Tremendous Tirades: WWE: Raw 20th Anniversary Collection - The 20 Greatest Episodes Uncut & Unedited 12 DVD Set
Posted by Larry Csonka on 12.03.2013
411’s Larry Csonka takes a look at the latest WWE DVD release, which looks at the 20th anniversary of Monday Night Raw…
In the spirit of full disclosure, the following DVD set was provided to 411 by WWE for review purposes. The DVD’s synopsis reads as follows: Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Raw, WWE presents 20 of the most memorable Raw episodes in history all in one all-new collector's set. For the first time ever, this collection will feature 20 COMPLETE EPISODES of Raw spread out over 12 DVD discs. Each episode will be featured in chronological order, and were carefully selected to present a wide range that showcases all eras, several milestones and historic moments throughout Raw history.
PLEASE NOTE: This review will not include full reviews of the Raw episodes. I receive these early to review, and have to stick to the time frame given to get the review done by the day of release. I will provide quick thoughts on the episodes included and touch on the big things that happened. Thanks for understanding and for reading.
DISC ONE – THE DOCUMENTARY
The DVD set is hosted by Michael Cole and the Bella Twins. It is labeled as, “Facts and Figures hosted by Michael Cole and the Bella Twins”. Here are the categories and some notes on each…
The timeframe for the statistics are from the first Raw to January of 2013.
Championships: The Bellas introduce us to the first part about titles. There have been numerous title changes on Raw…
~ Tag Team Titles: 63
~ Intercontinental Titles: 45
~ WWE Titles: 15
~ WWE Titles Vacated/Smiles Lost: 2
That’s it, they do not touch on the women’s/divas, lightweight, European, Hardcore or any other titles.
Commentators: Cole welcomes us to the next portion about commentators. There have been 36 different combinations of announcers on Raw…
~ Randy Savage: 68 episodes
~ Vince McMahon: 226
~ Michael Cole: 257
~ Jim Ross: 572
~ Jerry Lawler: 805
~ 16 different combinations have only announced one Raw episode.
You can actually check out part of this segment below to get a feel for how the DVD is set up…
Cities / States: We now move to the discussion of where Raw has been held. 168 different cities have hosted Raw.
~ Manhattan Center: 24 (the most for one “location”, 17 in the first year)
~ Boston, MA: 17
~ Chicago, IL: 19
~ Philadelphia, PA: 19
~ Poughkeepsie, NY: 25
~ New York, NY: 40
~ Eight states have never hosted a Raw: South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Alaska and Wyoming.
Next up are the states that have hosted the most Raws…
Talk Shows: Cole discusses mic time, and the talk shows on the show over the years…
~ The Heart Break Hotel: 1
~ The Love Shack: 3
~ The Brother Love Show: 4
~ The VIP Lounge: 4
~ Miz TV: 5
~ Piper’s Pit: 6
~ The Cutting Edge: 11
~ Carlito’s Cabana: 12
~ The King’s Court: 34
~ The Highlight Reel: 40
Specialty Matches: We then get discussion of specialty matches…
~ Iron Man Match: 2
~ Hell in a Cell: 2
~ Flag Match: 4
~ First Blood: 4
~ Casket Match: 4
~ Submission Matches: 6
~ Battle Royals (with 16 or more men): 13
~ Ladder Match: 14
~ Falls Count Anywhere: 19
~ Tables Match: 23
~ Lumberjack/Lumberjill: 33
~ Steel Cage Match: 48
Celebrities: The Bellas say that over 100 celebrities have appeared as a guest in some form on Raw over the years..
~ Some of those are: Mike Tyson, Shaq, Bob Barker, Luke Parry, Snoop Dogg, Jerry Springer, Buzz Aldrin, Kevin Federline, Hugh Jackman, Donald Trump, the Jackass Crew and many, many more.
International: There have been 63 international editions of Monday Night Raw.
Attendances: Cole then discusses some of the highest attended Raws of all time…
~ Georgia Dome 10.11.1999: 33,375
~ Toronto Sky Dome 2.08.1999: 41,432
~ Over 8 million total fans have attended Raw over the years.
Most Matches: But who has had the most matches on Raw?
