Approaching Raw 1,000: Adzop’s Top Raw Moments
Good day, everybody. As WWE’s milestone 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw approaches, I figured I’d get involved in the festivities and compile a list of some of my favourite moments from Raw. There are thousands of hours of WWE TV stashed away in the archives of my brain, and it wasn’t too difficult to come up with these examples. I only chose moments that I remember fondly, and hopefully, some of them may awaken old memories for some of you, as well.
I had a list of ten Raw moments. After I started writing, it became clear that writing about all of them was impractical and would have made this column far too long. So, here’s my ‘Fave Five’ for this week (Sorry, Booker). Perhaps I’ll list the other five in another article next week…
So, in no particular order, here we go.
1999. Triple H defends the WWE Title against Mr Ass.
‘Come on, Mr Ass!!’
Billy Gunn seemed to spend a year or two on the cusp of greatness in WWE, and this match took place during that period. Triple H needed all the help he could get in retaining the title against this challenger. The supreme athlete that was known as Mr Ass really had the people believing he would win the championship on this night, and Jim Ross added significant drama to the match on commentary. I’ll always remember this match for its intensity. It was also one of those matches where you felt you were witnessing the ascension of one Superstar, Mr Ass, to the very top level of WWE. Sadly, it didn’t quite work out the way this match had me believing it would. Triple H won the match in the end, but was soon attacked by the gold-hungry Big Red Machine, Kane.
1998. The Undertaker’s Return.
‘The Phenom is standing! The Phenom is ALIVE!’
How this segment didn’t make it onto the ‘Best of Raw’ DVD I mentioned earlier will forever remain a mystery to me. Kane had double-crossed The Phenom two months earlier at the Royal Rumble, locking ‘Taker in a casket and setting it on fire. Kane continued his rampage, destroying Vader at No Way Out in February. Kane stood in the ring on Raw and Paul Bearer issued a challenge for someone to come and take a Tombstone from The Big Red Machine. Undertaker’s signature gong went off and the lights went out. The Deadman’s music started as a casket appeared on the stage and was struck by a lightning bolt. Undertaker was lying on the casket, motionless, and as the crowd erupted, and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler delivered some absolutely legendary commentary, The Undertaker sat up, twisted his head to face his brother, and eventually stood up and delivered a chilling promo, challenging Kane for a match at WrestleMania 14.
Every second of this segment was absolutely perfect. It is still one of the best things I have ever seen on any TV show, let alone WWE Raw. The story, the characters, the performance – this is what it’s all about.
1998. Steve Austin vs Kane for the WWE Championship.
‘Stone Cold… hooks the leg….’
After a thrilling King of the Ring PPV the night before, that saw Kane defeat Austin for the WWE Championship in a First Blood match, and Mick Foley get absolutely decimated by The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match – The Texas Rattlesnake issued a challenge for a rematch on this electrifying edition of Monday Night Raw. The opening segment saw Vince McMahon celebrating with Kane (Vince had been trying to get the Championship away from Austin for months), only to be interrupted by Stone Cold, who proclaimed the result of the First Blood match to be a sham, since it was The Undertaker’s errant chair shot that caused Austin to bleed and subsequently lose the title.
Then, in the main event of the show, Austin reclaimed the title in an intense brawl. Kane appeared to have the match won, but when he went for the Tombstone, Austin slipped away, bounced off the ropes, ducked under Kane’s big boot and shocked the new champion with a Stone Cold Stunner for the 1-2-3. The fans in attendance went absolutely nuts – it really was something to behold; I remember the excited face of one particular lady in the front row very vividly. The Undertaker then got into the ring, and Austin stunned him as well. As the new champion left the arena, Kane and The Undertaker sat up simultaneously, and glared at Austin from the ring. This was an intricate storyline that questioned whether Kane and The Undertaker were working together, and that moment added fuel to the fire. There was so much going on; it was so intricate and so intense. Absolutely brilliant.
1993. Marty Jannetty vs Shawn Michaels.
‘Let me go get it!’
This was one of my favourite matches in Raw history. It’s one of my early WWE memories. Shawn Michaels had ditched Jannetty and slammed his head through the Barber Shop window. Michaels was in the ring cutting a promo about how he would defend his Intercontinental Championship against anybody, anytime, anywhere… And Jannetty came out of the crowd to challenge HBK to put his money where his mouth is. It was a fast paced match, which ended in delirium when Mr Perfect came out and distracted Michaels, who was then rolled up by his former tag team partner for the victory. It was Marty Jannetty’s finest moment. He ran around the ring with his newly won championship belt held high. Raw was in its infancy at that point, and it was great moments like that that would help propel the show to major success.
1999. Owen’s Raw.
Owen Hart was a terrific wrestler. He had some great matches with his brother, Bret, with Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and hundreds more. He was part of great tag teams, with Yokozuna and the British Bulldog. People that knew him will unanimously say that he was funny, charismatic, and great to be around. His untimely death in 1999 was a tragedy. He left behind a career filled with championships and accomplishments, millions of fans, friends, and his young family.
WWE took a very different approach to Raw, the night after Owen passed away.
The entire show was dedicated to him. All the Superstars wrestled with black armbands and tears in their eyes. They also showed backstage interviews with wrestlers, who told stories about Owen. You could see and FEEL the emotion the Superstars were dealing with on this night. This was the first time anything like this had to be done on Raw, and, tragic as it was, it was a moving and classy event.
I remember a promo from about a year earlier, after Ken Shamrock had won the King of the Ring tournament. Owen Hart came out to challenge the stammering ex-UFC fighter to a match that would determine the REAL KING, after all, Owen was a former King of the Ring, and the King of Harts. Another KOTR winner, Triple H came out, to declare HIS intentions – to be known as the ‘King of Kings’ – and challenged the two to a 3-way dance. Hilariously, Shamrock admitted that he’s often slow to catch on, but on this occasion, he understood just fine, and accepted the challenge.
Owen also was credited as being the guy who ‘put Shawn Michaels on the shelf’ in 1995, with an Enzuigiri kick to the back of HBK’s head. In a carefully constructed angle that only a handful of people knew about, it was decided that the commentators would not say a word, to make it appear more realistic. It worked. As a result, Owen’s Enzuigiri kick became one of the most feared moves in WWE.
I was recently tidying my house (what?) and I found a magazine that WWE released shortly after Owen’s death. It’s a nice piece of memorabilia that I’m glad I kept. It could have been bigger, though.
Owen Hart. What a wrestler.