The Spotlight On The 25th Anniversary of Monday Night Raw

Huge news in the world of WWE today as it was announced that for the first time in its history WWE Monday Night Raw with take place live and air from two separate locations. In honor of its 25th Anniversary, WWE Monday Night Raw will emanate live from the Barclays Center as well as the Manhattan Center on January 22nd, 2018. This is the first time that WWE has ran a live broadcast from two different locations in a number of years, the most famous being Wrestlemania which aired live from Los Angeles, California, Chicago Illinois, and Long Island, New York. Of course, the Manhattan Center was the site of the first ever Monday Night Raw taping way back on January 11th, 1993. This is the first time that WWE has ran the Manhattan Center since a taping of WWEECW back in 2006 when the crowd infamously turned on a Batista Vs. Big Show match by chanting such chants as “Change The Channel”. It’s interesting to point out that the original episodes of Raw were actually taped in the Grand Ballroom which is the smaller of the venues in Manhattan Center, along with the most familiar Hammerstein Ballroom. It’ll be interesting to see in WWE decides to run the Grand Ballroom or sticks with the Hammerstein Ballroom, which is more commonly used for bigger events such as ECW pay per views back in the early 2000s and, more recently, Ring of Honor’s annual Final Battle Pay Per View.
WWE announced that The Undertaker, Shawn Micahels and Kevin Nash will all be making appearances at the Manhattan Center portion of the taping. This is pretty cool as both Michaels and The Undertaker both competed on the very first edition of Monday Night Raw. From this tidbit, I would think that the Manhattan Center taping will be more appearance centered with not as big of an emphasis on the matches taking place at the Center whereas the taping taking place at the Barclays Center having more of a focus on in ring matches. (though matches are also listed as taking place at the Manhattan Center so there will be matches on both shows). Pwinsider broke a story last week that WWE has already confirmed a DVD release on the 25 years of WWE Raw. While nothing is confirmed for the DVD, it would be fair to assume that this special will be included on the DVD and some post Raw dark matches for the live Manhattan Center crowd would make for good DVD extras if they decide to go that route. 
While it still is over 2 months away from the 25th Anniversary of Raw, and a lot can change, this is the first advertised WWE appearance of the Undertaker following his loss to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania. It’ll be interesting to see if Undertaker is there merely for an appearance or if perhaps he will be there to kick off his involvement at next year’s Wrestlemania. I should add that it’s interesting that Undertaker is being promoted as a Legend, which is usually a term used for WWE Superstars following their retirement from active in ring competition, but I wouldn’t read too much into that as The Undertaker hasn’t been a full time performer for WWE since 2010. 
Lastly, it is important to point out that WWE is promoting that both Superstars from Raw and Smcakdown Live will be in attendance from both venues. This is the first time both superstars from Raw and Smackdown Live have been advertised as appearing together since last year’s draft with the exception of the big four pay per view events (Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam and Survivor Series). The 25th Anniversary of Raw will also take place on the go home episode of Raw before the 2018 Royal Rumble (the final Raw before the Royal Rumble), taking place just 6 days beforehand.  
The fact that WWE is making such a big deal over the 25th Anniversary of Raw comes as no surprise, they did big special editions of Raw for the 10th Anniversary, the 15th Anniversary and, more recently, the 1000th Episode of Raw which ended up being the start of Monday Night Raw expanding to three hours permanently. It’ll be interesting to see what types of special events and announcements WWE will announce for the 25th Anniversary of Raw and, as always, you can keep it locked right here to thedailyspotlght.com as updates continue to come in. For those interested, the official press release for the 25th Anniversary of Monday Night Raw is attached below. 
WWE® to Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Raw® Live on USA Network on January 22