~ Trish Stratus: 160 (most by a female)
~ Randy Orton: 300
~ John Cena: 313
~ Chris Jericho: 363
~ Kane: 364
~ Triple H: 374
~ The statistics presentation ONLY LASTED 28-minutes in total time. This was disappointing and felt very thrown together.
~ NOTE ON THE EPISODES: While it is labeled as “unedited,” there are the usual edits that you have become used to like changed entrance music due to licensing issues and downplaying Chris Benoit.
RAW 17 - May 17, 1993: The first Raw up on the list is memorable for two very important matches. The first is the famous upset victory by “The Kid” against Razor Ramon. As a fan of the “Lightning Kid” in Global, seeing Waltman pull off the upset victory was awesome. The other is the Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty main event, where Janetty won the IC Title from Shawn. No only was this one of the best matches of the year, but the interference by Mr. Perfect led to Michaels bringing in Diesel. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 174 - September 6, 1996 (RAW Championship Friday): Odd choice for inclusion. We had two IC Title Quarterfinal Tournament matches (Psycho Sid defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley via pin, Marc Mero defeated Steve Austin via DQ) and a good HBK vs. Goldust main event. Mankind did a run in, but did nothing, which was part of the build for the In Your House: Mind Games match. Not a show I would have included. Thumbs DOWN on this Raw being included.
DISCS TWO THROUGH TWELVE – THE REST OF THE RAWS
RAW 198 - February 24, 1997 (Original ECW Invasion) : This isn’t a show with great wrestling, but I remember this show because I thought it was a huge deal. ECW was something I found on late night TV; and I thought it was crazy and awesome. The fact that ECW was on Monday Night Raw was one of those dream things as a fan. As a kid I always thought of dream cards between companies, and this “ECW Invasion” had a really cool feeling to it. If you didn’t life through the original ECW you likely will not understand the feeling, but I am glad to have this on DVD. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 199 - March 3, 1997 (European Championship Tournament): You read that right, back to back episodes of Raw have been featured. This was the next week, taped in Berlin Germany and crowned the first ever European Champion. In the finals, the British Bulldog defeated Owen Hart to win the European Title in an excellent match, arguably one of the best ever on WWE TV. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 219 - July 21, 1997 : The highlight of the show is the main event Flag Match: Steve Austin, Dude Love & The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart, Owen Hart & The British Bulldog. This is another great TV match, which carries the show due to a great crowd making for a great atmosphere. Austin and Dude being out manned due to lack of HBK (who was originally scheduled for the match) leading to the Undertaker appearing works so well. This is a good piece of business. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 226 - September 22, 1997 (Stunner to McMahon): Vince generally sucked at taking the Stunner, but this has to be here. Austin and McMahon was such a vital part of Raw’s history and took place when the authority figure wasn’t worn out. Austin hit the stunner, and the crowd goes insane as Austin gets arrested. The show also featured the WWF debut of “Cactus Jack” against Hunter Hearst Helmsley. This was supposed to be Hunter against Dude Love, but neither Dude nor Mankind wanted to face Helmsley, so we got the “Three Faces of Foley” promo and debut of Cactus Jack, who got a great reaction from the New York crowd. This was also the announcement of HBK vs. Taker in HIAC. Interesting trivia notes, this was the same night that Goldberg debuted on Nitro, defeating Hugh Morris. This was also the night Vince McMahon met with Bret Hart before Raw that he would breach his contract, due to the WWF not being able to afford the deal signed a year before. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 255 - April 13, 1998 (Dude Love Interrupts Austin/McMahon) : This is the show that is all about Austin vs. McMahon. Things had come to a boiling point, and Austin wanted to finally kick McMahon’s ass right and proper. It was set up in the opening segment, and throughout the night we had skits with McMahon preparing for the big match. The show slowly builds, and does so very well, and once they get to the ring you could just not wait for shit to get real. But when they got there, McMahon gets a mic and says Austin said earlier that he could beat Vince with one hand tied behind his back. Austin of course agrees, because he wants to beat down McMahon so badly. This all leads to Dude Love coming out and attacking Austin with extreme prejudice. This was a show all about ONE angle, and it built to it beautifully. This is how you take an angle, make a show all about it, and then take it to a new level when it is done without giving away the big thing you were promising. How, because you found a way to save it for later while giving something to wet the appetites of the fans while they waited. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 293 - January 4, 1999 (Mankind Wins Championship) : Commissioner Shawn Michaels announces that Vince McMahon will have to enter the Royal Rumble #2, this is because as the commissioner, Michaels had control over Vince McMahon the wrestler. At the orders of Mr. McMahon, Triple H defeated Mankind to earn a spot in the Royal Rumble. But Mankind turned the tide on McMahon and tied up special referee Shane McMahon in a submission. He demanded a No DQ match against the Rock for the title, and McMahon gave in. DX was with Foley to keep the odds even, shit broke down, Austin made the run in, Foley wins the title and the crowd is absolutely ape shit in their reactions. This was a taped show, and WCW tried to fuck WWE by announcing the title change. It didn’t work out so well for them…
Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 304 - March 22, 1999 ("Beer Truck" RAW before WrestleMania) : This was the go home show for WrestleMania, where Austin beats Big Show clean and then does the beer truck celebration. It is a fun moment, but a bad show overall. This is a case where they could have just ran the segment as a “great Raw moment” and skipped the rest of the show. Thumbs DOWN on this Raw being included.
