With Monday Night Raw returning to Madison Square Garden, Matthew Roberts hops into the TWM Time Machine once again to take a look back at the other Raw TV shows from the WWE’s spiritual home.
September 22, 1997
Remembered for: The night that “hardcore” wrestling came to the WWE in the form of the Hunter Hearst Helmsley Vs Cactus Jack match. Expertly built up via the green screen Three Faces Of Foley their Falls Count Anywhere match was the precursor of sorts to the hardcore division. The reaction for Cactus is off the charts.
Of course, this is also the night when arguably the biggest feud in WWE history kicks off proper. Yes, this is the night when Vince McMahon takes his first stunner from Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Other notes: The Intercontinental Title tournament is in full swing, as is the hype for the first ever (and still best in my opinion) Hell in a Cell match. There are also some cool clips from the WWE’s history of events in Madison Square Garden.
February 28, 2000
Remembered for: Well it’s the night after No Way Out and Mick Foley has been “retired”. Anyone around at the time will recall he came back about two weeks later and headlined WrestleMania. He had to do it so that Vince wouldn’t withhold money that Mick had earmarked for Dewey’s college fund you know…But that’s another story. Build up to WrestleMania aside, this is probably most well “remembered” for being the night that Mae Young gave birth to a hand. A low point in the history of WWE Raw for sure.
Other notes: We’re still moving the pieces for WrestleMania because technically at this point the main event is set to be Triple H vs The Big Show. Rock has a chance to earn his way back in but the handicap main event is just a way to drag out the inevitable for a few more weeks.
August 7, 2000
Remembered for: We’re on the road to Summerslam with the Triple H/Steph/Kurt Angle love triangle bubbling up. This show is probably best remembered for The Rock Vs Chris Benoit in a fantastic No DQ match for the WWF World Heavyweight Title with a returning Chris Jericho costing his fellow Chris the match. The main event of Triple H Vs Angle Vs Jericho is set up to decide who the Rock will face at the PPV but both HHH and Kurt make a claim to the pin on Jericho.
Other notes: Victoria takes a sick bump through a table courtesy of the Godfather. It’s impact is rather lessened later on when The Undertaker wraps a chain around the Big Show’s neck and tosses him off the stage through a table. There’s a fun bit of business between Taz and JR (and Jerry Lawler).
June 25, 2001
Remembered for: It’s the night after King of the Ring but this is the night that “WCW” well and truly invades the WWE’s home turf as Mike Awesome attacks Hardcore Champion Rhyno backstage and forces the referee to make the count that makes Awesome the new champion. We all know how it went from there for Awesome but it is still a cool moment. The show ends with Booker T (and Shane McMahon) attacking Vince in the middle of the ring. The “invasion” starts here!
Other notes: This is also the night that the new King of The Ring Edge vows not to “Billy Gunn” his KorR moment. Ouch!
Remembered for: The night that Triple H returned to TV after eight months or so out to one of THE loudest ovations in Raw history. Whatever your feelings on Triple H and his push (and how the WWE just pushed and pushed him until the fans actually reacted to him) you can’t deny this night and the reaction.
Other notes: Vince McMahon plays dress-up in a wig and robe to spoof his Royal Rumble opponent Ric Flair.
August 26, 2002
Remembered for: It’s the night after Summerslam so it’s the first night of WWE TV with Brock Lesnar as the World Champion. Of course most of the show revolves around Triple H instead. It’s also the night that the Hardcore title “disappears” as Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam beats Hardcore champion Tommy Dreamer in a unification match.
Other notes: If you ever feel the need to see a match between Lilian Garcia and Howard Finkel, this is the show for you. As a bonus, it’s Tuxedo/Evening Gown rules.
June 23, 2003
Remembered for: The main event is a Title VS Mask match between Triple H and Kane. No surprises that Kane loses and for the first time in WWE he officially unmasks (half his hair comes off and reveals a heavily made up face that presumably was supposed to be the awful burns he suffered at the hands of his brother all that time ago). That there was precious little long-term build up to this says all you need to know about 2003 WWE.
