By Dylan Botelho, Staff Writer
Professional wrestling may not be mainstream and superstars aren’t household names like your everyday celebrities. There was a time though, when it was.
Most of you watched the WWE when you were younger if even at all and hopefully some, like me, followed Vince McMahon like he was Peter Pan and decided they never wanted to grow old.
The WWE/WWF has a long history and has completely changed the world of Sports Entertainment. Whether you were ever a fan or not, the company has produced so many iconic characters, sayings, and moments that are still referenced in pop-culture today.
Just in recent times, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s glass-break entrance was used by Hillary Clinton in 2016’s Democratic National Convention and John Cena has become one of the biggest memes on the internet thanks to his entrance and “You Can’t See Me” slogan and hand gesture.
There was once a time when Hulkamania ran wild on everyone, brother. When Austin 3:16 meant, I just whopped your ass.
When all could smell what the Rock was cooking and it didn’t matter what anyone’s name was.
The Undertaker was unbeatable and Degeneration-X was telling everyone to “suck it.” It’s thanks to all that so much more that Vince McMahon was able to take a niche, regionally divided form of sport entertainment and turn it into the undisputed world-wide leader of the genre.
It’s been 25 years filled with cheers, boos, mayhem, and surprises on Monday Night RAW and last Monday’s 25th anniversary of RAW25 wasn’t much different.
The show started with a stunner and ended too sweet. Vince’s children Shane and Stephanie went out to the ring and brought out their father to congratulate him on the anniversary with a plaque. Thing is though, Vince McMahon wasn’t too keen on plaques and instead went on a rant only to be interrupted by who? [insert glass break].
Stone Cold Steve Austin, that’s who. If there was one picture that defined Monday Night RAW, it was Stone Cold Steve Austin hitting his signature stunner on a McMahon.
He did just that on Monday, hitting a first on Shane, then on Vince, and again on Shane. Of course, he celebrated with two fistfuls of beers per usual.
Unfortunately, though… it was pretty much downhill from there. The special RAW25, took place at two different venues: the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn and the much smaller Manhattan Center, where the first ever episode of Monday Night RAW took place.
The Manhattan Center ring and surrounding area looked straight out of 1993, right down to the neon WWE logo on the ring posts, as well as the old Monday Night RAW and ICOPRO banners hanging over the upper-level.
At the Manhattan Center were legendary announcers Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler, who shared the same sentiment as the fans at the venue… falling asleep halfway through.
Most of what went on at RAW25 took places at the Barclay’s Center and fans who paid upwards of $1,000 were watching TV for the majority of the night. When they weren’t watching TV, they were treated to WWE 205Live tour, one of the absolute worst parts of every week’s programming.
Here me out, they did get WOKEN Matt Hardy who in his first televised match against Bray Wyatt, and lost. Okay, maybe that wasn’t so great.
They did though, get The Undertaker’s return! Will he announce his plans for the future!? Nope.
He pretty much said a whole lot of nothing. Oh- and the lights didn’t even go out for his entrance. Things weren’t all bad for fans at the Manhattan Center however, and no I’m not being sarcastic this time.
In the show’s final segment from the venue, the greatest faction of all-time in Professional Wrestling, Degeneration X, came out, thanked the crowd, hit each of their finishers on The Revival, and then Too Sweet’d the newly formed Balor Club, who’s inspiration came from watching DX back in their prime.
That was it from the historic Manhattan Center for the entire, three-hour show. Back in Brooklyn, things were getting nuts. Asuka, the most dominant women’s wrestler we maybe have ever seen, threw everyone (including her teammates) over the rope in order to build anticipation for the upcoming Royal Rumble.
Then, we got some backstage segments with legends of the company like Brotherlove, The Boogeyman, Ted DiBiase, JBL, and even Chris Jericho who last wrestled with New Japan Pro Wrestling at Wrestle Kingdom 12 on January 4th.
Roman Reigns and the Miz put on a phenomenal match which ended in the Miz winning back the Intercontinental title, which was his 8th time winning the title making him only one more reign away from tying Chris Jericho’s all-time record of 9 times.
John Cena and Elias had an amazing segment to set up a new feud that ended in Elias smashing his guitar over Cena’s back, leaving him lying in pain.
The Dudley Boys also came out and did their famous “Get the tables!” spot, which was fine.
Then we were introduced to some of the legendary former General Mangers along with some of the greatest women to ever step foot in a Monday Night RAW ring.
Finally, it was time for the main-event segment between Kane, Braun Strowman, and Brock Lesnar in build up to their triple threat WWE Universal Title match at the Royal Rumble.
Now, if you follow along with wrestling at all, you know how this would go. They broke out into a fight and Braun slammed Brock through a table. Cool. Same thing as the last three weeks.
And that was it. Three hours of your life, gone. RAW25 was just pure nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia, except it was boring nostalgia. If you’re not a wrestling fan nothing I wrote here could possibly entice you to become one.
Trust me, I’m passionate for this stuff too, I love it. I was jumping around like a little kid when DX and Balor Club Too Sweet’d. When Chris Jericho made his cameo appearance I was so surprised I couldn’t even form a sentence and just made noises instead. It was boring though, just like most weeks.
Well, at least us wrestling fans have the Royal Rumble to look forward too. Even though we all know Roman Reigns will most likely win it.
Cheers to 25 years of Monday Night RAW, here’s to 25 more… hopefully better than last Monday night.