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What WWE Could Have Done To Improve Lackluster 'Raw 25'

January 24, 2018
Kevin Eck is a former member of the WWE creative team and now blogs about pro wrestling for PressBox. 

There was much excitement and anticipation in the weeks leading up to "Raw 25" -- the special episode of "Raw" that aired Jan. 22 and celebrated the show's 25 years in existence -- thanks in large part to the long list of past WWE stars who were scheduled to appear on the show 

Unfortunately, the show didn't live up to the hype. In hindsight, perhaps it was a mistake for WWE to reveal all of the former stars who were going to be on hand. WWE could've announced a few of the big names and promised that there would be many more guest stars. That way there would've been an element of surprise when a former star appeared on the show, which would've made it feel more special.

It also didn't help that "Raw 25" aired on the go-home show for the "Royal Rumble" pay-per-view, which takes place Jan. 28. So not only did the show not meet expectations as far as being a special episode, but promotion for the pay-per-view suffered. It would've been better to do "Raw 25" another time as a stand-alone nostalgia episode.

The show actually did get off to a promising start, as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin -- WWE's biggest star during "Raw's" run -- confronted his old rival, Vince McMahon, and delivered a stunner to the WWE chairman and CEO just like he used to do 20 years ago.

It turned out to be the highlight of the show -- at least as far as the nostalgia segments are concerned. As fun as the Austin-McMahon segment was, however, I think it could've been even better. 

Here are my suggestions for how that segment and the show as a whole could've been more entertaining.

Steve Austin cuts a promo.

Unless Austin was dealing with a severe case of laryngitis, there's just no excuse for having him come on the show and not say a single word. Instead of getting Shane and Stephanie McMahon involved in the segment, WWE should have kept it to Austin and Vince McMahon, the two larger-than-life figures who engaged in one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the business. Let them go back and forth on the microphone for a bit, and then have Austin hit the stunner on his former boss.

The Rock makes an appearance.

Look, I know The Rock's busy being the biggest movie star in the world and all, but even if his schedule wouldn't allow him to be there in the building, why not have him cut a promo via satellite? Or, at the very least, have him send in a taped promo?

Better yet, have him come on the tron to interrupt one of Elias' songs and then perform a song of his own that puts over "Raw 25" and insults Elias.

Mick Foley hosts a "This is Your Life" segment.

Foley wrote on his website that he declined an invitation to the show because his character was fired as "Raw" general manager in March and he felt he should be off the show for at least a year as a result. I respect Foley's opinion, but it's not like he was banned for life from the show, and even if he was, since when does WWE take those types of stipulations seriously?

WWE could've actually used the fact that Foley was fired by Stephanie McMahon as the basis for a segment between the two. Foley could cut a promo talking about all the great memories he has from his time on "Raw," but things ended badly and he doesn't want his final appearance on "Raw" to be him getting fired.

So, to show that he has no hard feelings toward Stephanie, he invites her to the ring for "This Is Your Life, Stephanie McMahon." Obviously, this would play off of Foley's "This Is Your Life" tribute to The Rock from 1999, which is the highest-rated segment in "Raw's" history.

Foley would introduce various people from Stephanie's past, none of which she is happy to see. Just as Stephanie is about to storm off, Foley says he has one more guest. Out comes Vickie Guerrero, another former "Raw" general manager who had been fired by Stephanie. As you may recall, on the night Vickie was fired, both she and Stephanie ended up in a pool of mud.

After some verbal sparring between Vickie and Stephanie, Foley calls attention to a prop that has been concealed under a tarp in the ring. It's revealed to be a pool filled with mud. Vickie tosses Stephanie into it. Foley tells a mud-covered Stephanie to "have a nice day."

The female stars from the past do more than smile and wave.

That's literally all the Bella twins, Trish Stratus, Kelly Kelly, Torrie Wilson, Terri Runnels, Jacqueline, Michelle McCool, Maryse, Maria Kanellis and Lilian Garcia did.

Since Maryse and Maria are both pregnant, they could've had a backstage segment in which they talk about becoming mothers for the first time. Then they mention some of the pregnancy storylines on "Raw" over the years, including the Kane/Lita angle that included the unforgettable moment of Snitsky punting a baby doll, Stephanie McMahon faking being pregnant to hold on to Triple H, and, of course, then-77-year-old Mae Young giving birth to a rubber hand. (Yes, that really happened.)

The button to the scene is Mark Henry, who was the father of Mae's "baby," walking in and introducing his son (a grown man in a hand suit -- the same man who appeared as Mae's son on the 1,000th episode of "Raw" a few years ago) to the women. It would've been made for a funny segment that called back to one of WWE's silliest (and most memorable) segments.

Another segment with the women could've featured the Bellas and Kelly Kelly backstage chatting about their respective reality shows. McCool interrupts them and says she was the biggest star in the women's division and if anybody deserved to be on a reality show it's her because, unlike the Bellas and Kelly Kelly, she's flawless. 

The Bellas and Kelly Kelly ask McCool why she is so angry. One of them jokes that McCool must have PMS. A voice off camera says, "Did someone say PMS?" The camera turns to reveal Runnels and Jacqueline, who used to be known as PMS (Pretty Mean Sisters). I know it's not in good taste to make PMS jokes, but this would be a little nod to WWE's politically incorrect Attitude Era.

The segment ends with Runnels and Jacqueline saying that one thing they can all agree on is how much fun it was to be a woman in WWE, and then throwing to a highlights package featuring the women of "Raw" during the years.

As for Stratus, a great spot for her would've been as a guest referee in a tag match between women on the current roster. After the babyfaces win, the heels take issue with Stratus, but she hits her finisher on them and celebrates with the winners. 

I also could've seen Lita doing something like that, but she wasn't even on the show. According to what Lita said on Twitter, she "wasn't on the guest list." If that's true, shame on WWE for not inviting someone who undoubtedly was one of their most popular female stars ever. My hope is that Lita is going to be a surprise entrant in the women's Royal Rumble match and WWE didn't want to have her appear on TV before then.

As for Garcia … yeah, I've got nothing for her.

Eric Bischoff cuts a promo, gets his comeuppance.

Like the women, all Bischoff got to do on the show was stand on the stage and wave to the crowd. The former WCW boss was always such a great heel, and WWE could've used his ability to generate heat for an entertaining segment.

Bischoff could've talked about how if it wasn't for him and "WCW Nitro" lighting a fire under Vince McMahon, who had no choice but to make major changes to "Raw" since it was losing to "Nitro" in the ratings war in the late 1990s, there would be no "Raw 25" and they'd be celebrating "Nitro's" anniversary instead.

Eventually, The Dudley Boyz interrupt him. The Dudleys say they don't like Bischoff, but there is some truth in what he's saying, and they respect that Bischoff had the balls to take on McMahon. They say when they were in ECW, they didn't like McMahon or WWE either, but once they came to WWE they saw how much passion McMahon had for the business -- just like they and everyone in ECW had. They say that Bischoff, on the other hand, had no respect for anyone, especially ECW guys.

Of course the segment ends with the Dudleys putting Bischoff through a table, which would've gotten a much bigger pop than the one the Dudleys got on "Raw 25" for putting poor Heath Slater through a table.

Catch "The Hot Tag" every   Wednesday   on PressBoxOnline.com, and follow Kevin Eck on Twitter,   @KevinEck_WWE  .