January 22, 2018 marks the 25th Anniversary of Monday Night RAW.
For some of us on the site, we were watching the show as it aired live for the very first time from the Manhattan Center in New York City. For others, it was something we caught as youngsters in the Attitude Era (which makes the older staff feel super old) and have been fans ever since.
So given this milestone, the staff of ThePopBreak.com has a compiled a list of their personal favorite title changes and moments from the past 25 years of Monday Night RAW!
Favorite Title Change: 9/13/1993 RAW, The Quebecers (Jacques and Pierre) defeat the Steiner Brothers for the Tag Team Championships
This one takes me back. It was silly, ridiculous, and at the time, this sort of title change was unheard of. The Mountie uniformed heels demanded the match be held under Quebec Rules, meaning, the belts can change hands on a DQ. Sure, OK. No one thought this would have impacted the champions, The Steiners in the least. Well, the match got crazy, and before you knew it, somehow an irate Scott Steiner was caught by the ref holding Johnny Polo’s (better known as Raven) hockey stick, and getting disqualified, giving the championships to The Quebecers. -Michael Dworkis
Favorite Title Change: 1/4/99 RAW, Mankind vs. The Rock: No Disqualification
As a wrestling fanatic for over twenty-two years, there are certain moments that could never be duplicated and Mankind’s rise to the top was absolutely iconic. Beyond the outcome of this match being significant in the Monday Night Wars, witnessing something so unorthodox and unexpected, those are the memories that are forever entrenched in us as viewers. Within a calendar year (1998-1999), we watched Mankind put his life on the line in Hell In The Cell and make us laugh until we cried with Mr. Socko. Looking back, it almost seems unreal that Mick Foley could master such a captivating dynamic.
Also, I feel guilty picking two moments that revolve around The Rock losing in some type of capacity, as he is my all-time favorite wrestler alongside Sting. However, his ability to sell is also what made this feud so memorable and in just a few months, The Rock ‘n’ Sock connection was absolutely tear-worthy hilarious and a tag-team that ranks among the greatest of all-time. -Anthony Toto
Favorite Title Change: 12/6/04 RAW, Lita defeats Trish Stratus for the WWE Women’s Title in the First RAW Main Evented by Women
It’s been brought to my attention that I’m weird for never paying too much attention to title changes when I was growing up, but I’ve never been one for main events or hyped-up matches because they never captured my attention like the other matches and storylines did. A big, notable exception was when Trish Stratus and Lita faced off for the Women’s Title in a main event on RAW – the first time two women main evented RAW before. Lita and Trish Stratus are two of the best female wrestlers in WWE history and it’s kind of surreal to look back at a match like this and remember that they existed within the company at the same moment in history, and that we all had the privilege of watching a match like this. -Melissa Jouben
Favorite Title Change: 4/8/13 RAW, Dolph Ziggler (with AJ Lee and Big E.) cashes in on Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez)
Dolph Ziggler may be the perennial example of how WWE booking can fail even the most promising talents, but for one brief moment in April 2013 he was on top of the world. The same fans that defined “Raw after WrestleMania audience behavior” gave the Show-Off a thunderous reception when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on an injured Alberto Del Rio. Ziggler triumphed over the Mexican Aristocrat after a quick back-and-forth, stretched his arms out in a lion’s roar before clutching the World Heavyweight Championship with earnest affection. A “You deserve it!” moment for the ages. -Nick Porcaro
Favorite Title Change: 5/17/10 RAW, Bret Hart defeats The Miz for the U.S. Title
Originally, I was going to choose Mankind defeating The Rock, however this title change may have been the most shocking. In 2010 Bret Hart returned to the WWE, and it was one of the most electric things to happen in the WWE in a long time. His return sent chills up my spine. However, it was nothing compared to when he won the U.S. Title.
