It’s no secret that a lot of fans didn’t like Raw’s recent 25-year anniversary episode.
Even CBS Sports panned the show, and WWE put their article on screen to brag about how much mainstream press they got!
But if you were disappointed in Raw 25, maybe you should check out Raw X.
If, for example, you bought an outrageously expensive ticket to the Manhattan Center to basically just watch Raw on a big screen, you’ll be relieved to hear that the Raw Tenth Anniversary show glossed over the first four and a half years of Raw’s run almost entirely.
Maybe you didn’t appreciate all the guests at Raw 25 being piled into a few meaningless backstage segments or paraded out on stage for a photo op. Fear not, as the Raw Tenth Anniversary show didn’t have any guests at all, except for Freddie Blassie…
…who, believe it or not, never wrestled on Monday Night Raw, even way back in 1993.
Mean Gene Okerlund was there, as he was hosting WWE Confidential at the time, but Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart, Brutus Beefcake, Bobby Heenan, Tito Santana, Koko B Ware, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Sunny, Sable, Chyna, Jim Cornette, Mr. Perfect, Sean Mooney, Paul Bearer, Razor Ramon, Diesel, Sid, The Godfather, Lex Luger, Marty Jannetty, Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow, The Big Boss Man, Ted DiBiase, and Alundra Blayze were nowhere to be found.
Consider the old-timers like DX and Razor Ramon making the young guys look like chumps on Raw 25.
On the Raw Tenth Anniversary show, the likes of Sean Waltman and Scott Hall have been erased almost entirely from WWE history!
You’d think that The Kid’s monumental upset over Razor Ramon, the first big moment of the program’s run, would get more than two seconds of airtime on this ten-year best-of program, but not only would you be wrong, you’d start questioning whether that match even occurred on Raw to begin with. Maybe it was on Superstars or even WCW Worldwide – the memory can play tricks, you know!
And forget about putting over old-timers at the expense of the stars of today; at Raw X, the only people who mattered were the members of the current roster who happened to be in attendance that night.
That’s not to say that some of the show’s earlier performers were ignored completely; many of them were featured in a special montage of the stupidest characters in Raw history, set to a knock-off of Yakety Sax.
You know the usual suspects:
There was Abe Knuckleball Schwartz, the striking baseball player…
…Giant Gonzalez, the immobile naked man with fur patches…
….Mantaur, the wrestling cow who, despite the featured clip clearly coming from WWF Superstars, wrestled a number of times on Raw…
…Tatanka, the supposed Indian who was in fact a Native American. Wait, that makes total sense. Okay, but what about…
…dangerous southern gentleman Waylon Mercy? Are they crazy?
Earthquake and Typhoon?
Hakushi? What the hell, guys?
But frankly, none of those dinosaurs from seven-to-ten years ago could have been any good, because only the current stars of WWE got to take home the prestigious Raw Ruckus awards.
Why were they called “Ruckus” awards? Apparently WWE needed a word that began with “R”, so they found the most common R-word used on the program:
But there was no way they could name an award that, so they went with “ruckus” instead.
As for those awards, the Academy of Wrestling Arts & Sciences did a great job making sure that not only did the current contracted talent in the building dominate the categories, but that nobody went home with more than one award. The whole show played out like the Slammy Awards, except without the fun.
Mae Young won the “Network Difficulties” award for giving birth to a hand, beating out, among other controversial moments, 3 Minute Warning brutalizing two naked lesbians for fun, which WWE still insisted was sexy.
Trish Stratus won the “Diva of the Decade” award, despite having been a decent wrestler for only about a year up to this point. Then again, her only real competition for the award was Lita, as there was no way any of the other nominees (Sunny, Sable, and Chyna) were showing up to this thing (or were even invited).
When presenting this award, Shawn Michaels gave a refreshingly sexist speech about how much better the “Divas” were than the “full-figured masculine women” of the past like Bertha Faye and Bull Nakano. I’m not exactly sure what it means for a woman to be both full-figured and masculine…
…but Bull Nakano had Raw’s best women’s match of the decade with Alundra Blayze all the way back in 1995, while Bertha Faye died of either a heart attack or suicide in 2001, so maybe he should have cooled it with the pot-shots.
Fortunately, Stephanie McMahon heard this nonsense and decided right then and there that there should be a Women’s Revolution in WWE within the next twelve or thirteen years.
At least WWE made it up to the late Rhonda Sing when they aired a special tribute to all the wrestling personalities who had died in the past decade, which prominently featured the aforementioned Bertha Faye.
No, sorry I tell a lie. That was the “stupid characters” montage.
But speaking of telling a lie, you would hope that WWE wouldn’t dust off that sappy old, “Tell Me A Lie” record they debuted for Shawn Michaels’s 1995 retirement tease.
And they didn’t! Instead, they dusted off Jim Johnston’s demo version of the same song.
The “Gimme The Mic” award went to The Rock, possibly because Scott Steiner was excluded from the nominations. The Rock’s acceptance speech “via satellite” offered up a rare piece of genuine nostalgia on this tedious, self-serving program.
And I don’t mean the especially mean-spirited promo on Stephanie McMahon in front of her mother, which would probably be deemed “slut-shaming” nowadays because he shamed her for being a slut.
