January 25 1993: The third episode of Monday Night RAW featured two of the best wrestlers in company competing in RAW's first great match. It was Mr. Perfect vs. Ric Flair in a Loser Leaves Town match. Perfect and Flair would put on a wrestling clinic for almost 20 minutes, culminating with Hennig catching Flair with the Perfectplex, sending Ric Flair back to WCW, not to be seen on WWF TV until November of 2001. This match arguably set the standard for free TV wrestling, and showed how revolutionary Monday Night RAW would become.
May 17 1993: This RAW is notable for two of the biggest upsets in the early years of Monday Night RAW:
Razor Ramon took on Sean Waltman, known at that time as simply "The Kid"; this match was assumed to be your regular squash match by the viewers. It would be played out as such, until The Kid went up the top rope and hit a Standing Moonsault on Razor and actually pinned him, picking up a shocking victory; this helped build Raw up as a show where "anything could happen". Waltman would take the name "1-2-3 Kid" and use the momentum to become an upper-midcard babyface; later, Waltman (as Syxx and X-Pac, respectively) would become a member of both the New World Order and D Generation X. This would also set in motion a Heel Face Turn for Razor, which led to arguably the most successful years of his career.
Loses some of its luster when you consider how this was the first step toward The Clique's backstage reign of terror, climaxing in Triple H eventually taking over everything.
Marty Jannetty made a sudden return to defeat his former Rockers partner Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental title. It is nice to see that for one day, Michaels took a backseat to his former partner, considering their Breakup Breakout is so infamous that they occupied the picture on the trope page for several years.
March 17 1997: With the WWF really beginning to change its direction from the New Generation approach to the Attitude era, Bret Hart was finding himself at a crossroads in his career. This feeling of being on the outside looking in of the WWF's new direction would manifest itself in a promo after Bret lost a steel cage match for the WWF title to Sycho Sid. Vince McMahon would try to interview Bret after the loss and this what we would get...
Vince: You have to be terribly frustrated, extremely frustrated as to what has happened here.
Bret shoves Vince down to the ground!
Bret: FRUSTRATED ISN'T THE GODDAMN WORD FOR IT! THIS IS BULLSHIT! You screwed me, everybody screwed me, and nobody does a Goddamn thing about it! Nobody in the bulding cares, nobody in the dressing room cares! So much Goddamn injustice around here, I have had it up to here! Everybody knows it, I know it, everybody knows that I should be the World Wrestling Federation champion! Everybody just keeps turning a blind eye! You [Vince] keep turning a blind eye to it! I've got that Gorilla Monsoon, he turns a blind eye to it! Everybody in that dressing room knows that I am the best there is, the best there was, and the best that there ever will be! If you don't like it, tough shit!
This was the Raw before WrestleMania 13, in which he teased a heel turn.
September 22 1997: Two events on this Raw episode.
Stone Cold Steve Austin had been giving the Stone Cold Stunner on WWF officials and even Commissioner Sergeant Slaughter for attempting to prevent him from bending "the rules". Vince McMahon, who had been a color commentator before evolving into his "Mr. McMahon" persona, interviews Stone Cold and pressures him that he "needs to work within the system". Austin responds that while he appreciates everyone is concerned about him, he tells McMahon in five simple words, "You can kiss my ass!", and proceeds to do what every person wants to do to their boss: give him a Stunner (notably, the FIRST Stunner on Vince). While the Austin/McMahon feud wouldn't happen until after Stone Cold wins his first WWF Championship post-WrestleMania XIV, it's clear the gears in Vince's head was turning about a future storyline where a wrestler would get physical with the boss, leading it to sell and beat the competition in the ratings.
Dude Love is scheduled a "Falls Count Anywhere" match against Hunter Hearst Helmsley. As the latter waits in the ring, Dude's Leitmotif hits, but he doesn't come down to the ring. Instead, he's shown on a video, stating the match scenario isn't a forte of his, so calls out Mankind. However, Mankind is also on the video with Dude Love, and both sit down and converse with one another. Mankind claims that although he's "dreamed of destroying Hunter Hearst Helmsley", there's someone else who wants to do it even more: CACTUS JACK, who throws out a shovel, garbage can and other items for the match to destroy Helmsley. Not only is Helmsley completely livid, the crowd goes nuts that Foley's third alter-ego has finally appeared on WWF progamming. There's a reason why Cactus should be feared by the rest of the locker room.
Cactus Jack: Helmsley, it may be the darkest day of your life! Because it's Madison Square Garden!! And Mrs. Foley's little boy is finally home!! BANG!! BANG!!
January 19 1998: To prepare for the Stone Cold/Shawn Michaels WWF Championship match at WrestleMania XIV, Mr. McMahon hires special enforcer "Iron" Mike Tyson, whom he dubs as "The Baddest Man On The Planet", as insurance to prevent Austin from gaining the championship. Austin, however, felt insulted that Tyson has climbed into the ring with "The World's Toughest Son Of A Bitch" and proceeds to verbally berate and threaten him with an ass-whooping. Austin ends off that if Mike has trouble understanding what he's saying, a little sign language would help, and gives Tyson the "Austin Salute". Not only does Tyson push Austin to his knees, but both men fight back, to the point where Tyson's group and WWF officials had to restrain the two of them. It also seemed unreal to believe a boxer and wrestler would really be going at it. Made more believeable as Jim Ross yells at the top of his lungs, "TYSON AND AUSTIN!!! TYSON AND AUSTIN!! ALL HELL HAS BROKEN LOOSE!!"
March 2 1998: Tyson returns, only this time, it's Shawn and D-Generation X who come down to the ring to face him. Shawn threatens Mike that he must call the match the way it should be: a win for Michaels, but Tyson isn't intimidated by idle threats. Instead, Shawn wants a piece of the boxer; both Tyson's group and the rest of DX exit the ring, leading to an intense staredown between the two. Tyson offers Michaels the first shot and it seems as if Shawn's hesistating to throw a punch, until he grabs Tyson's shirt collar and is about to do it when he suddenly pulls down the shirt to reveal....a DX T-shirt underneath! TYSON HAS JOINED D-GENERATION X!!!
March 30 1998: X-Pac. Yes, that X-Pac. The day after WrestleMania XIV, Triple H brought in Sean Waltman (recently released from WCW) to join D-Generation X, and Waltman cut a blistering promo, in response to an nWo promo weeks earlier where Hulk Hogan said that they got rid of Waltman because he couldn't "cut the mustard":
"First thing's first...I gotta a little sumtin' sumtin' I gotta get off my chest right now. I heard Hulk Hogan come out on television sayin' I couldn't cut the mustard... well, Hulk Hogan, you SUCK, pal! So I don't think you have any room to talk about anybody cuttin' any kinda muster. And Hulk, I got some more advice for ya - you better not stop short or Eric Bischoff'll go so far up your ass, he'll know what you had for breakfast! And I got something else to say - Kevin Nash and Scott Hall would be standing right here with us if they weren't bein' held hostage by World Championship Wrestling AND THAT'S A FACT, ERIC BISCHOFF! So put that in your pipe and smoke it!"
This night was a Crowning Moment for the entire promotion. Many historic moments took place on this show, the implications of which were felt throughout the entire Attitude Era:
Triple H took over D-Generation X from Shawn Michaels and, as mentioned above, brought in Sean Waltman; later, in the show's main event, DX recruited the New Age Outlaws and helped them win the WWF Tag Titles against Cactus Jack and Terry Funk. The loss also set up Mick Foley as a challenger for Stone Cold's WWF Championship, as the fans chanted for Austin while Cactus and Funk were laying in the ring.
Speaking of Austin, he ended up getting arrested at the hands of Vince McMahon, furthering the brewing Austin/McMahon feud.
And to top it all off, The Rock seized control of the Nation of Domination from Faarooq, furthering his path to the main event.
June 8, 1998: The New Age Outlaws were being forced to defend their Tag Team title in a Triple Threat Tag Team match against Legion of Doom 2000 and Disciples of Apocalypse. We were specifically told that the team that got the first fall would gain the titles. The Outlaws would spend most of the match manipulating LOD and DOA into fighting each other and preying on their pre-existing feud. Eventually, the Outlaws got too annoying, and LOD and DOA would tag in BOTH Outlaws at the same time. As much as people were really beginning to get behind DX, a lot of them still wanted to see the Outlaws' antics backfire on them as they were forced to wrestle themselves. Unfortunately for DOA and LOD's Tag title hopes, Road Dogg would proceed to lay down and Billy Gunn would get an easy three count, and they would win the first fall and retain their titles in a creative fashion.
The idea of both tag partners being in the match came from older elimination style matches where the partners would have to go at it and risk eliminating themselves or no one would tag them. That logic never made sense either, and thankfully this match ended the whole concept of tag partners being forced to go against each other in the middle of a multiple-team match.
August 17, 1998: Stone Cold Steve Austin calls out The Undertaker at the end of the episode. As Undertaker's Ministry Of Darkness theme hits, The Undertaker is nowhere to be seen, until it's revealed that he's apparently already at the ring, dressed in an epic black cape. Steve Austin marches down to the ring to face The Undertaker, but The Undertaker keeps his back to him...until he finally turns around, and reveals that he's wearing a red mask. Turns out it's Kane in disguise! The two proceed give each other a savage beatdown and they eventually take the fight all the way through the audience. Kane is eventually thrown into the back of a hearse that's at ringside and when Stone Cold goes to get into the driver's seat, it's revealed that the seat is already occupied by the real Undertaker, who drives the hearse out of the arena and gets his brother to safety. This was when people realized that the two brothers were working together.
September 28, 1998: The night after Breakdown, where both Kane and Undertaker had pinned Steve Austin in a Triple Threat match, McMahon attempted to announce a new WWF Champion. He held a presentation ceremony, and introduced The Undertaker and Kane. After saying that both deserved to be the WWF Champion, Austin drove a Zamboni into the arena, rammed it into the ring and jumped over the ropes, attacking McMahon before police officers stopped him, and arrested him. Because The Undertaker failed to defend McMahon from Austin, McMahon did not name a new champion, but instead made a match at Judgment Day between The Undertaker and Kane with Austin as the special referee, also making a snide remark about the two of them being mentally challenged. Undertaker warned Vince that if he got out of line with either himself or Kane one more time, Vince would be the one that was handicapped. They then caught Vince flipping them off behind their backs. This prompted The Undertaker and Kane to attack Mr. McMahon, breaking his leg with the steel ring steps.
The next week Vince was in the hospital, where Mick Foley would introduce Mr. Socko to try and make Vince feel better. Aside from that, Stone Cold caught wind of what hospital he was staying in. So Austin paid him a visit. And attacked him. First, he wailed on his heavily bandaged leg. Then, in one of the most memorable moments of RAW period, Austin cracked Vince across the head with a bedpan. He also shocked him with the defibrillator, then forcefully administered an enema with a catheter. Not a good night for Mr. McMahon.
December 29 1998:Mick Foley wins the WWE Championship for the first time. This particular episode of RAW had been pre-taped; when the outcome was spoiled on the competing WCW Monday Nitro, half a million fans switched channels to see it. This, combined with the Fingerpoke of Doom on Nitro, spelled certain doom for WCW - and for months after the fact, fans showed up with "Mick Foley put my butt in this seat" signs to mock WCW announcer Tony Schiavone's remarks about Foley.
Here's a comparison: The main event for RAW consisted of an action-packed match between Mick Foley and The Rock, surrounded on both sides by the Corporation, who were on Rock's side, and D-Generation X, who were on Foley's side. The crowd, meanwhile, was absolutely on FIRE that whole night, cheering at Foley's offense and booing at Rock's while marking like mad at every near-fall, of which there was plenty. Eventually, the whole match devolved into a faction vs. faction brawl when the Corporation interfered against Foley when he slapped the Mandible Claw on Rock using Mr. Socko. But when Stone Cold interfered to help Mick win the championship gold, the entire crowd ERUPTED into quite possibly the loudest pop of all time. Meanwhile, on the WCW side, Nitro was promoting the return of Hulk Hogan and a main event between Goldberg and Kevin Nash. Well at the start of the show Miss Elizabeth claimed Goldberg was stalking her (he was lucky to be able to talk the writers into lowering it from rape) and he is arrested. During the show several pot shots are made at the WWF's expense, particularly sarcastic comments about Foley that lost them a lot of fans, then there is the main event. Hogan is going to fight Nash, however Hogan pokes him in the chest, which is sold like Nash had been shot, and gets the pin. Goldberg runs in and is assaulted and tasered, before having his back spraypainted. Basically, fans were cheated out of a main event they wanted, they were subject to a bad angle, WCW insulted someone the fans held in high regard and Hogan and the NWO were not given the God Mode Sue treatment, half a year's angle and storyline were thrown out the window. WCW might have ended in March 2001 but many say it died on December 28th 1998. dicking around in the ring because They Just Didn't Care.
