WWE: Raw 20th Anniversary Collection Review

WWE RAW 20th Anniversary
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The first DVD in this massive set starts with facts and figures from Michael Cole and the Bella Twins. These items included championships won on WWE Monday Night Raw (63 tag team title changes, 45 Intercontinental championships, 15 WWE Championships). The WWE title was also vacated twice on Raw. They also went through the many different Raw announcers, including some great highlights from Macho Man Randy Savage. Raw has been in 168 different cities, led by New York City (40 times).

There was also a look at the different talk shows, specialty matches that took place on the show over the years, celebrity appearances, international appearances (63), most used catchphrases (over the history of WWE Monday Night Raw, the crowd has chanted “Rocky” for over two hours), ring announcers, and highest attendances (41,432 in Toronto).

The final category was most matches ever on WWE Monday Night Raw. Trish Stratus leads all females with 160 appearances while, for the men, Randy Orton was at 300, John Cena at 313, Chris Jericho at 363, Kane at 364, and Triple H at 374.

Episode 17 – May 17, 1993

This was a WWE Monday Night Raw that saw two memorable events take place with The 1-2-3 Kid upsetting Razor Ramon and Marty Jannetty making his long-awaited return to finally get revenge against his old tag team partner Shawn Michaels and win the IC title.

Episode 174 – Sept. 6, 1996 (Raw Championship Friday)

It was interesting seeing a smaller Triple H getting manhandled at the start of his WWE career as well as an inexperienced Stone Cold Steve Austin before his breakout the next year. It was also fun to see Mark Henry as a young star in his introduction to the WWE. This was also the first appearance of Paul Bearer on Raw since turning on The Undertaker and joining up with Mankind. Outside of the ring, this was the episode where Jim Ross announced that Razor Ramon and Diesel were returning (the fake ones) as well as the fact that Kurt Angle was in negotiations with the WWE. Honestly, there was not much about this show to include in this set.

Episode 198 – Feb. 24, 1997 (The original ECW invasion)

This was best known as the event where Jerry Lawler invited ECW to the WWF and they came in and showed what they could do on the national stage. This was also the first appearance on Ken Shamrock on WWF television as well as the return of the Legion of Doom after a four year absence to save Undertaker at the end.

Episode 199 – Feb. 26, 1997 (from Germany)

This Raw was pretty proud of being in Germany and actually used a German speaking ring announcer to introduce the events. The WWE brought their A-game by having three title matches including an amazing match that crowed the first ever European Champion between tag team partners British Bulldog and Owen Hart.

Episode 219 – July 21, 1997 (from Canada)

This took place in the awesome Bret Hart vs. American feud where Hart was hated in America and loved all over the rest of the planet. This took place in Canada, where most non-Canadians fan favorites were treated like heals. This was also the start of the McMahon coming out as the owner of the WWF as Bret Hart attacked him during The Patriot match thanks to Shawn Michaels’ interview while British Bulldog and Owen Hart pleaded with him not to get fired. This Raw proved why the Canada vs. United States angle was one of the best in WWF history.

Episode 226 – Sept. 22, 1997 (Mr. McMahon origins)

This was the first time that Stone Cold Steve Austin hit the stunner on Mr. McMahon. This was the Raw episode that officially started the Stone Cold vs. Vince McMahon feud created the evil character of Mr. McMahon. This is the episode that really kicked off the Attitude Era and might be one of the most important Raw’s of all time. This was also the card where Mick Foley brought back his Cactus Jack persona. There was also a great moment at the end of the show where Degeneration X was fighting the Hart Foundation when Undertaker came in and choke slammed both Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.

Episode 255 – April 13, 1998 (Austin vs. McMahon)

This episode was all about the Mr. McMahon vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin feud and the two agreed to fight on WWE Monday Night Raw. Almost the entire episode was the build to that confrontation. There were also good matches in between with things like DX destroying both the DOA and The Boricuas, The Undertaker coming out twice on the show to beat up different wrestlers before challenging Kane, Faarooq finding Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman to join him in his fight against the Nation of Domination, and finally Dude Love (Mick Foley) turning bad betraying Steve Austin.

Episode 293 – Jan. 4, 1999 (Foley wins WWE Championship)

This was the infamous episode where Mick Foley won the WWE Championship from The Rock. For those who remember the Monday Night Wars, Eric Bischoff spoiled the results thinking he was screwing over the WWF, but many people flipped over to Raw and never switched back. The entire show was based around commissioner Shawn Michaels setting up Mr. McMahon to enter the Royal Rumble second after Steve Austin, which led to Triple H being forced to wrestle Mankind, who then turned on McMahon, got his title shot, and had Steve Austin interfere to give Mankind the title.

Episode 304 – March 22, 1999 (The Beer Truck Show)

One of the biggest “moments” in Raw history took place on this episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, when Steve Austin drove in the giant beer truck and used a hose to blast everyone in the ring, including Mr. McMahon, Shane McMahon and The Rock. Outside of that piece of historical relevance, there was nothing else on this show that was memorable. There was a nice snapshot of The Ministry vs. The Corporation, though.

Episode 311 – May 10, 1999 (Highest rated episode of all-time)

This was the highest rated episode of WWE Monday Night Raw of all time with an astonishing 8.1 cable rating. The reason for the high rating was because WCW Nitro was not on the air that night, so WCW fans took the chance to see Raw and that killed the WCW’s ratings even more after that. This was the short era when Shane McMahon took over control of the WWE and Vince McMahon joined forces with disgruntled former Corporation members as The Union. The matches were almost all thrown together between the two groups. It was fun but nothing memorable.