Tickets Available This Friday, November 3
STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw® will emanate from Barclays Center and Manhattan Center in New York City on Monday, January 22, 2018, and air live on USA Network at 8/7C. Tickets are available for each event starting this Friday, November 3 through all Ticketmaster outlets, http://www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
WWE Superstars from both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown® Live will be at Barclays Center, while the event at Manhattan Center, the site of the first episode of Raw, will feature both WWE Superstars competing, and special appearances by WWE Legends Undertaker®, Shawn Michaels® and Kevin Nash®, amongst others. VIP packages, including a meet and greet with a WWE Legend, will be available for fans at Manhattan Center.
“We look forward to celebrating this unmatched milestone with our fans around the world, but 25 years only marks the beginning of WWE surprising, delighting and entertaining generations to come,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon.
Monday Night Raw debuted on January 11, 1993 from the Manhattan Center, and since that time, has been broadcast from iconic venues around the world. Raw is the longest-running, weekly episodic program in U.S. primetime TV history and is one of the most-watched, regularly scheduled programs on cable, airing live every Monday night on USA. Each week, it is rated one of the most socially active shows and continues to be a “must-stop” for celebrities to reach WWE’s TV audience and its more than 825 million social media followers. Raw has aired more original episodes than some of the most popular television series of all time, including The Simpsons, Gunsmoke, Lassie and Monday Night Football.
In its 25-year history, Raw has also helped launch the careers of pop-culture icons including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Undertaker, Triple H, John Cena and The Bella Twins.
About WWE
WWE, a publicly traded company (NYSE: WWE), is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay-per-view, digital media and publishing platforms. WWE programming reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide in 20 languages. WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network that includes all live pay-per-views, scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand library, is currently available in more than 180 countries. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Munich and Tokyo.
Additional information on WWE (NYSE: WWE) can be found at wwe.com and corporate.wwe.com. For information on our global activities, go to http://www.wwe.com/worldwide/.
Trademarks: All WWE programming, talent names, images, likenesses, slogans, wrestling moves, trademarks, logos and copyrights are the exclusive property of WWE and its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.
Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking statements pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which are subject to various risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, risks relating to: WWE Network; major distribution agreements; our need to continue to develop creative and entertaining programs and events; the possibility of a decline in the popularity of our brand of sports entertainment; the continued importance of key performers and the services of Vincent K. McMahon; possible adverse changes in the regulatory atmosphere and related private sector initiatives; the highly competitive, rapidly changing and increasingly fragmented nature of the markets in which we operate and greater financial resources or marketplace presence of many of our competitors; uncertainties associated with international markets; our difficulty or inability to promote and conduct our live events and/or other businesses if we do not comply with applicable regulations; our dependence on our intellectual property rights, our need to protect those rights, and the risks of our infringement of others’ intellectual property rights; the complexity of our rights agreements across distribution mechanisms and geographical areas; potential substantial liability in the event of accidents or injuries occurring during our physically demanding events including, without limitation, claims relating to CTE; large public events as well as travel to and from such events; our feature film business, including anticipated release, marketing or involved talent for upcoming titles and productions; our expansion into new or complementary businesses and/or strategic investments; our computer systems and online operations; privacy norms and regulations; a possible decline in general economic conditions and disruption in financial markets; our accounts receivable; our revolving credit facility; litigation; our potential failure to meet market expectations for our financial performance, which could adversely affect our stock; Vincent K. McMahon exercises control over our affairs, and his interests may conflict with the holders of our Class A common stock; a substantial number of shares are eligible for sale by the McMahons and the sale, or the perception of possible sales, of those shares could lower our stock price; and the relatively small public “float” of our Class A common stock. In addition, our dividend is dependent on a number of factors, including, among other things, our liquidity and historical and projected cash flow, strategic plan (including alternative uses of capital), our financial results and condition, contractual and legal restrictions on the payment of dividends (including under our revolving credit facility), general economic and competitive conditions and such other factors as our Board of Directors may consider relevant. Forward-looking statements made by the Company speak only as of the date made and are subject to change without any obligation on the part of the Company to update or revise them. Undue reliance should not be placed on these statements. For more information about risks and uncertainties associated with the Company’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of the Company’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, our annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q.

The Spotlight on The History of The Royal Rumble 1992-1995

I’ll tell you Royal Rumble Season is the one time when everyone who I know who used to follow wrestling gets in touch with me to see what I’m doing for the show.  It’s just a fun show as it’s unpredictable and a great time to start watching if you haven’t in a long while.  Let’s continue with our look back at Royal Rumbles Past

1992- This was the first event I remember actually writing down all of my favorites to win it.  Looking back, this was probably the best Royal Rumble and as a fan today I can really appreciate it.  The amount of talent involved in the match from Undertaker to Ric Flair to Hulk Hogan to Roddy Piper, this rumble match is beyond stacked and it makes sense as this was the only rumble (until this year) that was for the WWE title.  I was actually really shocked when Flair won the title as back in the day heels rarely won to finish a WWF pay per view.  When Flair came out, we were so sure he’d be quickly tossed as he was the third entrant and back then Rumble marathon performances wouldn’t go all the way.  Being a straight up WWF fan (I was raised on WWF, we ordered one WCW show in 1991 and my family hated it), we all hated Flair and so him winning was just so out of left field as we didn’t take him seriously as a main eventer.  As a final aside, To this day, Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon’s commentary in this match is the best I’ve heard. 

