What's this? A shameless cash-in article because it's RAW 25 tonight? Absolutely not. Shut up. Don't go away though, read these views.
I thought I'd ask our writers and a few friends what they've enjoyed the most over the last twenty five years and this is the collection of those views. What a treat for you the reader. We've got a cavalcade of the great and the good when it comes to ATPW involved Craig Hermit,
Twenty Five years people, that's a quarter of a century. That's how long RAW has been on that long?! So what is my favourite moment? I genuinely can't give you one because think about it. You as an individual has changed throughout that time.
Case in point, I remember being a child cheering watching the RAW episode when Mr Perfect sent Ric Flair away to WCW after a career ending match. I wouldn't be having the same reaction now. I remember watching the Stone Cold vs Mr McMahon feud every week with something else added on, now I'd be saying this is just drawn out.
Kurt Angle feuding with Stone Cold was my highlight of the Invasion, "Milkomania!"
Then when the Trish Stratus feud with Lita reached new levels, they main evented the show. WWE had consistently fed fans that Women in the division were eye candy, but damnit that match, both women displayed exactly why they were role models to women that this was just the beginning and it's to WWE's discredit that fans never saw more of this and more development from their wrestlers until recently.
And Daniel Bryan, or should I say the Daniel Bryan movement, wow, think about it, highjacking The Authority's Championship speech and then in the run to Wrestlemania highjacking the show.
Closing with Paige, remembering her first Divas Title victory. It was incredible, not the match but the moment. Fans who'd seen her in NXT, Shimmer and UK knew how awesome she is and this moment seeing her seize the Title. Damn incredible.
So those are some of the moments I remember, oh The Shield breaking up too, there we go!
Think about your 25 years, can you sum it up in one moment? Much like RAW, you can't.
Not everything great in WWE happened in the Attitude Era. I'm sure a lot of them did but as someone whose first Wrestlemania was Thirty, it would be disingenuous to write about something that really had no meaning to me. The first full episode of RAW I watched was June 2nd 2014, does that mean anything to you? It should, it's when Seth Rollins, the Architect of The Shield brought it all crashing down around him when he beat Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose with a chair. It was the beginning of my understanding of why you dumb nerds watch this shit and also of me becoming one of you.
But here's the thing, that's not even the death of friendship, I wanted to talk about today. Sure, we've had the end of The Shield, we've had The Miz & Damien Mizdow but in recent years, there's no contender for one moment that we're going to all look back on , maybe even 25 years from now and think 'well that was basically perfect'. I talk to you, of course, about Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens' Festival of Friendship. The Festival is a tribute to the rock-solid nature of Owens and Jericho when it comes to character relations, you see, anyone who's been watching the programming could have worked out that Owens was going to turn on Jericho but Jericho being so blinded to how one-sided the friendship is at that point makes it all the more heartbreaking. Yet it doesn't forget in making Jericho the hero of the story, that he's also a grand-stage narcissist who talks of himself as a gift and makes his entrance with a chorus of showgirls, it's a celebration of friendship but very much, it's a Chris Jericho event, nothing of the flash or pomp suggests Kevin Owens. Wrestling is just a media through which the story is performed, stories of superheroes and supervillains can stand alongside more nuanced tales of broken people refusing to see that they can't make someone change.
That's what we got here and with all the Craigslist magicians, reinterpretations of The Creation of Adam and surprise Gillberg returns you could ask for. This segment was great, as good as the pipebomb, as good as The Rock: This Is Your Life. All this and we learnt one of the most important lessons that wrestling has taught us in years: "It's art! You don't need pants!"
When Nitro commentator Tony Schiavone joked about Mick Foley’s title win putting butts on seats, he not only hammered a nail in the WCW coffin, he also pointed viewers in the direction of Raw’s greatest ever moment. In front of a wild crowd, Mankind and The Rock engaged in a fiery brawl, aided and abetted by a rich cast of supporting characters: from the McMahons to D-X, this who’s who of the Attitude Era was capped off by the arrival of the never-hotter Stone Cold Steve Austin. As the glass shattered, the fans came unglued; more than happy to see a major star, this pop was reminiscent of a home crowd witnessing a last minute winner over the local rivals Moments later and Mankind was champion: for all of Schiavone’s sarcasm, this represented one of the most genuine feel good moments in WWF/E history.
