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Welcome back to Mr. Tito Strikes Back LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com and I’ve been here since October 1998. And that latter point is important because I have probably reviewed hundreds of episodes of Monday Night RAW and have been covering the WWE via my columns for almost 19 years now. I have a pretty good memory on the wrestling programs that I watched and with RAW’s 25th Anniversary Show coming soon, I figured that I could write a column in honor of that night.
Now, I don’t like to write Top 10 list columns… I used to do it in the past but I got tired of that easy format and didn’t want to become the “list guy”. I look around at wrestling websites now and they are chalk full of Top 10 lists as easy clickbait to drive up views. However, I’m not here for the page views and I’m not seeing any of that sweet ad revenue. That said, I wrote a “Top 10 RAW Moments” column years ago and it was well received because spanned a long period of time and I could pull together thoughts from my memories covering RAW back then.
Therefore, I’m giving you a rare top 10 list… But know that I’m just doing this to celebrate RAW’s 25th Anniversary and nothing more. If I forced to just write Top 10 columns for a website, I’d keep sharp options out of the room. Seriously… And many of those websites who filled their posts with top 10 lists… Yeah, it’s been a rough year for some of those websites and their sterile content.
Hope you enjoy!
Mr. Tito’s PHAT WWE Monday Night RAW Moments
Remember, these are “moments”… Does not necessarily have to be matches.
#10 – Degeneration X/Radicalz vs. Rock/Mick Foley/Rikishi/Too Cool
On February 7th, 2000, there was a 5 on 5 Match featuring the likes of Triple H, X-Pac, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn against The Rock, Mankind, Rikishi, and Too Cool (Scotty 2 Hotty, Brian Christopher aka Grandmaster Sex-ay). This match was LOADED with all-time great talent that had interesting circumstances to cause it all to come together. First and foremost, this was a continuation of the growing on-screen friendship that Vince Russo was booking before he left for WCW between the Rock and Mick Foley for the Rock N Sock Connection. With Steve Austin out with his neck injury, there was a drastic need for Rock and Foley to pull the babyface wagon against the growing top heel in Triple H. Triple H just reformed Degeneration X to act as his stooges to support the McMahon-Helmsley union that was controlling the WWE as an Authority figure back then.
However, I’m missing 6 members of the match, 3 from each team.
For the heels, they had 3 World Championship Wrestling (WCW) castaways on their team in Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, and Perry Saturn who were escorted to the ring by an injured Eddie Guerrero who had a dislocated elbow from a Froggy Splash gone wrong. Just a few weeks ago, all 4 men were actually employed by WCW and Chris Benoit won the WCW World Title at their last Pay Per View (decision was later reversed). In WCW, it was chaos… Vince Russo was just relieved of his head writer duties with WCW and he was replaced with Kevin Sullivan as lead on creative. Chris Benoit had personal heat with Kevin Sullivan because, well, Benoit stole his wife Nancy Sullivan. There was a sense that Sullivan would not only hold that grudge against Benoit and any of his friends, but that Sullivan seemed to cater towards older, larger, and veteran wrestlers. With WCW’s roster thick with older wrestlers from WWE’s past, it was believe that those wrestlers would be re-installed as the top guys and any growth for the past few weeks seen by Benoit, Eddie, Saturn, and Dean would be erased. Reportedly, there were 3 other WCW wrestlers who almost joined the 4 wrestlers… From what I understand, one of them signed a new deal with WCW while the other 2 saw no interest by the WWE in them.
WCW was beginning to look for ways to reduce costs by late 1999 and letting a handful of disgruntled wrestlers with only ONE possible World Title amongst them didn’t seem like a big deal. WCW just let them out of their contracts and there weren’t any no-compete clauses either. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko could immediately work for the WWE. That they did! They appeared ringside one night on RAW to the shock of many (almost a top 10 RAW moment!) and then began having great matches with WWE superstars. The storyline was that the Radicalz, as the 4 WCW wrestlers were called, didn’t have WWE contracts and were working to impress the WWE to obtain those. Well, the McMahon-Helmsley authority body gave them contracts. Because of that, the Radicalz became instantly loyal to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. During this episode of RAW, Degeneration X and the Radicalz combined their assets to challenge Rock N Sock to a 5 on 5 match. Triple H and Stephanie didn’t think that the Rock and Mick Foley could find any friends to join them.