RAW 311 - May 10, 1999 (Highest Rated RAW) : This was the highest rated Raw of all time, hitting an 8.1 cable rating. The show featured a main event of Triple H, Undertaker and Shane McMahon vs. The Rock, Steve Austin and Vince McMahon. The show is fascinating to watch, as it isn’t a bad show per say, but you look at what was on the show and it is a product of its time. It’s amazing to see what WWE was presenting at the time, and then realize the giant rating they achieved. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included for the historical significance and because it seems impossible that this particular show holds the distinction of the ratings record for WWE Raw. If you were around when it happened, you can believe it, but if you weren’t and look back it seems impossible.
RAW 409 - March 26, 2001 (RAW And Nitro Simulcast) : This is on here for one reason and one reason only. This was the night that Vince announced to the world that he bought WCW, and we had the historic simulcast. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included simply for the historical importance of the evening.
RAW 548 - November 24, 2003 (RAW Roulette) : This was a RAW Roulette edition of the show. This felt like a poor choice, nothing great wrestling wise and a show filled with Bischoff doing the evil GM gimmick and feeling like he was on TV too much. It was one of those shows that was “just a show” if you know what I mean. Thumbs DOWN on this Raw being included.
RAW 645 - October 3, 2005 (RAW Homecoming) : This was the WWE’s return to the USA network after leaving for TNN years ago. They loaded the show the Angle vs. HBK Iron Man Match, Steve Austin stunning the McMahon family, Hardy vs. Edge ladder match, Triple H turning on Ric Flair and legends appearing. For a one night thing it was good and a strong event to get things back on track as they returned home to the USA network. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 759 - December 10, 2007 (RAW 15th Anniversary) : Like the Raw Homecoming show, this was about producing a one night show that felt special and had the nostalgia that some fans crave. We had a quality ladder match between Jeff Hardy and Carlito, flashbacks, a 15th anniversary battle royal (Al Snow, Bart Gunn, Doink the Clown, Repo Man, Steve Blackman, Pete Gas of the Mean Street Posse, Mr. Bob Backlund, Gangrel, The Goon, Skinner, Flash Funk, IRS, Scotty 2 Hotty, Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Neidhart and Gillberg) which was goofy fun, and Vince getting stunned by Austin to make the world right again. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included simply for the fun.
RAW 778 - April 21, 2008 (King of the Ring Tournament) : This Raw was the wrong execution of the right ideal. They brought back the King of the Ring Tournament and it just did not come off well. . First of all the matches were short and in the end didn't mean that much. They were treated as after thoughts I felt. I will however praise them for the clean finishes. Secondly, to play off of the first point, the seven matches clocked in at roughly 25-minutes. I felt that this was horrible. They should have dropped the "Obama vs. Clinton" match and given the tournament matches more time. Thirdly, the entire program was hyped as being the King of the Ring tournament, and they couldn't even get the main event because they mistakenly ran this on a go home for a PPV. It could have been so much more. Thumbs DOWN on this Raw being included.
