WrestleMania has been one of the biggest nights in the history of professional wrestling since its inception in 1985. Over these past 37 years, the WWE has put all of its efforts into the Grandest Stage of Them All. They have brought back big names, blown off major feuds, and put on classic affairs. This effort has made WrestleMania one of the most anticipated shows on the WWE calendar. Raw After Mania.
This anticipation that comes with WrestleMania had for years gone unmatched by any show or pay-per-view that the WWE had to offer. That is until Monday Night Raw started hitting our television screens. When Monday Night Raw was introduced, in 1993, the only connection that it had to WrestleMania was that it took place the night after. It was a show that was there to create new storylines after ‘Mania was over. That changed drastically over the past 15 years.
Since the mid-2005’s Raw has become almost as anticipated a show as WrestleMania itself. The crowd is the most hectic of the year and there is almost assuredly a huge surprise return set up. The WWE has made sure to add very special moments throughout the evening and for the most part, these moments have been a hit. But which ones were the special moments worthy of a Raw after Mania? Below we will take a look at the 5 best of these moments.
Ziggler Cashes In Money In The Bank
Raw After Mania 2013
Ziggler was one of the hottest acts in the company going into 2013. The former cheerleader was one of the best workers in the company and his mic skills were rapidly improving. What was more important is that he was gaining popularity from the WWE Universe. While being a heel, Ziggler was getting reactions from the fans that were rivaling the biggest faces in the company.
Since winning the Money In The Bank contract the previous year he had engaged in classic battles with the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, and Chris Jericho. With the high-caliber matches, he was putting on it was only a matter of time before the WWE thrust him into the main event picture.
Considering how long he had held onto the briefcase fans were expecting that Ziggler may cash in at WrestleMania and get the moment that he deserved. Unfortunately, he was shoehorned into competing for the tag team titles against Team Hell No. The match was fantastic but the expectation of a cash-in overshadowed the contest.
It may have been a great bait and switch by the WWE the following night on Raw. After Alberto Del Rio had finished a grueling title defense against Jack Swagger Ziggler saw his moment. When his music hit the eruption from the crowd was one of the biggest in WWE history. Ziggler, with the briefcase in tow, made his way to the ring to pounce on an injured Del Rio and finally get his championship victory.
It was a shame that things ended up the way they did for Ziggler going forward because his championship coronation was truly one of the best moments in the history of Raw.
Raw After Mania 2011
Over the past few years, the WWE had developed quite a track record with fantastic retirement ceremonies. After WrestleMania 24, Ric Flair was given a sendoff worthy of being one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Then, two years later, Shawn Michaels had another very moving retirement speech after he failed to end the Undertakers streak the previous evening.
Both of these were great ‘Night After’ moments but they paled in comparison to the highly emotional moment that happened on the Raw after Mania 27.
Edge had competed in more ladder/hardcore matches than most on the roster throughout his career. The punishment that he had put his body through was finally catching up to him and that night on Raw he made an announcement that shocked the world. Edge made his way to the ring and explained to everyone that with his various neck surgeries taking their toll he was being forced to retire.
With the internet giving fans more access than ever before it is very hard for anyone to be shocked at goings-on in WWE. This was one of the times were something was truly out of left field. It was not planned, or scripted by WWE.
This unscripted announcement, and subsequent retirement speech, by Edge, drew true emotion from the WWE Universe. You could feel the sadness and shock from the crowd as Edge poured his heart out to the world. It will go down as one of the most emotional moments in the history of the company.
Goldberg Makes His WWE Debut
Raw After Mania 2003
When Vince McMahon purchased WCW, two years prior, the parade of WCW wrestlers coming through WWE’s ranks began. The Invasion angle brought most of them to the company and when that fizzled out the NWO made their triumphant return. Throughout all of these returns, there were two glaring omissions, Goldberg and Sting. We all know that Sting would spend his post-WCW years in TNA so there was going to be no surprise there.
When the Rock was in the midst of, yet another, fantastic heel promo you could feel a rumble from the crowd. It was almost as if the fans knew who, or what was coming. Mid-promo, while the Rock was busy berating the crowd, a piece of all familiar music hit the loudspeakers in the arena. The fans instantly jumped to their feet when they saw Goldberg on the big screen as he made his way into the arena.
Goldberg was never a man of many words and he proved this by marching to the ring, telling the Rock that he was next, and leveling the Brahma Bull with a spear. It was amazing to see Golberg in a WWE ring as he was one of the biggest holdovers from WCW.
His tenure did not last very long in the WWE, thankfully rectified years later, but it was still an amazing moment worthy of the Raw after Mania.
The Beast Returns
Raw After Mania 2012
In another after WrestleMania debut, Brock Lesnar first appeared on WWE television the night after WrestleMania 18. The Beast jumped in the ring during a hardcore match and proceeded to decimate everyone in his path. It was especially brutal to see him powerbomb Spike Dudey multiple times.
After his debut, Lesnar went on an incredible run. He sliced his way through the entire roster, eventually winning the Undisputed WWE Championship to cap off an amazing rookie year. Following his career-defining win, Lesnar stayed in the main event picture for the next year before he famously decided to take his ball and go home.
When he left WWE Lesnar went to the UFC where he became one of the biggest draws in the company as well as winning their Heavyweight Championship. He had become so successful outside of the WWE that no one ever thought he would come back through the curtain.
This doubt, of a return, all changed the night after WrestleMania 28. Cena was in the ring taking his lumps from the crowd after his loss to the Rock at ‘Mania. Cena was in the middle of calling the Rock out to shake hands when a piece of different entrance music hit that sent the fans into a frenzy. “Next Big Thing” sounded off in the arena as fans rose to their feet to see Brock Lesnar come strolling on the ramp. He made his way down to the ring to a chorus of “ Holy Sh*!” chants from the Miami audience and F-5’d Cena.
It was a genuine shock to see Lesnar make his return to WWE. It was a truly great moment that was worthy of the Raw after Mania.
Austin v McMahon Begins
Raw After Mania 1998
Austin was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest acts WWE had ever seen. He had won the Royal Rumble and was now poised to face off against HBK at WrestleMania.
The build-up to their main event match was fantastic and involved “Iron” Mike Tyson, who was brought in as the special enforcer for the match. Vince McMahon saw this as a great opportunity to bring some mainstream exposure to WWE. Unfortunately, Austin was not the type to get along with anyone and this led to a very famous showdown between Austin and Tyson on Monday Night Raw. As the two tried to get to one another you can hear McMahon screaming, “You’ll ruin it!” at Austin. It was clear that Austin and McMahon were not on the same page.
This not seeing eye to eye was intensified the night after Austin won the WWE Championship. McMahon had brought Austin to the ring and gave the champ an ultimatum of doing things the hard way or the easy way. Austin, being the anti-hero, did not take kindly to this threat and stunned the boss.
It was a classic moment in WWE history and spawned one of the most iconic rivalries in the history of WWE. It was the moment that the Attitude Era began and it was a feud that helped to turn the tide in the Monday Night Wars.