As the roster of legends confirmed to make appearances continues to grow, so does the anticipation ahead of WWE Raw's 25th anniversary episode.
Emanating from dual sites in New York City — the Manhattan Center and Brooklyn's Barclays Center — on Jan. 22 (USA Network, 8 ET/7 CT), the Raw 25 celebration is expected to be a perfect marriage between new and old as WWE looks back on a quarter-century of the longest-running episodic show in TV history.
Topping the list of legends confirmed to appear are "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Undertaker. Meanwhile,the episode will feature a must-see Intercontinental championship rematch between Roman Reigns and The Miz. Outside of that, it's difficult to know exactly what WWE chairman Vince McMahon has up his sleeve.
"I think what the fans deserve and what the Raw 25th anniversary deserves is a lot of blast from the past; wrestlers and characters who really made a huge impact on the sport," Raw general manager Kurt Angle. "I'm sure they are going to pull out all the stops and I'm also sure they will have a lot of celebrities who have been a big part of the WWE in the past.
"I am sure this is going to be our best show, and if I know Vince McMahon, I'm sure he's going to do everything he can possible to do everything memorable."
Along with Austin and The Undertaker, as well as the return to Raw of free agent John Cena, WWE has confirmed the following legends will also appear: Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, The Dudley Boyz, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, The New Age Outlaws, Booker T., JBL and Ron Simmons, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase, Brother Love, The Boogeyman, Teddy Long, John Laurinaitis, Sgt. Slaughter and the Bella Twins. In addition, the legendary broadcasting duo of Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler will also reunite.
The first episode of Raw was broadcasted on Jan. 11, 1993, from the Manhattan Center. But as Hall of Famer Mick Foley can attest, the original reaction to the news within the wrestling wasn't that WWE was necessarily onto something groundbreaking. Foley was wrestling in WCW as Cactus Jack at the time, on the verge of beginning a feud with Big Van Vader,
"I don't think anyone thought it was a huge landmark event other than it was WWE attempting to do a little something different," Foley told CBS Sports on this week's "In This Corner" podcast. "The entire name Raw was meant to be kind of rough and unpolished. I liked the look of the show immediately.
"There was some fun aspects of that first show but I don't think any of us, including the people in WWE, thought this was going to be a keeper and be around for a couple of decades and more."
When it comes to Raw's unprecedented longevity, Foley believes that consistency has played a huge role.
"I think there's just something to having it there for us through thick and thin without offseasons, with very few missing shows," Foley said. "For a long time we missed two weeks because of the Westminster Dog Show on USA [Network] but that has been rectified. The quality of the show is notwithstanding because they are constantly changing it and constantly making it relevant for the new generation and find ways to bring in new fans.
"Of course people are always leaving as new fans come in and old fans leave but you hear from the old fans all the time who love the fact that they may not watch Raw as much as they used to but it's still there for you. When Monday Night Football packs up and goes for the season, Raw is still there for you.
"We were the first show back live after the tragedy of 9/11. It's really important. Mr. McMahon believes wholeheartedly in the importance of entertaining people and taking their minds off problems. I don't think anyone has done it better than Raw over the past 25 years."