This Monday sees the 25th anniversary of WWE Monday Night Raw. That’s 1300 nights of body-slamming, turnbuckle-flying action, and epic, theatrical drama with WWE Superstars. Last week, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, Stephanie McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Mark Henry, The Miz, and Maryse spoke to the Television Critics Association about the special edition of Raw planned for Jan. 22.
The live broadcast from New York City brings Monday Night Raw back to its very beginning, where it first aired live on USA. This broadcast will be simulcast from both the Manhattan Center (where the first-ever Raw was performed) and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The action will go back and forth between the two stadiums.
Looking back on the two and a half decades of Raw, the WWE Superstars shared six fond memories of monumental magnitude!
1. When Divas Got the Chance
The female wrestlers used to be called WWE Divas, but the fans knew the women were as Superstar-worthy as the men, so the #GiveDivasAChance movement took off last year. And Stephanie McMahon listened.
“At Wrestlemania, which is like our Super Bowl, in front of over 101,000 people live in attendance and millions watching on the WWE Network and on pay-per-view around the world, we had a WWE Hall of Famer Lita come out and announce the rebranding of the Divas Division to the Women's Division, unveil a new championship belt, and say that our women were now going to be called Superstars, the same as the men,” Stephanie McMahon said.
2. Maryse’s Return To The Ring With The Miz
Maryse hadn’t wrestled for six years when she competed in the mixed tag team match against John Cena and Nikki Bella. Although they lost, Maryse was proud to fight alongside her husband.
“I thought, for me, my biggest moment in WWE was walking down the ramp at Wrestlemania 33 with my husband in front of thousands of people [there] and millions at home,” Maryse said.
3. Maryse and The Miz’s Whole John Cena/Nikki Bella Feud
As part of making the women true WWE Superstars, Maryse had months to build up her rivalry with Bella. She nearly cried thinking about the substantial progress WWE has made on behalf of its female roster.
“This kind of led into me going on to Wrestlemania and working with my husband against John Cena and Nikki Bella this past Wrestlemania because I had that chance,” Maryse said. “I had that chance to build a storyline for three months, not even getting into the ring and having a fight or touching my opponent, just having a microphone to speak and make the crowd and fans relate to me, which was everything.”
4. The WCW Merger
Ted Turner’s WCW used to be the big rival to WWE. The night the competitions merged, fans found out -- no matter which show they were watching on Monday night.
“When my brother, Shane McMahon, went down as a character and purchased WCW Monday Night Nitro and we live-simulcast that on TNT and USA Network -- what an incredible moment that was,” Stephanie McMahon said. “I mean, for my family, my parents mortgaged everything they owned to make this company happen, and to consider that we almost went out of business because of this competitor was really personal to us. So to have that moment with Shane on this competitor's product and here is WWE on USA and knowing that we ultimately had won that war was a huge victory.”
5. Mark Henry’s Time Off
Here’s a sincere and poignant memory. Mark Henry lost his mother and needed time away from the ring. WWE gave him all the time he needed, indefinitely.
“I guess a defining moment for me was having been involved with a company that allowed me to go away, actually, so I can have a better state of mind,” Henry said. “My mother passed, and I got no time limit for how long I could be gone. I came back so focused and ended up becoming the world champion. So we look out for each other.”
6. When Women Performed In Abu Dhabi
WWE is making a difference for their fans, for their Superstars, and for the world. After making the female Superstars’ storyline more prominent, they broke down another wall.
“In December, our women competed for the first time ever in the Middle East,” Stephanie McMahon said. “For the first time ever, our women had a match in Abu Dhabi, competed for the WWE Women's Championship, and a chant broke out in the arena in the Middle East that said: ‘This is hope. This is hope.’ There were little girls with tears in their eyes in the front row. That's when you hear us get emotional and talk about the impact that we can have.”