And that’s where Too Cool and Rikishi come in. Both were just growing in the midcard and then one night, Rikishi danced with Too Cool. It was a big hit! Rikishi had the charisma and rhythm to fit right in with Grandmaster Sex-ay and Scotty 2 Hotty and they grew popular quickly.
The match seemed like it would be 5 on 2 with Triple H/X-Pac/Perry Saturn/Dean Malenko/Chris Benoit against Rock and Mick Foley… Then, Too Cool’s music hits and Scotty 2 Hotty, Grandmaster Sex-ay, and Rikishi arrived to a huge reaction from the fans. They just backed to the 2 biggest babyfaces in the company and their stature as performers quadrupled that night. Fans were 100% into this match and were loud for EVERYTHING. In my opinion, it was the introductory match for the many GREAT in-ring match-ups we were about to see for the year 2000. Adding the WCW guys and letting guys like Too Cool/Rikishi get elevated to higher spots created amazing depth to WWE’s roster back then. The match has a fascinating ending as Kane made his return to attack X-Pac for his betrayal of their former tag team together.
#9 – The Rock Returns to the WWE before hosting Wrestlemania 27
It had been YEARS since the Rock worked with the WWE. Following Wrestlemania 20, the Rock went full-time into his acting career and his appearances with the WWE were rare for about 7 years. When he came back, he cut a scathing 30 minute promo to play with the live audience but to also take aim at one of his biggest haters, John Cena. In this promo, you could see how much the Rock’s acting career helped polish and freshen up his promos. That, or the Rock had years to think of what he’d say if he ever returned. In just 30 minutes, the Rock blew away the entire WWE roster of 2011 and cast a big shadow over Wrestlemania 27 as the host.
This return and great promo that followed easily convinced the WWE that the Rock still had “it” and the WWE would go on to employ the Rock as a wrestler for the next 2 years and squeezed back-to-back Rock vs. John Cena matches at Wrestlemania 28 and 29. The promo on that 2011 return was so good that the Rock couldn’t reproduce it… Rocky seemed to get too caught up on “what’s trending” and other repetitive measures that it left him open to get burned a few times by John Cena. Then, he wasn’t prepared for a few promos and even had notes written on his hand to remember for his promos. However, his big WWE return after about 7 years of inactivity in pro wrestling was damn cool.
#8 – Brock Lesnar returns to the WWE after 8 years and following UFC.
Brock Lesnar’s 2004 exit from the WWE was not clean. Lesnar was burned out, dealing with nagging injuries, and observed former WCW greats like Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Bill Goldberg join the WWE and work limited dates despite nice pay. Meanwhile, Lesnar was working every houseshow, every televised show, and made many appearances on behalf of the WWE that those former WCW guys weren’t exactly always doing. On top of that, Lesnar didn’t like the creative direction of his character as he was set to lose his WWE Title before Wrestlemania and then feud with the returning “Deadman” Undertaker following Wrestlemania 20. Lesnar, who was only 26 years old during 2004, felt that he could take his athletic talents elsewhere and should try something new before his peak years of his 20s were through. Lesnar left the WWE and joined the Minnesota Vikings training camp to potentially enter the NFL.
Lesnar’s WWE contract had a no-compete clause in it and Lesnar’s abrupt exit from the WWE caused that no-compete clause to have more teeth, reportedly through the year 2010 with any pro wrestling or MMA promotion. There were problems with Brock Lesnar joining New Japan Pro Wrestling and then that continued with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Lesnar defied the WWE and went about his business despite that no-compete clause. Eventually, after a few years of legal challenges to Lesnar’s matters, the WWE and Lesnar settled out of court. Once that settlement happened, Lesnar and the WWE could slowly begin to improve relations. Then, Lesnar became ill with intestinal problems and had to leave the UFC for competitive fighting… However, Brock Lesnar still looked like the most dangerous human being on the planet and the WWE could market his services.
