Hulk Hogan Addressed the Audience
I can't remember the last time Hogan appeared on Raw (probably that Legends Night show in early 2021), but I believe his last appearance on WWE TV was at WrestleMania 37 when he hosted alongside Titus O'Neil. This was short, sweet and straight to the point. When I think of the Superstars synonymous with Raw, I don't think of Hogan, but at least this didn't overstay its welcome and they got it out of the way early.
Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns Found Sami Zayn Not Guilty in a Tribal Court
It was fitting that this took place on Raw's 30th anniversary episode because this will be remembered as one of the strongest segments in recent Raw history if not ever. It's definitely the best since The Festival of Friendship six years ago. I've seen many call this cinema and I wholeheartedly agree. All of the exhibits for and against Zayn were wonderful as they served as callbacks to many moments that have transpired throughout Zayn's time with The Bloodline, dating all the way back to June. Paul Heyman was a gem as always and I loved how it was Jey Uso who came to Zayn's defense despite being the only member at one point who despised Zayn. Reigns declared Zayn safe for now and that his true test will be at the Royal Rumble, likely referring to whether he helps Reigns retain against Kevin Owens. This was tremendous television all around and another exceptional chapter in this sensational saga.
Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos/Sami Zayn def. The Judgment Day (Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest) (SmackDown Tag Team Championship Was Not Defended)
The greatness of the last segment seamlessly carried over into this match. The Usos and Judgment Day were having a quality match, but the crowd didn't seem to rally behind either team because of the heel vs. heel dynamic. Only the Raw Tag Team Championship being defended helped because I honestly thought Judgment Day were winning. I figured there was a chance Edge and/or Beth Phoenix would return to cost them the victory if they were going to lose, but Zayn filling in for an "injured" Jimmy Uso (in the same way Mysterio filled in for Finn Balor during the Gauntlet match two weeks ago) was much better. There were several suspenseful nearfalls and it was a terrific piece of business on the whole.
Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker Attacked LA Knight
This was an awesome passing of the torch. Granted, we should have gotten that with 'Taker and Wyatt eight years ago when they had their WrestleMania match, but hey, it's better late than never. Knight played his role perfectly and this furthered his feud with Wyatt ahead of Royal Rumble. Undertaker coming out as American Badass in front of fans for the first time since 2003 was quite the cool surprise and I loved how he passed off Knight to Wyatt to dispose of him instead. This was an excellent use of 'Taker as it was different than anything else we've seen him do before.
Becky Lynch vs. Bayley in a Steel Cage Match Went to a No Contest
After such a phenomenal first hour, I was so disappointed we didn't get this match. It looked like it was about to get underway, but the other members of Damage CTRL entered the ring and helped Bayley lay out Lynch, so it was an angle and not a match. The problem is that this was advertised in advance and people were looking forward to it, so not delivering it was lame. Per Fightful Select, the Bloodline segment ran long and caused this to be cut, but surely they could have trimmed time off something else later on to make room for this matchup. We'll probably end up getting this next week or the week after, but I don't blame fans for being upset.
Imperium Interrupted D-Generation X and Kurt Angle; Seth "Freakin" Rollins and The Street Profits def. Imperium (Intercontinental Champion Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci) (Angle Served as Special Guest Referee)
I was fully expecting DX to bury Imperium the same way they did FTR at Raw 25 and Damian Sandow at Raw 1000. Thankfully, that didn't happen and what we got instead was a really fun segment instead. DX again didn't have Billy Gunn there with him, so Angle randomly filled in for him and the way DX talked about it was hilarious. All of them had their own excuses for why they couldn't fight Imperium and that made me laugh as well. The subsequent six-man tag team match didn't serve much of a purpose, but it was well wrestled and successfully spotlighted some of the current talent.
Ric Flair Introduced SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair; Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair def. Sonya Deville (Non-Title)
Was it really necessary to have the Flairs on this show, especially when the Steel Cage match had to be cut? I realize both of them have had some memorable moments on Raw, but this was a waste of time. That includes Charlotte interacting with Belair and Deville and then the match that followed. It was fine but completely forgettable. If they wanted Alexa Bliss to address Belair before the Rumble, that would have bene logical, but the crowd sat on their hands for Belair vs. Deville and understandably so. They really could have trimmed out all of this and gave that time to Lynch vs. Bayley, at least in my opinion.
Kevin Owens Attacked The Miz
Love him or loathe him, Miz has been a big part of Raw's history over the last 15 years, so it made sense to include him in some sort of a segment, even if it was as brief as this was. I'm glad they didn't waste time with him hosting Miz TV. Rather, he was quickly laid out by Owens, who proceeded to address Reigns ahead of their championship clash at the Royal Rumble. I still don't think he's winning, but I appreciate WWE's effort to make him feel like as big of a threat as possible.
United States Champion Austin Theory def. Bobby Lashley in a No Disqualification Match
The last-minute addition of the No Disqualification stipulation was random but made sense once Brock Lesnar came out at the end. This benefited from the stip, but the excessive amount of commercials killed any flow it had. I guess that's what we get for being treated to the first hour of Raw being commercial-free. Nonetheless, what we got to see was good and Lesnar returning to attack Lashley allows them to pick up their feud where they left off with it at Crown Jewel in November. The rubber match has to happen at WrestleMania.
Everyone's going to feel differently about this anniversary episode, but personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it. They did a commendable job of honoring the past while also attempting to hype Royal Rumble on Saturday. That first hour was one of Raw's best in many, many years, and although the subsequent two hours couldn't come close, they had their fair share of entertaining moments. I was largely left satisfied as well as excited for the Rumble.