February 22 1999:Kane and Undertaker actually have an Inferno match, the second Inferno match ever, on Raw is War, something that you'd think would be reserved for pay-per-view. This was during Vince's feud with the Ministry Of Darkness. Kane ended up set on fire by his brother again, and Undertaker also set a teddy bear on fire to taunt Vince, causing him to have a Villainous Breakdown (though this part was somewhat more Narm than anything) We later find out that the teddy bear belonged to his daughter Stephanie, and it meant that he'd been stalking her.
March 22, 1999: Mr. McMahon and Shane McMahon are interviewing The Rock about his match at WrestleMania that Sunday against Stone Cold. Stone Cold shows up to interrupt the interview in a beer truck and gives a promo standing on the truck before dousing the McMahons and Rock in beer.
April 19 1999: The Rock was holding a funeral for Steve Austin's smoking skull WWF championship. But meanwhile, outside, Steve Austin revved the engine of an enormous monster truck. He proceeded to run over The Rock's brand new car, destroying it as Rock looked on at the titantron helplessly.
April 26 1999: The Ministry Of Darkness angle but the high point of the story was probably one of best moments ever. The night after Backlash 1999, The Undertaker has kidnapped a still young and innocent Stephanie McMahon; at the end of Raw, he comes out with the Ministry and prepares to marry her by force. Ken Shamrock and The Big Show both run out at points to save her, but The Ministry easily beats them back. Just as it looks hopeless, the sound of glass breaking (which got one of the biggest pops ever) signals Stone Cold running in and whooping everybody's ass, saving the day. Though the rest of the angle after that point was pretty stupid (this was a week or two before the Ministry merged with The Corporation and became the Corporate Ministry, seen as a Jump the Shark by a lot of fans), this one moment can't be seen without punching the air.
May 10, 1999: While The Rock's "This is Your Life" was the highest rated segment of Raw, this episode, gaining an impressive 8.1 rating, was the highest-rated overall episode. It started off with Vince McMahon's Union in a face-off with the Corporate Ministry, until then-commissioner Shawn Michaels interrupted via satellite and made some changes to the night's line-up, mostly as punishment to the Corporate Ministry. Matches included The Big Show vs Paul Bearer, Mideon and Viscera vs Cactus Jack (the former two were still outmatched), Chyna vs Ken Shamrock, and as a special main event, Triple H, Undertaker and Shane Mc Mahon vs Stone Cold, The Rock and Vince McMahon, with Michaels himself as the referee.
August 9 1999: "Lionheart" Chris Jericho had languished in the midcard of WCW for a number of years, despite pushing to try and get to the main event. When he figured out that he'd never get there, he jumped ship to the WWF in 1999. During a promo by The Rock, of all people, the Countdown to the Millennium clock that had been counting down for a few weeks prior hit zero...and out came Jericho, who redubbed himself "Y2J" and launched his WWF career. The crowd reaction was enormous, and while his WWE career has had its ups and downs, Jericho's WWE debut was one of the most memorable moments of both his career and the Attitude Era.
The Rock: You come out here, on The Rock's Show, and you don't even have the class to introduce yourself! What is your name? Chris Jericho: I told you— The Rock: IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!
September 27 1999: Mick "Mankind" Foley puts on "The Rock: This Is Your Life!", an extra-long RAW segment that was a celebration of The Rock's life and career (much to The Rock's chagrin). It is STILL the highest rated segment in the history of Raw.
January 10 2000: The Rock leading everyone (Face AND Heel) in the locker room, with the exception of D-Generation X, in making a single demand - Either the McMahon-Helmsley Regime reinstated Mick Foley, or they would all walk out on the show.
February 7 2000: This RAW would be headlined by Triple H and X-Pac of D-Generation X teaming with the newly debuted Radicalz (who Made ADeal with the Devil to get WWF contracts) represented by Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko against Cactus Jack in a 5 on 1 Handicap match. Prior to the match, the only guy courageous enough to assist Mick Foley was The Rock, so the former Rock and Sock Connection found themselves walking into a 5 on 2 situation. As Foley and Rock stood up on the stage staring at their opponents, the music of Too Cool played in the arena, and Grandmaster Sexay, Scotty 2 Hotty, and Rikishi walked out to even the odds. Thus began one of the most exciting main events in RAW history that alone would qualify for CMoA status. After Benoit picked up his first RAW victory with the Flying Headbutt on Sexay, they started a post match beatdown with the New Age Outlaws bringing weapons for the unfair advantage. All off a sudden, the lights in the arena went out and on the stage was none other than Paul Bearer wearing a red and black suit! Out comes Kane through the hellfire, who hadn't been seen since his lover Tori broke up with him and joined X-Pac. Kane single-handedly clears the entire ring DX and their allies, siding against the McMahon-Helmsley Faction. Meanwhile, the crowd was going batshit insane for that entire15 minute stretch.
While this moment clearly belonged to Kane, it was also an incredible moment for the Radicalz. It was a risky move for them to sign with the WWF in the first place. While WCW may not have allowed them to live up to their full potential, they were the ones that gave them the national TV exposure. There was no guarantee they would get the same opportunities that they got in WCW (especially to Benoit, who gave up the WCW World title to join the WWF). Being in such a high-profile main event had to make them feel they made the right choice.
Note that Scotty 2 Hotty has gone on the record saying this was his favorite tag team match-up in his career. Not surprising, seeing how much the crowd was so into it.
April 17 2000:Chris Jericho had been spending a great deal of time mocking Stephanie McMahon and her husband Triple H had enough. TripleH books himself in a match against Jericho who tricks the Game into making it a title match for Triple H's WWF Championship. At the end of the match, Jericho uses Triple H's preoccupation with referee Earl Hebner to hit a spinning heel kick and a Lionsault to pin Triple H to become the first guy to take Trips' title away since the McMahon-Helmsley Regime started (though Triple H would use his stroke to wipe the match and title win from the record). Reportedly, the WWF did just to see if the crowd would buy Jericho as champion. Judging by the reaction the answer seemed to be "Yes."
May 22 2000: At Judgment Day 2000, The Rock lost his title to Triple H due to disqualification. The following night on Raw, with the help of The Undertaker, The Rock took out the entire McMahon Family and D-Generation X!
September 25 2000: This particular RAW was the very first episode to air on TNN (which later became Spike TV). In order to start RAW off on the new network in a big way, WWF officials booked a rematch from No Mercy 1999, Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz in a ladder match. The match was also a rematch from the Unforgiven PPV the night before, in which the Hardyz defeated Edge and Christian for the Tag Team titles in a Steel Cage match. With their bodies still sore from their steel cage showdown, the Hardyz and E&C tore down the house yet again and showed that RAW was not going to lose a step just because they were changing networks.
Also of note from this match was the stipulation that if the Hardyz won, Edge and Christian could not challenge for the titles while the Hardyz held the titles. When the Hardyz won, Edge and Christian would not let the stipulation deter them and instead went to the Charlie Brown From Outta Town playbook. Almost immediately after this match, Los Conquistadores, a Jobber team that had not been seen in years, resurfaced and almost immediately won a battle royal to win a Tag Team title shot. However, for a team that was supposedly from Mexico, they seemed to have long blond hair under their masks, and their Spanish speaking skills seemed to consist only of "Uno", "Dos", and "Essa Rios"...
June 25 2001: WWF Hardcore Champion Rhyno had just defeated Test by hitting the Gore into a wall. As he stands there celebrating, WCW invader Mike Awesome attacks him with a pipe, powerbombs him onto a ladder, and wins the Hardcore Title. Say what you will about how the Invasion angle stumbled later, this was an incredible way to kickstart it.
July 9 2001: During the opening stages of the InVasion storyline, Chris Jericho and Kane were wrestling Lance Storm and Mike Awesome (representing WCW). As Jericho locked Storm in his Walls of Jericho submission hold, Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer came down and attacked Jericho and Kane, with Storm and Awesome joining in. A contingent of WWF wrestlers consisting of the Dudley Boyz, Tazz, Justin Credible, Rhyno, and Raven came down to lend their help, but after a brief standoff with Storm, Awesome, RVD, and Dreamer, the cavalry turned its back on the WWF and started beating down Kane and Jericho. Paul Heyman, the former head of ECW and the broadcast partner of Jim Ross at the time, left his position and entered the ring to announce that the InVasion had just gotten taken "to the extreme!", implying that ECW was joining in on the InVasion as a third party.
Paul Heyman: FEEL THIS MOMENT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
Sadly, this moment was ruined later in the show when it was announced that ECW was now owned (kayfabe) by Stephanie McMahon and it was joining up with WCW to form "The Alliance". However, the initial turn of the "ECW Originals" contingent of WWF wrestlers is still a shining moment in a storyline full of utter suck. You can watch the moment here.
July 17 2001: The Raw before Invasion. The WCW/ECW Alliance had been running roughshod over the WWF the entitre show, culminating in an all out brawl that spread backstage into the ring with dozens of Alliance guys beating down the WWF wrestlers. Cut to the parking lot where Hardcore and Crash Holly are getting beat up by three Alliance guys when suddenly Stone Cold Steve Austin's truck pulls up and Austin (who had recently been a heel and McMahon's sniveling toady) takes out the Alliance guys with a broken pool cue. He goes into the arena and takes out two more Alliance guys who were beating up Edge and Christian. The glass shatters and Austin marches his BMF walk to the ring and cleans house. He "is striking anything that by God moves" and hits no less than seven stunners in a row, turning the tide in favor of the WWF going into Invasion. True, it turned out to be a fake out for a Face Heel Turn, but at the time it was SO damn cool!
November 12 2001: The RAW before Survivor Series. The final segment has The Rock calling out Stone Cold Steve Austin and confronting him about Wrestlemania 17. For the next 20 minutes, the two go back and forth, sharing a microphone. They sing and make fun of one another. After singing a duet of "Margaritaville", they shake hands.
The Rock: By the way, The Rock will NEVER forget!" *Rock Bottom*
November 19 2001: This was the night after Survivor Series, in which the infamous Invasion angle had ended for good, with the WWF victorious over the WCW/ECW Alliance.Vince McMahon was in the ring, gloating about the victory and was ready to fire Alliance leader Stone Cold Steve Austin, stripping him of the WWF title in the process. However, some very familiar music started playing and out came none other than Ric Flair, making his first WWF appearance since 1993 and receiving a huge ovation from his hometown crowd of Charlotte, NC. Flair would reveal that in order to purchase WCW and ECW, Shane and Stephanie sold their WWF stocks to Flair, meaning that Flair had quietly become 50% owner of the WWF. Flair would then proceed to overrule Vince's decision to fire Austin as well as strip him of the title. Flair was so popular (especially in the Carolinas) that the decision did not turn Flair heel, but instead caused Vince and Austin to do a double turn with Vince making a Face Heel Turn and Austin making a Heel Face Turn.
Earlier in the night, Vince fired Paul Heyman, which led to a brief scuffle between him and his former colleague, Jim Ross. As Heyman was being dragged away by security, Vince brings out his replacement—JERRY "THE KING" LAWLER. Lawler, who had quit the company in February in protest of his then-wife, Stacey "The Kat" Carter, being fired, received a standing ovation upon his entrance. As JR said upon his return, "All is right with the world, at least at the announce table!"
January 7 2002: After spending ten months on the shelf with a torn quad muscle in his leg, Triple H returned to Raw at Madison Square Garden. (Warning: the pop he gets for his return is deafening, so make sure your volume is adjusted appropriately.) This kicked off his "Road to WrestleMania" (18 to be precise), wherein he would face - and defeat - Chris Jericho for the WWE Undisputed Championship.
July 1 2002:The Undertaker (then in his American Badass persona) defended the WWE Undisputed Championship against unlikely challenger Jeff Hardy in a Ladder Match. The match itself isn't exactly the best ladder match in history, so why is this a Crowning Moment? Because everyone involved, from the wrestlers to the commentary team, made viewers believe that Jeff could make a miracle happen and defeat The Deadman in his match to become a world champion. As Jim Ross famously called:
CLIMB THE LADDER, KID! MAKE YOURSELF FAMOUS!