During 2012 and following Wrestlemania 28 where John Cena lost to the Rock the night before, Cena was in the ring asking what big name he’d wrestle next. Sadly, rumors of Lesnar’s return were swirling for weeks and Lesnar’s return was very much expected to occur. John Cena’s promo at the end of the night also made it very obvious as to what was going to happen. However, when you heard that badass theme music… It didn’t matter. Your draw dropped because one of the biggest Main Event superstars of the 2000s was back and with UFC Heavyweight Championship street credibility to boot. Fans went CRAZY in attendance and the timing was right… Years of John Laurinaitis’s developmental territory and WWE Creative’s destruction of any call-up depleted the roster for potential Main Event star power. On RAW following Wrestlemania 28, Lesnar just walked out, briefly stared down John Cena, and then drilled the F5 finisher for the first time in years.
6 years later, Brock Lesnar is currently WWE Universal Champion and is about to headline Wrestlemania 34. Though Cena would beat Lesnar in their first encounter, Lesnar would go on a terror and dominate the WWE for years to come with wins over Cena, Triple H, beating Undertaker’s streak, CM Punk, AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Bill Goldberg, and more.
#7 – Nexus Attacks and Destroys Everything Ringside
I took a legitimate break from being Mr. Tito (Fall 2006) and from pro wrestling (June 2007)… But when I returned to both during early 2010, I was kinda bored with what the WWE was presenting at the time. I wasn’t too crazy on Sheamus, Cena was too cookie-cutter as a babyface, and in my opinion, the talent depth wasn’t there. However, one one fateful night where RAW was headlined with John Cena vs. CM Punk, bunch of unknown wrestlers to me hit the ring and attacked everybody in sight and destroyed everything ringside. Nobody was safe. Cena and Punk were attacked and so were the WWE announcing and production crew. I wasn’t familiar with the developmental back then, either, so all of those wrestlers arriving were a complete surprise to me.
It was beautiful and it re-energized me as a returning wrestling fan AND Mr. Tito to see. To me, it felt very closest to a “hostile takeover” angle that I’ve seen since the New World Order… Nobody was safe from the Nexus! Daniel Bryan not only spit in John Cena’s face but he attacked the ring announcer! Bryan stripped the guy and began choking the announcer with his tie. Intense…
Sadly, that was the “peak” of the Nexus. WWE Corporation, now operating in the PG Era, either suspended or terminated Daniel Bryan due to his actions. That removed an experienced guy from the group and as you could see from Daniel Bryan’s years working with Kane and the Yes! movement, the guy had lots of personality that could have carried the Nexus. Instead, the leadership role was fully granted to Wade Barrett and he did the best that he could. However, Super Cena always found a way to mow through the entire group. The only redeeming aspect of the Nexus was how CM Punk hijacked the group later and began his new heel role on Monday Night RAW. The group would fix Punk’s image as a tough guy leader of that group and changed his look away from his more punk rocker look of previous years. It set CM Punk’s character up for what would become the wrestler that feuded with John Cena for Money in the Bank 2011 Pay Per View.
#6 – X-Pac puts it in WWE’s Pipe and Smokes it!
On the Monday Night RAW following Wrestlemania 14 during 1998, a familiar name from WWE’s past returned to the WWE. Sean Waltman, formerly 1-2-3 Kid in the WWE, returned from his brief tour in World Championship Wrestling (WCW)… And he had a bitter exit from WCW. As big as WCW became during 1997, there were political factions forming backstage. On one hand, you had Hulk Hogan and on the other, the former Clique members of the WWE with Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman who was named as “Syxx” for that promotion. As the midcarder member of faction, Waltman seemed to take some of the political heat for the group as dealt by Eric Bischoff. In addition, Waltman had an injured neck… As Waltman was healing up from his injuries, WCW terminated him!