Other notes: Steve Austin does an in-ring promo to announce that next year’s WrestleMania XX will be at Madison Square Garden. Goldberg makes his Madison Square Garden debut by killing Rodney Mack (the crowd approved). In terms of “name value”, Shawn Michaels & Kevin Nash against Ric Flair & Randy Orton is pretty big. It’s an awful, phoned in match though.
October 4, 2004
Remembered for: Well for once (it happened twice actually) Raw is preceding a PPV as this is the night before Taboo Tuesday. So a lot of the show revolves around the WWE trying to manipulate what they want the fans to vote for tomorrow. The show itself isn’t really remembered for anything, but there is a good Shawn Michaels/Christian match which is worth checking out.
Other notes: I can see what they are trying to do but having a load of heels constantly telling us Taboo Tuesday is stupid doesn’t really sell that show does it? We’re in the middle of the Lita/Kane/Snitsky rivalry here (Lita has just “lost the baby”). I’d totally forgotten there was a Carmella (DeCesare) before our current Carmella.
April 18, 2005
Remembered for: A “thrilling” No DQ main event between Triple H and Jim Ross… oh wait no. It wasn’t remotely thrilling. They pull the old trick of saying Batista (the world champion lest we forget) will be in Ross’ corner but he doesn’t show up until about ten minutes in. (To be fair that dastardly HHH has called up the limo company to stop them hiring one out to Dave or something). By that time the crowd is dead and doesn’t really care. Way to make your champ look super strong eh? Still at least Ross gets a pinfall win as a result…
Other notes: Viscera saves Trish from Kane & Lita and then, erm, attempts to force himself on Trish. Given what’s been revealed about Vince in 2022 it’s not a skit that ages well at all. Though it was repulsive at the time too. Vince takes the opportunity to announce that the WWE Draft will return in a month. There are no matches of any worth at all on the show.
September 11, 2006
Remembered for: The main event is a No Holds Barred match between Triple H and Vince McMahon. For note we’re in DX babyface mode here with HHH. The match is awful by the way but I’m sure Vince was glad to be able to say he main-evented the Garden.
Other notes: Roddy Piper returns (part 231) to team with the Highlanders to take on The Spirit Squad. The match is awful but the pre-match verbals from Piper and his Scottish mates is top notch. And boy, Piper is OVER here. Trish Stratus wrestles her last match on Raw for more than two years here as she will shortly “retire”. It’s a three minute win over Mickie James but does feel like a heart-felt attempt to give her a worthwhile “goodbye” from Raw. Her next singles match on Raw would have to wait until 2011!
August 13, 2007
Remembered for: It doesn’t age well now, AGAIN given the recent stories, but the big storyline point throughout this show is that Vince McMahon has fathered a child as he’s recently been filed with a paternity suit. It’s certainly interesting to watch 15 years on as Stephanie publicly confronts him with the news that the child is a WWE superstar. The whole storyline ended up getting turned into a laughing stock when chosen one Mr Kennedy failed a drugs test. Watching it in 2022 it’s almost impossible to draw a line between on-screen and off-screen Vince.
Other notes: William Regal cosplays as Simon Cowell for an episode of WWE Idol. Some (but not much) of those skits are mildly amusing. Randy Orton & Carlito Vs John Cena & Umaga seems a strange match on paper but it’s a relatively entertaining main event.
November 16, 2009
Remembered for: The match itself isn’t great (far from it) but there’s a lot of star power in the main event as tag champs The Big Show & Chris Jericho take on John Cena (Raw Champ) & The Undertaker (Smackdown Champ) and D-Generation X in a triple threat match.
Other notes: Roddy Piper is here, for far too long really, though his interactions with Vince McMahon in the in-ring segment are entertaining. And there is a FANTASTIC video package on the history of the WWF/E in Madison Square Garden.
September 9, 2019
Remembered for: A decade has almost passed since the last Raw from Madison Square Garden and we start off with Stone Cold Steve Austin heading to the ring with the news that it’s almost two decades since he’s been in the Garden. I’ve no idea if that’s true. The show begins with Austin and ends with Austin (sharing some Steveweisers with the babyface winners of the ten-man main event).
Other notes: There’s “Four Horsewomen” action as Becky Lynch & Charlotte take on Sasha Banks & Bayley. There’s not much else of note on a fun, but not very memorable show.