On Monday night, WWE will be hosting a special show dedicated to the 25-year anniversary of RAW.
The program has been a staple within the childhoods and adolescence of millions of people all across the globe. Televised on every Monday, the show was a spectacle of epic proportions.
Whilst the content has been shifted to more of a family-friendly feel, it doesn’t take away the impact RAW has had on the current generation of 25-to-40 year olds.
RAW helped to kick off every week. When I was a child in school, the word ‘Monday’ was a dreaded word — and ultimately a reminder that a full, jam-packed week of assignments, tests, and lectures from annoying teachers were to follow. RAW acted as a temporary reprieve from the doldrums of academia.
The anticipation of each show was palpable. As soon as 9 p.m. hit, I was transfixed into a world of jaw-dropping drama. Picture the modern day soap opera — only with elements of awesome athleticism, immature crassness, and women presented in sexualized situations. It offered the excitement of going to the movies with the comfort of watching from your house. The best part was that each Monday offered a brand-new storyline to sink your proverbial teeth into.
Aesthetically, each wrestler entered the ring with accompanying pyrotechnics and a booming theme song. These anthems became iconic battle cries for each athlete as they headed off the stage and towards the ring.
We were treated to matches of all sorts. A cage match on non-pay-per-views was akin to receiving gifts on Christmas morning. It was highly rare — though a treasured moment when it actually did occur. TLC (tables, ladders, and chairs) matches were equal parts danger and absolute exhilaration. Though your mother would never allow it, you know you’ve always harbored the fantasy of jumping off a ladder whilst simultaneously slamming your little brother through a table. Or, you could go the Dudley Boyz route and 3D him along with a friend.
Hardcore matches with Al Snow, Road Dogg, Hardcore Holly, Raven, Tazz, and host of others were wacky in the best sense of the word. Where else would you see a man use a mannequin head (named head) as a weapon? The storyline surrounding the WCW Invasion was simply fantastic (and who could ever forget a masked DDP stalking The Undertaker’s wife?).
Though not fully mature enough to understand all of the innuendo, you’d still be able to pick up enough from the narratives surrounding Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, and Lita. You also were innocent enough to not understand the true meaning when Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler screamed “puppies!” upon the entry of any diva into the ring.
And then…you had the larger-than-life personalities.
The character development was strikingly impressive. Wrestlers such as The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Chris Jericho were maestros on the microphone. In one minute, they’d have the entire audience serenading them with a chorus of boos. In the next, they’d be eating out of the palm of their collective hands. We were introduced to catchphrases which became a part of our daily vocabulary. The Rock in particular offered more than a few sound bytes.
The Undertaker didn’t say much — though his commanding presence and creepy appearance made him electric. The same can be said for his on-screen brother Kane.
Credit Vince McMahon for always pushing the envelope. While the show was crass and rather rude at times, it simply worked. It’s the type of thing you’d stay up until 11 p.m. to watch — fully knowing that you’d be exhausted the next morning for school. You didn’t care if you failed to finish a Social Studies packet, or a math worksheet. The two hours with some of your favorite television personalities made it all worthwhile.
For many (including myself), RAW represented childhood memories that’ll last a lifetime.
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