However, following Wrestlemania 14, the stable of Degeneration X could have been in trouble. After all, Shawn Michaels injured his back and was potentially going to need time off to heal or possibly retire from pro wrestling! Shawn was the leader of Degeneration X along with Chyna and Triple H (Rick Rude already left the group). There was a major void in the group but the WWE was selling DX merchandise like hotcakes! They had to keep the Degeneration X ship floating… But how? Well, sign free agent Sean Waltman to return to the WWE and become a new member of Degeneration X. Perfect fit. After Triple H cut a promo on how Shawn “dropped the ball”, he introduced his old friend and it made perfect sense. Then, Sean’s scathing promo on Eric Bischoff continued DX’s image as a renegade group. X-Pac said that “if Kevin and Scott could join him in the WWE, they would” and ended the blistering promo with “put that in your pipe and smoke it!”. Later in the night, DX would add Road Dogg and Billy Gunn to the group to have a strong 5 person stable that would run wild in the WWE for the rest of 1998. As a midcard act, they complemented the Austin vs. McMahon storyline to help WWE grow significantly throughout the year.
#5 – Mick Foley wins his first WWE Title despite the spoilers.
Mick Foley’s wrestling career was a real climb… From enhancement talent to wrestling in death matches, the guy put a ton of mileage on his body. That and he had a strange name of “Cactus Jack”… Foley could cut a great promo but he wasn’t easily marketed for his name or look. Then, Foley eventually joins the WWE and they set him on the right path to become one of the biggest wrestling superstars ever. He became “Mankind” with a Hannibal Lecter mask on and the emphasis in the WWE became more about character than destroying one’s body. However, the older Foley would appear from time to time and things got real scary at King of the Ring 1998 when Foley was toss from the top of the Hell in the Cell cage and then tossed through the roof! Through 1998, though, Foley’s characters (Mankind with Dude Love and Cactus Jack making appearances) were getting crazy over. After that Hell in a Cell match and then getting screwed at Survivor Series 1998, Foley was a full blown babyface with his sights set on the new Corporation gem, the Rock.
Early 1999 had an amazing feud between the Rock and Mick Foley. The Rock was just elevated as a Main Eventer by winning that WWE Title tournament at Survivor Series 1998 and could be argued as being slightly green in the ring as a main event wrestler (but he was ready as a personality). Working with Mick Foley, the Rock obtained great in-ring experience and was fully ready as a Main Event in-ring performer by the time he reached Steve Austin for Wrestlemania 15.
This RAW main event for the first 1999 show was quite unique… For one, we were still in the thick of the Monday Night Wars and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) was set to run a serious angle for their first show of 1999 to reclaim ground. WCW ran a live show and yet WWE was still in their live-every-other-week mode. Through late 1998, the WWE was actually doing a live RAW on Monday and then would tape the following RAW on a Tuesday. Mick Foley’s title win as Mankind over the Rock actually occurred on the taped Tuesday show to air as the first 1999 show. For almost 6 days, most of the internet KNEW that Mankind was going to win the WWE Title because the show was taped. WCW tried to mock the WWE for still having taped shows and even tried to slam Mick Foley for being their World Champion (Tony Shiavone’s famous “that will put butts in seats” sarcastic line). Instead of any one caring about WCW’s “big” angle of Hulk Hogan vs. Kevin Nash with Bill Goldberg being arrested earlier in the show, everyone tuned in to see Mick Foley win his first World Title. That mattered to wrestling fans even if they knew the results beforehand (from the internet or from Nitro spoiling it).
That moment when Steve Austin‘s glass shattering music hits and he enters the arena to help Mick Foley win the WWE Title is one of the loudest pops that you’ll ever hear. Place went bananas and Foley’s promo afterward to celebrate as WWE Champion was just awesome. That was REAL emotion of a guy with tons of mileage on his body achieving a major goal and finally being recognized as one of the greats.
#4 – The Corporate Rumble that Chyna won.
It saddens me, to this day, that Joanie “Chyna” Laurer left the WWE and was unable to achieve success on the levels of her WWE days. Things became personal backstage and arguments over money ended the WWE career of one of the most unique talents ever. Chyna was legitimately tough, a fully trained wrestler, and had a badass look to her that you just cannot re-create if you tried. In my opinion, the night of January 11th, 1999 was the biggest night of Chyna’s career because all of that build-up as a bodyguard to Triple H and Degeneration paid off… When Vince McMahon THOUGHT that he won the Corporate Rumble, the absolute fear in his face that is sold when Chyna arrives last is priceless. Despite Chyna’s gender, Vince sold fear after years of building Chyna up along with Patterson/Briscoe at ringside showing panic.
