Chris Sanders: April 23rd 2007, in London. It was a match between then-champion John Cena and Shawn Michaels. It was a few weeks removed from their great match at Wrestlemania 23. But this wasn’t your typical little-meaning Monday Night Raw match. No, this was different, this was special.This was a great back and forth match where both men were countering or kicking out of finishers. This a match where both men wrestling like we had to pay to see it. Just by length alone, I don’t think any match on Raw has match up with that and definitely none since.
The sentiment behind it was simple for me. Just like Chris Jericho stated in his DVD, this match brought me back. I was a casual wrestling fan when I was younger but by the time I got to high school and the beginning of college, I stopped watching. I’m not sure exactly why I stoppe, probably because I was a punk teen that thought he was too cool for everything. But I had seen an ad for Wrestlemania 23 and saw that my old favorite, Shawn Michaels, would be having a match for the WWE championship and I was confused because I never thought Michaels would come back to wrestling. So I watched WM23 and enjoyed it and so I kept watching but after a couple weeks (and a few moments of ridicule from my friends) I started to not really want to watch anymore. And then I watched this episode and this match. All of a sudden, I felt like that kid that watched with excitement and I knew that I didn’t care what my friends said (they all ended up becoming wrestling fans anyway) and that I would forever be a wrestling fan.
Ryan Brown: There are so many potential moments here – especially those where you saw something that you never expected (The 1-2-3 Kid beating Razor Ramon), the ones that were so powerful (RAW is Owen), a match that made you proud to be a wrestling fan (The Two-Man Power Trip vs. Jericho and Benoit) or just astonishingly awful (THAT Jackie Gayda match).
But it comes down to two moments -
First, Mankind winning his first WWE championship, which was – and this is a word that gets thrown around way too casually – unbelievable. I can remember watching Cactus Jack in World Class Championship Wrestling and the old WCW. I remember the goof who had two versions of his music – one for his entrance, and one when his match was over. The one-eared wonder who seemed like the perfect mid card guy – and now, he was heavyweight champion of the world. The moment when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s glass shattered, I popped out of my chair and marked out. When the ref hit the mat for the count of three, I jumped into the air. I’m getting goosebumps writing this just thinking about it. It was unbelivable. Truly, truly unbelievable.
Second – and this is 1% for the event, and 99% for Jim Ross’s commentary – Kurt Angle attacking the Alliance with the milk truck. Ross’s call of “He’s bringing out the heavy artillery! It’s homogenized!” is one of the best calls I’ve ever heard – and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest.
Matthew Michaels: I’ve told this story before but if imagine most of you haven’t read it. Let’s face it, wrestling fan turnover is one of the rules of the game. It’s why WWE is always trying to hold on to the kids – the Cena fans who hopefully like my generation’s Hulkamaniacs – will watch their entire lives. And it’s why fans my age – over 30 – get so upset over seemingly little things. Why Cena hasn’t turned heel yet, why story lines get repeated, why (insert favorite wrestler X) doesn’t get a chance… why things from when we were younger seem better for one reason or another.
But here’s why I still watch. The moments. The chance that something big will happen on live TV that other wrestling fans – or maybe even some non fans – will be talking about later that night or on Tuesday morning. This could be as silly as Vince Mahon’s limo blowing up or as emotionally charged as Punk’s pipe bomb promo in Vegas or anything to do with Steve Austin, The Rock and a beer truck.
I had stopped watching wrestling throughout most of the 1990s. Tuned in here and there but never got hooked like when I was a Hulkamaniac. Then I heard Hulk Hogan himself along with some other stars from my youth were popping up on Nitro. Maybe someone told me, maybe I saw an angle on Leno. So I tuned in to WCW. To watch the stars I grew up idolizing. And got hooked by a young guy I had never heard of before. He called himself the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla. WTF? Loved it.
So I followed him to Raw when the Internet told me he might be showing up there. And then the Countdown happened. And Raw was Jericho. And I had a moment I would never … EVER forget againe. To this day I keep watching, hoping for the next one.
CB: The crazy part about picking one favorite moment from Monday Night Raw’s first 999 episodes is coming to the realization that I have actually watched every single one of these shows. No matter how I felt about pro wrestling, Raw was and always will be can’t-miss television for me (especially now in the DVR age, but I remember setting up a weekly recording on my old VCR as well).