1993- Royal Rumble 1993 was the first time that the classic Wrestlemania stipulation was added on for the Rumble winner.  Rumble 93 featured my favorite, non Rumble, Royal Rumble pay per view match as Shawn Michaels took on Marty Jannetty.  I was always a huge Jannetty fan and thought those two had great in ring chemistry.  In a case of when hokey 90’s stuff works for nostalgia purposes, I actually thought Caeser and Cleopatra arriving to read the scroll was great.  That was very “theme” Wrestlemania with all of the togas and it was WWF’s unofficial kickoff of WrestleMania.
Funny personal story here, I remember as a six year old being absolutely petrified when the Giant Gonzalez debuted in this match to attack the Undertaker.  I thought Taker was the guy in this match and would have won so it was shocking to me that he was beat down by the legitimate Giant.  My fear ran so far, mind you, that I actually ran upstairs and had my parents call me down when Gonzalez was gone.  On the tape, my dad even wrote “Royal Rumble 1993- Yoko Wins, Big Scary Guy, DO NOT WATCH” due to how afraid of Giant Gonzalez I was.  Looking back he looked a lot more silly then scary.

1994- This was the year in which both Lex and Bret won the match and I remember as a kid being so happy because they were my two favorite wrestlers.  I also remember my father being pretty upset that they didn’t restart the match as he paid for a pay per view to see one winner.  Looking back though, the two winners really set wrestlemania 10 up nicely.  This was also the Rumble that you could call a 900 hotline and find out who was going to be next.  I remember we called and it was Diesel saying he was ready to make his mark.  That cost us $1.49 and was the last call we made.

This was also the second straight Rumble in which I have a personal “scaredy cat” story and it occurred right before the Royal Rumble match itself, during the Casket match between the Undertaker and Yokozuna for the World title.  The idea of a casket match always made me a little uncomfortable as a kid but I was now seven and feeling a little better.  I was finally understanding that the person put in the casket would be back just a few weeks later.  but then Rumble 1994 and I was scarred for months!  See in this match undertaker was put in the casket and then suddenly a casket cam lit up and display live footage of the undertaker in the casket, looking eerily similar to any person you’ve seen at any wake.  I mean jeez look at him in that picture above and tell me you’re not a little spooked even today, 22 years later! But it got worse, Undertaker then turned completely holographic on the titan tron and began to raise to the heavens and literally fly around the arena.  That’s it I was done!  At seven years old, it was the scariest thing I had ever seen!  As an interesting footnote, it wasn’t actually the Undertaker flying around, but one Marty Jannetty!

1995-  This was the first show in which someone came over to watch other than my immediate family as my Uncle joined us. My Uncle wasn’t a fan at all but he was into it and got a kick out of the Rumble concept. I remember being really annoyed at the time between entrants in the rumble being cut down to one minute as it made the match fly by.  As an 8 year old, I also remember Pamela Anderson being my first crush and I thought for years that she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  This was also the match that made me a huge Shawn Michaels fan as he put on quite a show nearly being eliminated throughout the match but finding a way to get back in the ring.  The finish here is still one of my favorites with only one of Shawn’s feet touching the floor and him getting the win, such an iconic image in Royal Rumble history!

 Alright another side story and I have to come clean about something.  I’m petrified of mice.  I know this is quite the segue way but I hate everything about mice, they are the worse and I believe the reason for that was because of a scarring experience following the Royal Rumble 1995.  I went to bed that night and suddenly I nice a mouse come scampering across my bedroom floor and run under my bed.  I screamed as loud as my 8 year old self would allow me.  What was that?  How could it get in here?  My parents came running in to see what was wrong and my father convinced me that it was likely a dream.  We looked under my bed and saw nothing.  Still my mom agreed to run and buy mouse traps.  We set one under my bed and I went to sleep on the couch to get the heck out of my room. Well the next morning my dad call me up to my room and there it was fighting for its life stuck to the mouse trap!  Awful stuff!
Well that’s going to do it for now but I’ll be back later tonight as we finish off the 1990’s. We’ll look at the rise of Stone cold Steve Austin and the WWF in general!

