25 years of Monday Night Raw. Wow. That’s a long time. Since its debut back in January of 1993 (yeah that’s right I can do math), Raw has been a staple show on network television, and is the longest running “episodic show” in history.
Before Monday Night Raw, wrestling fans did not have much access to the product. Besides pay per views every few months and rare special event shows on cable, there was no way to watch wrestling. Raw changed all of that. Now die hard fans and casual fans alike could enjoy the stars like The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan every Monday night right from the comfort of their home.
It’s hard to believe the Raw program, and WWE for that matter, has lasted for as long as it has. Back in the mid-late 1990s, World Championship Wrestling became direct competition to Vince McMahon. Launching a rival Monday night show in the form of Monday Nitro, WCW looked poised to run WWE out of business. Ah but the “Monday Night Wars” are a blog for another day.
This past Monday night on January 22nd, WWE aired the 25th Anniversary of Raw. Broadcasted from two locations, the Barclays Center and the site of the original Raw, The Manhattan Center, it did not disappoint.
When I think of my memories of watching wrestling growing up, I think of Stone Cold Steve Austin. I think of him delivering stunners and drinking beer (my god he caught beer cans like nobody else).
His rivalry with Vince McMahon from 1997-1999 is what put Raw on the map. So it was only fitting that Austin was part of the opening segment with the McMahon family.
And it was just perfect. From the glass shattering entrance of Austin, to Austin glaring at his former nemesis, to Vince trying to plead with him and claiming that things are different since he is a senior citizen now and a member of AARP were just awesome. After delivering a stunner to Vince and a couple to Shane, Austin was thrown a few beers while still in the ring.
And while his beer catching skills may have been a tad rusty, Stone Cold cracked those suckers open, hit those turnbuckles, and chugged those SOBs down like only the Texas Rattlesnake could. The night could have ended there, and I would have been happy.
While that may have made the night for me, there were still plenty of other big moments. The Undertaker made his first appearance since Wrestlemania 33, and while he did not offer any notable news on the status of his in ring career, it was cool to see him deliver one of his iconic “rest in piece” promos inside the Manhattan Center. The Miz defeated Roman Reigns to become an 8 time Intercontinental Champion in what was an awesome match. Bray Wyatt defeated “Woken” Matt Hardy clean in what was a head scratcher for me, and during another fantastic segment, many former women’s wrestlers came out to receive an ovation (and let me tell you, Kelly Kelly and Torrie Wilson were 🔥🔥). And let’s not forget, Chris Jericho calling Elias a “stupid idiot” and putting him on “the list” was hysterical.
Even though the Stone Cold opening segment ended up being my favorite, I went into the show awaiting the Degeneration X reunion. Shawn Michaels is my all time favorite wrestler. Period. It’s really not even close. Ever since The Undertaker retired him at Wrestlemania 26 back in 2010, I have anxiously awaited the day that he says he is coming out of retirement for one more match. Unfortunately, it seems as though that day will never come, as Michaels has remained adamant that he is content where he left his wrestling career and has no desire to wrestle again. But every once in a while we get an appearance from him that reminds us how awesome and hilarious he is. Monday was one of those nights, as he and the rest of DX came out and talked about the good ol’ times, which ended with each member hitting their finishing maneuvers on Scott Dawson, including Michaels’ patented Sweet Chin Music.
It’s hard to believe that Raw has been airing for 25 years. Many of my childhood memories are of my parents and I sitting back and watching Raw, and I will always be grateful for that. Here’s to 25 more!