-shirt. Jericho pointed out that Elias was wearing scarves and said he wrote a song for him. When Elias wouldn't let him use his guitar, Jericho used his own to sing about Elias being a stupid idiot and put him on The List.
Elias was in the ring and said he couldn't believe it took WWE 25 years to find him. Crowd knows the WWE stands for "Walk With Elias" catchphrase. Elias wrote a song for all the legends in attendance tonight. Elias said Jimmy Fallon was at ringside, which he was. He got a mixed reaction, which seemed harsh considering all he's been through over the past six months. Elias sang a song running down Michaels, Jericho, Undertaker, Rock and Fallon.
Cena came out to everyone in the place singing "John Cena sucks." Cena got booed pretty roundly. Cena pointed out a beachball in the crowd, which was promptly confiscated to more boos. Elias told Cena to shut his mouth to cheers. Elias said no one wants to hear Cena because they came to hear him and Cena ruined it. Cena told him to do something about it and took off his shirt. Elias said that's not how it works. Elias won't take orders from Cena or these Brooklyn scumbags. Elias started to leave, but then tried to attack Cena from behind. Cena saw it coming and gave him a five knuckle shuffle, a Blue Thunder Driver, the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He went for the AA, but Elias escaped and gave him a low blow. Elias left the ring, got his guitar and smashed it across Cena's back. There were some yes chants. Elias gave Cena Drift Away. Elias wore a Johnny Cash t-shirt where Cash is shown flipping the middle finger to the camera and they were extra careful how to shoot him. He had to wear a scarf to cover it up.
Big E. Kofi Kingston, Apollo Crews and Xavier Woods were at the card game. JBL went all-in Slater showed a full house. Brooke screamed that Slater was cheating. JBL screamed that this was no place for fighting. JBL told Slater that if he wanted to fight, go to the ring. Slater left. DiBiase said he could beat a full house. He had a royal flush and raked in the pot. Faarooq got in the "damn" line.
Mark Henry walked backstage and bumped into the Godfather, who introduced him to Olivia. Godfather told Olivia, Henry was once known as Sexual Chocolate. Henry said that was back in the day when everyone was different, but it looked like the Godfather was still the same. Then Henry tried to put on his old Sexual Chocolate moves on Olivia, who politely told Henry that she was married. Godfather informed Henry that Olivia was his wife. Graves said "I never want to grow up." Olivia looked like someone who could have starred during the late-90s Raw era.
Apollo Crews & Titus O'Neil went to a double DQ with Rhyno & Heath Slater (5:32)
The match went through a commercial before the referee ordered a double DQ since both teams were fighting with each other. The Dudley Boyz came out as O'Neil, Crwes, Slater and Rhyno left the ring and debated who would challenge the Dudleys. Then O'Neil, Rhyno and Crews threw Slater in the ring. Bubba Ray Dudley slammed Slater. Devon delivered Wazzup, or as Graves called it "Dilly Dilly." Then they gave Slater the 3-D through a table. Rhyno shook hands with Devon, perfectly willing to watch his tag partner get slaughtered.
A.J. Styles did an interview with Caruso. Styles said this was the 25th anniversary of Raw and he arranged for someone to do the interview with him. Styles introduced Mene Gene Okerlund, who said Styles has his hands full in a 2-on-1 handicap match on Sunday. Styles started the promo with "Well, let me tell you something Mean Gene," like he was Hulk Hogan. Styles said he was going to walk into the ring against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who were going to try to become co-WWE Champions. Styles said he will put a ringing in their ears that sounds like "the winner and still WWE Champion, A.J. Styles."
In the Manhattan Center, HHH and Michaels came out to the Degeneration X entrance. Michaels said everybody has been asking him what his favorite moment over 25 years and he can't remember 25 minutes ago. Michaels said one of his favorite things was when they had the sasuage cabasa. HHH stopped him from telling the story. Michaels got a cheesy WWE Network plug. HHH put over how Raw started 25 years ago and put over the fans for lighting a spark that turned into an inferno that became the WWE. 25 years later, DX was there because of the fans. HHH said 20 years ago, he and Michaels started DX. They would walk to the ring every ring with "Ravishing" Rick Rude and Chyna and do whatever the hell they felt like doing and felt like saying whatever the hell they felt like saying. DX was at the forefront of everything on Raw, whether it was driving to the front door of Monday Nitro and starting a war or showing up to the 25th anniversary of Raw because the Manhattan Center was home. HHH said DX was going to be at the forefront of Raw for the next 25 years. HHH said didn't come alone. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn came out. Dogg did his old ring entance minus the word "ass." Dogg said they didn't come alone. X-Pac came out. Crowd chanted "1-2-3." X-Pac said they can't have a 25th anniversary of DX without someone special. Scott Hall walked out to Raxor Ramon's theme. They abruptly cut to a break as Hall walked out.
Hall was in the ring after the commercial. Hall said everybody knows you can't have a party on Raw without the bad guy. He's been watching tonight's Raw from both locations and this was just too sweet. Then Finn Balor, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows walked out and had a faceoff with DX. Fans chanted "Too Sweet." HHH held up the Cliq signs and Balor, Anderson and Gallows returned the favor like total babyfaces. It was like DX was passing the torch to the Balor Club. Then the Revival walked out. Ross announced that Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson were out to face Anderson and Gallows.
Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows defeated the Revival (2:01)
Anderson pinned Wilder with the Magic Killer.
Postmatch, Dawson got in Hall's face. Hall threw the toothpick in Dawson's face. X-Pac gave Dawson the X-Factor. Gunn delivered the Famouser. Wilder got up to take a superkick from Michaels and the Pedigree from HHH. Then DX told Balor to give Wilder the Coup de Grace, and he complied. Gunn did the "two words" line. HHH rose Balor's arm as they cut back to the Barclays Center.
Angle came out with JBL, Faarroq, Bischoff, Christian, Brother Love, Coachman, Wippleman, Goldust, Godfather, Boogeyman, the Usos, Rhyno, MVP, the New Day, Elias, Crews, the Usos, Curt Hawkins, O'Neil, Cesaro, Sheamus, Dallas, Axel, Regal, and others to surround the ring as Strowman, Kane and Lesnar came out. About eight guys stood between Kane and Strowman came out in the ring. Paul Heyman came out to introduce something relevant, someone relevant because there's nothing more relevant than the champion, who is his client. And his client was here for a fight. Heyman said his fighter is ready because he is the most relevant personality in the history of Raw. He introduced Lesnar and everyone scattered. Strowman clotheslined Kane, but Lesnar clotheslined Strowman. Lesnar gave Kane the F-5. Strowman clotheslined Lesnar over the top rope, then tossed him into the barricade. Strowman cleared off the announcer's table at ringside and powerslammed Lesnar through the table. Strowman posed to end a night full of superstars.