The Spotlight on the Survivor Series Pt. 4- 2002

2002 has to be the most under rated year for WWE, you had the debuts of John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, you had the in ring returns of Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels and you had one of the most impressive mid cards ever to take place in the WWE. 2002 was also a year in which I attended my first live WWE pay per view when a buddy and myself went to the SummerSlam 2002 at the Nassau Colliseum (which you can read my recap of in the August archives) I’d say it was the year that I also got really into live pay per views because to me there was nothing like a live pay per view. It was just such a great atmosphere. Thus, when I turned 16 that October I was pleasantly surprised when my parents got me two tickets to the 2002 Survivor Series! This would be my first pay per view ever to come live from Madison Square Garden and to say I was excited was the ultimate understatement. The only question left was who I would take with me to the show. I was heavily involved in my own basement wrestling federation (sad I know) at the time and I already had a blast at SummerSlam with my buddy jimmy but I was suddenly now torn over a few buddies who wanted to come with. After much deliberation, I asked my father to come with me. My father’s interest in wrestling had started to wane but he had taken me to my very first wrestling show at Madison Square Garden so I thought he’d be the perfect person to attend my first pay per view at the garden with.

What was also cool about that birthday was that I had also got an autograph ticket from my family to meet Shawn Michaels in Howard Beach at Video Game Central the night before the Survivor Series. This time my mom was coming with as Shawn was always her favorite wrestler. This was Shawn’s first title match since his return to WWE at summerslam of that year and, to me anyway, he was the focal point of that event. It was crazy to have Shawn at this autograph signing only 30 minutes from my house and was one of the truly starstruck moments of my life. I remember it was pouring rain and blistering cold out in the November New York weather. Despite this and despite my mother just getting out of surgery, my mother stayed on that line with me and my buddy for three hours to meet Shawn.  Ever the professional, I distinctly remember Shawn telling me after I wished him luck, “Thanks bud, many think I’m nuts to compete in such a big match and honestly I don’t know how many more of these I have in me.”  He went on to wrestle for another 7+ years.

As for the event itself, I remember that this was the first show I had attended at the Garden since 9/11 the year before and the security was insane.  I had to remove my hat, people were being asked randomly to remove their shoes and my dad was asked to remove his cell phone and flip it open (remember flip phones?) for some reason.  It took forever to file into the Garden that night, but once we finally did get in, it was sure worth it. The guys at Busted Open Radio (which airs 2-4pm Monday, Tuesday and Friday on Sirius/XM 92) actually did a live tweeting of this show last year and it reminded me of what a great show this was, despite the fact that there weren’t any traditional survivor series matches on the show.

From the beginning, the crowd was in an absolute frenzy as Jeff Hardy did one of his famous swanton bombs off the rafters through a table and then later in the same match the Dudleys reunited to great fanfare.

One of the other big things about this show was the debut of Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner who debuted for the company that night following the expiring of his contract from WCW (18 months after WCW closed it’s doors I might add).  I know that Scott’s WWE career as Big Poppa Pump didn’t really go anywhere but go back and watch this debut, he was over huge.  Surrounding that debut was also a lot of fun I remember going nuts because I was a huge Matt Hardy fan (always one of my favorites to this day) and I also loved the RNN News skits which featured Randy Orton promoting his return, he was so good even at 22 years old.

From here ya can’t talk about this show without talking about the Smackdown Six.  This was the peak of the smackdown six,to me, which featured Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero.  This, in my opinion was the peak of the WWE midcard in any era and it breaks my heart to think two of the six have tragically passed and 5 of the 6 have mostly retired at this point.

If there was one man in WWE in 2002 that defined the year, it’d perhaps be the same man who’s synonymous with WWE in 2015…Brock Lesnar.  I remember the Garden crowd being so into Brock and at the time he was the WWE champion and still undefeated.  This obviously was the night in which he lost due to Paul Heyman turning on Brock.  That turn stunned the crowd and I remember after Brock hit the F5 people started celebrating thinking it was over only to have Paul yank the referee. To this day, it still amazes me whenever Brock lifts the Big Show with such ease.

In the end, I remember being really excited for the Elimination Chamber as it was the first Chamber match in history on this show and look at the six men in the match.  A who’s who of hall of fame level talent in Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T and RVD.  This was the match in which RVD landed a five star frog splash and crushed Triple H’s larynx.  I also remember, other than Shawn, Booker T may have been the most over man in the match.  My father and I had a great time doing the “5 Time!” routine in the crowd with our entire section.  In the end, Shawn Michaels (proving to me he was in fact playing me the night before, which I couldn’t be happier about) won what would end up being his final world title in WWE.  As the confetti rained down on Shawn it was probably the best live moment for me as a fan until I was live for Wrestlemania 30.