Ultimately, Jeff would lose the match, but he'd get another Crowning Moment after the match. Before Undertaker started making his way back up the entrance ramp, he went back into the ring and demolished Jeff Hardy with the Last Ride powerbomb; after this, Undertaker made his way up the ramp, only to hear Jeff Hardy start taunting him with "I'm still standing, Undertaker!" and "You haven't broken me!" as he used the ring ropes to keep himself on his feet. Undertaker charged back down to the ring, readied himself to beat Jeff up some more...then patted his head and raised his hand in a sign of respect. While Jeff's career would be full of ups and downs after this (and he wouldn't become a world champion for the first time until 2008), this match was a tremendous boost to Jeff's credibility as a main eventer.
July 15 2002: Former WCW president Eric Bischoff appears on stage and is announced the new General Manager of Raw, to the shock of everyone. He even hugged Vince McMahon!
The best part of that whole deal was that practically nobody knew why he was there, if they knew he was there at all. This resulted in Booker T being interviewed backstage, Bischoff walks past and says hi, and Booker says in response "Tell me... I didn't just see that."
October 7 2002: A TLC match involving Christian & Chris Jericho, vs Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley, vs Jeff Hardy & Rob Van Dam, vs Kane (without a partner) for the vacant World Tag Team titles. Amazingly Kane, the one without a partner, came out on top. The match was voted "Match of the Decade" at the Raw 10th Anniversary Special, and for good reason too.
February 24 2003: A battle royal was held on raw to determine who would be the number 1 contender and main event at Wrestlemania. The final two came down to Booker T and The Rock. The Rock, who had the victory in the big, got over confident and took his time trying to eliminate Booker T. This resulted in Booker eliminating the Rock out of no where and winning the match.
March 31, 2003: Stone Cold Steve Austin has been forced to leave WWE after losing to the Rock at Wrestlemania 19. The Rock is celebrating his victory over his long time nemesis. And then Goldberg marches into the ring. And says "So Rock, you wanna know who's next? YOU'RE NEXT!" Cue massive spear on the Brahma Bull.
June 30 2003:Gail Kim was the first Diva to be given vignettes hyping up her debut on TV (which came with some awesome entrance music). What happened in her debut match, a seven-woman battle royal for the WWE Women's Championship? She dumped Victoria out at the end to win the title in her very first WWE match.
September 1, 2003: Kane handcuffs Shane Mc Mahon's wrists to a ring post, pours water on Shane, gets jumper cables from under the ring, gets a car battery, hooks the car battery up to Shane's testicles, and electrocutes Shane Mc Mahon's testicles. Awesome moment, and also painful.
October 20, 2003: While Goldberg is wrestling Shawn Michaels (and the referee is down), Evolution's "Animal", Batista, returns and beats the crap out of Goldberg. Then he puts Goldberg's ankle between a steel chair and jumps off the second rope, smashing Goldberg's ankle. The rest of Evolution comes out to give Batista the $100,000 bounty for "taking out" Bill Goldberg.
March 22, 2004: The brawl at the end of the 2004 Draft Lottery episode of RAW between the RAW and Smack Down superstars. It started during the main event of the night, WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero defending against the newly-drafted Smack Down superstar Triple H. It started with Batista and Ric Flair interfering on Triple H's behalf. Suddenly John Cena and Rey Mysterio Jr (both Smack Down at the time) appears, then Christian, then RVD. Before you know it, all hell breaks loose as the entire roster is engaged in an all-out brawl. It's truly a sight to behold! Link here.
March 29 2004:Triple H, upset at getting snubbed by the Raw roster and still sore over losing the World Heavyweight title to Chris Benoit, punks Shelton Benjamin. Later on the night, Benjamin is booked into a match with Triple H. It's a foregone conclusion Trips is going to squash the kid... except he doesn't. Benjamin manages to match Triple H at every turn and proves he is not to be underestimated when he gets countless near falls and proceeds to frustrate the Game. Even with interference from Ric Flair, Shelton pushes through and snags one of the biggest upsets ever when he pins Triple H cleanly and celebrates with World Champ Benoit on the ramp as a shocked Triple H looks on.
Shelton would get a rematch the next week with Triple H with Evolution surrounding the arena. Even with interference from Evolution (including a particularly nasty throw neck-first into the barricade by Randy Orton), Shelton pulls off another victory by leaving Triple H too beaten at ringside to answer the ten count, resulting in a pretty good count-out victory.
August 20 2004: The 2004 Diva Search will be remembered for being many things...boring, a waste of time, the winner of the 2004 Gooker Award for Worst in Pro Wrestling (to put it in perspective, The Rock was brought in to do a guest host segment on it, and not even he could make it interesting). But when the winner was about to be decided, the audience was treated to several minutes of forgiveness in the form of Trish Stratus. Trish came out and in one promo, eviscerated the Divas Search competition, mocked the eventual winner Christy Hemme for her "grueling" wins in things like pie-eating contests, and suggested to the other that she use the prize money to buy a personality. For a single shining moment, the Divas Search was entertaining.
Hypocrite, since, when Trish started, she was as useless as they were.
What makes it even more awesome is that the runner up, Carmella De Cesare was already "known" at the time for being in ''Playboy. It was widely known that Carmella didn't care about the wrestling business and was using it as a stepping stone. She had a bad backstage attitude and the contest was reportedly rigged to keep her in it until the finals. She attacked a girl in a nightclub and got arrested but was still kept in the contest so the fact that Christy Hemme who was much more deserving and a good addition to the roster, was able to beat her in the contest despite so much backstage pull, is an awesome moment in itself.
December 6 2004: Lita and Trish Stratus's main event match, which is arguably Lita's grandest CMOA and a pretty tall one for Trish. Their feud was built up with Lita being constantly attacked, bullied, and humiliated by snotty bitch Trish, and finally, Lita got some massive payback by breaking Trish's nose a month earlier. This match started out simple enough... until Trish was thrown to the outside, and Lita ran to make a dive on her. Whether Lita misaimed or things just went wonky, she wound up landing with her full weight on her face and so hard that she basically bent herself in half backwards, especially alarming considering her surgically-rebuilt neck. Not only did Lita rally back and continue the match after the sort of hit that should have sidelined not only her but probably most anyone else on the roster, she won the WWE Women's Championship for the first time in over four years after one of the best matches she'd ever had, which included a sweet Superplex and the use of her long-forgotten moonsault. The best part? Lita walked away from it completely uninjured while the arena (and her mother at ringside) exploded into cheers for her.
February 21 2005:Batista's thumbs-up-to-thumbs-down, signifying his Heel Face Turn to Triple H, could not have been more perfect. It certainly helped when he led Trips into the trap by dropping the Raw contract, after saying he knew what he was going to do for a while.
There's a scene beforehand where we see Trips and Ric Flair plotting out their ploy to get rid of Batista, but unaware that he's eavesdropping on their scheming. It definitely showed that Batista was probably more clever than what Trips had anticipated.
May 2 2005:Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin, part of the Gold Rush Tournament to determine the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, ended up with a shot that would be in the Raw intro for years: Shelton, having dazed Michaels, stands on the ring apron and leapfrogs off the top rope, intending to attack Michaels. Shawn, seeing this coming, nearly decapitates Shelton with Sweet Chin Music and picks up the win. Some fans have taken to calling it "Sweetest Chin Music", and there's even a few who think it's the best Superkick that Shawn ever pulled off.
The rest of the match, much like Shelton's first Raw bout with Triple H, was also very entertaining, as Shelton fought and frustrated Shawn Michaels, putting on an impressive clinic with the man many name as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, to the point that Michaels looked to be relieved that the match was over when he won. The match is also considered to be one of the best non-pay-per-view Raw matches in recent history.
July 11 2005:Matt Hardy making a shocking out-of-nowhere return several weeks after the real life affair with Lita and Edge (after said incident he was released... or so we thought). A few weeks later, Matt explained everything in a shoot promo.
He actually was released... and then swiftly rehired when it became obvious that there was no way they could keep a lid on the fan reaction and they might as well make some money off it.
For indy wrestling fans, this was especially awesome because Matt Hardy actually namedropped Ring of Honor, which he was scheduled to make a series of appearances for at the time, at the tail end of his promo that night. Needless to say, fans of the promotion were more than a little thrilled at the brief moment of national exposure.
The awesomeness was certainly reduced said few weeks later when he said he wanted Edge to die in a car accident, then Edge subsequently owned him the following week in a promo backstage.
August 15 2005: One of Shawn Michaels' Crowning Moments came thanks to the Heel promo he delivered on Hulk Hogan in Montreal, where he played the very real hatred the crowd had for him like a fiddle; right in the middle of his promo, after Michaels namedropped Bret Hart, Hart's entrance music played (and received a huge pop from the Montreal crowd)...but when Hart failed to appear, Michaels mocked the crowd before admitting that yes, he did screw Bret, and he was proud of it. He then goes on to fake Hogan's entrance music, and plays the crowd again.
Honestly, this troper can't get past "Who's your daddy, Montreal?" without punching the air. Everything after that is just decorative.
October 3 2005: On the Raw Homecoming special (celebrating the show's return to USA) Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle put on a half-hour Iron Man match, bringing out the best in both wrestlers.
January 16, 2006: Edge and Ric Flair have a TLC match for the WWE Championship, and deliver a PPV-quality match. Even though it was Ric Flair's first TLC match he gave Edge a run for his money and almost won, taking some enormous bumps (such as Edge jumping onto him from the top of a ladder, which was in the ring, while Flair was laying on a table at ringside), an amazing feat given his age.
May 1 2006:Joey Styles takes the RAW announce team, Vince McMahon, the WWE, and damn near the entire American professional wrestling industry to task in his big "I Quit!" worked shoot speech before moving to the ECW announce position a few weeks later:
I was there in person — it was even more awesome live.
See the video, and Jerry Lawler's reaction, here. Joey Styles summed up in 4 minutes everything that's dragging down WWE, and looked good doing it.
November 19 2007: "The Second Coming", the name given to Chris Jericho's awesome return in 2007, kickstarting a feud with Randy Orton over the WWE Championship.
January 7 2008: The first Raw of the year opened up with a bang with a cage match between Jeff Hardy and Umaga. This was in the middle of Jeff's first big main even push and this match cemented that regardless of his personal life, he really did deserve all the attention he was getting. The match ended with Jeff performing a whisper of the wind from the top of the cage on Umaga.
March 31 2008:EVERYONE not under contract to TNA comes out to say goodbye to a retiring Ric Flair. This Troper's markout moment came when the Four Horsemen's music played and, for the first time ever, the Four Horsemen appeared in WWE.
As if Randy Orton in tears wasn't surreal enough, This Troper was bowled over by footage of The Undertaker coming out like a normal entrance after Raw went off the air, the gathered wrestlers parting like the Red Sea so he could walk down the ramp and into the ring, where he dropped to one knee in front of Flair. 'Taker certainly took advantage of being the only wrestler who can get away with not breaking character during a positive shoot to give some icing on the cake of Flair's send-off. Defending Elizabeth, siding with Kane, the real life Undertaker and Sara... I think this beats them all for his Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
The off-air continuation of the celebration was included in the most recent DVD dedicated to Flair; it also included Vince McMahon coming down to the ring to celebrate and Flair's family making their way into the ring.
The fact that Flair wound up unretiring again, first to wrestle Hulk Hogan on his tour of Australia in late 2009 and then to wrestle for TNA, doesn't even tarnish this.
June 30 2008: Coming off a victory over Batista at Night of Champions 2008, Edge taunted the Raw crowd by claiming he'd take the World Heavyweight Championship back to SmackDown with him, leaving Raw without a world title (WWE Champion Triple H had been drafted to SmackDown prior to Night of Champions). Batista took exception to Edge's claim, and demolished him...after which, CM Punk cashed in the Money in the Bank contract (which he won at WrestleMania 24) and gave Edge a Go To Sleep for the ages, allowing him to win the World Heavyweight Championship - which, itself, led to many mark-outs around the world, proving anyone who thought that CM Punk would never hold a big title in the WWE wrong.
January 19 2009: Also known as the Punt Heard 'Round the World. Vince McMahon makes his long awaited return to the WWE. And in front of a white-hot Chicago crowd, Randy Orton spoils his return by punting him straight in the head and putting him on the shelf. Although Orton was supposed to come of as a monster for committing a heinous act, the aforementioned Chicago audience cheered him like a Draco in Leather Pants.