The backstory is that the new Hart Foundation (DH Smith, Tyson Kidd, Natalya, and Bret Hart) were feuding with SHOMiz (Big Show and Miz). Kidd defeated The Miz in a singles match that guaranteed one member of the Foundation would face Miz for the U.S. Title. Miz was allowed to pick his opponent, so he chose the quasi-retired Hitman. The match wasn’t a classic, but it had all the vintage Bret moves (sans a few), and just when he needed their help, the young Foundation came in and destroyed Miz (which I had hoped would lead to big things for them), allowing Bret to slap on the sharpshooter for the completely unexpected victory. No one thought Bret would win. How could he? Wasn’t he so banged up he couldn’t wrestle anymore? Well, the WWE put their thinking caps on and made it happen in Canada, so the pop was monstrous. -Bill Bodkin
Favorite Title Change: 4/28/97 RAW is WAR, Owen Hart defeats Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental title.
Coming off of Wrestlemania 13, the most captivating feud in the company at the time was Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Both wrestlers had just reversed roles with Austin being the brash, foul mouthed anti-hero and The Hitman who felt the US wrestling fans had turned their backs on a 2nd generation, traditional wrestler by cheering a no good, cheater like Austin over him.
As the rattlesnake Steve Austin was sneak attacking Bret Hart every chance he got, Bret turned to his family to watch his back, his brother Owen Hart & his brother-in-law The British Bulldog. In addition to being a two-time Slammy award winner, Owen and The Bulldog were tag team champions on this fateful evening when Owen got a title shot vs the current Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Maivia sporting a pair of boots as white as his do-gooder smile that would eventually make millions (and millions) of motion picture box office dollars.
“Tonight, I have a very big match with Rocky Maivia” Owen yelled. “Bret, I’m going to win this one for you. I want to dedicate this match to my LOVING BROTHER BRET! He is the dearest thing to all of us. This one is for you, Brother!” Down the entrance ramp comes the future star of Pain & Gain and Moana and we see the most celebrated action hero of this generation get pinned clean as a sheet with a modified victory roll after a classically fun, back & forth contest and an excellent example of Owen Hart’s singles work. -Kenny Pete
Favorite Moment or Match: 6/27/2011 RAW, The Pipe Bomb Heard Round the World
This was really, really tough. I thought of when The 1-2-3 Kid surprise pinned Razor Ramon, I thought of May 17th 1993, when Marty Janetty jumped out from the crowd (the second time they tried this feud), challenged and defeated Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship. Then there was the day after WrestleMania 29, when Dolph Ziggler cashed in on Alberto del Rio and won the World Championship in front of the MOST INSANE NEW JERSEY CROWD EVER, and when CM Punk defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship and RAN AWAY WITH IT!
As much as I wanted to side with my home state, my pick relates to CM Punk running off with the championship. 6/27/2011, the night CM Punk went off the rails and delivered what became known as “The Infamous Pipe Bomb.” He broke the fourth wall, went off script, or whatever you want to call it. He spoke his mind, majority of it being what many fans were thinking. It also left us questioning if it really was off-script or part of the show. It changed, for a while anyway, how WWE characters were on screen. It left us to wonder if reality had seeped into WWE and blurred the lines even further. For the next few years, the effects of Punk’s on screen verbal heroics left us entertained and astonished as to how much he could get away with. Once he was paired with Paul Heyman, it became a dual sensation of verbal domination on WWE programming. -Michael Dworkis
Favorite Moment or Match: 1/4/99 RAW, Stone Cold helps Mankind defeat The Corporation and win his first WWF Championship
Stone Cold’s entrance produces the greatest crowd pop of all time, no contest. The circumstances leading up to this moment have been described to death, so I’ll just implore you to watch the footage. -Nick Porcaro
Favorite Moment or Match: Rey Mysterio vs Shawn Michaels 11/15/2005
The day after Eddie Guerrero passed away, Monday Night Raw on 11/15/05 was a company wide tribute to Eddie’s career. The brand split and current storylines were put on pause so that superstars from Raw and Smackdown could have one night only style dream matches against each other if they wanted to. This was the 1st time Rey and Shawn battled on TV as well as their only match against each other of any significance. Both wrestlers showed mutual respect for each other throughout the contest that I remember at the time being one of the best in-ring matches on RAW in a very long time.
