The Best Raw Card Ever? A Look Back...
by, 06-13-2012 at 05:39 PM (3516 Views)
I recently voiced my 2 cents on the current WWF product as an Attitude Era Fan who has began watching wrestling agin after a few years away from the tv shows.
I got a lot of reactions over my comments surrounding the weaker aspects of the attitude era that history seems to overlook, and highlighted some of the glaring similarities between the product then and now, even though I'd count myself as a massive attitude era mark.
But when trawling through some old episodes online, I came across an absolute gem of the era, an edition of Raw that I believe contains one of the most impressive cards to my memory, a card that could easily be a PPV line up.
In a time when Raw is extending to 3 hours, episodes are bogged down with prolonged promos and skits to pad out the time, and matches are coming in for a lot of criticism for their short length, non-finishes, stale pairings and above all else - the actual number of matches per show - If there were ever an episode of Raw to watch and learn from, where finishes arent clean but still serve a purpose, where the announcers convey genuine excitement and plug the entire card, rather than someone's job evaluation, and we actually get to see matches we haven't seen before THAT WE ACTUALLY WANT TO SEE?!
For me this was it.
September 14th 1998; Two weeks after Summerslam, and building towards Steve Austin vs Kane vs The Undertaker for the WWF Title at Breakdown IN Your House. This show came after perhaps one of the most underwhelming episodes of Raw in the era (main event edge v jeff jerrett - when both were firmly in the mid card, following a summer slam that caused quite a few minor injuries among to top talent) and in my head, this was the WWF paying the fans back.
Opening Segment; PPV Build and Raw main event set up
An excellent opener with two of the best talkers in history. Aggressive, engaging and purposeful. And look! No script! Awesome. Above all else it establishes that Austin is anything but invincible.
Match 1; Road Dogg vs Jeff Jerrett
Remember when factions fought other factions? Remember ringside brawls? Remember tag team wrestlers in singles matches being a bit of an unknown quantity? Remember vicious looking weapon shots? Sundaycall remembers. Strong opener and if your an older fan you'll remember the fun that was had by billy gunn in selling road dogg's injury.
Match 2; THE ROCK VS KANE!
The start of the rise of the biggest baby face star of the new millennium. The first sledgehammer shot on Raw. Two main eventers clashing for the first time. A massive win for the rock and JR makes sure you fucking know it!
Match 3; Intercontinental Title match Triple H vs Owen Hart
Never mind that it's two of the best performers of their generation, never mind their in ring chemistry, never mind the prestige of the title and how the announcers and fans respect that prestige, never mind that once again it progresses a stable war - it's a chance to see Owen hart vs triple H, in a tv match, and look at what you can do with 7 minutes. RIP Owen.
Match 4; The Undertaker vs Mankind (No Holds Barred)
Did you read the title?! Oh and development of the story on the night, the turn of the rock and the first glimpses of the rock/mankind rivalry and even the rock n sock connection. Stiff shots and a freaky sell-job by Kane. Awesome.
Match 5 (wow 5 matches) Edge vs Gangrel
Ok, a typical tv match. And the story didn't really go anywhere for a while afterwards (until Christian debuted )
Match 6 Sable vs Jackie (evening Gown Match)
A pretty good women's match. And frankly if youre gonna fill time before the main event, it may as well be ladies in their underwear. AWOOGA.
Match 7; Steve Austin vs Ken Shamrock for the WWF Title
The only time these two faced off on television. From memory, Shamrocks only title match one on one and frankly it's a pretty good match. You'll never see Stone Cold deliver a power bomb anywhere else! Shame Shamrock regressed back to the mid card afterwards.
I have a lot of love for this episode, for the style of matches, the opponents that were paired together and above all else THE CROWD. Back when Raw could draw 14,000 fans, and those fans were very very loud. Listen to the noise when wrestlers are in rest holds for example...
Also this announce team in these roles blow everyone else away.
Anyway folks that's my pick. I just wanted to highlight what I loved about the era after admittedly bashing the attitude era in my last blog. I'm interested to hear what others remember as the best episode of Raw, for matches, special moments or for good memories over the years.
This is mine.