On Monday, Jan. 22, the wrestling world will be celebrating a live 25th Anniversary of Monday Night Raw. Wrestling fans can look forward to seeing many of their favorite superstars from back in the day and present day.
The wrestling that we are celebrating is World Wrestling Entertainment (previously known as World Wrestling Federation). In 1993, Raw became its flagship show, and they achieved numerous milestones along the way.
A show that would be aired every Monday night on the USA Network initially started out being an hour long and broke new ground in televised professional wrestling. It was the first wrestling show to shoot and air with a live audience. Although many of their shows were pre-recorded, that quickly changed with the emergence of another wrestling show also on Monday night.
Monday Night Raw was run and hosted by Vincent Kennedy McMahon, and one of his most significant accomplishments was his victory in the Monday Night Wars.
WWF first launched in 1993; their competitor show, Monday Nitro, began on September 4, 1995. Monday Nitro is the flagship show of the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) which was live each week on TNT.
Raw and Nitro went head-to-head for the first time the following week, at which time, Raw was still being pre-recorded on certain weeks. WCW’s Vice President and play-by-play voice Eric Bischoff was a real thorn in the side for Raw.
The two shows would exchange victories over each other in the ratings. The New World Order (NWO) era in WCW helped them capture the ratings for 84 consecutive weeks.
That was until the WWF signed fresh, new talent and increased Raw to two hours to prevent Nitro from having that advantage. WWF also brought in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in an attempt to domination the ratings with ECW style matches for the WWF audience.
WWF would continue to add different elements to their viewings. Canadian Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation declaring war on United States lifestyle. The Undertaker had numerous fights with his brother Kane, who apparently survived a house fire twenty years prior. There was also Stone Cold Steve Austin’s building feud with WWF executives, mainly Vince McMahon. The Emergence of D-Generation X (DX) as an anti-establishment group.
On Raw, fans were engaged in the feud between Mr. McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin, while superstars like Triple H, Mankind, and The Rock were gradually elevated to main event status in the WWF. Matters were so heated between the two programs that, when both shows were in the Hampton Roads area on the same night. DX was sent to film a “war” segment at the Norfolk Scope where they berated WCW and interviewed fans on camera who stated that they received their Nitro tickets for free (presumably in an attempt by WCW to pack the arena to capacity due to low ticket sales).
That was the initial shots fired, and many years WCW and WWF would invade each other until ultimately WCW could not afford it. McMahon bought out WCW and ended the war. McMahon brought in many of the wrestlers from WCW like Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Scott Steiner, Goldberg and even the return of Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall (Razor Ramon), and Kevin Nash (Diesel). Hulk Hogan made the WWF bigger than it was before WCW was even created. Hogan also made WCW big and was able to bring in other big names with him.
Years went on, and the fans got to witness some of the most prominent matches in WWE history. Hogan vs. The Rock was one of many matches to help change the nature of WWE forever.
With all the new and old superstars coming into the company, Mr. McMahon had decided to have a brand extension draft where he would draft superstars to Raw and Smackdown. Smackdown was the second major show of WWE, and McMahon put his trust in The Rock as the first pick. Both brands took off and have been successful from this point on.
This Era is known as “The Attitude Era” and began during the time of the Monday Night Wars and lasted several years after that. There was a “People Power” Era that was set to change form in the WWE and Monday Night Raw individually.
Today, we do not see any of those superstars from the “Attitude Era” competing, but some of the current superstars have fought members of that era. Like the Hogan vs. Rock match, WWE set up a pair of matches a year apart between The Rock and the man that played his role when he left, John Cena.
John Cena is now playing the same role for the WWE that both Hogan and The Rock did at the end of their careers as part-time wrestlers and help to push new superstars to stardom.
Without the brilliant mind of Vince McMahon, WWE would be nothing! He bought out both ECW and WCW through his kids, Shane and Stephaine McMahon, who he has now put in charge of WWE and their respective brands. Stephaine and her husband, Triple H, were running Raw as “the authority” had used a similar storyline of that which was used for Vince and Stone Cold feud. Shane is running Smackdown Live as the commish and both brands have former superstars as general manager.
We are expecting a massive celebration on Monday night in honor of the 25 years of existence. There are supposed to be many past superstars to return for one night in what is now a three-hour long show every Monday.
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