The Royal Rumble Match is probably the most protected that the WWE has and they never let it happen outside of the Royal Rumble Pay Per View… However on this fateful night and probably still competing with WCW for the Monday Night Wars, the WWE had the Corporate Rumble. Following the Mick Foley winning the WWE Title situation where Steve Austin helped Foley win, Vince McMahon was of course pissed and rigged Steve Austin’s 1999 Rumble spot selection to cause him to be the #1 guy to enter the Rumble. Then Commissioner Shawn Michaels intervened and made Vince McMahon become #2. To attempt to avoid that complication, the Corporate Rumble was set-up to determine spot #30 in the 1999 Royal Rumble match. With the Corporation and Degeneration X beginning to feud at the time, the Rumble involved members of both factions.
It seemed like the Corporate Rumble was down to DX’s Triple H and Corporation’s Big Bossman. Then, the horn blew… It was Vince McMahon entering the Corporate Rumble! As Triple H and Bossman were trying to eliminate each other near the ropes, Vince enters the ring and tosses both guys out! Vince tears off his shirt and flexes as if he won spot #30… Then, Degeneration X’s music hit and it was Chyna! The look of shock on Vince’s face was awesome and immediately, Vince and his stooges (Pat Patterson, Gerald Briscoe) tried to avoid her entry into the Corporate Rumble. Then, Steve Austin’s glass shattering music hits once again and Vince really looked scared (gave the “gulp” look). As Vince McMahon was distracted by Austin, Chyna entered the ring and tossed Vince over the top rope! And Vince McMahon takes the sickest bump, too, as his head found itself underneath the bottom rope as he flipped over and his neck/head at that bottom rope hard with major whiplash!
For that one night, Chyna was on top of the world and she’d become the first ever female wrestler to enter the Rumble match.
Vince McMahon would pile on a $ bounty for anyone who eliminates Steve Austin at the Royal Rumble in addition to Austin’s #1 spot in the Rumble match already in place. The whole gimmick of the 1999 Royal Rumble event was that Steve Austin had “no chance in hell” to win the Rumble and then go onto Wrestlemania 15 as the #1 contender. Vince even had music made for this event called “No Chance in Hell” and that theme music became Vince McMahon’s theme music for the rest of his life.
How about that? Back-to-back nights during January 1999 captured my #5 and #4 spots on my list!
#3 – CM Punk drops a “Pipebomb” on Monday Night RAW
On the night that CM Punk cut his “Pipebomb” promo weeks before the 2011 Money in the Bank Pay Per View, I was working late on a project for work and I actually had the volume down on my television. Honestly, I thought nothing of it and wrote my “Blog is Tito” RAW review making little mention of that promo. Everyone was wondering what I thought on that promo and I was initially like “meh” because I didn’t really listen to it. So, I gave that ending of RAW another viewing.
Between Wrestlemania 27 and SummerSlam 2011, the booking plans were to get the WWE Title back on John Cena (which happened) and to prepare Alberto Del Rio to become WWE Champion at SummerSlam 2011 (he would soon move to RAW after Wrestlemania 27). The WWE wanted Del Rio to represent the WWE as their top champion for the Mexico tour that year. Sound familiar? Little did they know that one fateful night would create a blossoming superstar that would cause a brief detour of plans.
CM Punk’s WWE contract was reportedly going to end sometime during June or July 2011 and early indications was that he was going to test the free agent market. Before the big promo happened, the WWE was lukewarm on Punk’s worth following his 2nd World Heavyweight Championship run. Chances are that had the “pipebomb” promo not happened, Punk could have been a free man… With nothing to lose, the WWE just let CM Punk cut a promo after a John Cena vs. R-Truth tables match and gave him full creative freedom to say whatever in order to draw some level of heat for this Money in the Bank 2011 match. Cena was scheduled to win anyway…
Punk with a live mic delivered one of the best promos of all time. It was quickly named “Pipebomb” promo after Punk using that phrase and nobody was safe. CM Punk ripped John Cena, the Rock, Vince McMahon, John Laurinaitis, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H (“doofus son-in-law”), the rest of the “stupid” McMahon family, WWE Marketing Department, and even wrestling fans for bothering him at airports and other places. He killed it!
