The WWE RAW 25th anniversary did to professional wrestling, what concussion research has done to the NFL. It took a product with a storied history as well as a devoted following and revealed the true cost associated with our entertainment. The toll that a full wrestling career takes on the body was in full display on Monday night. And I have to say that it wasn’t pretty. As someone who grew up watching the Attitude Era, I can say that the 25th anniversary RAW made me want to forget.
The biggest pop of the night went to Stone Cold Steve Austin, as it should have. Without a doubt, Austin was the reason most people tuned in. It makes sense that he was the first member of the locker room to hit the ring. But he never took the mic. The crowd was itching for an “oh hell yea” or “because Stone Cold said so.” Instead they were treated to obvious fake kicks to the gut and stunners that were a shell of what they once were. I get it, they wanted to start the show with a bang, but came up shooting blanks.
The whole atmosphere of the original location felt off. It didn’t feel big enough for the talent they chose to showcase. They also didn’t have a show going the entire time, so the crowd was restless, agitated, and whelming.
They whiffed on the Undertaker. It should have been common sense to keep his entire crippled grandpa body covered. Sleeveless gear only works for guys with muscle definition or fat guys. It really doesn’t work for the latter, but whatever. Taker didn’t look dominate, scary, or phenomenal. He looked like the best years are long gone. Sure we all know he is old. But if he is just going to talk, make him look like a bad ass and not an old ass. The announcers tried so hard to make people read into his “cryptic” message. Again, it just felt hollow.
The best Attitude Era segments were the old timers in Angles office and APA poker game. The reason those segments worked was because they didn’t try too hard. It was comical. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But at least it was fun to watch. Had the rest of the show been booked to match the physical ability of the aging superstars, it would have been so much better. I need to give a shout out to Chris Jericho, who might truly be the best in the world at what he does. His performance in his brief cameo was genius. The man has been able to stay relevant, repackage himself, and continues to draw all over the world.
The icing on the disappointing cake came at the final segment of the night. The DX/Kliq reunion. As I mentioned earlier, the Manhattan Center venue was not big enough for the talent it highlighted. The WWE totally messed up by letting the crowd get frustrated. So when Michaels and Hunter came out it was quiet. Quiet compared to expectation. A shaved head with a goatee HHH doesn’t look like DX. His look didn’t match Michael’s and they didn’t do a good job of reminding people of what they had done. The New Age Outlaws were the lone highlight of the intros. I would not have even let Xpac in the ring. He didn’t look good and the crowd didn’t react. The end of the show was entertaining with the Revival taking a butt load of finishers. But how do you end the show with the greatest faction in WWE history hugging it out with a group that has just been formed out of apathy?
I know that I am totally obliterating the show, but I was so disappointed. The Rock, Edge, Too Cool, Lita, Batista, Orton, Hart, Holly’s, Foley, Val Venus, Big Show, Mysterio, Van Dam, and the list continues. There were so many superstars that made the last 25 years memorable. Heck, I would have liked to have seen Tajiri and even Tazz out there.
Bottom line is that you know you have a terrible show when Brother Love gets the second loudest pop from an office segment that only last about 5 minutes. If anything I think the RAW 25th anniversary does a good job of closing the door on a generation that changed the landscape forever. The passing of the preverbal torch has officially taken place. The good news for the WWE Universe is we can let go of the past and look to the future.