Celebrating 30 Years Of WWE RAW
World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship show, RAW, has accomplished the impressive feat of being on television for thirty years. RAW debuted on the USA Network on January 11th, 1993, providing a much-needed jolt to the WWE product. Before creating the live programming known as RAW, WWE relied on pre-taped matches with a panel of guests discussing the action. The format had become dull. So when RAW came on the air, it brought a much-needed spark and life to WWE’s presentation.
With over 1,500 episodes of RAW and many more to come, many matches must be watched by fans, while other contests are under the radar and may be less well known. Here is a list of ten bouts, with a couple of honorable mentioned matches and contests that fans from the first year of WWE RAW should watch.
1-2-3 Kid vs. Blake Beverly – July 5th, 1993
Blake Beverly isn’t remembered by wrestling fans for singles matches in the WWE, but his encounter with younger 1-2-3 Kid is a hidden gem of a match from 1993. The Kid had only been with the WWE since May, and his unique offense displays fun aerial moves and kicks. Blake matched well with the smaller 1-2-3 Kid and showcased his power, including a vertical suplex onto the top turnbuckle during the match. Blake casually tossing Kid over the top to the floor garnered an audible groan from the audience. Kid hits an impressive somersault dive off the top to the floor, something that was not commonplace in the WWE at the time. Kid’s underdog story continued to get over with the crowd after winning with a top rope leg drop. A quality extended showcase where both men look good, and the wrestler intended to benefit most from it does.
WWE Tag Team Champions The Quebecers vs. 1-2-3 Kid & Barry Horowitz – September 27th, 1993
One of the more entertaining stories in pro wrestling is usually the underdog overcoming the odds and winning a big match. The team of 1-2-3 Kid and Barry Horowitz was a makeshift team, but with the creditability that Kid had developed for upset wins, the match had drama that may have otherwise been there. These two teams put forth a fun tag match for a nearly ten-minute match, and the champions had a few moments of doubt about retaining the titles. Quebecers are an underrated tag team, and their ability to put over their opponents while still prevailing was on display here.
Razor Ramon vs. Rick Martel – October 11th, 1993
The match between Ramon and Martel is the match that solidified Razor Ramon as a top fan favorite. Ramon and Martel were the final two of the previous week’s battle royal to determine the winner of the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship. Martel hadn’t been used on television regularly, but his name value was still relevant enough to mean something when Ramon prevailed. Ramon winning the title is one of the more memorable moments in the first year of RAW’s existence.
TEN MATCHES FROM 1993 WWE RAW WORTH CHECKING OUT
Mr. Perfect vs. Ric Flair – January 25th, 1993
At the end of 1992, Mr. Perfect escaped Ric Flair’s shadow and aligned with Flair’s rival, Randy Savage. While a singles match between the two would likely be a draw on pay-per-view, Flair was leaving to go back to WCW. As a result, a career vs. career match was rushed and put on free television. Their match is the first memorable main event match to air on WWE RAW, and they didn’t disappoint. While the outcome may have been evident to diehard fans, the match helped cement Mr. Perfect as a potential main event act for WWE. Unfortunately, Flair went all out in his final WWE match after nearly a decade when Flair bled during the match. While Perfect wasn’t elevated up the card as it may have been expected, Perfect remained one of the more popular acts in the promotion. Flair’s return to WCW led to more World Championships and the dream match between Hulk Hogan on pay-per-view that never happened in WWE.
WWE World Champion Bret Hart vs. Fatu – March 1st, 1993
After winning the WWE World Championship in October 1992, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart made it clear that he would be a fighting champion. Hart proved that true when Fatu was given a championship opportunity on RAW. Fatu was already one of the more underrated wrestlers in WWE and part of an underrated tag team with Samu known as the Headshrinkers. Throughout the match, Fatu became a credible threat to the championship by hitting devastating moves that Bret sold perfectly. Entering the match, Fatu was not seen as a title contender, but credit to Bret’s ability; by the end of the contest, Fatu was given creditability that hadn’t been there previously. Bret’s determination to be a fighting champion added value to himself and to challengers such as Fatu.
