Monday Night Raw celebrates its 25th Anniversary on January 22nd, but the show itself turned 25 back on the 11th of January since the first broadcast of the show was on January 11th, 1993. Over the past two and a half decades the flagship show of WWE has seen some of the most memorable moments in wrestling history from the Attitude Era, to the PG Era all the way through to the current Reality Era.
The Monday Night Wars were a huge thing for a number of years before WWE won the battle and WCW became a distant memory. There was then a time when TNA became WWE’s main rival but once again WWE showed that they were the true powerhouse in the world of Professional Wrestling and once again ran away with the competition.
Superstars have come and gone over the past few years with The Undertaker being the only star from that first broadcast who is still wrestling at this current moment in time, even though his future is still currently up in the air. In an era where there are so many channels to choose from and so much content on TV and online, it is a huge achievement for a show to be able to make it to 25 years of broadcasting on network TV. So with the Anniversary on the horizon, it seems that this is the perfect time to look back and marvel at some of the moments that we all thought were long forgotten.
15. DX Invades WCW
Any wrestling fan who watched WWE back in the 1990s will remember when Triple H and his D-Generation X friends invaded WCW Monday Nitro. It wasn’t an actual invasion. The WWE stars didn’t make their way into the arena. They just hung around outside the Virginia venue where they wound up many WCW fans by proclaiming that WWE was the much better show.
This was one thing in the wrestling world that wasn’t scripted at all. It was completely real. The group wasn’t breaking any rules by hanging around outside the venue, but it seems that they did enough to make a statement of intent on WWE’s behalf. It was evidently a brash tactic from Vince McMahon’s WWE that showed the lengths that they were prepared to go to in order to win the battle. D-Generation X was one of the greatest things in wrestling at this point and the invasion just made the group even cooler.
14. Vince McMahon Is Revealed As “The Higher Power”
Throughout 1999 The Undertaker was seen terrorizing The McMahon family as he hoped to take over the World Wrestling Federation. It was later revealed that Undertaker wasn’t working alone and he had been seen on numerous occasions pledging his allegiance to a “higher power.”
During The Ministry of Darkness storyline, Vince McMahon was seen as a victim of The Deadman much like his family until it was finally revealed that he himself was the “Higher Power” on an episode of Monday Night Raw back in 1999, which meant that he was the one behind the attacks on his family, which he confirmed when he uttered the iconic line: “It was me, Austin, it was me all along.” While this was perhaps the worst outcome for many fans when he was revealed as the man under the hood, it has still become known as one of the most memorable moments in WWE history.
13. Dolph Ziggler Cashes In His Money In The Bank Contract
Dolph Ziggler has been part of WWE programming for more than a decade after making his debut as part of The Spirit Squad back in 2005, but it seems that over the past 12 years one of the most iconic things that Dolph Ziggler achieved was when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on Alberto Del Rio on the Raw after WrestleMania back in 2013.
Dolph Ziggler received the biggest crowd reaction of the modern era when he finally dethroned the World Champion after he had just been part of a gruelling match with Jack Swagger, but with AJ Lee and Big E by his side, Ziggler looked as though he was set to become a memorable champion. Sadly, injuries caused his Championship reign to come to an end and Ziggler has failed to reach this peak point in his career in the years that have followed.
12. Evolution Forms
It was seen as one of the most iconic moments in the history of Monday Night Raw as Evolution that consisted of Ric Flair, Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton all coming together as a team on an episode of Raw back in 2003.
Scott Steiner had already pushed Triple H to the limit at the Royal Rumble the night before and it was made obvious that it was only because of Flair that he walked out with his title. The Game claimed that he wasn’t medically cleared to compete on Raw and Batista who had just arrived from SmackDown had been added to the match instead. It was only later in the night that the real intentions of the game became known when a young Randy Orton interfered in the match before Triple H and Flair joined him in beating down Steiner. The foursome then raised each other’s hands in the centre of the ring as it became blatantly clear that Evolution had arrived.
