There are plenty of WWE fans who often wax poetic about the good old days and wish that wrestling could return to the way it used to be. That isn't likely to happen any time soon, but the WWE will whet the appetite of many next week as Raw will have a decidedly "old school" flavor.
The WWE first put together an old-school Raw back in Nov. 2010 and it received extremely favorable reviews. For whatever reason, the WWE hasn't had another one more than two years later. That drought will finally come to an end next week and there is no question that it is a great move on the WWE's part.
Last old-school Raw featured plenty of great things such as a throwback set, red, white and blue ring ropes, old graphics and the announcers in mustard-colored blazers. It all made for a fun atmosphere and it seemed like most fans really enjoyed it. To make things even better, this one will occur on the road to WrestleMania, so there are going to be a lot of eyes on it.
I have to believe that this old-school Raw has been placed strategically on the WWE's part. There are a lot of former fans who love the old-school aspect of wrestling, but don't watch regularly anymore. This Raw can possibly draw some of those fans in, and if they like what they see, then perhaps they'll continue watching over the next few weeks and be interested enough that they'll purchase WrestleMania.
Everything ultimately comes down to making money for Vince McMahon and the WWE, so that is the main motivation behind old-school Raw. I expect the show to be a big success from a ratings perspective and I have to believe that it will be a quality Raw as well. This week's episode was excellent thanks to Triple H and Brock Lesnar brawling as well as John Cena vs. CM Punk. The Rock will be present at old school Raw, other storylines will be furthered and the theme will be really fun to boot.
According to "Mean" Gene Okerlund on Twitter, he will be a part of old-school Raw on Monday. Also, while no other legends have been confirmed, the promo that aired on Raw showed Ric Flair, "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Dusty Rhodes. There is no guarantee that any or all of them will appear, but conventional wisdom says that they probably will.
Some fans are bound to complain about that and say that we "always see the same guys," but that certainly doesn't bother me. Flair, DiBiase, Duggan and Rhodes are all legends in every sense of the word, and they all bring an entertainment factor with them. In addition to them, I'm sure there will be many more surprises throughout the night, which should keep the viewers on the edge of their seats.
Old-school Raw could also be the perfect theme with which to reintroduce The Undertaker. Since Taker returned at a house show in Waco, Texas on Saturday, the vast majority of fans expected him to be at Raw in Dallas. The only logical scenario for this past Raw would have been for him to return either during or after the main-event match between Cena and Punk. That didn't happen as the WWE obviously didn't want to take the focus away from Cena finally beating Punk and retaining his WrestleMania title match against The Rock.
Since Punk is now outside the WWE Championship picture, he can cut a promo on old-school Raw and use the occasion to rip legends such as The Undertaker. Maybe that is what will ultimately lead to Taker's return as he could confront Punk and challenge him to a WrestleMania match. Taker can say that while Punk's 434-day title reign was impressive, he'll never surpass the mystique of The Undertaker until he beats him at WrestleMania.
Nobody on the WWE roster is more old school than The Undertaker, so it makes perfect sense for him to return next week. Taker wrestled on the first-ever episode of Raw and has been a part of several different eras over the course of WWE history. He is truly the benchmark that most other superstars are measured up against, and that can easily be the basis of a feud between him and Punk.
Everything seems to be coming together for the WWE right now and there is no better time for an old-school Raw than next week. The current fans will be drawn by some of the big storylines that are going on right now, while the older fans will want to see what this special episode of Raw is all about. The WWE is going to reach an incredibly wide audience on Monday, which should bode well for it moving forward.
In addition to all of that, I'm admittedly a bit biased as next week's old-school Raw will take place in my hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., and I'll be in attendance. As a huge fan of the WWE's past, including the 1980s, early 1990s and the Attitude Era, there is no better theme for a live Raw than the old school one that the WWE will put forth next week.
Hopefully old-school Raw is successful to the point where it becomes a yearly staple for the WWE. There are a lot of fans out there who will go out of their way to make sure that they catch the show simply for the sake of nostalgia. Raw has been very good recently regardless, but old-school Raw is going to take things to the next level.