Razor Ramon vs. The 1-2-3 Kid – May 17th, 1993
Despite being 30 years ago, the night that a newcomer in the Kamikaze Kid (later 1-2-3 Kid) upset Razor Ramon is one of the most memorable and shared moments in RAW history. The moonsault off the top leading to Kid pinning Ramon is an outstanding visual, and the crowd’s reaction of pure shock adds to the moment. The upset victory was an example of what RAW was supposed to be, and that’s unpredictable. Ramon’s talent allowed for such a moment not to derail his trajectory, but it did allow for a new star to be created.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty – May 17th, 1993
Earlier in the evening, Marty Jannetty made a surprise return to the WWE after having not been seen since the Royal Rumble in January due to personal reasons. The former tag partners had turned into bitter rivals. The Manhattan crowd erupted when Jannetty revealed himself and challenged Michaels for the championship. The action is fun, and the crowd clamors for a title win. The fans would get the title change with assistance from Mr. Perfect, of course.
Mr. Perfect vs. Doink the Clown – May 24th, 1993
Perfect and Doink had a TV feud for a few weeks, so they became familiar with each other when they met again on RAW. The action was quite good and the storytelling of two Doink’s and finally having that backfire on Doink after months of it being successful was a lot of fun, too. The match between Perfect and Doink is a Mr. Perfect match that fans often forget about compared to his bouts with guys like Bret Hart and Ric Flair. A hidden gem of a match for RAW.
Doink the Clown vs. Marty Jannetty – best two out of three falls match – June 21st, 1993
To casual fans, the idea of a wrestling clown would likely prompt eye rolls and a scoff. However, Matt Bourne, who played the character Doink, was a fantastic in-ring performer, and that was showcased during a two out of three falls match with Marty Jannetty. They were given plenty of time and utilized that time to put forth an entertaining two out of three falls bout. Marty continued to have a streak of suitable matches since his return, and Doink was an underrated in-ring performer. A good mixture of mat wrestling and impactful spots sprinkled in made a twenty-minute match not to be a chore to get through.
WWE World Champion Yokozuna vs. Crush – July 12th, 1993
Having recently defeated wrestling icon Hulk Hogan at King of the Ring a few weeks earlier, Yokozuna was on a roll. The fans at the Manhattan Center let Yokozuna know they hated him. Crush had been doing well before the title opportunity. Before the match started, the crowd added to the atmosphere by singing the Star Spangled Banner. The crowd enthusiasm added to the encounter and provided a big match feel for a RAW show. While Crush would end up coming up short after a valiant effort, Yokozuna took Crush out with several Bonzai Drops. Crush would return months later but with a much different attitude and look. Yokozuna’s dominance continued until the following spring.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty – July 19th, 1993
Their first encounter on RAW in 1993 was more memorable for the shock value more-so than the in-ring action. When they met again on July 19th, Michaels had regained the championship from Jannetty in June. The match could be considered the best singles contest in Jannetty’s WWE career. In addition, they had developed fantastic chemistry, which was on full display for one of the best RAW matches in the first year of its existence.
Bret Hart vs. Bam-Bam Bigelow – July 26th, 1993
Bam-Bam Bigelow’s WWE career is mainly seen as disappointing, with often his disappointing feud with Doink being highlighted or his failed face run in 1995. One of the bright spots for Bigelow was whenever he was in the ring with Bret Hart. They had a classic encounter at the King of the Ring in the tournament finals, and their rematch a month later allowed more people to see the actual skill and potential that Bigelow offered. Bret continued to bring the best out of his opponents, similar to his match with Fatu a few months prior.
WWE Tag Team Champions Steiner Brothers vs. The Quebecers – September 13th, 1993
In a unique match called Quebec Province Rules, if the Steiner Brothers were to be disqualified by the referee, they would lose the tag team championships. That’s what would happen, and the Quebecers won the titles, but the match was good, even if it was a standard tag match. The Quebecers were able to show off their fun offense, and the Steiner Brothers, well, they’re the Steiner Brothers, executed their moves to the crowd’s delight throughout the match. The match was nearly eighteen minutes, but it was fun and stayed within its presence to still be an enjoyable contest.
WWE RAW continues to air on the USA Network Monday nights starting at 8 PM ET.