11. Vince’s Limo Explodes
Who can forget the moment when Vince McMahon tried to end his character on WWE by having his limo blown up in the parking lot? The camera followed Vince as he headed backstage and past most of the WWE roster which included Paul London who had a huge smile on his face, something that he was later fired for before Vince exited into the parking lot and into his limo.
Of course, this wasn’t that much of a major moment on its own, but merely weeks later Vince was forced to return to WWE because of the horrifying circumstances following the passing of former WWE star Chris Benoit and his family. It caused the whole “whodunnit” angle to be nixed as The Chairman showed up on WWE TV proving that he hadn’t even suffered a scratch in the explosion. Given the circumstances, it was the right decision at the time.
10. Chris Jericho Makes His WWE Debut
Chris Jericho recently wrestled New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12, which proves that at 47 years old, Y2J is still one of the greatest in-ring performers in the world. More than 18 years ago Jericho was about to prove this to the waiting WWE Universe.
A “countdown to the millennium” clock was made part of Monday Night Raw for a number of weeks before the new year but in August 1999 it seems that the clock finally reached its climax as Jericho’s name flashed up on the screen. It was a huge pop for one of the stars of WCW and it was made obvious from that moment that Jericho was going to be a huge star in WWE. Almost two decades after his iconic debut on Monday Night Raw, Jericho is still proving that he is the very best at what he does in that ring.
9. This Is Your Life
WWE tried to recreate one of their most iconic segments last year with Bayley and Alexa Bliss, but it seems that it was never going to be able to top the original that saw Mick Foley present the “This is your life” segment for The Rock back in 1999.
The Rock seemingly didn’t enjoy the segment very much, but this promo showed that Mick and The Rock has an uncanny ability to bounce off each other on the mic. It is also often misattributed to be the highest rated Raw segment in history, even though it wasn’t. However, it was definitely up there. It makes sense that WWE would want to try to recreate something as highly rated as this, but it seems that fans of the product today are different and they were never going to react the same way to something that they had already seen presented much better almost two decades earlier.
8. Stone Cold Brings The Drinks
Stone Cold Steve Austin was one of the biggest stars of the Attitude Era and it seems that his star power allowed him to perform a number of incredible stunts on WWE TV throughout the 1990s. One of these took place back in 1998 before his first match with The Rock at WrestleMania 15.
In true Stone Cold style, The Rattlesnake entered the arena in a beer truck and drenched The Rock, Shane and Vince McMahon in beer from a hosepipe as they struggled to exit the ring. This will always be seen as one of the most iconic moments of Monday Night Raw because of Austin’s incredible mic work and McMahon’s undeniable acting ability as he attempted to wade through the sea of beer that Austin had unleashed on the ring following his arrival. Austin and The Rock later went on to have one of the greatest matches of their careers at WrestleMania.
7. Brian Pillman Has A Weapon
Just because this was seen as one of the most controversial moments in Raw history doesn’t mean it should also be seen as one of the most iconic, but for fans who watched the episode of Raw live, it is definitely one that is worth a mention.
Technically, Steve Austin started the entire issue here when he invaded Brian Pillman’s house and the latter was then revealed to have a gun. There was then a scuffle where Pillman not only swore but the TV transmission then cut out so fans were left wondering what had happened before it was later restored and Pillman’s friends were seen dragging Austin out of the house as Pillman threatened to hurt him while pointing a gun at his head. Even at that time, this was pushing the envelope so WWE was forced to issue an apology as well as Pillman himself. This still remains one of the most shocking and controversial segments in WWE history.
6. The Nexus Invades Raw
The Nexus was a group that was formed as part of NXT. Back in 2010 NXT wasn’t the weekly TV show that thousands of wrestling fans tune into; it was a competition that would see one winner crowned and offered a WWE contract. The Nexus were the men who made up that series of the show and it seemed that they all had a point to prove.