It still stands up 13 years later and is definitely worth checking out on the WWE network. After three different attempts, Rey hit his signature 6-1-9 & “dropped the dime” in the form of a springboard leg-drop on The Heartbreak Kid & wrapped Shawn up for the win and a very emotional victory in tribute to the life & career of Rey’s best friend Eddie Guerrero. -Kenny Pete
Favorite Moment or Match: 7/11/94 RAW, 1-2-3 Kid Vs Bret Hart
This is simply just one of the best matches of all time. 1-2-3 Kid had an auspicious start in the WWE and this match was sort of the moment when all his momentum came to a head. It was ultimately, like, the climax of his career. One of the things I’ve always admired about Bret Hart was his dedication to fairness and being the ultimate good guy, and his showmanship and respect for his opponent is on full display here, like when he demands the referee reverse his decision after realizing Kid has his hand on the ropes – a decision which ends up putting the match at around 18 minutes long – or at the very end, when he waves the title away to focus on making sure 1-2-3 Kid is ok. -Melissa Jouben
Favorite Moment or Match: 7/9/01 RAW, ECW Invades WWE
As a wrestling fan for 30+ years there have been a few moments watching televised wrestling that have me literally jump out of my seat and scream in excitement. This was one of them, and hands down my favorite RAW moment.
Lance Storm and Mike Awesome were battling Kane and Chris Jericho in the early days of the Invasion Angle. Both were ECW alumni, but at the time were branded as WCW wrestlers since they had signed with that company and been there for over a year.
During the close of the match, out of nowhere, Tommy Dreamer and Rob Van Damm run out of the crowd. There were no hints, no rumors — they just arrived, and the place, and my home became unglued as both my late dad and I jumped out of our seats in excitement.
To cap things off, the WWE sent a slew of guys from the locker room to stop the insanity, but I guess they didn’t realize that The Dudley Boyz, Raven, Justin Credible, Tazz, and company would turn (LITERALLY) on the WWE and lay waste to everyone. Then Paul Heyman, an announcer at the time, came into the ring and revealed that he (and not Test) was the mole who was letting the “invaders” into WWE events.
It was an all-time great angle that ultimately was marred that night when Stephanie McMahon returned as the “head” of ECW, and WWE basically crapped over the other brands. But for brief shining moment, it was pure joy. -Bill Bodkin
Favorite Moment or Match: 3/22/99 RAW, Stone Cold Gives The Corporation A Beer Bath
In my twenty-seven years of life, I could honestly say that the most enjoyable, memorable, hysterical, adrenaline raising, and greatest memory that I have while watching television, and not just wrestling moments, I’m talking about all of my years consuming televised programming, occured on March 22, 1999 when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin gave “The Corporation” a beer bath for the ages.
Man, I vehemently disliked Vince McMahon for all of the despicable and conniving tactics that he used to steal the WWF Championship away from Stone Cold throughout 1998 and 1999. The Corporation made my blood boil every single week and revenge never felt so sweet quite like it did when Stone Cold Steve Austin crashed through the Raw Is War titantron with a massive beer truck and drove straight towards the WWF ring. Everyone who was lucky enough to watch Raw live that night just knew The Corporation would finally pay the consequences for their actions. Leonardo DaVinci himself could not have painted a better portrait.
To quote Scott Hall, “Survey says, one more for the good guys.” Vince McMahon was practically swimming in a pool full of beer, which was so over-the-top hilarious. Stone Cold Steve Austin spoke to so many of us underdogs, outcasts, rebels, and individuals with a fire in our eyes who wanted to flip both middle fingers in the air and tell everyone who condemned us that we’re doing things our way and never conforming to their standards. The hype for Austin vs. The Rock at WrestleMania 15 could never be replicated, which is why I truly believe that it will forever be the greatest main-event in WrestleMania history and was ultimately complemented by the greatest hype segment in WWE history. -Anthony Toto