WWE – Top 100 RAW Moments (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray / 3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 354 minutes approx
In an attempt to reverse the flagging fortunes and the damaged reputation of his company in the early 90’s in the wake of George Zahorian steroids scandal, WWF owner Vince McMahon decided to try a fresh tactic to rejuvenate fan interest by delivering a live wrestling show to cable TV. The date was January 11th 1993 and the show Monday Night RAW.
Over the past twenty years with 1,030 episodes and counting under its belt RAW has become the (now) WWE’s flagship show and endured many an adversary over the years – from the ratings juggernaut of Monday Night Football to an 83 week head to head loss at the hands from wrestling rivals WCW live show Monday Nitro to censorship and opposition from ill-founded, corrupt and petty moral protest groups – yet despite all of that, these storms were weathered and RAW continues to keep WWE audiences on entertained and on their toes every Monday night.
This release features a countdown of the Top 100 moments of the past twenty years in celebration of its milestone anniversary to allow fans to relive the good, the bad and the ugly of RAW’s history. All of the familiar faces you’d expect to feature in such a presentation are here: Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Undertaker, DX, CM Punk, Hulk Hogan, Chris Jericho, Triple H, the various incarnations of Mick Foley, Kane, Edge, Batista, Trish Stratus, Sable, Randy Orton, John Cena and of course Vince McMahon, all shown at their best and quite often, their worst.
Lists that claim to be the top, best or definitive of their given subject will always be open to contention and debate; it is the nature of the best and this list is no different. While many of the usual suspects are well represented here, what will be open to scrutiny is the choice of material for each one. Many of the “classics” that we’ve seen countless of times on TV whenever a milestone anniversary of RAW is nigh make the grade: from DX invading a WCW Nitro taping to The Rock’s This Is Your Life segment to Stone Cold’s various vehicular related vandalism, all of these much revisited incidents sit side by side with some lesser remembered moments. Some make for a nice surprise while others should have stayed in the archives to gather dust, never to be seen again.
Since the bulk of the material comes from the fabled “Attitude Era”, which spans from 1997 to 2001, some of the more racy material from that time is absent, presumably due to the current “PG” rated product the WWE is producing. That doesn’t necessarily mean this release is a diluted version of WWE history but don’t expect any blood, anything excessively prurient, too edgy or horrific such as Undertaker’s infamous sacrificing of Dennis “Mideon” Knight from 1998, which never aired on UK broadcasts, or Katy Vick (thank God!). However the then 77 year-old Mae Young being Powerbombed off the stage by the Dudleyz and Austin flipping off Mike Tyson (uncensored for once) are included in all their defiant glory.
It would be churlish to dwell on the subjectivity of this countdown however as this release is intended to be a celebration of the longest running wrestling show – and as Michael Cole reminds us at every available moment the longest running episodic show on US TV – and for many the list will be a secondary concern to taking this trip down memory lane, while serving as a canny way for WWE to repackage old material in shiny new money making manner. Over the space of 3 ½ hours we get to see the progress of the show from its humble origins in front of a couple of hundred people the Manhattan Centre in 1993 to the sell out 20,000 arenas of the late 90’s when Austin and The Rock were running riot, along with the development of the wrestlers themselves over the years.
Also included in this set is the historic 1000th episode of RAW in its entirety which aired on July 23rd 2012 bringing the celebrations somewhat full circle. Whatever issues one may have with the countdown itself, the overall package in terms of presentation and extras is quite the treat, especially for those with Blu-ray capabilities who will find their extra expenditure royally rewarded.
Monday Night RAW has been nothing if not eventful over the past twenty years. While this reviewer would have liked to have seen more entries from the earlier days on the list there is no denying that this release is as comprehensive an overview of the chaos, action, innovation and excitement of the show as one is ever going to get, reflecting on each of the key eras with sufficient attention to give the faithful fans and the newcomers a fulfilling feast of everything RAW has offered wrestling fans since 1993.
WCW on RAW
One Man Band
Piven hosts RAW
Sheamus wins King of the Ring
Shawn Michaels Mocks Montreal
RAW 1000th Episode
The Making of RAW 1000
Legends Round Table: The History of RAW
Rating – ****
Man In Black