clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

WWE Raw 25 recap & reactions (Jan. 22, 2018): The Memory Remains

Well, here we are. It’s been 25 years and here we still are, watching the silliest, most aggravating, most wonderful show there is: Monday Night Raw. This week’s show was way different than your usual episode, televised from two venues in the same city. But that was the point, wasn’t it?

Let’s see what WWE had up their sleeve.

Fond Memories at their Finest

A theme of this show was self-congratulations. Shane and Stephanie McMahon were out to start the show where they ranted and raved about 25 years, thanking the crowd before introducing their father, Vince McMahon.

Vince is still rocking that two-toned tie thing, by the way.

Vince claimed that he isn’t the type to pat himself on the back – HAH! – before saying that he’d take the night to smell the roses a little bit. His kids presented him a plaque made of mahogany in honor of the event. It wasn’t a mahogany desk – and we’ll see who gets that reference – but it’ll do.

…Except it wouldn’t. Vince called the plaque cheap and insulted the fans for not shelling out more in his honor.

Vince getting too big for his britches? You know what that needs: Some glass breaking. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music hit and it was JUUUUUST like old times. I personally found it hilarious how the camera men tried to keep his upraised middle fingers off screen.

Vince immediately started pleading age. He’s got AARP now, he lives in a retirement home…and look! Shane’s in his prime! Why not give him the Stunner for once?

And so Shane got a Stunner. It was the worst sell of all time, but who cares? Stunner! It wasn’t the only one, either. Beer was introduced to the segment as Austin raised Vince’s hand. Then the music stopped.

Beer. Middle Fingers. Stunner.

It’s only appropriate that they opened the show with the greatest feud that WWE have ever put on: Vince McMahon vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. I could go on about why it was effective. They were perfect foils for each other, opposites in every way. But with all that said, it was a great start to the show.

What is Dead May Never Die

Meanwhile, at the Manhattan Center, the Undertaker appeared for the first time in nine months. He was lacking his gloves, trench coat, and hat, by the way.

And he gave a puzzling promo. Raw was the sacred ground where people would step to him and they would fall. So many legends answered to the Reaper: Stone Cold, Mick Foley, and Kane. They all tried to usurp the Deadman, and they all failed.

But then the Undertaker said his final words: For all those who’d tried, it’s finally time to Rest in Peace.

…What the hell does that mean? No seriously. What is that supposed to mean? This was abrupt, short, and puzzling. I wanted more from this than I got.

The 8-Time Champ

Oh, you thought the Miz wouldn’t get the job done for his yet-to-be-born baby daughter? Excuse you.

The Miz vs. Roman Reigns started off hour 2 – which seemed very early for the biggest advertised match of the night. The crowd was firmly in Miz’s corner for this one, which shouldn’t be too surprising. And just as the Intercontinental Championship scene has since the Miz has been involved, this match delivered.

The crowd was hot for it, for starters. The intense passion with which Brooklyn jeered Reigns helps. A little interference here and there from the Miztourage helped as well. But the key of this match was a small move the Miz made without any attention being called to it. Reigns went after the Miztourage for a moment, deflecting the ref’s attention. It gave the Miz time to remove the padding from a middle turnbuckle.

I didn’t notice it in real-time and I loved the finish of the match as a result. The Miztourage got canned, but the Miz found a way to bounce Reigns’ skull off the unguarded turnbuckle. 1-2-3, new champion.

The Intercontinental Championship is more fun when Miz is involved. I’m ecstatic that he has it back. As for Roman Reigns, go sniff after the Universal Championship. We all know where you’re going.

A Prototypical Cena Appearance

Do you remember how aggravating the “Cena template” for feuds has become over 16 years? A heel says interesting stuff, Cena does his shtick, he gets serious, wins, repeat.

Well, Elias sang a song for Brooklyn after running into Chris Jericho backstage. He mocked Jimmy Fallon, mocked past stars, and it all led to you know who.

John Cena.

And it felt like your normal Cena segment – the one we’ve been trained to know by heart. And with a low blow, Elias changed all that. He would end up leaving Cena laying in the ring after a guitar shot to the back.

I really appreciate Cena giving Elias the rub, here. They had an awesome segment a few weeks ago and this was a great continuation. It means the world to Elias now and no one will remember if Cena ends up with his rumored WrestleMania opponent.

