Tonight is the 25th Anniversary of WWE’s Monday Night Raw. For wrestling fans, the show has been a part of their Monday night routines for a quarter of a century. I can remember when the show first launched back in 1993 and we didn’t get it in Canada.
It wasn’t until TSN began carrying it a couple of years into the run that we actually got to see the program, and even then, they didn’t air it live. They would air it late at night after the show had finished airing in the US, and then again the next morning. I remember taping the show each week, but also cutting it as close as I could on my walk to school because it was on from like 7-9 am on Tuesday morning.
The show has produced so many iconic television moments and I’d like to run down a few of my favourites for you.
The first ‘iconic’ moment on the show came way back in the show’s first year – May of 1993, to be specific. A young ‘enhancement talent’ got the win over established superstar Razor Ramon, which was basically unheard of at the time. That guy would go on to have a 20 plus year career under names like The 1-2-3 Kid, Syxx, and X-Pac.
In 1996, Steve Austin was in a feud with his longtime partner and friend Brian Pillman and promised he would go to Pillman’s home to confront him. What happened next caused the local police to be inundated with phone calls as Pillman pulled a gun on Austin and people thought it was really happening.
One of Canada’s favourite sons, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart lost his mind on Monday Night Raw on the show just before Wrestlemania 13. He was screwed out of the title by Steve Austin and went on an absolute tirade which really blurred the line between storyline and reality. There is a lot of NSFW language in this clip, and keep in mind this was aired on television. LIVE. Bret was publicly undressing the owner of the company while seemingly holding up the show. This kind of thing had not been seen before.
In 1998, Steve Austin was the hottest name in wrestling and his character was a thorn in the side of his boss Vince McMahon. McMahon had pulled a coup and got Mike Tyson to appear on Raw and was set to make a big announcement regarding his relationship with the company when the festivities were interrupted by Austin. The whole thing went off the rails and a brawl ensued with about 20 people trying to get in the middle of it to break it up. My favourite part is Vince yelling at Austin, “You Ruined It” over and over again while trying to get at him. It truly to the employer vs employee feud to the next level.
The Austin/McMahon feud reached one of it’s highest points in 1999 when Stone Cold Steve Austin gave Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and The Rock a beer bath. This may be the most iconic moment in Raw’s history.
Most ‘moments’ come in the form of promos or segments, but in 1999, a WWE Championship match shook up the wrestling world and changed the face of the business forever. To set the stage, WWE Raw had been losing for weeks and weeks in the ratings to their competition, WCW Monday Nitro. At the time, WWE wasn’t even doing live shows, they were taping their programs and airing those shows on Monday opposite a live WCW program. WCW was then giving the results of the taped Raw program on-air so people wouldn’t jump back and forth. This backfired horribly, when they told their fans that Mick Foley (who was wrestling as Mankind) would be winning the WWF Title. Fans switched over to Raw in droves and saw one of the greatest WWE Championship moments ever. It’s truly one of the loudest crowds in WWE history.
And who could forget the WWE debut of Winnipeg’s own Chris Jericho in 1999. The company had spent months flashing a countdown to the millennium clock on screen and most fans thought they were just counting down to the year 2000. Someone did the math and it turned out the clock was set to expire well before December 31. When it did, WWE fans were introduced to the ‘Y2J Problem’ as Chris Jericho made his debut in a confrontation with The Rock. I still get goosebumps when Jericho’s name comes onto the screen before he appears and the crowd goes absolutely bonkers…
Kurt Angle tried to do his best Steve Austin impression and sprayed Stephanie McMahon and half the roster down with milk…
As time goes on, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s a story becomes harder to do. Surprising the audience becomes harder to do. So, what happens when a group of WWE developmental ‘rookies’ invade Raw and take out John Cena and destroy the entire set? You get people talking. So much so that a young Daniel Bryan was fired (in real life) following this incident for making things look ‘too real’ when he attacked ring announcer Justin Roberts.
CM Punk took his career to the next level on Raw when he came out and dropped a ‘pipe bomb’ on the entire company in 2011…
In 2013, Daniel Bryan was a crowd favourite, but the company didn’t really see him as a main eventer. At Wrestlemania, he had come out and lost a match in under a minute and from that moment forward there was a groundswell of support for Bryan. In December, this segment occurred where all former World Champions were brought into the ring to give the feeling of extra importance to an upcoming match between John Cena and Randy Orton. The crowd went on to hijack the segment and set Daniel Bryan on his path to main event the next year’s Wrestlemania.
Whew, that was a real trip down memory lane. There are a hundred more things I could put into this blog, but these are some of the moments that immediately come to mind when I think of WWE Raw. A lot of big names will return from the past tonight including Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and Ric Flair. Plus, there will be some characters you never thought you would see again like MVP, Harvey Wippelman, Terri Runnels, Eric Bischoff and Brother Love just to name a few.
If you want to see a super condensed version of the last 25 years of WWE’s Monday Night Raw, check out the awesome opening for the show WWE released below.