Even if the ensuing Triple H feud did not live up to expectations, it does not tarnish this moment, which may have been the first signs that a Heel Face Turn for Orton was imminent once Orton's Power Stable of Legacy ran its course.
September 21 2009: Long-time announcer, Lillian Garcia, who had been with the company since the RAW after Summerslam '99, had her last night with WWE and was given the rare privilege to give a goodbye speech, for which the fans gave her a standing ovation.
November 16 2009: Kofi Kingston made his Madison Square Garden debut in fine fashion: having been feuding with Randy Orton leading into Survivor Series, Kingston was on the cusp of being elevated to the next level of his career; Kofi ended up elevating himself by brawling into the crowd and staging area with Orton (who had been trying to beat up the night's guest host, Roddy Piper), and after setting Orton up on a table, Kofi performed his "Boom Drop" double legdrop maneuver on Orton, earning him a huge ovation from the MSG crowd.
On that same episode, there was a triple threat tag team match between D-X, Big Show and Chris Jericho, and Cena and Undertaker (who were both world champions at the time respectively). Taker went for the chokeslam at one point, but Cena tagged himself in....which visibly irritated The Undertaker. Then Cena took Jericho and turned around to gloat at Undertaker, as if to say "that's how it's done". So after Cena won the match by pinfall, Undertaker came out of nowhere and delivered the Tombstone Piledriver on him, just to remind Cena who the dominant force was.
January 4 2010: Bret "The Hitman" Hart returned to WWE television, stepping into a WWE ring for the first time in over 12 years - and had his first face-to-face meeting with Shawn Michaels since the infamous Montreal Screwjob. "Crowning Moment of Awesome" would actually be an underwhelming term to label the moment that these two legends finally came face-to-face with each other after all the hype and mystique surrounding their roles in the incident. The two men agreed to bury the hachet and not only shook hands in mutual forgiveness and respect, but embraced each other in what will most definitely be seen as a long overdue Crowning Moment Of Heart Warming. Bret pretty much summed up the overall feeling of the night's events with his first words of the evening: "Well, I guess Hell froze over."
April 26 2010: ShoMiz (The Big Show and The Miz) defend the WWE Unified Tag Team Championships against the team of David Hart Smith (the son of "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith) and Tyson Kidd (the last graduate of the Hart Dungeon), better known as the Hart Dynasty. This ended up as a great moment for the Hart family, as the new generation of Harts captured their first tag team gold with Bret Hart at ringside. Also a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming watching Smith, Kidd, Natalya (the daughter of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart), and Bret celebrate in the ring together.
Immediately after the match, The Big Show known The Miz out cold with his signature knockout punch.
An extra CMOA goes to Bret Hart just before the match. When The Miz defeated David Hart Smith one-on-one two weeks prior, the match stipulations stated that the next week, Bret would say ShoMiz was the greatest tag team in history. The announcement was actually made two weeks later (since Bret and most of the Raw crew were stuck in the United Kingdom because of the Icelandic volcano that spewed a giant ashcloud all over Europe); Bret did it, with no bitter sarcasm or anger in his voice... but then he followed it up by saying that he could say anything he wanted, and if ShoMiz was the best tag team ever, The Mountie was the greatest WWE Intercontinental Champion ever and David Arquette was the greatest world champion ever. Two points for the Harts: one for Bret's burn and one for the gold.
June 7 2010: At the end of a three-hour "Viewer's Choice" Raw, WWE Champion John Cena is facing off against the opponent that fans chose for him, CM Punk. A few minutes into the match, NXT Season One winner Wade Barrett (who earned himself a free title shot against any title holder on an upcoming PPV) comes out onto the entrance stage and starts making his way to the ring. Not altogether odd. But then the camera cuts to NXT rookie Michael Tarver, who's in the crowd and jumping over the ringside barricade. And then the other NXT Season One rookies, including Daniel Bryan, jump the barricade...and all hell breaks loose.The Nexus (as the group was officially named a few weeks later) start by taking out the Straight Edge Society, then they all get in the ring and deliver a Horsemen-style ass kicking of epic proportions to John freaking Cena. And after making sure he couldn't fight back, the Rookies leave the ring and start causing chaos at ringside, wasting announcers and other personnel before destroying the announce table and the ring itself. Then the Rookies return to the ring and make damn sure than Cena isn't getting up on his own, continuing the beatdown for a few more minutes before finally leaving the ring and heading to the back, leaving Cena lying in the ring for medical personnel to stretcher off. The "NXT Riot" was the one of the most chaotic and unpredictable segments in years, and even in the very post-"worked shoot" age of wrestling, it still felt very, very uneasy to watch...even to a Cena hater.
The entire segment was so amazing, that each of the rookies got their own moment (some even more than one) amidst the chaos.
For instance, who would've thought that the crazy-haired "South Beach Party Boy", Darren Young, could be capable of plowing through the ringside barricade, grabbing the timekeeper by the scruff of his shirt and yelling at him menacingly, then punching him right in the face without a hint of remorse?
Heath Slater took one of the darker turns of the night when he picked up the detached middle ring rope and proceeded to choke Cena with it, a moment made all the more sinister when it was punctuated by a few high-pitched shrieks from the audience. Slater's response? After standing up, he walked over to the ropes and gave the crowd a "Try doing something about it" look.
"A-List" David Otunga's moment is a little harder to place due to the camera angles that were used. Some might say that it was when he cold-cocked the referee, or when he flattened Cena with his spinebuster finisher. There was, however, one more thing that some missed. Whenever the other rookies were taking care of other business, like tearing up ringside, beating up WWE staff, or subduing CM Punk anew, Otunga was left in charge of keeping Cena down and out in the ring, which of course meant that there were about two whole minutes where "A-List" was free to toy with the champ, no doubt releasing pent-up frustration from having lost quickly to Cena a few months prior on RAW.
Michael Tarver, the rookie who got arguably the biggest hosing on NXT, redeemed himself by having two. First was the moment the camera cut to him, wearing a kickass bandanna over the lower half of his face, jumping the barricade, and looking like an attack dog, just waiting for the go-ahead, the moment most point to as being when they realized that some serious shit was about to go down. The second came after he pulled up the mat surrounding the ring. He climbed back in, measured his target, and after months of bragging about how he could end a match in 1.9 seconds (a reference to his finishing move, a knockout punch to the face) and never getting the chance to follow through, Michael Tarver floored John Cena. Let me put that in perspective. The first person in WWE that Tarver knocked out with his finisher WAS THE WWE CHAMPION. THE FACE OF THE ENTIRE PRO WRESTLING INDUSTRY.
Skip Sheffield established himself as the bulldozer of the group by single-handedly taking out Luke Gallows. Cena, Punk, and even Jerry Lawler were multi-person efforts, but big bad Skip was able to take out the Detoxified Disciple by himself. Many also took note of how frightening Sheffield was when barking out orders to the other rookies, like when he made Slater take the chairs out from behind the ringside announce table, so that he could flip it over and break it with his bare fists. Skip was also the first person to assault a non-wrestler, when he booted Matt Striker out of nowhere. It was at that moment that the segment went from a gang attack to an all out riot.
Justin Gabriel, the flashy high-flying face of NXT, the only face who never seemed to show a hint of a dark side, even after elimination, was probably the most unexpected turn, making his crowning moment all the better. Despite not being the leader, the bruiser, or anything like that, he was the one who got the last shot in on Cena, by hitting a viciously beautiful 450 Splash. But the the emotionless look on his face before hitting the move, while perched on the turnbuckle, and afterward, on his knees staring at the fallen WWE Champion, was so striking and memorable, so unexpected from such a cheerful guy, that it earned him the nickname of "Dark Angel" on several forums.
Wade Barrett, the leader of this army, had more subtle moments, but this troper feels they were among the most powerful. First was when the rookies surrounded the ring. They just stood there, until Barrett nodded at the others, at which point the all climbed onto the apron, and again waited for his signal to enter the ring. This troper only realized how powerful a moment this was when the rookies trashed ringside and destroyed Cena and the WWE staff at ringside. The rookies had become a furious group of savages, and Barrett had control over them. It's a fierce group, and they answer to Wade freakin' Barrett. This was cemented when, during the final series of vicious attacks on Cena, one rookie might irish whip Cena at another for a clothesline or lariat. For Barrett, however, he went to pick Cena up from the mat, but stopped at Slater's insistence. At this point, Slater, Sheffield, Otunga, and Bryan, (that's half the damn group) volunteered to lift Cena onto Barrett's shoulders so that he could hit his finisher. Now that's power.
And finally, we come to Daniel Bryan. The first moment for him came when, during the ringside pillaging, Bryan took down Justin Roberts, sat on the hapless ring announcer's back, spun Roberts' necktie around, and proceeded to choke the air out of him with his own tie. The sight of Roberts clawing at his neck and Bryan pulling back with a violent look on his face has quickly become the most memorable image of the whole assault. But Bryan wasn't done. Back in the ring, after Sheffield leveled Cena with a lariat and Slater choked him with the ring rope, Bryan proceeded to belt out three consecutive Crowning Moments, back-to-back, in one glorious sequence, a greater Crowning Moment. First, he repeatedly yelled at the top of his lungs to the grounded Cena "YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ME!", a declaration that no doubt pleased smarks watching around the world. He then waited for Cena to slowly work himself onto his knees, and disrespected the champ by spitting right in his face. Then he topped the whole thing by measuring Cena, and delivering a buzzsaw kick right to the head. Unfortunately for Bryan, everything that made his involvement in this storyline so awesome backfired due to Executive Meddling, as his choking of Justin Roberts with the tie and the subsequent spitting on Cena was deemed too violent for PG WWE, and was let go that same week as it was reported that a WWE sponsor felt it was too violent and might have brought back memories of Chris Benoit. However, one might think that means that Bryan is too awesome for even the Nexus, which is arguably the best storyline the WWE has done in years.
At one point Punk- who, as a heel, almost always runs from a fight against the odds- hits the ring in an attempt to save Cena. When the top heel in the company is trying to save the top babyface in the industry, you know the situation is dire. During Punk's ensuing beatdown, Daniel Bryan choked him out for a while but not one of the former Rookies actively tried to remove Punk's mask- that Punk's mask hiding his recently-shaven-bald head had been such a major storyline since he donned it shows the NXT guys didn't care about anything but wrecking the place.
This also counts as an additional CMOA for the NXT rookies. Why? Punk was the only person to try & help Cena. Either the ENTIRE Raw & Smack Down rosters had left the arena, so it was Fridge Brilliance to stage the attack when there were only three active superstars left in the building; or were stood watching backstage, frozen to the spot because of how shocking it was, or gleefully watching John Cena getting the living hell kicked out of him, as Chris Jericho claimed he was doing at the time on his twitter.
It's also almost certainly the case that this storyline has been planned since before NXT even aired. Suddenly, boring, generic promos from guys who were voted off claiming the WWE Universe "hadn't seen the last of them" made an awful lot of sense. And one wonders if Punk and Luke Gallows would have escaped the beating they received if the Straight-Edge Society had only befriended Darren Young, Punk's own Rookie, instead of scorning him.
There was quite a lot of motivation for the Rookies to stage this assault as well. Perhaps if William Regal had not referred to Skip Sheffield as a moron on the Season One Finale of NXT, he might not have been there. Or if the audience had not booed Darren Young out of the building when he gave his classy elimination speech, he may not have taken part in the riot. What about Michael Cole and his borderline slander of Daniel Bryan? Or the decision to disqualify Bryan and Michael Tarver via a last minute rule change? David Otunga probably got sick of the accusations that he was only there because of his fiance at about week 3. Heath Slater had as a good of a winning record as anyone in NXT, and it was insinuated that he was eliminated because Pros such as Chris Jericho held grudges against him because he scored upset victories against them. Even Justin Gabriel, the nicest one of the bunch, was ragged on for being a one-trick pony. Not to mention the downright demeaning challenges they were forced into, Matt Striker interrupting rookies mid-promo, and being treated terribly throughout. With each of the rookies unhappy with their treatment on NXT, it stands to reason that the winner, Wade Barrett could get them on the same page to bring the fury to the WWE machine.
It's very ironic how CM Punk would actually join the Nexus seven months later.
Plus, in one segment, Heath Slater, Michael Tarver, and Darren Young, widely accepted as the dullest of the Rookies, instantly became total badasses.