Degeneration X meets Balor Club

“I used to be the boss of this group – and now you’re like the boss of everything! I can’t do anything anymore!” Poor HBK. You know, maybe if you wrestled another match you can get some leeway. Just sayin’.

Triple H and Shawn Michaels cut another “it’s the 25th anniversary” promo – that was a theme of the night, by the way! – and introduced Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, X-Pac, and Razor Ramon. Ramon gave a great little promo that segued into a Balor Club appearance.

They got a cool shot of Finn Balor raising his arms near the crowd and the Club hit a group Too Sweet with Degeneration X.

And then the Revival appeared for a match with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. It was a relatively short match that had a Magic Killer winning the match for Balor Club.

And afterwards, Degeneration X and Balor Club all hit signature moves on the Revival. Balor himself got the final blow with Ramon, HBK, Triple H and the rest cheering on. Triple H raised Balor’s hand afterwards as well.

Look, I know this segment’s going to get heat from the more passionate side of the fan base. But the Revival served as the fall for what was clearly meant as a rub for Balor Club. Balor himself was the fall guy for a good portion of the previous year. The Revival’s time will come.

Best of the Rest

The Shortest, Most Disappointing Main Event Segment in History – So lemme get this straight; you have all the legends out there and all you do with Strowman and Lesnar is a table spot? C’mon.

8-Woman Tag Match – This was just a precursor to the first ever women’s Royal Rumble. Sasha Banks picked up a pin on Alicia Fox. It was the first match of the night and the only really notable thing was Asuka throwing Mickie James, Bayley, and Banks over the top rope after the match. I wanted more from this than we got. Much more.

Bray Wyatt vs. Woken Matt Hardy – First thing’s first: I miss JR and Jerry Lawler on commentary so much. They were my childhood and it’s fantastic to hear them together again, if only for one night. Secondly, what the hell was this match? Short, a clean finish…I guess there isn’t time for a singles match at the Rumble. Really weird.

Alexa Bliss gets WOO’d – Charlotte and Ric Flair came to poke fun at the Raw champion.

ELIAS MADE THE LIST The Alpha is back! He’s got a song, he’s calling Elias a stupid idiot, and put him on the list! Excellent! The cheers that Jericho got here were deafening. That trip to Japan really did him well.

Slater Loses his Money, Gets Taken to Dudleyville – There was this great running segment all those of some superstars past and present playing poker. Slater was the butt of the joke, the game, and also a later match against Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews. It ended in a no contest and the Dudley Boyz came out and put him through a table.

The Worlds’ Shortest Peep Show - OH MY GOD JASON JORDAN GO AWAY. He owns this character like he’s got halitosis, man; he’s UNBEARABLE.

Jordan said a bunch of asinine, empty platitudes and looked shocked when the crowd booed him. Meanwhile, Seth Rollins sat beside him grimacing – in pity or disgust, we’ll never know. The Bar showed up to tell Jordan off.

Man, the pop Cesaro got when he told Jordan he sucked. It led to a brawl where Rollins accidentally hit his own teammate as the Bar escaped.

All the Legends – There were two segments where they brought out old GMs for one and female superstars for the other. I miss Trish Stratus so badly, y’all.

This show was fun at times, confusing at others, weirdly paced, and horrendous for story-telling. Seriously, I hope you weren’t expecting storyline progression in any way shape or form. This show was about nostalgia and WWE patting itself on the back.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing either. I just wanted more. And I get it, they have the Rumble in a week. That’ll be the time for surprises and stories. But still, this show was stuffed with talent and still felt lacking.

With all that said, I still loath Jonathan Coachman. And I still LOVE the Boogeyman coming to ruin his day! And Howard Finkel was there! And Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed AJ Styles! Ted DiBiase won a poker game because OF COURSE he won a poker game. Edge received a video package that had me missing him intensely.

So with all that said, this show was about nostalgia. And if we’re going for nostalgia, there’s only one grade that fits the bill.

Grade: B+

Congratulations, WWE. That was a B+ player of a show if I’ve ever seen one. You gave it all you had! Maddening and eye-rollingly fun. Thanks, pro wrestling.

So that’s my take, Cageside! What has Raw meant to you over the years and what did you think of the show?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats