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WWE Monday Night RAW - January 22, 2018

by Scrooge McSuck

RAW 25

- It's the 25th Anniversary of Monday Night Raw, with the show taking place at Brooklyn's Barclays Center and the Manhattan Center, with a long lineup of past Superstars scheduled to make an appearance. Call me crazy, but I don't know how they can fill so much in a 3-hour window. Yes, for once, someone NOT complaining about a 3-hour Raw. I'm not sure how you measure a nerd on the "trying to spot Vladimir at the Manhattan Center" scale, but yep, I'm one of those nerds. Speaking of nerds, the first episode of Raw I got to watch was episode #3, the night after the Royal Rumble, where Mr. Perfect pinned Ric Flair to send him out of the WWF. I made it my mission from that moment on to watch Raw every week (of course, those plans derailed several times with a lack of interest here and there).

- Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T are the normal hosts from the Barclays Center, with Good Ol' J.R. and Jerry "The King" Lawler handling the responsibilities from the Manhattan Center. There's a fan dressed in the Bobby Heenan drag outfit from the first episode. THAT is dedication.

- Shane and Stephanie McMahon are in the ring together to give kayfabe the middle finger. Shane thanks every superstar to ever step foot in a WWE ring on Raw for 25 great years, as well as everyone that helps put the show together, and of course, the fans.

- Great montage of historic Monday Night Raw moments, too many to list. Some that make you laugh, some that make you smile, and some that make you cry.

- Stephanie gives a grand introduction to the man responsible for the evolution of Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon, coming out with his over-the-top swagger. It's easy to say now, but he's looking his age. Crowd chants "Thank you, Vince", probably ticking him off. He stops to smell the roses for literally a few seconds and tries to walk away, but they have a gift for him: a plaque honoring the 25th Anniversary of Raw. Vince calls it cheap, but expected it since they are in Brooklyn. I'm guessing the GoFundMe didn't go too well. I would've killed for Vince to say Armor Hot Dogs to show how behind the times he is. He has one person to thank, and that's himself, getting the crowd to chant A-hole at him. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin interrupts for old time's sake (feeling old, yet?). The "What" chant comes out in full force as Vince practically pleads for mercy, then offers Shane as a sacrifice. Austin gives him a stunner, because why the heck not. Vince has a couple of Steve-weisers in the ring to celebrate. 1997, 2005, or 2018, Vince eats a Stone Cold Stunner, too. He deserved it for casually pouring beer onto Shane's comatose body. Oh, then Shane takes another Stunner.

Asuka, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Mickie James vs. Nia Jax, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, and Alicia Fox (w/ Paige):

I die a little each time I hear Michael Cole say "It's Boss Time!" Maybe this can be Attitude Era style, go 90-seconds with no finish, and have 12 run-ins! Jax attacks Asuka before the bell, and we have a donnybrook! Asuka starts with Sonya, laying into her with strikes and a running hip attack. We come back from commercial, with Asuka going to town on Rose. Whip is reversed and Asuka takes out half the team on the apron. Asuka with a knee to the jaw, followed by a sliding kick. Sasha in for a double suplex. Sasha takes the leg out from under Jax and hits her with a knee for two. Sasha gets worked over in the heel corner. Fox with a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Long chin-lock spot when you have three partners to come in at any given time. Fox with a running boot for two. We take ANOTHER break. On a loaded show, we need this much padding? We come back and there's a brawl at ringside. Sasha hits Fox with a back stabber, and the Bank Statement finishes at 12:05 (including 2 commercials). They were better off doing the 90-second Attitude Era tribute.

-Post-match, Asuka attacks all her partners and tosses them over the top rope with ease. Spoiler: She's not winning.

- Kurt Angle is instructing a referee to keep order when he's interrupted by THE COACH, Jonathon Coachman. He sets up the joke for the arrival of Harvey Wippleman and The Brooklyn Brawler. Next appearing? Teddy Long. HOLLA! Brother Love shows up next to tell everyone "F*** Dave Meltzer." The Boogeyman shows up to scare the worms out of everyone's intestinal track.

- We're at the Manhattan Center for the "return" of The Undertaker. Seriously, WrestleMania 33 should've been it for him. We get a video package highlighting Undertaker's career over the years on Monday Night Raw. Howard Finkel does the introduction, or it might've been a recording. Undertaker says the carnage began on the sacred ground of evil 25 years ago and runs down a list of legends he's conquered and buried along the way. That was disappointing.

- The APA is back in business for one night only. They're playing cards with Heath Slater and Rhyno. Slater celebrates having a pair of 3's, but JBL has a full house. "I got kids!" "Yeah, and their daddy is broke." A wad of cash gets thrown on the table and it looks like The Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase, wants to join the game.

- We get a bunch of introductions for former General Managers of Raw, including John Laurinaitis, William Regal, and Eric Bischoff. Since that's not enough, here's Smackdown's GM, Daniel Bryan, hopelessly teasing fans he could come back to action. The Miz interrupts, glaring at Bryan, before heading to the ring for...