All in all just a great and enjoyable show from top to bottom that more than holds up today as so much happened on that show it’s unbelievable to even think.  The show for me is memorable as it was the last show I attended live with my dad who’s interest in the product had really fell off then so it was the end of a 16 year era but what a finale we had.  That’s gonna do it for my journey through Survivor Series 2002, next up we’ll time travel nine years in looking back at survivor series 2011.

The Spotlight On Attitude Era Raw- 12/29/1997

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the spotlight on Attitude Era Raw where each week we continue our journey through every episode of Monday Night Raw that took place during the famous Attitude Era as listed on the WWE Network’s Attitude Era Raw section.  Remember the hope is to have these listed for you as you’re waiting for this week’s Raw so that if you’d like to wet your wrestling pallet prior to Raw, you can go back and watch this episode.  This week we journey back to December 29th, 1997 in which Raw took place in the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.  For what it’s worth, the Nassau Coliseum is my favorite venue to watch a wrestling show, at least it rivals Madison Square Garden.  I have been going to shows at Nassau Coliseum since I was all but five years old in 1991.  With that said, however, I hadn’t gone to any television tapings until the late 1990s so I was not present for this Raw taping. Regardless, this was a really fun and eventful episode of Monday Night Raw so let’s get right into it with the highlights of the show.

Highlights
1) Crapper 3:16-   The highlight of highlights on this show has to be the opening segment featuring the brawl between The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (Coming to a Do you remember section of this blog near you) and Stone Cold Steve Austin.  TAFKA Goldust comes out as the single most annoying character back then, dressed as the new year’s baby as this was the final Raw of 1997.  This leads to Stone Cold Steve Austin showing up and lowering a porta john from the rafters before throwing Goldust into said porta john.  It’s one of the great Stone Cold Steve Austin memories that I feel gets overlooked because it took place early in his run pre-McMahon feud but to me it’s one of my favorite memories of the Stone Cold character, well worth going out of your way to track down.
2) Jim Cornette’s Rant-  This is an interesting episode of Monday Night Raw because in many ways it’s a transition episode.  This being the final episode of 1997, a year in which WWF lost mostly every week in the Monday Night War and lost Bret Hart in well documented controversial fashion, this is right before the WWF started one of it’s most successful year’s in history, that being 1998.  Thus, in this episode you get a heartfelt thank you from Vince McMahon thanking the fans for sticking by the WWF and also to expect big things from the WWF in 1998.  Also on this episode, in a similar vein, you get a pretty controversial promo from Jim Cornette about the state of wrestling of 1997.  It’s worth taking a few minutes to check out and I’ve embedded the video for you guys above.
3) Shawn Michaels Vs. Owen Hart- The war between Sgt. Slaughter and D-Generation X continued this week as Triple H pulled out of his title match with Owen Hart, due to injury, only to have Sarge declare that Shawn would now have to defend his world title against Owen instead.  This is really a packed show as this was also the night that The Undertaker’s casket arrived to scare Triple H only to have Shawn pop out of the casket dancing to start the build for their match at the Rumble.  As for match quality, I’m trying to give you one each week and, even though there’s a screwy finish, it doesn’t get much better than Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart.  Owen was still super hot at the time as it seemed that perhaps he would be getting that major push towards the world title following the Montreal Screwjob.
Do You Remember…
Chainsaw Charlie?!?!?- This episode of Monday Night Raw won’t only be remembered for the great DX and Stone Cold Steve Austin segments, oh no!  This stacked Raw will also be remembered for the night in which Chainsaw Charlie made his debut.  If you don’t remember Chainsaw, this was the character portrayed by Terry Funk during the time period where Mick Foley (Now Cactus Jack) was searching for a partner to help him out in his battles against The New Age Outlaws.  So yes that man with the pantyhose over his face in the picture above is WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk!
Closing Thoughts
Overall, this was obviously a stacked episode of Raw that’s worth going out of your way to check out.  I really like that not only did they start to put such an emphasis on the Royal Rumble (In December) but they also started to cement some of the seeds for Wrestlemania that year, three months out.  It’s because of long term booking like this that midcard matches at Mania that year like Owen Hart Vs. Triple H and The New Age Outlaws vs. Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie meant so much more.  That’s going to do it for this week, I’ll be back early in the morning with the spotlight on this week’s Raw and back next week looking at the first Raw of 1998!