RAW 838 - June 15, 2009 (The 3-For-All, RAW Sold to Trump) : This was a show with some very good wrestling (Jericho vs. Rey for the IC Title, Randy Orton vs. The Big Show vs. John Cena vs. Triple H for the vacant WWE Title and Edge vs. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk for the world title) and one BLAH angle, where Vince McMahon sold Raw to Donald Trump. It was a hot shot angle for publicity that led to the commercial free Raw, which some loved. I personally loved the wrestling on the show. Overall I will go with a Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
RAW 860 - November 16, 2009 (Madison Square Garden) : Another odd choice as I didn’t exactly find this a great show. Orton and Kofi have their big brawl, which was to lead to Kofi’s big push and, well, we know how that went. The big thing here is Undertaker returning to team with Cena against DX and Jeri-Show. This is a case where they could have just ran these things as “great Raw moments” and skipped the rest of the show. Thumbs DOWN on this Raw being included.
RAW 877 - March 15, 2010 (Stone Cold Hosts WrestleMania Rewind): WrestleMania Rewind with Steve Austin, with one good match (Michaels vs. Jericho) and the contract signing with Bret Hart and Vince McMahon for WrestleMania. The show is fine, but nothing special until the big reveal that Austin says Stu Hart is in the Hall of Fame no matter what Vince says and the other reveal being that Bret wasn’t injured. This of course led to one of the worst WrestleMania matches ever. I know I sound repetitious here, but once again, this was a case where they could have just ran these this as a “great Raw moment” and skipped the rest of the show. Thumbs DOWN on this Raw being included.
RAW 944 - June 27, 2011 (RAW Roulette "Pipebomb"): While CM Punk had a good WWE career up to this point, this is what really got him to the next level in WWE. He had the good matches and title runs, but this kind of promo (which is something WWE dint mess with) felt fresh, and more importantly it felt real because of Punk’s delivery, his emotion, and for the fact that he was speaking from the heart. This promo led to him getting the huge reactions, the new contract and becoming a bankable star for WWE. But this show is pretty much nothing without this, and the promo has also been featured on Punk’s DVD and the History of WWE – 50 Years of Sports Entertainment set. This is a case where they could have just ran the promo as a “great Raw moment” and skipped the rest of the show. Thumbs DOWN on this Raw being included.
RAW 984 - April 2, 2012 (RAW After WrestleMania): While the most important Raw of the year is the go home show to WrestleMania, the second most important Raw of the year to me is the night after the WrestleMania. This was the big return of Brock Lesnar, and much like Rock last year; Lesnar has created a huge buzz with this show and caused a hue level of excitement. Punk was running well as champion and the feud with Jericho was a good one. Plus LORD TENSAI DEBUTED! Ok, they all cannot be winners, but the return of Lesnar and the excitement it caused is reason enough for this to be on the set. Thumbs UP on this Raw being included.
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The 411: As with all WWE DVDs, the production is slick and the footage looks great. The “statistic” portion of the DVD is very short, and overall disappointing. It simply felt s if they told a few interns “find some interesting stuff from Raw’s history for us ASAP” and this is what they got. It is some interesting stuff, and I love numbers, but it felt lazy. Part of the issue comes from the fact that we have had the WWE: Raw 100 - The Top 100 Moments in Raw History DVD set, the WWE: The Best of Raw - 15th Anniversary DVD set, the WWE: Raw - Tenth Anniversary DVD set and the Raw "The Beginning": The Best of Seasons 1 &2 DVD set. We have had so much material released on Raw, that this comes across as picking up the scraps.
As for the complete episodes, some of them are needed for a set like this for the historical value, but then again, some of the shows are one trick ponies and we could have just been treated to moments instead of lackluster shows. With the lazy presentation of the statistics/leftovers and them stretching to add 20 full episodes of Raw, it feels like a cash grab for a $60 to $90 set, depending on where you buy it.
Don’t get me wrong, having so many important and or quality moments and matches in one set is convenient, but there is also a lot of overlapping with the numerous sets already released. The novelty here is the complete episodes, but along with that will come a lot of fast forwarding.
If you’re a big time collector and or really like historical productions with stats you’ll likely love this, but if you’re looking for a detailed history of WWE’s flagship show, I think you’ll come across disappointed...