Michael Tarver especially. With his mask and his legit crazy eyes, I guarantee he was scary to some of the younger fans. (Especially in the FCW version of the beatdown. Look for footage on Youtube of it, and you'll see Tarver glare at the fan taping the beatdown so psychotically... This troper got chills, son.)
Don't forget about Skip Sheffield. When he started on NXT, he had the gimmick of a goofy cowboy, spouting off lame catchphrases like "Yup yup yup, what it do?". There was no sign of that here. Gone was the Cornfed Meathead, and in its place stood an absolute beast of a man with the best lariatos this side of Stan Hansen.
How about this for chills &/or Fridge Horror: Who was the only one who figured out what was coming and hauled ass out of there? Serena. This editor is not a fan of WWE's TV-PG direction, but picture this: Imagine if the rating was TV-14, and the Nexus didn't... discriminate as far as their targets go.
July 12 2010: The Shooting Star-KO. Just as awesome as it sounds.
July 19 2010:The Miz beating the snot out of Sheamus. Bret Hart returning and joining the others in driving off Nexus. Wade Barrett hitting his finisher on Mark Henry (it was partially botched and Wade hurt his back, but still an amazing visual).
August 2 2010: After a Divas Battle Royal, current Divas Champion Alicia Fox (the newest - and some would argue the worst - Diva on the roster) got on the mic, saying that no Diva can beat her. Cue the back-from-injury Melina's music (who Bret Hart said was the most talented person - note the wording - in the business right now). She walks out, and proceeds to take Alicia Fox out. When she won the Divas Championship at SummerSlam, people everywhere rejoiced that the Divas belt was finally in deserving hands.
This troper smiled ear to ear when, after curbstomping Alicia at her initial return, Melina stood above her for a brief moment, her leg draped over an unconscious Alicia, smiling and proud as a peacock, and let out an earth shaking victory yell of "I'M BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!" before delivering the most ferocious "Primal Scream" I've ever seen!
August 30, 2010: On the "900th Episode" of Raw, CM Punk and his Straight Edge Society come out and shoot one of the best (and funniest) promos in RAW history, going so far as to mention Katie Vick just to promote his gimmick, taking everyone on a trip down Awesome Memory Lane (including Triple H attacking Randy Ortonin his own home, John Cena throwing Edge into the Long Island Harbor, D-Generation X invading WCW Monday Night Nitro with a tank, Stone Cold Steve Austin attacking Vince McMahon with a beer truck and a fire hose, and Brock Lesnar Superplexing The Big Show, causing the ring to implode), fooling everyone into thinking The Rattlesnake was returning, and giving some rather humorous Take That-style insults to The Big Show (in response to Show's rather ridiculous insult attempts), before Show just said "Ah, fuck it" and whopped SES ass. Hands down, the best segment of the entire episode.
The best part is how it seems like a standard Cena/Orton match, with Randy beating on Cena until Cena gets a second wind and does his Five Moves of Doom... at which point Orton counters and RKOs Cena. The match gets interrupted by (in order) The Nexus, Chris Jericho, Edge and Sheamus, who Cena and Orton team up to get rid of, then they finish the match fairly, with a win by Orton.
September 27 2010: In what would be his final appearance in the WWE, Chris Jericho lists every person he ever beat before his match with Randy Orton. All of them. He started listing off names (some of which would only mean something to dedicated wrestling fans for SEVERAL years), and then the broadcast went to commercial. Many assumed they'd simply cut him off, until RAW came back from break, and Jericho was still reciting names a full 5 minutes later , achieving CMOA andCrowning Momentof Funny at the same time.
Jericho didn't even need a list or some cards. He did the whole thing from memory.
As a bonus, it could be called a callback to the 1004 holds promo, which is probably one of Jericho's most well known promos, which also involved him reading a list (though he didn't read it here, it was still listy), commercials cutting him off, and then returning to have Jericho continue listing off moves. Same premise, same promo, both equally awesome.
In the end, Randy Orton would punt Jericho out of the WWE for good.
November 1 2010: On Pee Wee Herman as RAW guest host, during a comedy backstage segment between Mark Henry and Pee Wee, Mark suggested Pee Wee play Twister with the Divas. Quickly passing off the spinner to Eve, Pee Wee addressed the audience directly, promising them a night of thrills, chills, and spills, finishing it off with "Isn't that right, Lita?" And surprising everyone when LITA leaned into frame and said "That's right, Pee Wee!" before joining in with them. Lita did not appear for the rest of the night, a major disappointment considering having her come out to smack around Laycool later would have been legendary, but merely seeing her on RAW again (and so ridiculously randomly) is pure Madeof Win.
November 15 2010: The 3 hour old-school RAW was the wrestling equivalent of NFL teams wearing throwback jerseys for the weekend. The Giant Center in Hershey, PA was decked out in retro banners using the classic WWF block logo, while the HD TitanTron was scaled back to a combination of the Attitude Era's big screen and the giant RAW letters of 1996-1997. The commentators were decked out in classic attire, while Justin Roberts looked like he was ready for his senior prom. Even the broadcast went retro, with 80s style screen graphics and the 1993 opening theme (with sirens) being used for the night. And then there's the old favourites who came back, like Mean Gene Okerlund giving an interview on the old entranceway stage, Jim Ross commentating the Daniel Bryan / Jack Swagger match (much to Michael Cole's chagrin) and Howard Finkel announcing for a few matches.
John Cena's promo on Piper's Pit deserves a mention as well. Cena would be the special guest referee for the Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton match at Survivor Series, with the result dictating whether Cena would be free to leave The Nexus or whether Cena would be forced to leave WWE. Cena seemed legitimately choked up with essentially having to choose between his career and his dignity. Cena would then announce that he was planning on calling the match down the middle. He would later prove his point by hitting the Attitude Adjustment on both Orton and Barrett, much to the approval of Piper at ringside.
Hi there, Iron Sheik! What have you been up to lately? (cue Sheiky-baby getting a live mic and going off)
The icing on the cake was when Cena gave a heartfelt speech on having to decide between letting Barrett win or losing his job. A fan yelled out "Never give up" and quick as a whip Cena pointed towards her and replied "You damn right."
Mae Young, of all people, got one too. Many of her appearances in the past few years have played her up as a sex-crazed "gross old lady." However, her appearance on Old School was simply a tribute to her career (complete with celebratory video package)...until LayCool arrived. They made their typical jokes at Mae's expense (Ensure and adult diapers were mentioned), who then challenged "these two sluts" to a No Disqualification Match. LayCool accepted and prepared to take on Mae - who was then joined by almost every other Diva on the WWE roster. After the Divas curb stomp LayCool, Mae Young delivered a huge punch to Layla and pinned her for the win. It was nice to see Mae do an appearance that wasn't totally crass, to see the Divas appreciate those that paved the way for them, and pretty much everyone liked seeing LayCool finally made to shut the hell up.
Mae Young has been badass ever since she got put through a table by the Dudleys - but getting away with calling LayCool "bitches" and "sluts" in the midst of WWE's "PG" campaign (to the amusement of everyone except maybe LayCool) was a nice reminder of just how tough she is.
November 29 2010: Only seven days removed from his WWE Title victory, The Miz defends his newly won championship against Jerry "The King" Lawler in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. The same Jerry Lawler, who was celebrating his 61stBirthday on this night. Despite being over-matched athletically and outnumbered with Alex Riley at ringside, Lawler would capitalize when Miz got too cocky and pushed him off the top rope through a table. Lawler would then climb the ladder in an attempt to become WWE champion for the first time, until Michael Cole intervened and stopped Lawler. This would buy Miz enough time to recover and stop climbing, but Lawler got to do what many wished they could do and punched MichaelCole for his troubles. From there, Miz and Lawler would have a showdown at the top of the ladder for title, which Miz got the best of to win the match.
For Lawler, he actually convinced the audience that he could win a match that he really had no chance of winning.
For Miz, he got to kick start his WWE title with a memorable performance, though whether almost losing to 61 year-old Jerry Lawler (and needing Riley and Cole to win) hurts his credibility too much, or if making him look vulnerable may make people tune in more in hopes of seeing him lose. That can also be counter-claimed by bringing up that Miz could have won the match much earlier, but focused too much on hurting Lawler to prove a point, which CM Punk pointed out many times while doing commentary.
December 27, 2010:John Cena comes to the ring and calls CM Punk out for his attacks of the previous week, claiming that Punk is doing it because Cena spilledhis diet soda. Punk proceeds to come out, and lays down an absolutely epicWhat the Hell, Hero? speech on Cena, lamspshading the Moral Dissonance of Cena's actions since The Nexus came into WWE. Cena challenges Punk to come to the ring, but Punk refuses and promises to call Cena out later. Towards the end of the show, Cena comes back out to the ring, saying he's tired of waiting on Punk - then he calls him out for a second time...which brings out David Otunga and the rest of The Nexus to the ring (Wade Barrett was not present as he was still recovering from being bombarded with chairs at TLC earlier that month). Otunga claims that the group is "under new management" and offers Cena a truce. Cena flat out refuses, and The Nexus storm the ring to deliver yet another beatdown to Cena, with each member hitting their finisher. As Cena lies motionless on the mat, Otunga removes one of the two Nexus armbands he's wearing and holds it in Cena's face, taunting him before leading the other Nexus members back up the entrance ramp. After all the carnage is done, CM Punk makes his way past The Nexus and gets into the ring, delivering a Go To Sleep to Cena before grabbing a steel chair. Punk acts as if he's going to attack Cena with the chair, but stops...and sits down in the chair, looking at the beaten Cena before contemplating the Nexus armband Otunga left in the ring. With a smile on his face, he slips the armband onto his bicep, then looks out to the rest of the group, raising his right arm in the air - which prompts the other members of the group to respond in kind. Not only did the realisation that Punk was the leader of the Nexus result in cheers from the crowd, but with a bit of Fridge Logic, one could make the assumption that Punk had anticipated every one of Cena's actions that nightbefore the show had even gone on the air.
There's also a minor one for Justin Gabriel during the beatdown - when Gabriel went for the 450 Splash, instead of his usual thousand-yard-stare, he looked directly into the camera with a look of "Yeah, this is happening" on his face before nailing the move perfectly.
January 3, 2011: 2011 starts up with AWESOME as The Miz faced John Morrison in a Falls Count Anywhere match for the WWE Championship - as the first match of the show. Both wrestlers give one hell of a preformance, and though The Miz barely won, it was back and forth all match. The show ended with a Triple Threat Steel Cage Match to see who'd face Miz at the Royal Rumble - Sheamus vs. Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett (who, if he lost, would be forced out of Nexus). When Wade was on the brink of escape, New Nexus leader CM Punk intervened, ripping off Barret's Nexus armband to metaphorically kick Wade out - then literally kicked Wade in the head to knock him back into the ring. (Orton eventually won the match.)
January 10, 2011: After teasing all evening that the first inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame was going to be revealed on RAW, Jerry Lawler pointed up at the Titantron to reveal a heartfelt video tribute to none other than Shawn Michaels - which was followed by Michaels himself returning in person for the first time since his retirement. Michaels applauded the audience, and then looked as if he was struck with emotion before trying to speak - until the entrance music for Alberto Del Rio started playing. Del Rio walked down to the ring, taunting Michaels all the while, and as usual, stroking his own ego to thunderous crowd boos. HBK, without missing a beat, turned his back to Del Rio (who had earlier complained about the terrible quality of American music) and delivered a spot-on Sweet Chin Music superkick to Del Rio's chin, planting the microphone to his side like a gunslinger. Michaels then turned and walked back down the ramp to some of the loudest cheering I've ever heard, before exiting just as quickly as he had came. Perhaps the greatest part of this promo? Michaels never said a single word. And why would he? His farewell speech didn't need any punctuation. That's why he's the best, folks.
January 31, 2011: RAW had its very first 7-man RAW Royal Rumble for the opportunity to face The Miz at Elimination Chamber, with the other six going to the chamber itself to face the victor of that match at Wrestlemania. While all of the participants, from John Morrison to John Cena, put up good fronts, the night ultimately belonged to Jerry "The King" Lawler, who won the match and is now gaining the opportunity to have his potential Wrestlemania debut. Regardless of whether you think this was a bad move or not, there's no denying he deserves this.
A smaller, but no less important moment was brought by three simple numbers: 2-21-11. A single, simple, 20 second vignette managed to get the drones of the IWC buzzing to the point of fervor. I LOVE THE ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA.
