Monday Night Raw broadcast live from the Manhattan Center and the Barclays Center for its massive 25th anniversary show.
The way Raw 1000 exploded with a perfect mix of nostalgia and current talent, the bar was maybe set a bit too high.
If it wasn’t already enough to be facing such high expectations, the way WWE opened Raw, with Shane and Stephanie McMahon giving their father a plaque and Vince McMahon turning on the crowd was absolutely perfect. For WWE to cap that with Stone Cold Steve Austin returning to the ring to hit the father-son duo with stunners simply set the pace for the three-hour extravaganza something they couldn’t possibly keep up with.
After that, it’s hard to find much memorable of the show.
Manhattan Center debacle
The 9 o’clock hour was set for The Undertaker’s return to television for the first time since his WrestleMania loss to Roman Reigns. It also ended up being the first time WWE shifted to the Manhattan Center since the show went on the air.
‘Taker’s promo didn’t seem to go anywhere. Maybe it’s too early to judge the flat promo, or maybe it’s exactly how WWE wanted it to go — he laid the every soul he’s wrestled to rest in the middle of the ring and gave no hint of a return.
The only time in the next hour the show would shift back to the Manhattan Center would be for a perfectly inexplicable short match which saw Bray Wyatt go over Woken Matt Hardy, who the organization has been promoting endlessly since his transition.
A Degeneration-X promo and Too Sweet-off with the Balor Club did everything it could to get the crowd hot. A frustrated audience did its best to celebrate what probably equated to getting a good birthday present at the end of a really bad day.
The simulcast idea fell was one of the big letdowns of the show, and fans in attendance were vocal in their anger.
Did WWE just try to fit too much in? Did they just not have room for all the legends slated to show up? And at that level, was simply too much expected?
Austin’s arrival was absolutely perfect, and probably should have been saved to close the show. Kurt Angle’s segment with WWE castoffs was the exact odd group of characters you’d expect from a throwback show. Nearly everything after that just didn’t strike much of a cord.
A handful of returning stars made an odd cameo in a continued poker game with the APA backstage which included random spots including Jeff Hardy, MVP and more.
Honoring women’s wrestling came off like a Hall of Fame celebration. No promo, no nothing other than standing on the stage and waving.
DX’s spot with the Balor Club was neat, but it felt like something was missing. Throughout the night, everything seemed rushed, as if WWE tried to fit everything into three hours rather than focusing on strong areas.
No quality moments
What moment stands out other than Austin-McMahon at the open?
There was no Rock-n-Sock reunion, Bret Hart wasn’t in attendance and there were no real throwbacks to historic moments aside from 1-2-3 Kid hitting the ring in the Manhattan Center.
If this were a normal episode of Raw, it would be hailed as one of the better ones in the last year.
Unfortunately for WWE, Raw 25 was hyped to the moon with no real chance to reach those expectations without pulling out all the stops.