I think for me personally, my favourite moment from Raw would be the segment between Mike Tyson and Steve Austin from January 19th, 1998. Steve Austin had just come off his Royal Rumble win and was as popular as anyone had ever been. Vince McMahon was a proud as could be about having “The Baddest Man On The Planet” Mike Tyson on Monday Night Raw and you just knew that Austin was coming to spoil the whole thing. I can still remember the whole segment almost from memory. I was glued to the TV watching it. You could have offered me anything in the world but as a 10 year old, nothing else existed for those minutes. It made regular news around the world. That brawl between the two was probably up there with the best brawl ever on TV, not just WWE. Over 20 years later, people still put it in the top moments in WWE history and I can completely agree.
When I asked myself to write my favourite RAW moment, it seems like a lot of our writers I struggled to find my moment. Not because of a lack of choice, but because of the abundance of choice. As much as we, the fans, like to bemoan the WWE, there's no doubt that Vince McMahon and his pals know how to create moments that stick in your mind for years and years. Part of that is how often WWE likes to replay it's classic moments...how often have you seen D-Generation X invade on WCW get an outing on RAW? But another part is the power behind the moments themselves in the first place. Whilst storylines might not always hit home or end how we'd like to see them end, the moments along the way are what keeps us coming back.
I was a young fan during the tail end of the Attitude Era, but didn't have Sky, so my main exposure to WWF was Sunday Night Heat on Channel 4 and the handful of PPVs they showed. Whilst I've obviously seen the majority of the iconic moments from this period, it would be wrong to choose something from here as it just didn't have the same impact on me watching them years after the fact and often knowing what was going to happen. I began finding WWE back again in 2007, before learning how to connect with RAW online a few years later. Therefore the moments I've been most effected by mostly come from after 2010. I remember being baffled by Donald Trump buying RAW, thrilled by the Nexus invasion angle and saddened by Edge's retirement...but the first time I remember coming away thinking "Holy shit, what has just happened?" was CM Punk's Pipebomb promo.
Coming after a fairly forgettable Tables Match between R-Truth and John Cena, from the moment Punk sat cross-legged on ramp, clad in a "Stone Cold" Steve Austin t-shirt, his energy came straight through the screen and made me take notice of what was about to happen. Pre this moment, Punk's 2011 had been hit and miss, placed as the leader of the New Nexus, over as fuck and picking up victories over John Cena, Rey Mysterio and John Morrison, but also losing ever match in his series with Randy Orton, there was no particular indication of what was about to come. That's probably what made the subsequent promo so special.
It might have launched a series of worked shoots that didn't always work, but in that moment as Punk began to rile off his issues with WWE, Vince McMahon, John Lauranitis and the fans, it felt like a real shift was occurring. Winks and nods to things outside the company, mentioning New Japan, Ring of Honor and even Colt Cabana, at a time when WWE was much more cut off from the rest of the wrestling world than it is today, felt like nothing else that had happened on that show, that month, year or beyond. Punk bought attitude, a real visceral energy as he spat his lines at the audience, the camera and mentioned the death of Vince McMahon. Pulling back the curtain and airing petty grievances, all whilst John Cena, the Micky Mouse to WWE's Disney, lay prone in the ring, selling a table bump for what felt like an age. It propelled storylines for months and months to come, resulting in a lengthy WWE title run for Punk, the return of Paul Heyman and gave WWE a genuine buzz. Even if WWE essentially dropped the ball after Money in the Bank, this promo also gave us one of the greatest WWE matches of all-time.
(All this nice stuff and we're still blocked by CM Punk on Twitter!)
Enjoy RAW 25 tonight folks, lets hope it brings us many more fantastic moments to talk about!