February 14, 2011: EVERYTHING. Every match, every segement, every last minute of RAW was pure, grade A, undistilled CMOA, most of all the announcement of the Wrestlemania Guest Host: The People's Champ, THE ROCK!!! IF YOU SMELLLLL! WHAT THE ROCK! IS COOKING! In order, he:
Comes out and cuts a promo starting at 10:55 and getting to go for almost 30 minutes (including a 20 minute run-over) that proves that even after being out of the business for seven years, he's Still Got It
Proclaims his return is purely for the millions (AND MILLIONS) of fans
Completely buries the "Anonymous GM gets a new email" segment in a way that Triple H would envy
Rendered the entire reign of John Cena completely worthless
Oh god, think about it. A freestyle Promo vs Promo battle between The Rock and a Heel!Cena.
The following week John Cena the Marine/Boring Invincible Hero would be noticably absent from Raw. To say the fans of John Cena, Doctor of Thuganomics were pleased would be an understatement.
All while completely annihilating the TV-PG image the WWE has cooked up for itself in the past few years.
When his music hit (a nice merging of his classic face and heel themes), the pop caused this troper (who was watching with headphones) to go momentarily deaf.
Every WWE fan was afraid that Justin Bieber would host WrestleMania and would completely kill all hope of WWE going back to its old TV-14 product.
2 21 11: While the rest of these dates are written in full Month-Day, Year format, this particular episode of RAW will be remembered for the dual returns of The Undertaker and Triple H, paying off the mystery "2 21 11" video packages that had been playing for the past month. Triple H would proceed to challenge Undertaker for a match at Wrestlemania XXVII and Undertaker would accept the challenge. The kicker? Not a single goddamn word was needed, as they communicated merely by using their trademark gestures and by looking at the Wrestlemania sign in the background.
Well, Paul Bearer's kinda dead, Barrett's low enough on the card where that can be finished in one night, and does anyone really want to see another Kane vs Undertaker feud?
*slowly raises his hand and is smacked by the IWC*
Don't forget the beginning of the night, which had Cena temporarily return to his roots as the Doctor of Thuganomics and give a battle rap promo in retaliation for The Rock's slamming him the previous week. It was glorious.
Also, Jerry Lawler's segment. Michael Cole calls him out for an interview after his loss the previous night at Elimination Chamber. Lawler is in no mood to talk, so out comes Cole's trolling idiocy, up to insinuating that the King shamed his mother by losing. This sets everybody against Cole, and it gets Lawler pretty mad, too. He picks the announcer up by the neck and challenges him, but even this doesn't shut Cole up. He keeps antagonizing Jerry, splashes water in his face, then runs away as fast as his legs can carry him. For the rest of the night, Lawler took the empty spot at the announcer's table, and not even Josh Matthews protested.
For those not knowing the situation regarding Lawler's mother: She had passed away the weekend before the Elimanation Chamber and was a subject that should have been left alone. The Miz had acknowledged the fact that Lawler's mother had passed on the Raw prior to Elimination Chamber, offered his deepest condolences and hoped it wouldn't get in the way of the match.
February 28, 2011: "You address me in the form of rap?!" - In one line, The Rock managed to utterly destroy Cena's response to his initial promo.
March 8, 2011: The Miz, after annoying everyone with his "The Most Must See WWE Champion" promos for months, gets the drop on John Cena at the end of the show despite saying he was boycotting RAW, hitting him with two Skull Crushing Finales, then calling out The Rock, telling him to take his best shot, mocking both men with their catchphrases and hitting Cena with a People's Elbow. It's most definitely Miz's best promo since becoming Champion, and brought him out of the shadow and into the spotlight of what was until then a primarily Cena/Rock angle.
Stone Cold's return to Raw, to recap: This was the same night Michael Cole planned to reveal his special referee for his WM 27 match with Jerry Lawler. Cole would proceed to tease the crowd that he had selected Austin before revealing JBL as his referee. Just as JBL was about to sign the contract for the match, cue the sound of breaking glass as Austin walks up to the ring and delivers a Stone Cold Stunner to JBL with a MASSIVE pop. And then, to Cole's horror, Austin would proceed to pick up the contract and sign himself as the referee for the match. Austin then pleased the fans further by pouring beer on Michael Cole twice, leaving Cole to take a walk of shame to the back. And for good measure, Austin got back in the ring and toasted a couple of brewskies with JBL before Stunning him again.
Yes, Snooki got a Crowning Moment of Awesome. I think I hear something dying.
March 28, 2011: The Rock appears in the ring in the final RAW before Wrestlemania XXVII. He gives his usual, excellent trash talk to Cena, saying he dresses "like a homeless Power Ranger." Then Cena comes out, and gives the most heartfelt promo he has ever given, responding not only to the Rock but to all the criticism that has ever been leveled at him, including his child fanbase. Next, The Miz comes out and attacks the Rock, and the Rock responds with a People's Elbow. He throws The Miz out of the ring and then Cena comes in and takes down The Rock with an Attitude Adjustment leaving Cena standing tall over the The Rock.
April 5, 2011: Cena calls out the Rock for screwing him out of the WWE title at 'Mania the night before. A few minutes later, we get the main event for next year's Wrestlemania already booked.
Not to mention, after the match was made, the Corre came out to attack both men, and promptly had their asses handed to them, with Wade Barrett getting a spinebuster, People's Elbow, & Rock Bottom from the Great One.
Also, on the last match of the show, Sheamus retained the US title against Daniel Bryan. During a post-match assault, Sin Cara!
(the former Mexican luchadore Mistico) after weeks of promos, made his debut, driving the Celtic Warrior from the ring and taking him down with a diving crossbody;(whether the rest of his WWE career will be as good, well, wait and see) still, taking down a former 2-time world champion on your debut is still an impressive feat.
One would also say that his ring entrance was/is one too. Some run into the ring. Some walk into the ring. Some climb into the ring. Sin Cara? He makes a running leap from the outside floor OVER the top rope rope into the ring, clearing a height that's probably twice his own.
Rendered slightly less awesome due to the fact that he's aided by a trampoline (concealed by camera trickery), but still, it's a damn impressive visual.
May 2, 2011: YMMV on this one, but the timing of Dwayne Johnson's birthday party could not have been better. He comes out and before getting into the show, he has one thing to say: WE GOT HIM!!!!!
They couldn't have made The Rock a bigger star if they tried. After praising SEAL Team Six he swears his loyalty to the WWE, before Michael Cole interrupts. After a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow, Pitbull comes out and sings for The Rock. Throughout the night we have Dwayne Wade and Lebron James, Samuel L Jackson, Ellen De Generes and others give their birthday wishes. At the end of the show Dwayne Johnson comes out again to hype WrestleMania, when he's through Vince McMahon comes out, breaks character, and gives us this.
By my count it took about five referees to pull Lawler off of Cole.
May 16, 2011: Cole and Jerry Lawler go to sign the contract for their match at Over The Limit. After Cole reveals its a "Kiss My Feet" Match and gloating, showing a video of Jerry being forced to kiss Bret Hart's feet and his own, Jerry responds with a Shut Up, Hannibal!, saying Cole is no Bret Hart...and he's no Jack Swagger either. Jerry proceeds to praise Swagger, saying how much he respects him and how disappointed he is that Swagger has just become Cole's sidekick. Cole, having an ego the size of the WWE universe, brags about how big being his sidekick has made Swagger and that no one remembers Swagger's championship run. Cue Oh Crap as Cole remembers he said that while Swagger was in the ring the entire time and Swagger is now seriously ticked off. Swagger looks over Cole's shoulder at Lawler and tells him "he's all yours" before leaving the ring. Jerry's reaction reveals that he just pulled a classic Batman Gambit to get Cole to get his own Dragon mad enough to leave him. He then pulls Cole down by the tie and tells him that at Over The Limit, he's getting exactly what he has coming to him.
What inspired Alex Riley to beat the holy mother of hell out of Miz? Prior to it, Riley had been screwing up and not being much help to Miz. His last screw up the night prior at the Over the Limit eventnote In an I Quit Match, Riley had accidentally discarded the cellphone that played an out-of-context recording of John Cena shouting "I Quit!", letting the referee see it. This would lead to Cena beating Miz and retaining the WWE Title., was the last straw, and Miz gave a verbal and brutal berating of Riley, eventually firing the guy from his position as "Executive Assistant". Cue Riley going berserk and beating up Miz to the fans' delight.
Just the sheer fact that Kharma and Beth Phoenix were standing in the same ring. Hell that entire segment had shades of awesome written all over it.
Jim Rome, on his radio show, highlighted this promo the next day because he thought it was real. Shows how effective it was. He normally doesn't cover the WWE (highlighting the UFC and MMA), so this says a lot.
July 4, 2011: The entire last segment of the show, where John Cena calls out Vince McMahon over suspending CM Punk for his comments the previous week and managed to get Punk reinstated for the Money in the Bank PPV.
What makes it better is that Cena himself calls out some of the more crappy things WWE's done over the past year, such as firing Daniel Bryan and pulling signs supporting Zack Ryder.
Vince was probably the only one in the entire situation to not pull one of these off. CM Punk gets one for the above, then Cena gets his when he comes out and says he actually agrees with some of what Punk was saying, but then hits Punk with perfect Kirk Summation ending with an Armor-Piercing Question that practically sends Punk into a Villainous Breakdown; if you care so much about the WWE Universe, why are you walking out on them? Punk tries to turn it around on Cena, but his arguement ultimately devolves into Insane Troll Logic in an attempt to blame Cena for him leaving (which, due to Punks original demands that Vince had fully agreed to, no longer holds water as he'd been given everything he wanted that Cena had, doesn't hold much water) and then doing exactly what Cena was calling him out on without ever truly giving a straight answer. Say what you will about Cena, but he spoke the truth.
July 18, 2011: The ultimate defeat of the ultimate Heel. Vincent. K. McMahon has been relieved of his duties as the day-to-day manager of the WWE, unable to fire John Cena in the process. And Triple H is the man in charge now. I realize there's likely a storyline, and its likely that Vince is still calling shots in the back, but you know that if Stone Cold Steve Austin was out there, and doing kayfabe, he'd be laughing his ass off with a beer.
The whole ending of this edition was a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Before Triple H showed up (which was awesome), Cena came out and didn't let Vince get a word in edge-wise as he gave him an EPIC"The Reason You Suck" Speech. He tells Vince he's not going to be the one forever remembered for the next Montreal Screwjob and letting Vince make the WWE title meaningless. He then tells Vince to his face that he doesn't give a darn if he got fired because he'd rather be fired than kiss up to Vince McMahon. For the first time in a long while, there was not one boo directed at Cena the entire promo!
The ending switched to Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. After Triple H broke Vince the bad news, to cheers and "Nah Nah Nah Nah, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!" chants from the crowd, he walked sadly back up the ramp as the crowd chanted his name, shooting Vince one last look before going backstage. Vince was left alone in the ring and was (I believe) authentically crying (he has NEVER been a good actor) and the crowd broke Kayfabe with him, switching to loud thunderous cheers and chants of "Thank You Vince!" which Vince tearfully acknowledged as the show went black. I don't know if Vince is really gone (although I'm pretty sure he might be, and that was an AWESOME way to go), but seeing the entire crowd drop the illusion of the show and pay respect to a man who has provided entertainment to generations and made the sport what it is? That's a Crowning of Moment of Heartwarming and Awesome.
July 25, 2011:Triple H's first full episode as WWE's Chief Operating Officer kicked off with a WWE Title match. There can't possibly be any way to outdo that. But they did.
Triple H announces the re-signing of a popular figure in the company. Given the happenings of the last several weeks, it seemed everyone knew where this was going. Except the guy set to return wound up being none other than JIM FREAKING ROSS. Naturally, Michael Cole flips out, and Trips responds by putting him in a match against a mystery opponent, leaving Lawler and JR to announce the rest of the evening.
Then, after a short segment that proved, if anything, that Trips' not being an active wrestler did nothing to dull his sense of humor, he announces another return. *HOOOOOOOOOOONK* "Now listen! This ain't no make believe!!" John Morrison, back for only the second time since April.
Followed by Zack Ryder coming out and kicking Cole's ass.