To pick one moment can pull me in a million — or at least 999 — different directions. On one hand, there was nothing quite like Mankind’s first WWF championship win over The Rock (with a lot of help from DX and Stone Cold, of course), the infamous night where WCW spoiled the surprise and people changed the channel en masse to see it. On the other hand, the spectacle of The Undertaker’s “Black Wedding” to Stephanie McMahon — with Stephanie hanging on the black cross of DOOM — was a scene you just never forget.
However, those two moments I just gave you are actually my second- and third-favorites, respectively, from the history of Monday Night Raw.
I actually thought about this long and hard, and while the Attitude Era was obviously an incredible time period for the WWF/E, my personal favorite Raw moment came before any of that.
That’s right, my favorite Raw moment comes from January 25th, 1993, when Ric Flair (with Bobby Heenan) faced Mr. Perfect in a Loser Leaves WWF match. I was 13 going on 14 years-old at the time, and I’d loved Mr. Perfect ever since his “Absolutely Perfect” vignettes debuted. I also thought the Perfect Plex was just a great finishing move, one that should be talked about more when folks make to those lists or spit the bit with their friends talking about wrestling.
Back then, I hated Ric Flair. I didn’t know anything about his pre-WWF history at the time, and I just thought he wasn’t all that great, or maybe he just wasn’t my cup of tea.
So when this match came to pass and Perfect had separated himself from Flair and they where now fighting for their WWF careers (I didn’t know until later on that Flair was going back to WCW where he really did belong), I viewed this as one of the most epic and emotionally charged matches EVER, in my 13 year-old mind.
And when Mr. Perfect did the unthinkable and won “the big one” over Ric Flair, well, I still remember that feeling of joy and relief and happiness that this landmark moment brought me.
This match was one of the reasons I kept watching wrestling from 1993 to 1996, why I always tuned into Raw.
And to think that Mr. Perfect — now a WWE Hall of Famer — to think that Curt Hennig never won the WWF title, well, it makes this victory of his stand out even more as I look back.
That’s all from me — CB.
Kelly Floyd: Everyone knows that I’m a newer fan, who has been watching for about seven years now. Unfortunately, things went downhill quickly after they won my heart. Does that make me bad luck? I sure hope not. Anyway. There have been many moments on RAW that will stick out to me…for instance, I pretty much ate up anything Randy Orton could possibly do to Triple H. But only one can be my favorite. And what stronger memory than the one that MADE me a wrestling fan?
I had just gotten off work and was headed to a buddy’s house. I was 16 at the time–rebelling like we all do–and wanted to hang out, despite the fact that it was a “school night”. That friend said he just wanted to finish something called RAW. Now, I had never known a single person that could tell me what WWF/E stood for until that moment, so I was lost. And, I admit, I rolled my eyes.
It was the main event when I arrived. Some little squirt named Rey Mysterio was going to take on a behemoth named Big Show in what was billed a “David vs Goliath match”…I was intrigued. The match itself sucked me in so much, that I was cheering and booing in the exact places I was supposed to, even though those few minutes were the most I’d ever seen of a wrestling show. So imagine my mark-tastic reaction when Kane suddenly appears and teams up with Big Show to squish little Rey. But wait, it’s not over! The Undertaker arrives to rescue him! Finally, Randy Orton and Bob Orton run out to take care of Undertaker, using the lowrider Mysterio entered in as a tribute to Eddie Guerrero, by flooring the car right into the speaker system.
So much happened, so many men were involved, they captivated me from the start, and ended it with a giant explosion. I knew right from that moment, that I would love this sport for the rest of my life.
Martin Shaw: This is going to sound like a cop-out because they covered it on RAW in the run up to episode 1000, but it has to be Jericho’s début back in August of ’99.
They had been teasing us for weeks, maybe even months. When the countdown finally ended and JERICHO flashed on the Titantron as the music started, i reached uncharted levels of markdom.
I was a massive fan of Chris during his WCW run and he pretty much kept in character after the jump. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand for the first 30 seconds, got them to turn on him in an instant, talked about “sports entertainment” ruining the show, mentioned plummeting buyrates and ratings, called the roster boring… he really set the tone in those three minutes.
Mike Gojira: I believe I already covered this moment in an early column of mine, but who the hell remembers old crap that I write? It happened on April 17, 2000. The show opened with Chris Jericho challenging Triple H for the WWE Championship….and he won the match! My friends and I were jumping up and down (and hitting our heads on their basement ceiling) doing the “Happy Happy Joy Joy Dance” as Jericho celebrated his first world title reign.
And then….the decision was reversed.
The. Decision. Was. Reversed.
That was the most emotional roller coaster I’ve ever been on watching Monday Night Raw, and I don’t think anything can top that.