The “Pipebomb” promo was every bit as great as Steve Austin’s 3:16 promo but without the push afterward. WWE changed its plans to have Punk win the WWE Title at Money in the Bank 2011 (signed a 3 year deal, too) but had him take time off to “sell” that he took the WWE Title elsewhere. WWE then held a WWE Title tournament to crown a new Champion (John Cena) and CM Punk would later return to set up a WWE Title vs. WWE Title match at SummerSlam 2011. Remember how I said earlier that 2011’s plans were to have Alberto Del Rio win the WWE Title at SummerSlam 2011? Well, that still happened as Del Rio won the Money in the Bank briefcase and cashed it in at SummerSlam 2011 thanks to Kevin Nash attacking CM Punk after his win against John Cena. It was always blurry whether or not Triple H had anything to do with Kevin Nash but the suspicion led to Triple H vs. CM Punk at WWE Night of Champions 2011 in which Triple H defeated Punk. It all went downhill from there for CM Punk with a lackluster WWE Title run where he barely main evented RAWs let along Pay Per Views and lots of jobbing in 2013.
#2 – Chris Jericho debuts on Monday Night RAW during the Rock’s promo.
Isn’t it amazing to STILL SEE Chris Jericho tearing it up on the wrestling scene during 2018? Over 18 years ago, Chris Jericho made one of the biggest debuts for any wrestler coming from another major promotions. But it wasn’t just his jump from WCW to WWE… Yes, that free agent movement was important but it’s HOW Chris Jericho debuted that mattered.
Chris Jericho, like Benoit/Malenko/Guerrero before him, was a well traveled wrestler who wrestled internationally and then caught World Championship Wrestling (WCW)’s attention by working and shining in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). WCW picked ECW clean on multiple trips and Jericho was followed the intial group of guys bought by WCW. Almost immediately, Jericho was a big hit in WCW. Unlike many of the others in the Cruiserweight division, Jericho could talk and he got instantly over by talking trash on any of his competitors. The best part? WCW gave you FULL creative freedom over your character in the midcard. Jericho could talk trash on guys like Dean Malenko by saying he had “1,001” moves/holds compared to Malenko’s 1,000. And Jericho stood in the ring and read a list of his moves!
Where Jericho got in trouble is how quickly he climbed the WCW ladder. After winning the Cruiserweight Title several times, he went on to win WCW’s Television Title as the first step for breaking out of the Cruiserweight Division. Then, he found himself feuding with Bill Goldberg during 1998 and heavily mocked him through his promos, even finding his own personal security guard to escort him to the ring. Jericho’s tapping on the glass ceiling began to make many backstage in WCW scared. The Main Event group was an elite club of guys with prior WWE experience at the top and of course, Bill Goldberg whom WCW was heavily backing. Chris Jericho saw the writing on the wall as did another wrestler named “The Giant” who most now know as the Big Show. With WWE quickly booming again, the promotion seemed appealing as a free agent destination again. Jericho and Big Show joined the long list of many wrestlers that WCW gave up on who would become major Main Event players in the WWE (Hall, Nash, Undertaker, Triple H, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Kane).
If you ever get a chance, check out one of Chris Jericho’s books which describes in his own personal detail how he joined the WWE. Just the simple way that the WWE marketed and hyped his debut is legendary. In the weeks before his debut, they ran this bizarre Countdown clock. Many did assume that it could have been for Chris Jericho, as internet wrestling news was breaking daily back then… But the question was WHEN he’d debut. On one fateful night, The Rock was cutting a promo in the ring against the Big Show when the Countdown clock began winding down from 15 seconds to zero. Weird flashing lights would occur and then it went dark. KABOOM, fireworks hit and we hear the BEST EVER THEME MUSIC play for the very first time. As the lyrics scream “BREAK THE WALLS DOWN”, the words “JERICHO” appear on the Titantron and the fans go CRAZY! Jericho would go on to cut a great promo to introduce himself and then the Rock thrashes him back (made the “it doesn’t matter what you think” phrase famous).