Episode 409 – March 26, 2001 (WWF Buys WCW)

As a WCW fan, this was arguably one of the darkest days for me in professional wrestling. Of course, this show started out with Mr. McMahon gloating on buying WCW and also burying a number of WCW stars. However, with the importance of this episode of Raw in the history of pro wrestling, it definitely deserves to be in this set. It should also be noted that this episode it proof that the “uncut and unedited” advertising on the DVD us a lie. The opening promo with Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit was removed, as was a backstage sketch with Angle. At least they left in the match pitting The Hardy Boyz and Chris Benoit against Edge & Christian and Kurt Angle, although much like the Money in the Bank Blu-ray, they edited out any commentator mentioning Benoit.

Episode 548 – Nov. 24, 2003 (Raw Roulette)

Eric Bischoff was the GM here and spun the wheel before matches to determine what the special stipulation would be. These included a steel cage match between Lita and Victoria,a street fight between Mark Henry and Booker T, a handicap Singapore cane match between Rob Van Dam and the team of Scott Steiner and Test, and a Bra and Panties Match between Trish Stratus and Miss Jackie. This also included the Goldberg era in the WWE and he defended his world title against Triple H. Nothing special on this show, but it was a nice look at the specific era.

Episode 645 – Oct. 3, 2005 (Raw Homecoming)

This was the return of the WWE to the USA Network and they didn’t hold anything back. We got a Piper’s Pit that saw Cowboy Bob Orton turn on Piper with his son Randy by his side. Then we got one of the best Raw matches of all time with Shawn Michaels fighting Kurt Angle in a 30-minute Iron Man match. We also got to see Steve Austin stun every member of the McMahon family, Edge battle Matt Hardy in a MITB loser leaves Raw ladder match, Triple H turn on Ric Flair, and a ton of legends. There was also a six-man match featuring Chris Benoit that proves, once again, that the shows were edited, despite the title claiming it is un-edited.

Episode 759 – Dec. 10, 2007 (15th Anniversary Show)

This is the second episode in a row in this set that has to do with nostalgia and reminding people about the men and women who brought the WWE to this point. There was a battle royal between legends that was fun. There was a great ladder match between Carlito and Jeff Hardy, Marty Jannetty made a return to the WWE to battle Mr. Kennedy, and then Vince McMahon named himself the Greatest WWE Star of all time only to get stunned by Stone Cold.

Episode 778 – April 21, 2008 (King of the Ring)

Honestly, this was a disappointing WWE Monday Night Raw. The WWE revived the King of the Ring tournament, but it was a shell of its former self. I mean, Hornswoggle and Khali were in the tournament. The best moment was when CM Punk beat Chris Jericho in the semi-finals, a match that should have been the finals with a lot more time. I liked William Regal winning the tournament because it made him important again, but this just wasn’t a great show to include in the set.

Episode 838 – June 15, 2009 (Donald Trump buys Raw)

The angle that the WWE probably included this show for (Donald Trump) was the worst part of the show. The good news is that there are some fantastic matches on this show – maybe one of the best from top to bottom. Chris Jericho wrestled Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, John Cena, Triple H and Big Show had a nice four corners match for the WWE title, and there was a great three-way match for the world title between Jeff Hardy, CM Punk and Edge. The wreslting is what made this show great, not Donald Trump.

Episode 860 – Nov. 16, 2009

The WWE returned to Madison Square Garden for this show. The big thing on this show was Rowdy Roddy Piper making his return and actually challenging Vince McMahon to a match. This led to Randy Orton attacking Piper and Kofi Kingston making the save. For fans of Kingston, this was the Raw where he just cut loose and brawled through the stands with Orton. It should have made him a HUGE star, but the WWE cut out his legs when he was starting. The main event was huge too as Degeneration X rejoined to battle Big Show & Chris Jericho and – for one night only – Undertaker and John Cena. This was all about Kofi and the main event and that was enough.

Episode 877 – March 15, 2010 (Wrestlemania Rewind)

This was another show that paid homage to the past in the WWE. Stone Cold Steve Austin made his return to the WWE to host this show. The matches on the show were rematches from past Wrestlemania events, including John Cena vs. Big Show and Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho, and Triple H vs. Randy Orton. None of the matches were as good as the originals, and all three of these had screwy endings. This is also the Raw where Bret Hart challenged Vince McMahon to a match at Wrestlemania.

Episode 944 – June 27, 2011 (The Pipebomb)

This was supposed to be one of CM Punk’s final matches in the WWE and he was the focus of the show. However, this was a Raw Roulette show, where they rarely are as good as anyone hopes. There really wasn’t a great match on the show until the end when John Cena fought R-Truth in a Tables Match. This was when R-Truth was a legitimate contender and he actually beat Cena by spearing him through the table. After the match, this show became legendary when CM Punk cut his pipe bomb promo that made him the biggest star in the WWE for over a year.

Episode 984 – April 2, 2012 (Brock Lesnar returns)

This was the WWE Monday Night Raw after Wrestlemania in 2012 and the night that Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE to attack John Cena. CM Punk was also on fire at this time and defending his WWE title against Mark Henry. Chris Jericho and CM Punk were also involved with a big feud at the time and this was the episode where he poured whiskey into Punk’s mouth.

Final Analysis: What people need to understand when they purchase this set is that you are not getting the best WWE Monday Night Raw matches in the show’s history, nor are you getting the best shows. What you are getting are notable shows that shows the history of the WWE. It is a fascinating look at different eras of Raw history, seeing wrestlers at different points in their careers, and snapshots of feuds from WWE’s past. If you look at it as a trip through WWE history, this is a great set to wade through.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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