All eight of these men who were deemed “rookies” were at ringside for a match between CM Punk and John Cena on Raw when they decided to invade the ring, attack both men, tear up ringside and even attack the announcers and commentary team. Daniel Bryan was later fired from the company after he attacked ring announcer Justin Roberts and was seen strangling him with his own tie. This still didn’t take away from the fact that this was one of the most impactful debuts in WWE history.
5. Shane McMahon Buys WCW
The Monday Night Wars were the best thing about wrestling in the late 1990s. The wars saw WCW Nitro going head to head with Raw from 1995 until 2001 with both shows battling it out as part of an exciting ratings war. At some point, this war had to come to an end and that happened on an episode of Monday Night Raw in March 2001.
Vince McMahon appeared live on Raw to announce that he had brought out his competition, but it seems that as with everything in the world of wrestling, it wasn’t that simple. His son Shane appeared live in Panama City on Nitro on the titantron and revealed that it was his name that was on the papers and he was the one who had purchased Nitro. Vince’s face told the full story as the news sunk in but WWE went on to make a mockery out of a WWE vs WCW storyline that could have been much more memorable.
4. CM Punk’s Pipe Bomb
CM Punk is someone who will always be associated with his epic pipe bomb from back in 2011. This isn’t the only time that Punk had stolen the show with one of his promos, but it is one of his most iconic. It seems that there are a number of stories circulating about the legitimacy of the promo where Punk laid all of his issues out to the public before his mic was cut by backstage officials.
Punk later went on to defeat Cena for the WWE Championship before walking out after Money in the Bank that year. He later returned and defeated Cena again at SummerSlam before he went on to be one of the main staples in the company over the next few years, before he walked away for real back in 2014. It’s strange to think that CM Punk was last seen in WWE more than four years ago.
3. The Women Main Event Monday Night Raw
The Women’s Revolution has been at the forefront of WWE programming over the past few years, but it seems that even though Sasha Banks and Charlotte main evented Raw last year as part of their battle for the Raw Women’s Championship, Trish Stratus, and Lita were able to do it more than a decade earlier in an era where the women weren’t taken seriously.
Trish and Lita’s feud was one that defined a generation when it came to professional wrestling and it’s no coincidence that the two women later retired from the company within two months of each other in 2006. Lita and Trish collided for the Women’s Championship in the main event of Raw in December 2004. It was Trish who came out on top, but it was an iconic moment from two women who defined women’s wrestling in WWE.
2. Seth Rollins Turns On The Shield
Every modern day wrestling fan knows where they were the day Seth Rollins turned on The Shield and sided with The Authority, which began the rise of the power couple on Monday Night Raw.
The Shield debuted in WWE as part of Survivor Series back in 2012 and for almost two years they had WWE on lockdown and had even been able to defeat Evolution on two occasions at Extreme Rules and again in an Elimination match at Payback the night before. The Shield had proved that they were the best, but it seems that Triple H had brought into the evolution of Seth Rollins and when that chair hit the back of Roman Reigns on that fateful night in June 2014, history was changed forever. The three men are now all former World Champions and recently reunited after more than three years apart, so it seems that it was a bold but accurate decision for WWE to make at that time.
1. Mick Foley’s WWE Title Win
Mick Foley was a firm fan favourite throughout the 1990s so when he was given the opportunity to win the WWE Championship on an episode of Monday Night Raw back in 1999 it was something that changed the course of wrestling history. This was a time when WWE was deep in the midst of the Monday Night Wars and even though Nitro commentator Tony Schiavone gave away the result of the pre-taped show, the WWE Universe collectively changed the channel in their thousands to witness history.
Mick Foley himself recently stated in an interview that he thought it was a mistake for WWE to have given him the championship at this point but it is thought to have been the changing point of the wars. It is widely thought that this decision seemingly began the storyline that won the wars for WWE and the rest, as they say, is history.
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