Happy Wednesday Everyone!
Monday Night Raw has been on the air for over 30 years now, so I thought I’d take a trip back through the cavernous archives to pick out 10 of my personal favourite Monday Night Raw segments or moments from the show’s history.
I confess that I basically stopped watching the show on any sort of regular basis from about 2015 onwards, due to a combination of me falling out of love with the WWE product and the fact that three hours a week is just WAY too long for a wrestling show. So if you’ve been an avid watcher from that period onwards then I’m afraid your own personal favourite moment won’t appear here.
So yeah, sorry about that…
14th December 2015
WWE books babyface Roman Reigns correctly, if only for one night…
WWE for many years to make Roman Reigns into the next superstar babyface until they finally just gave up and turned him Heel, which led to him becoming one of the best characters on the entire show. No matter what they tried or who they programmed him with, WWE just couldn’t seem to get their fan base to get behind Reigns, even when Reigns’ own performances were solid. However, on one glorious night in December 2015 WWE finally managed to get the formula correct and Reigns actually closed the show looking like the mega babyface star the company wanted him to be.
One problem Reigns tended to have during his babyface run was that WWE had a very stop/start approach with his push and never seemed to just commit to be him being the top guy. After yet another failed attempt to claim the top belt in the promotion at the TLC pay per view, Reigns laid a whupping on Triple H, which led to WWE head honcho Vince McMahon showing up on Raw to berate Reigns and force him into a match with WWE Champ Sheamus, where both the belt and Reigns’ career were on the line.
Sheamus and Reigns proceeded to have a very good wrestling bout (as they normally did when matched up against one another in fall fairness) where the crowd vocally backed Reigns and got behind his pursuit to win the belt. Considering that Reigns often found himself hearing jeers rather than cheers during his babyface stint, the fact the crowd was actually behind him this time suggested that WWE had finally gotten him over the hump. Thankfully WWE actually delivered on a crowd pleasing finish as well, as Reigns clattered Vince and then pinned Sheamus clean to win the belt for the second time whilst the crowd cheered along.
After continuously trying to find the perfect occasion to anoint Reigns as the new top guy, WWE finally just pulled the trigger on an episode of Raw and the crowd loved it. Of course, they would end up botching it and Reigns was back to getting booed by the New Year, but for one night at least they managed to show us how the world could have looked if they’d actually committed to pushing Reigns correctly as a babyface. Regardless of the eventual ruination of Reigns’ newly gained momentum though, this was still a very enjoyable Raw moment and one I still go back to watch.
9th July 2001
The InVasion gets EXTREME
The InVasion storyline was a gigantic bust overall, but there was a very brief moment where something cool happened during it, as ECW improbably showed up on an episode of Raw to grab the show by the scruff of the neck for all of 30-45 minutes. As a match between Lance Storm and Mike Awesome of WCW against Chris Jericho and Kane of the WWF raged on, Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer made their unexpected returns to Raw (they had both shown up in 1997 during a previous spell where the WWF had invited ECW guys on in an effort to combat WCW’s seemingly unstoppable dominance of the top spot in American wrestling) and helped Storm and Awesome attack the WWF guys.
WWF roster members The Dudley Boyz, Rhino, Raven, Tazz and Justin Credible all ran down seemingly to help their WWF allies, but they all had one clear thing in common and decided to start helping out the invading crew. Colour commentator Paul Heyman shot up from his chair and headed into the ring in order to cut the promo the InVasion had up to that point been missing, declaring that ECW was back and they were going to take the InVasion to the EXTREME! Then later on they completely ruined the whole thing by teaming ECW up with WCW and revealing Stephanie McMahon as the new owner of ECW, but for a brief moment there the storyline had actually become interesting again.
As someone who considered ECW their favourite promotion when it bit the dust in early 2001, I was beyond jazzed to see the familiar letters and music back, if only for a brief moment, and I still regard this segment as one of my favourite Raw moments. The WWF blowing through roughly 3-6 months of storylines in one episode of Raw kind of highlights the seat of the pants madness going on during the whole InVasion period and it made for captivating TV, even though they then promptly ruined it on the same episode.
For those of us who still held a torch for ECW though, it was nice to know that the promotion hadn’t been completely forgotten about, and Rob Van Dam ended up being one of the few guys who actually benefitted from the InVasion overall, so this being his return to the WWF will always make it a special occasion.
28th September 1998
Austin and the Zamboni/Vince gets his ankle destroyed
Stone Cold Steve Austin’s second run with the WWF Title came to an end at the September In Your House event when the combined efforts of both Undertaker and Kane led to him getting double pinned. Of course the double pin meant that it wasn’t clear who the new Champion was actually going to be, leading to Vince McMahon planning to clear it up with a segment inside the ring, with Taker and Kane both present.
