I wanted to take a minute to talk about last night’s Old School special episode of RAW. Now, I haven’t actually watched the whole episode yet. I’ve got it DVR’d and I saw the first half of it this morning. But I just couldn’t get to it last night. I’m an Eagles fan. You understand.
Anyway, since I haven’t had a chance to watch the entire program yet I can’t comment on things like overall match quality or whether or not it served its purpose as the go-home RAW before SURVIVOR SERIES (though from what I’ve heard about the final Piper’s Pit segment, it did). What I can talk about, however, is the tone and presentation of the Old School theme.
I LOVED it.
In just the first 90 minutes of the 3 hour broadcast it cemented itself as the best episode of RAW of the year. They nailed everything. The opening credits/theme were incredible. They perfectly brought back the original music and visuals, while at the same time including the modern WWE environment. It was great. As for the actual in-arena set - impeccable. The ring looked amazing. The big blue steps. The old logo on the apron and banners hanging from the ceiling, it was all pitch-perfect.My favorite part: the entrance. The giant RAW letters were awesome.
There were a number of things brought back on this show that I hope WWE actually decides to bring back permanently. The first being the RAW letter set. It just felt so right seeing that entrance way again. And since RAW is WWE’s flagship show, it needs to find ways to stand out physically from SmackDown!, NXT, and Superstars. This would be a great way to do that. It added personality to the show that’s been lacking for way too long.
The other thing I’d love to see come back full time is the interview stage. Mean Gene’s little home off to the side of the entrance was, in my opinion, one of the most effective things on the show. The interview with Cena, Barrett, and Miz had a much realer, more important feel to it with the interviewer there trying to keep everyone calm. It almost felt like a press conference. Its position in the arena, too, forced the audience to check out what was happening in that spot, making it feel fresher and bigger than just a usual in-ring conversation. On top of all that, it just looked really damn cool.
Finally, I want the talking head pre-match promos back every week. I know it was a small, gimmicky addition to the show just to strike up one extra nostalgic note, but it worked. I feel like in those 15-or-so seconds I learned more about Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston than I have since they debuted. It’s an easy thing to add to the normal show since they happen during ring entrances and also a great way to add some depth to the characters who may not otherwise get much mic time. Imagine how much more over someone like Tyler Reks would be if he had even that little amount of time to explain his motives. It works. I really hope, above anything else, that this feature sticks around.
Beyond that, I loved what I saw of the show so far. The use of legends was appropriate. The Brooklyn Brawler’s appearance was fun, as was the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Slick. All were used in just the right way to make them entertaining and interesting, without taking anything else away from the show.
My only complaints about last night’s RAW were that 1) There were too many SmackDown! guys for my liking. I want the brands to stay as separate as possible. Using SD guys on half the show really exposed the lack of depth on RAW’s roster. And 2) I was praying that we’d see a cage match. I wanted to see those big blue bars one last time.
I guess not all dreams can come true. But last night’s RAW came pretty damn close.