I mean the chants of “Rocky sucks” that came through loud and clear from the fans in attendance. This moment gets bonus points for exposing the fact that Rock had already recorded his promo ahead of time and clearly had no idea he was being booed.
It also gets bonus points for turning The Rock heel for his brief but awesome two-month run starting in February of that year.
One thing fans definitely weren’t looking forward to seeing again was Triple H’s ass, but they saw it anyway when he and his then-ex-wife Stephanie Mcmahon won the “Shut Up and Kiss Me” award.
Trips told Stephanie to close her eyes for a kiss, then turned around and very slowly dropped trou. If Steph had kept her eyes closed for about ten seconds longer and bent down two or three feet, she would have kissed his butt! Heeheehee!
Instead, she smacked the Cerebral Assassin’s Cerebral Ass.
The biggest surprise of the night came when Steve Austin won Superstar of the Decade, despite having walked out on the company that summer. But little did fans know that Austin was actually in negotiations to return to the company… the following month.
That meant that on this night, Vince McMahon accepted the award on his behalf and cut a promo on how Stone Cold wasn’t invited.
Triple H, feeling snubbed and having forgotten the unwritten limit-one-per-customer awards policy, got up and left the show early. Ric Flair left, too, out of loyalty to The Game. Or because the show sucked.
The Undertaker didn’t walk out, as he wasn’t even at the event. He wasn’t due to return to TV until the Royal Rumble a whole five nights later, so he didn’t win any awards, despite being the only guy on the roster to have wrestled all ten years with WWE.
And Diesel wasn’t even shown on screen, let alone nominated for anything, despite holding the WWF title for a whole year, and despite Kevin Nash being under contract to WWE at the time, albeit recovering from injury.
The only other award winner to no-show the event (or, more accurately, the only no-show still granted an award) was Mick Foley, who won the “Tell Me I Didn’t Just See That” award in absentia.
Then again, the only other nominees in attendance were Eric Bischoff (nominated for “The Hug”), who was on storyline thin ice with the company…
…and Kane (nominated for setting people on fire).
You could read Kane’s disappointment all over his mask, but he would take home the big Match of the Decade award, for which he was nominated twice – first for his 1998 title match vs. Steve Austin, and again for the TLC 2002 match.
The other nominees? The September 1997 bout between Triple H and Cactus Jack (both of whom had already won awards)…
…and the July 2002 ladder match between Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker (which, if all you ever saw of it was the one-minute condensed highlight reel, you might mistake for an all-time classic).
That’s right: two of the four greatest matches in Raw’s ten-year history, according to WWE, had occurred in the past half year.
Not included were, for example, Bret Hart vs. The 1-2-3 Kid, Bret Hart vs. Sid, Marty Jannetty vs. Shawn Michaels, or any other pre-Attitude Era match featuring wrestlers on bad terms with the company.
Ric Flair vs. Mr. Perfect should have gotten the nod simply for getting Rob Bartlett to shut up for fifteen minutes.
Nor were big matches like the all-time highest-rated segment in Raw history, Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker, included in the nominations. And it’s not like there had to be just four nominees, either. There could have been six nominees like there were for Superstar of the Year. Or there could have been ten nominees. There was only one guy voting on all these awards anyway, so what difference would a crowded field have made?
TLC 2002, which just so happened to featured seven participants all still on the roster, won the award, with the very reasonable Kane insisting that all of the participants share equal credit.
It’s hard to believe, looking at that thick head of hair and hearing that gracious acceptance speech, that in six months, Kane would turn out to be inexplicably half-bald and start setting people on fire again.
The final award of the night happened to be the only one that fans could vote on – online polling resulted in a top ten list of Raw moments that were revealed one by one throughout the show.
Most of these moments involved Stone Cold doing wacky stunts like driving a monster truck or hitting Vince McMahon with a bed pan (and, less famously, sticking an IV up his rectum)…
…but the fans showed good taste in choosing as the #1 Raw moment the 1999 tribute to Owen Hart.
No, sorry. That was only #2. #1 was Austin and the beer truck.
Maybe they shouldn’t have put Raw is Owen on the list in the first place if it wasn’t going to win.
To close out the show, Edge gathered all the wrestlers in attendance on stage while he figured out what stupid awards he could give the remaining roster members who hadn’t won a trophy yet.
In the end, the Raw Tenth Anniversary was just like my high school class’s ten-year reunion: long, boring, disingenuous, and attended almost exclusively by the small, insular circle of friends that set it up in the first place. I didn’t attend either one, but I did watch the Raw Tenth Anniversary on TV when it aired, hoping it would be a true “best-of” representing all ten years of Monday Night Raw’s history.
A lot of other people had the same false impression, apparently, as the stinking Tuesday night special did a 5.2 rating, beating the previous night’s episode of Raw and blowing Raw 25 out of the water.
But at least at the Raw Tenth Anniversary, unlike Raw 25, WWE didn’t charge fans hundreds of dollars just to get in the door – although, given that WWE would lose millions upon millions of dollars on that outrageously expensive Times Square real estate and close it down the following month, perhaps they should have.
Maybe by Raw 50, WWE will have figured out how to do an anniversary show right.