The debut, however, was just huge… The loud reaction from WWE fans were from appreciation that the WWE acquired him and could begin using him much better than WCW. WCW took him for granted and attempted to silence him. With the WWE being promo heavy, Jericho got quickly over with any remaining WWE fans who didn’t know him. And what an investment! WWE got years upon years of quality work from 1999 through 2017. To think that WCW had this guy on their roster during their biggest years and they took him for granted.
#1 – Steve Austin confronts Mike Tyson and officially kicks off Austin vs. McMahon.
Many are trying to compare Ronda Rousey’s potential WWE signing to the Mike Tyson during 1998. However, the Mike Tyson of early 1998 was quite notorious. From March 1992 through 1995, we was in jail for sexual assault. Then, he makes his boxing comeback but it goes completely wrong. In the 2nd Evander Holyfield during June 1997, he not only attempted to bite Holyfield’s ear once, but twice! On the second one, he took a bloody chunk out of his ear! The state of Nevada banned him from boxing and fined him a reported $3 million for this incident. What else was Mike Tyson going to do? He was a trained fighter and that was probably an outlet to keep him out of other forms of trouble.
WWE needed a hook to grab non-wrestling fans to watch Wrestlemania 14 which was going to be headlined by Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels. Probably from the cost savings of letting Bret Hart go early during November 1997, the WWE paid Tyson $3 million to join them in a non-wrestling role. Tyson was seen first cheering at Royal Rumble 1998 and Stone Cold Steve Austin actually won the Rumble match that year. On the next night during Monday Night RAW, the WWE and Vince McMahon specifically was hyping Tyson’s appearance as a big deal and was set to make a Wrestlemania announcement for Tyson’s involvement. However, Steve Austin was upset that the company didn’t hype his Royal Rumble match victory instead.
To end RAW, Vince McMahon had Mike Tyson and his entourage come down for a presentation and Steve Austin would later join… To Mike Tyson’s credit, he was selling happiness as Austin came out and was acting naive for what was about to happen. When Austin begins to talk trash, Mike Tyson sells being puzzled quite well… Meanwhile, you can see Vince McMahon’s expressions as being frustrated that his moment with Mike Tyson is being ruined. After Austin cuts a promo, he question’s Mike Tyson’s hearing and offers “sign language” in the form of 2 middle fingers. Tyson finally reacts with rage and shoves Steve Austin! The ring just explodes with complete chaos as all of Tyson’s people, the McMahon stooges, and referees try to break up both sides. Steve Austin has to be physically removed from the ring and Vince McMahon can be heard screaming “you’ve ruined it! You’ve ruined it!”. That was the official true kickoff of the famous Austin vs. McMahon feud.
Mike Tyson would then go on to fool everyone into thinking he’d confront Austin’s opponent, Shawn Michaels, but later reveal a Degeneration X t-shirt underneath his clothing. Tyson would become the “special guest ring enforcer” for Wrestlemania 14’s HBK vs. Austin match and would substitute himself as the referee when the original referee of that match got knocked out. Tyson would swerve Degeneration X by counting’s Shawn Michael’s shoulders down and then knocking HBK out with one punch afterward.
But this RAW moment is #1 for a reason. In a single in-ring segment, it put national attention on the WWE and Steve Austin. ESPN and other sports outlets showed the segment and Austin’s popularity went from internally among wrestling fans to catching more casual fans. In my opinion, though, the best part about this segment was the “true birth” of the HEEL BOSS Vince McMahon. Yes, he was behind the Montreal Screwjob but I think that most backed his decision to export Bret Hart at that point, particularly with time. Bret was getting older and was really stubborn about the changing Creative decisions made. For this moment, Steve Austin ruined a shining moment for Vince McMahon to acquire Mike Tyson and Vince reacted with pure fury. “You ruined it!” From there, the WWE figured that they had a major storyline on their hands and after Wrestlemania 14, the really ramped up the Vince McMahon character to attempt to mold Steve Austin into a corporate champion. Austin rejected that notion and wasn’t afraid to tell Vince about it… Much like Austin had ZERO fear to tell Mike Tyson off!
I hope that you enjoyed my Top 10 list and appreciated having a list on one page instead of 10 separate pages. What are your favorite RAW moments? Comments below…
SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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