As the night ends, Cena wins. Again. But instead of the final shot being Cena holding his newly acquired fake title belt in the air, the music cuts abruptly and a mystery guitar riff starts playing (it was Cult of Personality," the music CM Punk used while in Ring of Honor). Cena is understandably confused, telling someone at ringside, "This isn't Alberto'smusic." (In context, Del Rio was the RAW winner of the Money In The Bank match). Then the crowd popped massively, and the camera cut to CM Punk.
Although Cena won, his match with Mysterio was still quite a good one, with both wrestlers giving their all to put on a great match. Especially awesome was an amazing bit in the middle where Cena attempted to put Mysterio in the STF, only for Mysterio to roll under Cena, grab his leg, and put Cena in his own submission manuver. The pop when Mysterio locked in the STF was huge.
Keith Stone putting an end to the Bella Twins' Twin Switch trick by drawing an awesome tattoo on Nikki's arm with a permanent marker.
August 22, 2011: Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston winning the tag team titles. Two of the high flyers in the WWE with one of the highest HSQ forming a tag team was bound to be epic, but the match was pretty dang good. And it ended with Kofi hitting the Trouble In Paradice from the apron followed by a perfectly executed Air Bourne from Evan.
October 18, 2011: After weeks of ego-boosting and being a general jackass, Michael Cole finally gets what's coming to him. Booked in a main event tag-team match with Alberto Del Rio against John Cena and Jim Ross, Cole repeatedly asserts that he'll have no problem winning the match, and that he can't possibly lose. During the match itself? After Del Rio tags Cole in after being badly beaten by Cena, Cole begs for Cena not to hurt him, looking like he's about to cry the entire time! For a moment, Cena looks as if he won't hurt Cole, but then gives him an Attitude Adjustment, followed by JR putting Cole in the ankle lock and forcing him to tap!
November 21, 2011: It may be low-key compared to other classic Raw moments, but the Twitter graphic glitching briefly and revealing an website address set off one hell of a firestorm amongst fans.
November 28, 2011: CM Punk finally shutting up Alberto Del Rio by defending his championship after John Lauranitis tried to unseat Punk early. The crowning moment was when Punk gave Del Rio a face full of steel from an exposed turnbuckle, after Del Rio exposed it himself. Then Punk giving Ricardo Rodriguez a GTS after Rodriguez tried to argue with the referee.
Before that, there was also Punk taking a page right out of Eddie Guerrero's playbook and reversing an attempt by Del Rio to have him disqualified by tossing a chair back at Del Rio, and then falling down.
The opening of Raw, featuring a Piper's Pit segment with John Cena could very well set off what certain fans have been waiting for: An attitudeadjustment for Cena.
December 5, 2011: The third of the "It Begins" Youtube addresses, featuring even more cryptic awesomeness. And rather than just flashing the address on the Twitter graphic bar, the video itself actually interrupted a segment on Raw.
John Cena telling John Laurinaitis off when given a Sadistic Choice between taking the WWE Title Shot he earned or giving Zack Ryder a well deserved chance to earn a US Title Shot, choosing his friendship with Ryder over another title shot for himself. He tops himself once it's clear Laurinaitis has no intention of giving Ryder a fair chance, having pitted the already tired Zack Ryder against Mark Henry in a No-Disqualification Match. Cena comes to Ryder's aid and gives him the victory and his long awaited shot at the US Championship.
CM Punk beating the hell out of bothThe Miz & Alberto Del Rio during their contract signing for a Triple Threat Table Match for the WWE Title at TLC, after citing that the contract signing was getting "boring". What does Punk do? He slams Del Rio through the table and gives Miz the Go To Sleep as he stood tall over both his TLC opponents.
December 12th, 2011: The main event of John Cena vs. Mark Henry gets interrupted by the return of Kane with a new mask. He then proceeds to chokeslam Cena to close out the show. But not before removing his initial mask to reveal another mask underneath. Holy shit.
One could argue that the Fatal 4-Way between Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Daniel Bryan, and Cody Rhodes was awesome just by virtue of all four of those guys being in the ring at the same time. But the match itself was far and away the best of the night, and arguably one of the best that's been on RAW in a while.
And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the fourth of the "It Begins" viral videos, again interrupting a segment on Raw.
December 19, 2011: If there was ever a Passing the Torch moment for the PG era, this was it. CM Punk comes out, and welcomes new United States champion, Zack Ryder, along with new World Heavyweight champion, Bryan Danielson. It happened in front of the red-hot Philadelphia crowd, which had nothing but the utmost adoration for the three and Punk having nothing but the utmost respect for two guys (who Punk can relate with) who truly earned their spots in the WWE.
Even better, as Punk, Bryan, and Ryder won in the main event and ended Raw standing tall and triumphant. Michael Cole might've had an aneurysm with the outcome, but everyone else must've been surely satisfied with the ending.
It Begins, Part Five. January 2nd, 2012 is going to be some good stuff.
December 26th, 2011: The awesome ending segment with Kane trying his darndest to make John Cena give in to the hate of the fans, made more better with the final shot of Raw being a conflicted Cena paired with the "Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks" chants closing out the show.
R-Truth making his return to get some deserved revenge on The Miz, the man who put him out of commission shortly after Survivor Series.
And we got the final video for whomever returns January 2nd.
January 2, 2012: The mastermind behind the recent "It begins" videos? None other than Chris Jericho! He didn't say anything (which is rare), but still, there's a shocker!
Probably the best part is that he may have turned heel without saying a word or doing anything heinous.
How is that possible? By doing nothing, he bored the fans and eventually pissed them off. Then, they started booing them.
John Cena saving Zack Ryder from being dragged under the ring by Kane.
Can't forget Foley's part, which sparks the above-mentioned Breakdown:
"Admit it! Just admit it, John! Have the decency to admit that you intend to screw Punk at the Royal Rumble! You know, you walk around here acting like a pious, self-righteoussyncophant...which is fancy, New York Times bestseller speak for saying you, John Laurinaitis, are a kissass."
John Cena nearly murdering Jack Swagger, who had earlier defeated his best bud Zack Ryder for the U.S. Title thanks to a dubious match made by GM Laurinaitis.note It's dubious, as Ryder wasn't exactly ready because he was beaten to unconsciousness by Kane last week on Raw. Sure, Cena was playing right into Kane's hands, but it's still kinda impressive.
January 30th, 2012: After weeks of getting beat down physically and psychologically by Kane, John Cena finally gets even and proceeds to give the big monster one hell of a beatdown, sending Kane into retreat for the first time since his return.
CM Punk Vs. Daniel Bryan in a Champion Vs. Champion match. The match and the promos before it were every bit as awesome as the IWC thought they would be.
Chris Jericho interrupting said match by throwing Bryan out of the ring and hitting Punk with a codebreaker. Amazing.
The Undertaker returning and making every indication he's going to Wrestlemania.
February 6th, 2012: CM Punk decidedly shuts down Chris Jericho's attempted "The Reason You Suck" Speech (he was calling Punk out specifically for being a "wannabe" due to his use of "Best In The World") by simply walking out, raising the WWE Championship up high right in front of Jericho, and then leaving.
Not to be outdone, Jericho does get one back on Punk by the end of the night, as he steals a win during the Six-Pack Challenge and earning the right to enter last in the forthcoming Elimination Chamber match at, well, Elimination Chamber.
February 20th, 2012: John Cena easily defuses a plot by a now heel Eve Torres to use him, after she spilled the beans on using Zack Ryder.
Later in the evening he gives one hell of speech to The Rock. Highlights included that come April 9th, he would still be at Raw, while The Rock would be at the next movie set laughing at his stunt double. And he was proud of being a professional wrestler. A word that is pretty much no, no in WWE.
March 5th, 2012: While somewhat overshadowed by the Long-Laurinaitis feud, Santino Marella winning the US Title from Jack Swagger was a crowning moment for a wrestler who's been getting cheered uproariously by the crowd for weeks.
March 12th, 2012: Chris Jericho took his feud with CM Punk to new levels by calling out Punk's father for being a "pathetic drunk" and vowing to beat him so bad at WrestleMania that Punk would be driven to alcohol. Even more shockingly, Punk had no response to Jericho's salvo, and left the ring, shaken to his very core.
No mention of the very beginning of the show. Word Life. Scowling Cena. The Doctor of Thuganomics made a brief, awesome return, and the audience went from a mixed reaction to full-on cheers once he had finished his rap.
March 19th, 2012: Jericho does it again, this time going after Punk's sister. Punk's reaction was WAY different.
Prior to Jericho's petty assault, Punk cut a passionate promo where he vowed not to let Jericho get to his head, claiming that Jericho is an obstacle he'd go through at WrestleMania, as well as expressing pride in his father, who did beat his personal demons. At some points, it even sounded like a heroic version of the promos Punk would cut as part of the Straight Edge Society.
March 26th, 2012: With only six days away 'til WrestleMania, Jericho again gets personal, attacking Punk's mother this time 'round. However, Punk decides let his actions do the talking, as he beat the holy crap out of Christian to a point where referees had to get Punk off of him.
It's certainly not every edition of Raw that the fans themselves get a moment of awesome, but this episode of Raw featured possibly the loudest and passionate set of fans ever heard on the show in recent memory. From start to finish, the Miami fans either chanted "YES!", "NO!", Daniel Bryan's name, among other chants, and completely tore the roof off when the above-mentioned moment occurred.
April 9th, 2012: Rather than cut a scathing promo on the return Brock Lesnar as a rebuttal? John Cena instead opts to walk down the ramp and simply just slap Lesnar in the face, leading to a pier-six brawl between the two where they had to be separated by other Superstars (faces AND heels) and referees and whatnot.
The Board of Directors stipulation for the match: You can only win by pin or submission, no one can be at ringside, anyone that interrupts the match will be terminated, and if John Laurinaitis loses, he will be fired. The fans in the arena liked this announcement, as did John Cena, who rubs it in that this effectively ruined Laurinaitis' big announcement (which was rather obviously rigging the match in his favor), causing Laurinaitis to have a Villainous Breakdown.
June 4th, 2012: John Cena was allowed to pick his opponent for tonight, exept for The Big Show (who was having a day off), or John Laurinaitis (who had "retired" from one on one competitions). Cena picked Michael Cole (who moments before had insulted him and blamed him for Big Shows Face Heel Turn). Johnny Ace let him have the match if he could beat Lord Tensai first. During this match, Cole went into 100% Troll-mode at the commentary table and even slapping Cena across the face when the ref wasn't looking, thinking Tensai would remain undefeated this night. Sadly for him, Cena won the match and finally got his hands on Cole for a No-DQ Match!
Spoony, along with others in the IWC, saw this as hypocrisy on Cena's point.
Spoony: So, to prove he's not a bully like Big Show, Cena decides to beat up a helpless man in his forties.
June 11th, 2012: Heath Slater is running his mouth in the ring, waiting for his opponent. Little did he know that his opponent was the man they call Vader! The legendary super-heavyweight was making his first appearance in WWE since 2005 (a rather disappointing stint as Jonathan Coachman's henchman that included an embarrassing fall off the apron) and subsequently received one of the loudest pops of the night and several chants from the crowd. Vader would easily put the boots to Slater, finishing him off with his signature Vader Bomb. This could easily double as a moment of heartwarming, as Vader has had it rough in recent years due to various medical issues that led to him being both bed-ridden for 6 months and later comatose for over a month. It was obvious to this troper that he was relishing being the fan favourite on this night.
Vince coming back and pretty much spending the whole night chewing out John Laurinaitis and shooting down all of his attempts to kiss up to him. And then he doesn't back down from The Big Show at all.
Paul Heyman mocks Triple H, saying Brock Lesnar will not accept his challenge nor drop his 2 lawsuits, then makes a lewd comment about Stephanie McMahon. Hunter is enraged, but Heyman warns that if he strikes him, it will trigger another lawsuit. Hunter calms down, and Heyman laughs, claiming he can predict everything he does... Triple H decks him unconscious and asks, "Did you see that coming?"
John Cena giving Laurinaitis 3 Attitude Adjustments and then making him tap to the STF to finally get rid of him.
Better? To mock Laurinaitis' "People Power", he actually asks the audience if they want to see Laurinaitis given another AA. They resoundingly support the idea and thus Laurinaitis gets three Attitude Adjustments.
Even better, both Big Show and David Otunga pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here on Laurinaitis at different points during the match (or in Big Show's case, before the match), leaving the once-powerful tyrant boss at the mercy of John Cena.
