Wednesday, January 11, 2017

24 years of Raw

Sean Mooney & Rob Bartlett's "aunt"
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January 11, 1993, Raw is War made its debut on the USA Network. The LIVE show replaced the long-running pre-recorded Prime Time Wrestling program hosted first by Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan and eventually a roundtable format.

I was a sophomore in college when Raw took to the airwaves. Because I still lived in the dorms on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University and wrestling wasn't all that popular with my floormates, (we shared one TV with cable in the lobby) I would make my way to the pizza restaurant, Geronimo's, and watch. I'd often bump into a handful of other closet fans and we'd discuss the show after it went off the air.

It's hard to believe the program is longest running, weekly episodic show in the history of television. That very first night though we got something different. The whole attitude of wrestling was changing, not just with the way it was presented, but the men and women who were stepping through the ropes had different looks and new attitudes. It was an evolution from the Superstars of Wrestling days, to say the least. 

Ironically both Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker appeared in the first episode and were each on the most recent show to air (Episode 1,233). Michaels beat Max Moon and Undertaker pinned Damien Demento. Vince McMahon, Rob Bartlett and the late, great "Macho Man" Randy Savage made up the commentary team, much to the chagrin of Bobby Heenan. 

Other legends to be a part of the first episode: The Steiner Brothers, Yokozuna and Koko B. Ware. Razor Ramon cut a promo ahead of his WWF World Title shot against Bret Hart, who oddly was not on the show. Doink the Clown and Crush had words at the end of the show and Heenan finally got inside.

Those 60 minutes were packed with matches, promos and skits. Lots of great memories. I realize how much I miss those days, Heenan, Savage, Doink and Sean Mooney. The show has evolved a lot over the years. Happy anniversary to Raw. Here's to many more years.

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