The Greatest Moments in WWE Monday Night Raw History

John Cena Is Drafted To Monday Night Raw

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Back when the brand split actually meant that Raw and SmackDown were actually kept separate, the draft lottery was A LOT of fun. In 2005, the month long re-aligning of the rosters started with a bang of almost nuclear proportions.

Chris Jericho was given the honour of introducing Monday Night Raw’s first draft pick and, needless to say, it was a new arrival that shook the entire WWE up.

At the time, Batista was helming Raw as World Heavyweight Champion. And doing a pretty damn good job of things as well, as his seminal feud with Triple H came to a head. So no need for another World Champ on the show, right?

Well, as it turned out, the two champions would trade brands as Cena began his decade as the face of the company in typically bombastic fashion. This was a crowd reaction for the ages. Not to mention the beginning of a very entertaining feud with Y2J. A feud that would be rekindled brilliantly three years later over the World Heavyweight Championship.

Batista Gives Evolution The Thumbs Down

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In the entire history of Monday Night Raw, you can probably count on one hand the amount of programmes that have been executed as perfectly as Batista’s evolution from Triple H’s muscle into the man who would dethrone The Game as World Heavyweight Champion.

Starting with The Animal’s Royal Rumble victory, it became apparent that the future King of Kings wanted no part of his Evolution protege. The Cerebral Assassin did his best to convince Batista that he was better off challenging JBL for his WWE Title on SmackDown instead.

Then, when Trips and Ric Flair attempted to engineer a hit-and-run on big Dave, pinning the blame on JBL, their plan spectacularly backfired. Future Drax The Destroyer eavesdropped on the pair’s duplicitous plan and had some fun with them at his decision making ceremony later that night.

And by fun I obviously mean slowly giving Triple H the dreaded thumbs down and Batista bombing him clean through a table. The contract was signed and the main event for one of the most eagerly anticipated (and most bought) WrestleManias of all time was set.

CM Punk Drops a Pipebomb

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He may have cut another promo in the very recent past that has had far wider reaching repercussions, but that doesn’t mean CM Punk’s 2011 Pipebomb is any less impactful or influential over a decade down the line.

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but the whole wrestling world bore witness to what happened in the Thomas and Mack Center on June 27th, 2011. Not only did Punk ‘break the fourth wall’ and send well wishes to, of all people, Colt Cabana, the Straight Edge Superstar borderline manifested for Vince McMahon’s demise, insulted his family and promised to leave the WWE with their world title in three weeks time.

Of course, Punk stayed true to his word, lit up his hometown of Chicago in a five star classic with John Cena at Money In The Bank and left through the crowd and into the night with the WWE Title. And that’s exactly how things ended and nothing at all happened after that, OK?

Bret Hart Loses The Plot

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This may not be one of those moments that is repeated ad nauseam on compilations and documentaries, but it is still one of the defining promos in WWE history.

On 17th March, 1997, on the road to WrestleMania 13, Bret Hart lost a WWF Title steel cage match to then champion Syco Sid. As the blue bars were being dismantled around him, the Hitman grabbed the mic and tore into Vince McMahon and the entire situation around his defeat.

Bret’s foul mouthed tirade was completely out of sync with the usually clean cut babyface character the crowds had come to know and love over the years. But it stemmed from weeks and months of frustrations. Some legitimate from behind the scenes happenings that were channeled into his new direction.

What this promo led to was the birth of Bret’s seminal heel run throughout the remainder of 1997. In the United States, he was loathed as he feuded with Steve Austin, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. In Canada, he was a hero. The turn revitalised the Hitman’s career and produced his very best work.

In doing so, Bret helped launch Stone Cold as the biggest drawing act in WWE history and delivered many of the promotion’s greatest ever matches. Not a bad way to go out, eh?

Chris Jericho ‘Wins’ The WWF Title From HHH

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The Game was really on a different level in 2000. As WWF Champion, Triple H was putting out bangers every week, whether it was with Cactus Jack, The Rock, Rikishi or Taka Michinoku.

On 17th April of that year, however, the Cerebral Assassin briefly saw his dominance over the old New York territory come to an abrupt halt during an impromptu title defence against ‘Y2J’ Chris Jericho.

A back-and-forth title clash saw the match official grounded, allowing Earl Hebner to step in to take over refereeing duties. Given that Hebner was currently pretty much public enemy number one with the McMahon-Helmsley regime, this was not a replacement that was welcomed by the World Champion.

As The Game allowed himself to be distracted by a conflict with Hebner, Jericho sensed his opportunity, delivering a spinning heel kick and Lionsault to a stunned champion. Three very quick seconds later and The Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah was being pronounced as the NEW WWF Champion to an elated State College crowd in Pennsylvania.

However, this being the McMahon-Helmsley era, things weren’t that simple. Barely minutes after the bell had rung, The Game and Shane McMahon were threatening Hebner to reverse the decision, due to the official’s fast count.

Needless to say, the title was returned and Y2J’s reign stricken from the record. It would be another 20 months before Jericho would wear World Title gold for the first time, but no one can take away his brief few minutes on top of the world in April, 2000.

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

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As the Attitude Era gave way to ‘Ruthless Aggression’ new stars were needed to revitalise WWE. With The Undertaker currently on top of the pile as WWE Champion, younger challengers were lining up to dethrone the American Badass.

One such superstar was Jeff Hardy. Fresh off a wildly successful and death defying tag team run with his brother Matt, Jeff seemed set for superstardom. And on July 1st, 2002, he came within inches of achieving it.

Ladder matches aren’t the sort of gimmick ordinarily associated with The Undertaker, but The Deadman gave this effort his all, duelling with his daredevil opponent in an all timer of a Monday Night Raw main event.

While the Charismatic Enigma ultimately came up short in capturing the title, he did receive The Deadman’s respect.

The Nexus Destroy Monday Night Raw

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Before NXT became the most must see content on the WWE Network between 2014-2019 with its weekly offerings from Full Sail, the black and gold brand was a very different entity altogether.

Positioned as an elimination style gameshow, the inaugural competition was won by Preston’s own Wade Barrett. But not content with his victory, Barrett decided to align himself with his fellow competitors. To devastating effect.

In June of 2010, the WWE landscape looked like it was shifting forever. The newfound Nexus interrupted the main event and wreaked havoc. The ring was torn apart, John Cena was decimated. Justin Roberts was choked out by a Daniel Bryan who was set to be briefly, yet very legitimately, fired for a few weeks.

The whole scene was remarkable. A new faction of new faces were now in pole position as the company’s top heels. An nWo for a new generation. Only, it didn’t quite work out like that. But while we will always be left wondering what might have been for Barrett and co., no one can take away the impact of their debut as a faction on that balmy June night in Miami.

The Greatest Moments in WWE Monday Night Raw History