In David Otunga's case, it was after he was forced to battle against Cena alone - Laurinaitis refused to tag in until he assumed he could pin a weakened Cena, and when he did, he promptly revealed that he had been faking his injuries for the oast month. The look of disgust on Otunga's face at that point was perfect.
June 25th, 2012: Heath Slater (obviously not learning his lesson from the past two weeks...) decides to bite off a bit more he can chew once again by declaring that he "rules the world". Cue Sycho Sid making an unexpected return and putting Slater in his place with a devastating Powerbomb.
July 2nd, 2012: Doink the Clown returns and schools Heath Slater before getting pinned. As Slater gloats, Diamond Dallas Page returns and plants him with the Diamond Cutter.
AJ is enraged because CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are not distracted by her skipping around the ring like they normally are. AJ pulls out a table, climbs to the top rope, and threatens to jump. Punk and Bryan are horrified and try to get her to stop. AJ kisses Punk, then shoves him so hard he flies into Bryan and both crash through the table. Unfortunately, the crowd was dead.
July 9th, 2012: John Cena finally staggers the Big Show with ladder strikes, temporarily halting the giant's monster run of recent weeks for the night.
When Heath Slater starts running his mouth yet again, Bob Backlund returns and makes him tap with the Crossface Chickenwing, with the crowd chanting, "You Still Got It!"
Also that night in order to keep up Heath Slater's bad luck with WWE Legends: Rikishi returns, delivering the superkick, the Banzai Drop, theStinkface, and even the Samoan Spike in honor of his dead brother Umaga. After the fight, we got to see him dance together with his twin sons, Jimmy and Jay Uso, reminding the audience of the good times of 2 Cool.
July 23rd, 2012: It's preemptive, but Raw 1000 is looking to be quite the jam-packed milestone episode, featuring: the return of The Rock, Brock Lesnar answering Triple H's challenge for a match at SummerSlam, a reunion of D-Generation X, the wedding of Daniel Bryan and AJ, and a WWE Championship match between John Cena and CM Punk. And that's not getting into the possible other surprises in-store for the 1000th episode of the longest-running weekly episodic television series in history.
Heath Slater runs his mouth again and challenges any Legend to a No Countout, No Disqualification match. Lita accepts the challenge. Slater assumes he's got an easy win, but Lita brings out the APA, reminding Slater that interference is allowed in these types of matches. Slater tries to escape, but all the other Legends block him. JBL hits him with the Clothesline From Hell, then Lita pins him with the Twist of Fate and Litasault.
The Brothers of Destruction reunite for one night and clean house.
September 3rd, 2012: After an amazing Falls Count Anywhere main event match between John Cena and Alberto Del Rio, which included an incredible amount of reversals from both of them plus a suplex through the announce table, CM Punk lays out Cena with a GTS on a car backstage. The most awesome part? As Punk leaves in the same car, the driver is revealed to be none other than Paul Heyman. Which teases the REAL beginning of the new Summer angle.
September 10th, 2012: During a tag team match between Daniel Bryan/Kane and the Prime Time Players, Jerry Lawler, for real and not Kayfabe, suddenly collapsed at ringside and was immediately rushed to the hospital (Doctors would later confirm it was a heart attack), leaving a visibly shaken Michael Cole to break the news as the show continued, leaving fans both at ringside and those watching at home worried as they waited for news on Lawler's condition. At that point, no one would have faulted Cole for leaving the table to check on his friend and colleague. The fact that he stayed on, refraining from commentary out of respect for Lawler, and to provide the audience updates on his condition, ending the show with an announcement that Lawler's condition had stabilized, and all the while maintaining his composure earned this Troper a lot of respect for Cole tonight.
For the first time in fifteen years, Bret Hart was in a WWE ring in Canada. For the first five minutes, Bret couldn't get a word in because the audience was THAT loud.
John Cena giving CM Punk another "The Reason You Suck" Speech, detailing why people won't respect him. Punk angrily throws a punch at Bret, but Cena blocks it. Punk tries again, but Bret blocks it himself and knocks Punk out of the ring.
Credit also has to go to the three for giving it their all in that segment, especially given the circumstances that hung over the show at the moment.
All of this was followed by Ryback making his presence felt as he once again went after Punk, who naturally tried to run away. However, John Cena cuts him off at the pass and tosses him right back into the ring......and to a waiting Ryback. The fans exploded throughout this, with the hard camera even shaking due to the Sacramento crowd erupting. A lot of internet bloggers and dirt sheets called it the closest thing WWE had seen to an Attitude Era-type show ending in years.
A little Real Life note on this entire sequence: Vince, or rather, Mr. McMahon, wasn't meant to have any involvement whatsoever with the Punk/Cena(/Ryback?) storyline. But the October 1st RAW put up some of the worst ratings for an episode of RAW in recent history.*
In all fairness, though, it's occupying the exact same time slot as Monday Night Football and you're going to come up short in that battle more times than not
November 12th, 2012: 2 months after his heart attack, we get to witness the return of the King. Possibly doubles as a Heartwarming Moment.
CM Punk and Paul Heyman cruelly taunt Lawler and say his heart attack was his own fault...until Mick Foley comes into the ring and verbally slams them both down. Awesome.
In an added moment of poetic justice for his misdeeds, Punk ends up losing his main event match against John Cena after Ryback prevents Punk from making an escape from the ringside area.
November 26th, 2012: The trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns, now referring to themselves as "The Shield", made their presence felt during the CM Punk vs. Kane main event match by laying waste to both Kane and his partner Daniel Bryan. When Ryback went to confront the trio, The Shield would end up leaving the big man down on the mat with the triple-team powerbomb move they used on Ryback last week on Raw and the Survivor Series.
February 25th, 2013. John Cena and CM Punk fight in a 26 minute main event for who gets to face the Rock for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 29. The two bring everything to the table at each other, kicking out of each others' finishers and submissions. Hell, Punk even hits Cena with a pile driver, a move which has been banned in regular wrestling for years, still couldn't keep him down! Cena even manages to get some form of hurricanrana on Punk as well! This would also be the first time Cena's won against Punk, too.
Also, there's the brawl between Brock Lesnar and the returning Triple H at the beginning of the show. During the brawl, Triple H tossed Brock face-first to the ring post, resulting in Brock to bleed. Yes, there was blood at that night.
April 8th, 2013. The night after Wrestlemania, and like the previous year...it was just amazing. And in most minds, there's no doubt it eclipsed Mania itself. The Crowd was one of the best crowds in history, surpassing the crowd from last year's event. Just the show from start to end was amazing, and each notable event will be documented.
First off, John Cena came out to his usual thunderous boos and had his new trolltastic T-Shirt after defeating the Rock for the WWE Title at Mania. However, Cena decided to actually be entertaining tonight. Trolling about a heel turn, saying that a possible Rock return match would be "Once in a Lifetime: Best out of 3", turning the crowd's chants of Sexual Chocolate (Mark Henry had come out to challenge him) into "Sex with Chocolate", Cena was actually having fun that night.
Big E. Langston gets his Raw debut match against Daniel Bryan. DBry got many cheers that brought a smile to his face, likely remembering last year where the crowd helped bring him to stardom. Langston along with the rest of the Ziggler Stable performed like a well oiled unit, providing a dominating win for Langston and a precursor for the rest of the night.
The Miz and Wade Barrett had a rematch for the Intercontinental Title. Their match was a supreme improvement over their Mania match and in a shocker, Wade Barrett ends up regaining his Intercontinental Title. It's shocking due to the fact that the normal success rate for winning the rematch after losing the title the previous night is insanely low. On top of that the crowd was behind Wade the entire match.
Del Rio gets a handicap against Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter. A decent match all around, but its ramifications would be felt almost immediately afterwards thanks to Jack Swagger annihilating ADR's ankle and leg.
DOLPH ZIGGLER FINALLY CASHES IN MITB AND WINS THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP. And the entire crowd ERUPTED with a massive pop not felt in years. Ziggler and his crew celebrated greatly and it was emotional. AJ Lee herself was almost among tears and the three embraced. Unlike most heels in this moment, there was no malice from Ziggler in this celebration or in the interview after. Just joy, emotion and success.
Undertaker comes out to celebrate his latest Mania victory (or at least as much as Taker ever celebrates) and the Shield decides to interrupt him. Just when it looks like Taker is gonna take that long road to recovery for Mania again, Team Hell No comes in and saves his ass. The Brothers of Destruction are reunited and Daniel Bryan is with them. And on the way out, all three did Taker's trademark pose at the ramp. For one night, and possibly more...Daniel Bryan became the 3rd Brother of Destruction.
Randy Orton and Sheamus ended up facing each other in a serviceable match but...even by Sheamus' own admission afterwards on Twitter, no one will remember the match because it was all about the crowd once again. Likely perturbed by the fact that absolutely no one wanted to see this match at this point (especially after a bait and switch "vote" just to get stuff trending on Twitter), the crowd decided to chant every single thing they could think of. From Randy Savage, RVD, HBK, OLE and ECW, to Mike Chioda, JBL and even MICHAEL COLE. In their own self indulgence, they even shouted We Are Awesome. Along with all of this, they even did the wave midmatch. What made this really notable was that the commentators, the cameramen and even Orton and Sheamus themselves acknowledged it the entire time. The camera even caught moments of the Wave and zoomed in on JBL during his chant. And then, after both missed their finishers, the Big Show came out and destroyed them both. Instead of being booed, the crowd greeted him with a Thank You Big Show chant. And when he was throwing chairs, they chanted for One More Chair. Just incredible.
Fandango vs. Kofi Kingston. Normally a match that draws no real notice. Kofi pretty much got no reaction. The big winner was Fandango, who is the most likely recipient of the yearly Daniel Bryan Post-Mania push if last year is any precedent. The crowd SANG HIS THEME SONG. Kind of notable when his theme song has no lyrics. Fandango danced a bit more in the ring than even usual due to it. The match did not last long as Jericho came in and absolutely demolished him. But Fandango wasn't done as after the brutality...he still went through the trouble of correcting Justin Roberts by correctly pronouncing his name. After pronouncing his name right along with him, the crowd went right back to singing his theme music.
Rhodes Scholars and the Bellas vs Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls. Also a match that would draw no notice but it has history. The match was bumped from Wrestlemania onto Raw, and you could really feel for Tons of Funk as the entire crew was wearing their Mania outfits. Now, worry sets in when you realize how harsh the crowd was on the Orton/Sheamus match and it could be disastrous for morale if these guys get worked like that. However, the crowd was being fun and was continuing Fandango's theme. Cole was dancing to their theme and the 8 Man Mixed Tag was a fun, quick affair all around (which leaves one to wonder why it was left off the Mania card).
Main Event, Cena vs. Henry. Started off decent, the crowd also singing along to Mark Henry's theme as much as possible. However the match took a bad turn when it ended quickly by count out, a pretty poor effort. During which the crowd was chanting Same Old Shit. Three guesses as to why. They also found time to sing Fandango's theme some more which Cena decided to play along with. But the true fun started afterwards. Henry, to no one's surprise, decided to enter Cena into the Hall of Pain with a World's Strongest Slam. Then Ryback's theme hit and the crowd went off. He came to the ring and fought Henry off. The fans were cheering, then booed immediately when he helped Cena up. Then Cena decided to try and play off the Feed Me More chants himself, which got him a Meat Hook Clothesline to the face. Crowd goes off again and goes absolutely ballistic once Ryback nails Cena with Shellshock, essentially putting himself in the title picture and ending Raw.
April 22, 2013: Cena and Ryback have a face-off...which ends when the Shield show up. It looks like Cena is going to do to Ryback the exact same thing Ryback did to him last week (leave him to the Shield). Instead, once the Shield are in the ring, Cena comes running to the ring with a steel chair and gives the Shield a beatdown. He follows it up by nailing Ryback with an Attitude Adjustment. Not only is this awesome, Ryback had been accusing Cena of leaving him to the Shield when he needed Cena (most of the time Cena wasn't even there or busy with his own problems). Cena, instead of taking revenge Ryback's way and proving him right, proves Ryback wrong and takes revenge HIS way.
On the same night, The Shield's three-man tag team match against Daniel Bryan and Kane (Team Hell No), with The Undertaker joining Team Hell No as their third man. An all-around amazing match, and The Shield picked up the victory by pinning Bryan!
The Shield also showed up in a helicopter on the show, and went from the helicopter to a Range Rover to drive to the show. It should be noted that this was legitimate: The Shield were also booked for a house show in another city, and took the helicopter-Range Rover to get to Raw.