NEW YORK, NY – The 25th episode of Monday Night RAW promised to be one of the most star-studded, action-packed, and must-attend shows of all time. For those fans who attended the event at the Manhattan Centre — the site of the debut episode — and not Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Centre, there was a lot of concern early on that the night would fail miserably to live up to that billing.
The concerns started early when we had to sit there and watch the excited crowd at the Barclay’s enjoy a fun opening segment with the ever-fun interaction between Vince McMahon and his nemesis Stone Cold Steve Austin. Or, more accurately for many, stand and watch, because of the placement of only one screen in the venue, which was on the wall behind them. Before the show, many had speculated on whether Vince would make it a true homecoming, and kick off the show in the ring with a vintage “Welcome, everyone, to Monday Night RAW!” in his gruff announcer voice.
Further disappointments came throughout the first hour when, after watching match after match and name after name appear on the big stage only, we were thrown some table scraps in the form of a couple of meaningless 205 matches, rushed to get through the commercial break. One didn’t even finish, with the two teams fighting their way to the back, only to return and resume the match in a later dark segment.
Restless, with “we want something” matches filling the hall, it was only the appearance of The Undertaker that got the crowd excited. And, man, were they excited, with everyone cheering and chanting for the Dead Man — to the point that in the building his promo was at times drowned out.
After that bright spot, though, more lengthy waits for things to happen — which got some people in the building pretty riled up, as they gave the security guards some harsh verbal abuse, like they were responsible for the booking. #NYFans.
But those bad words turned to “Delete!” when Woken Matt Hardy came out for his match against Bray Wyatt. After that match, which was well-received and had the crowd pretty raucous throughout, there was another surprise for the crowd in the form of a returning Jeff Hardy, aka Brother Nero. The Hardys reunited with a hug, and Jeff even sang an ode to Wyatt in a few bars of his “Obsolete” song. This segment happened during the introduction of the legendary women, which was cut off from the screen when Jeff’s music hit.
Later on, it seemed that the crowd had nothing to fear, as some really neat things were yet to come. A surprise appearance by The Miz, who’d earlier won the Intercontinental Championship, was incredibly well-received. Miz cut what was effectively a babyface promo, remarking about the legacy of the IC title, and promising to bring it back the prestige it deserves. The crowd ate it up like he was Hogan in ’85, and he played it up like a hero.
But if that was a fun moment, the best was yet to come, in the form of the DX reunion. That was a truly memorable segment, with the crowd eating it up, and expressing their praise through chants, cheers, and crotch chops.
It wasn’t clear when the cameras turned off. But after their reunion, they were joined by the Balor Club, who had a match against the Revival. All of the legends then took their shots at the Revival, with the Club and DX celebrating in the centre of the ring with a “Too Sweet” salute in mutual appreciation.
After that, two-time Hall of Famer Ric Flair joined in and took the mic. He talked passionately about being in the brotherhood and gave props to his fellow warriors. That segment ended with a group strut and a celebration with the ringside fans.
After Flair left, the others all went back into the ring to watch the closing segment with Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, and Kane.
After the show came to a close, they celebrated some more, and Triple H graciously thanked the crowd for 25 years of support, noting that they would all be there after another 25. This brought out The Miz who criticized all of them for not being a champion like he was. He told them the past was over and that he represented the future. In a funny moment, Miz then chastized the audience, reminding them that not 20 minutes earlier, they had been cheering for him like the Second Coming.
His boasts about wearing championship gold brought out one half of the tag team champions, Seth Rollins. Rollins recalled his past glories in that building, even mentioning his ROH World Title win. He ended the jaw session with some action, putting Miz down and out with a Curb Stomp to end the night. And, for the most part, the grumbles from the fans who, three hours earlier, had some doubts.
Manhattan Centre dark results:
1. Mustafa Ali beat a masked luchador
2. Tozawa and Hideo Itami battled Drew Gulak and Tony Nese to the floor and ultimately to the back. Later, they fought their way back to the ring, where Tozawa eventually got the win after a senton splash.