Stone Cold wasn’t going to let his defeat go without answer though, with him ruining the festivities and driving down to the ring in a Zamboni of all things before giving Vince a quick pummelling until Taker, Kane and some cops finally broke it up in order to save Vince’s life. The crowd reaction for Austin leaping off the Zamboni onto Vince is something to behold, and the general carnival nature of what Raw was at the time is conveyed quite nicely by a fan flinging in a random Stone Cold blow up figurine into the ring whilst he puts the beat down on Vince.
The segment wasn’t finished with yet however, as Vince chastised Undertaker and Kane for failing to keep Austin at bay and then accentuated his disgust by throwing a double bird at the dreaded Brothers of Destruction. This of course led to the perfectly rational conclusion of Taker and Kane disintegrating Vince’s ankle with the steel steps and then leaving him wheelchair bound all the way up to Survivor Series. All put together, it was a cracking bit of Attitude Era chicanery!
13th January 2014
Daniel Bryan leaves The Wyatt Family
Daniel Bryan was incredibly popular in 2013, so much so that he briefly held WWE’s top belt for all of a few minutes until Randy Orton cashed in his Money in the Briefcase on him. Bryan would eventually end up losing the feud to Orton after a series of pay per view rematches, leading to Bryan going into a new feud with Bray Wyatt. The storyline was simple enough, Wyatt would try to get Bryan to join his faction and Bryan would resist, because why would they even try to turn the hugely popular Bryan Heel? I think you can see where this is going…
Because yes, WWE did actually try turning Bryan Heel, as he eventually succumbed to the numbers game and agreed to join the faction. This storyline was due to run for months, with I guess a Heel Bryan doing increasingly more dastardly things whilst the fans looked on bemused. However, Bryan had done such a great job as a babyface that his trademark YES chant (something he had borrowed from MMA fighter Diego Sanchez) was getting chanted at sporting events around the country, and yet on WWE television they were stubbornly trying to make this beloved character into a bad guy, which made them look drastically out of touch with their audience.
Deciding that it was ludicrous to keep Bryan a Heel, WWE finally relented and turned him back, essentially bringing the storyline to an early close as Bryan wrestled Wyatt at the Royal Rumble and then both wrestlers moved on in new directions. The angle where Bryan finally turned his back on Wyatt was an all-timer at least, as Bryan shed his Wyatt Family attire and laid an absolute whupping on Wyatt inside the walls of a steel cage whilst the crowd lost their minds. Bryan was concussed during the preceding match and essentially performed this entire angle on autopilot as well, so it’s both impressive he managed to get through it and also good he didn’t take any further big moves during it.
As someone who was gradually falling out of love with the product, and really wrestling in general, during this period it was nice to see WWE actually take a back step for once and think about course correcting. It’s not something they did all the time during the Vince Era, but they did it here and it led to an all-time great Raw moment.
5th October 1998
It’s Mr. Socko!/Oh I’ll take it from here nurse
This segment actually followed on from the Zamboni Incident back at #8, as Vince McMahon getting his ankle smashed by the Brothers of Destruction led to him having a stay in the hospital. Vince was of course a very cranky patient, leading to much hilarity, especially when Mankind made the misguided attempt of trying to cheer Vince up. Mankind brought with him a box of partially eaten chocolates, a clown called Yurple and a very extra special friend by the name of Mr. Socko.
Yes, this episode of Raw represented the first time that Mr. Socko would make an appearance on WWF/E television, as Mick Foley slid Socko onto his hand and then tried to kiss Vince’s booboo all better, much to cranky Vince’s consternation. Vince’s reaction was exactly what you would expect, as he demanded Mankind leave his hospital room before sarcastically snarling “Mr. Socko” with classic McMahon disgust in his voice.
Mr. Socko was intended as a one-time joke character, but it struck such a chord with the fans that he stayed for many years afterwards and actually helped Mick Foley prolong his career somewhat as he could wrestle toned down matches on House Shows and so long as he whipped out Mr. Socko at the bouts conclusion the fans would still enjoy themselves even if the content of the match itself had been relatively softcore from the Hardcore Legend.
However, even though Mankind and Mr. Socko had vacated the premises, we hadn’t seen the last of Vince in the hospital, as there was still the matter of Stone Cold Steve Austin looking for vengeance after losing his WWF Title thanks to Vince. At one stage earlier in the show, Vince’s heart monitor started beating that extra little bit faster when he thought that Austin might be in the vicinity, but he was eventually relieved when Austin didn’t appear.
Vince’s luck didn’t last forever though, as Austin did eventually manage to sneak into the hospital disguised as a doctor, leading to him informing the nurse “I’ll take it from here” in his distinctive Texas accent before removing his disguise and destroying Vince. Austin’s attack included rabid punches to Vince’s injured ankle, a vicious shot with a bedpan and an unforgiving exploration of Vince’s rectal area in the form of a forced enema. Truly memorable television and one of the better examples of Vince McMahon “getting his” in his long running feud with the Texas Rattlesnake.