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
Roman Reigns (c) vs. The Miz (w/ Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)

If Roman is moving on to the Universal Title, he's probably dropping the belt sooner than later. I die even more when Cole screams "It's the BIG DAWG!". Cole notes there's been 51 IC Title changes in the history of Raw, half of them in 1999. Lockup and Roman shoves Miz across the ring. Miz with a sucker punch from the floor, but he jumps into an uppercut. Roman laps the ring, but Dallas blocks the Drive-By with his chin. Roman avoids the wrecking ball dropkick and catches Miz with another uppercut. Axel with the distraction, allowing Miz to knock Roman off the apron. Miz sends him to the steps as we take a break.

We return, with Roman hitting Miz with a pair of clotheslines. Roman with more clotheslines in the corner, followed by a running boot. Roman calls for the Superman Punch, but Miz rolls to the floor. Roman follows, hitting the Drive-By. Back inside, Roman meets the post on a charge and Miz rolls him up, with feet on the ropes, for two. Miz with the Yes-Kicks. Roman blocks one and connects with a Liger-Bomb for two. Roman wipes out the Miztourage, buying Miz time to recover. Roman counters the Skull Crushing Finale and hits a Superman Punch for a near fall. Bo Dallas with another distraction. Miz hits a diving clothesline as the referee ejects Bo and Axel from ringside. Roman grabs the tights to roll Miz up for two. Miz takes advantage of one last distraction to hit the Skull Crushing Finale, but it only gets two. Roman counters it again, but meets an exposed turnbuckle, and the SKF finishes at 13:26, making the Miz an 8-time Intercontinental Champion. We see earlier in the match that Miz undid the padding during Roman's rampage at ringside. Good match with the expected result. ***

- Jeff Hardy, M.V.P, and the Usos have joined the APA gambling ring. Slater's still losing, and he still has kids.

- Christian (and not Edge) is in the house to host the Peep Show (and not the Cutting Edge) with guests Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan. The crowd boos Jordan out of the building like he's the second coming of Roman Reigns. He tries sucking up, but it doesn't work. Seth is sitting there, hanging his head in shame like he just busted his son huffing a whipped cream can. Sheamus and Cesaro don't waste time interrupting, saying all the legends feel they're walking out of the Rumble with the Tag Titles. "It's not your dad who sucks, you suck" and the crowd goes wild. Jordan gets physical, so Rollins has to help him out. We get babyface miscommunication, no doubt setting up the heel turn that should've happened months ago. Thanks for showing up Christian, it's been fun. WWE probably wanted Edge, so you were the back-up called in.

- Charley Caruso is backstage with Raw Women's Champion, Alexa Bliss. Charlotte Flair interrupts almost instantly, and says Alexa is only Raw's Champion because she's on Smackdown. Ric Flair shows up to let us know Charlotte with be Champion until she decides to hang the robe up. Visually, Charlotte looked like she was 2-feet taller than Bliss. I don't know how that's supposed to make you hate the heel, but whatever, not my company.

- Titus Worldwide and Natalya have joined the card game, and Slater is still sucking it. It's so bad, Dana Brooke is scoring insults off him.

- We're in the Manhattan Center for Bray Wyatt's entrance. So far, those fans have gotten a cryptic promo from Undertaker and two Cruiserweight dark matches. Do you think Bray took IcoPro as a child?

Bray Wyatt vs. "Woken" Matt Hardy:

The referee is wearing the old school blue top. This is going to be interesting. Matt leads the crowd in a "Delete" chant. Hardy pounds away with rights. He barely escapes Sister Abigail and nails Wyatt in the corner with a clothesline. Boot to the midsection and Matt with a Russian leg sweep. He comes off the middle rope with an elbow across the back of the head. Bray counters the Twist of Fate and hits Matt with a body tackle as we take a break. We come back with Hardy unloading with forearms. Wyatt misses a charge, and they trade taunts, with Bray's spooky behavior having no effect. Matt with the Side Effect for two. Bray blocks the Twist of Fate and finishes with Sister Abigail at 5:49. Half the match was during the commercial break.

- Parade of Women Superstars! Nikki and Brie Bella! Maryse! Kelly Kelly! Lilian Garcia! Jacqueline! Torrie Wilson (does she ever age?)! Michelle McCool! Terri Runnels! Maria Kanellis! Last, and not least, Trish Stratus!

- Elias is walking around backstage and runs into the GOAT, Chris Jericho (sporting his Alpha Club shirt). Jericho calls out Elias for wearing a lot of scarfs. Jericho has a guitar handy to sing a song about Elias being a stupid-idiot, and he just made the list. "And your stupid scarfs, too!"

- Elias has gotten over that altercation quickly, as he's in the ring ready to perform. It took WWE 25 years to find him, but they finally got it right. WWE stands for "Walk With Elias." He pops the crowd by threatening not to sing. Jimmy Fallon is at ringside, so he must perform. He runs down various legends, and finally is interrupted by Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect. A beach ball gets confiscated, and the crowd disapproves. To be fair, this has been a mostly underwhelming show based on expectations. Elias says Cena ruined his night, so Cena tells him to do something about it. Elias says he doesn't take orders from him or these Brooklyn scumbags. He attempts a sneak attack, but Cena runs through his five moves of doom (for old time's sake). Elias escapes the AA and hits a low blow. KABONG across the back!

- Back to the card game, the New Day have arrived. Heath finally has a good hand (just like my wife's favorite show, FULL HOUSE), but Dana Brooke calls him out for cheating. JBL says this isn't where fights are settled, they can take it to the ring. Dibiase ends up winning the pot with a Royal Flush. The rich get richer. (DAMN)

- Mark Henry is strutting around backstage and runs into The Godfather and an escort. Godfather reminds us that Mark used to be known as Sexual Chocolate, then reveals his escort is actually his wife. Well ain't that a b.

Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Titus O'Neil & Apollo Crews (w/ Dana Brooke):

How does THIS get time on a special episode of Raw? Rhyno lays into Titus with chops. Titus returns the favor while talking smack to Slater. Slater comes in with a sledge across the elbow of Crews. Whip to the ropes and Slater with a forearm. Crisscross and Crews with a dropkick. Crews with a delayed vertical suplex. We return from commercial (yeah, this match is two segments long, too), with both teams brawling to a No Contest at 5:38.

- The Dudley Boyz waste no time making an appearance, and D'Von has quickly let himself go. Everyone bails, but I'm sure someone is going through a table. Slater ends up being fed to the wolves and gets the Wassup diving headbutt. Graves says it should be updated to the "dilly, dilly." A table comes into play, and sure enough, Slater gets to go through it. Lesson of the night: don't cheat at poker when there's 300 people surrounding you.

- Charley Caruso is backstage with A.J. Styles. He dismisses her and introduces "Mean" Gene Okerlund. Styles does his best Hogan impression before going to his real promo. He's defending the WWE Title against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a Handicap Match at the Royal Rumble.

- The Manhattan Center is thrown another bone (after a handful of short 205 live matches, a bad match with Bray/Matt, and a quick Taker promo), this time in the form of our annual D-Generation X reunion. Shawn Michaels and Triple H come out first, throwing glowsticks to the crowd that was unhappy not long ago. Michaels with the cheap shill for the WWE Network. That's so 2014. Triple H mentions Rick Rude and Chyna being by their side 20 years ago. He calls the Manhattan Center home (a home that's been neglected). Road Dogg and Billy Gunn come out next, still with the PG version of their intro ("you better call somebody!"). X-Pac comes out next, and unfortunately didn't get his eyebrows shaved off for old time's sake. Crowd chants "1-2-3" since, you know, he made his famous start in the building. He may not be in DX, but screw it, here's Scott Hall, too. Oh, sorry, RAZOR RAMON, according to the graphic, and we cut abruptly to commercial. Wow. The crowd doesn't agree with Razor's line, but still bite for the sing-along. The Balor Club make an unexpected appearance (Finn, Gallows, and Anderson). They all do the Too Sweet gesture, and now The Revival comes out.

Gallows & Anderson vs. The Revival:

How sloppy is the layout of this show? Dash and Dawson attack from behind before the bell. Crowd chanting for referee Mike Chioda. Whip and Dawson with an elbow to Anderson. Dash comes in, grabbing a side headlock. Anderson nails Dawson with a leg lariat and tags Gallows. He lays into Wilder with rights, followed by an avalanche. He hits Dash with a roundhouse kick, and the Magic Killer finishes at 2:01. We are running short on time, to be fair.

- Post-match, Dawson gets the toothpick in the face from Razor. X-Pac hits him with the X-Factor. Road Dogg does his signature jabs. Gunn hits the Fame-Asser. Dash runs into sweet Chin Music, Triple H with the Pedigree, and Finn Balor ends the parade of finishers with the coup de grace. The Revival has quickly become the next Ascension, getting punked out by the legends on a special episode of Raw.

- We finish up in Brooklyn, with the promise of Kane, Brock Lesnar, and Braun Strowman in the ring at the same time. Kurt Angle comes out with the parade of legends and Superstars. Somehow I doubt Brother Love will be able to contain Braun's rampage. Heyman comes out to let us know Brock's here for a fight. Braun runs over Kane, then Brock lays out Braun. Brock with an F5 to Kane. Braun escapes a German Suplex and clotheslines Brock to the floor. He sends Brock into the security wall and puts him through the announcers table with a Powerslam to end the show.

Final Thoughts: I hate to be that guy, but this fell far from the expectations I set in my head. I didn't expect the world's most amazing three hours, but it honestly felt like just another Raw, with a handful of segments that were genuinely enjoyable. Running the show from two different locations hurt the presentation, and boy did that Manhattan Center crowd get the short end of the stick. As far as hype for the Royal Rumble, it hasn't done anything to really make it feel any more special. It's the Rumble, we know what to expect, but we have little excitement going in to really push it to the next level.

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