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Top 5 WWE Matches from the first 1000 RAW episodes – Inside The Wheelhouse

Originally published July 18, 2012 – In honor of WWE RAW’s 1000th episode on I thought it would be fun to rank my own Top 5 list of my own personal RAW matches from the first 1000 episodes. There haven’t been that many episodes of RAW that I have missed fortunately and therefore had a pretty tough time narrowing down so many matches to just 5. But without any further ado here is my Top 5 list of RAW matches from the first 1000 episodes:

5. Mankind vs. The Rock (January 4th, 1999):

This was one of the most intense feuds in wrestling history and one of the most often forgotten feuds of the “attitude era.” How many of us can remember The Rock and Mankind exchanging the WWF Championship back and forth leading us to WrestleMania 14? I certainly do and the most memorable match of that feud (sorry Royal Rumble ’99 & Halftime Heat matches) was the first RAW of 1999 when “Mrs. Foley’s baby boy” won his first WWF Championship.

Some people may argue this match is most remembered by WCW’s Tony Schiavone spoiling the match on WCW Monday Nitro, saying very tongue-in-cheek that it will “put butts in seats” and hence sending everyone from Nitro to RAW to see the match/moment. But the match itself was a great one, telling a story of someone who was the “underdog” and never was going to be “championship material” captures his dream & sending the live crowd into frenzy. Mankind running around the ring with the WWF Championship after a great match makes it one of the Top 5 RAW matches of all-time.

4. Mr. Perfect vs. Ric Flair (January 25th, 1993):

Should this match even surprise you that it’s on my list? Two of the greatest in-ring performers of all-time, laying it on the line in the squared circle in the infancy stages of Monday Night RAW. It was a “loser leaves town match” that would send one legend packing from the WWF while the other one would stay on to celebrate their accomplishment of booting the other out of the company.

This match is important because it laid down the groundwork that Monday Night RAW was going to be the “must see TV” that the WWF was hyping it to be when it debuted. Weeks later they gave the wrestling world this classic of a match and the groundwork was set for RAW to be a top wrestling program in the entire world. Mr. Perfect would come out on top that night and sent Ric Flair packing back to WCW, the match is an all-time classic and therefore is on my top 5 matches list from the first 1000 episode of RAW.

3. Jeff Hardy vs. The Undertaker (July 1st, 2002):

When The Hardy Boyz debuted in the WWF you knew there was something “special” about younger brother Jeff out of the tandem. He had that “it factor” that not many wrestling stars possess and was destined to become a top star in professional wrestling. That theory was tested and achieved the night Jeff Hardy nearly beat The Undertaker for the WWF Championship in a Ladder Match one summer night in 2002.

The Undertaker was at the top of his game as a then heel WWF Champion and was the “top dog” (he called himself that as well) in the WWF at the time. Jeff Hardy was looking to break out and he sure did as Hardy & Undertaker had one of the most underrated ladder matches of all-time. It was exciting and gave wrestling fans everything they wanted in a “free” WWF Championship match. It often gets lost in history but to me it ranks as the #3 RAW matches off all-time on my top 5 list.

2. Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin (May 2nd, 2005):

It’s very few times in RAW history when we are given a “WrestleMania caliber” match for free. Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin was “WrestleMania caliber” on May 2nd, 2005 as they put on an in-ring story that is up there with some of the greatest matches of all-time. Imagine how much notoriety this match would’ve gotten had it been on a WrestleMania card or even been for a title? We might be comparing it to the likes of Savage vs. Steamboat from WrestleMania III if that was the case!

Shawn Michaels is, well, Shawn Michaels. Shelton Benjamin was a young up and comer who could put on a great match but wasn’t battle tested to the same talent that he possessed. It’s very hard for someone to actually “match” Shawn Michaels move for move but Benjamin was able to keep up with the WWE Hall-of-Famer and gave us a match that many people still like to find on YouTube every now and again. It was a RAW match that made you stand out of your seat when it was all said and done as it was one of the greatest RAW matches of all-time.

1. Bret Hart vs. The 1-2-3 Kid (July 11th, 1994):

This was one of those main event matches that wrestling fans had low expectations for but as the match went on you started to realize how good it really was. The then WWF Champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart helped make Sean “1-2-3 Kid” Waltman into a star that night as they put on a clinic for more then 20 minutes in an exciting WWF Championship Main Event match that had people believing that it was quite possible for the 1-2-3 Kid to pull off the unimaginable upset. The match took a wrestler who was mainly looked at as a lower mid-card wrestler and turned him into a superstar overnight & changing the course of one’s career.

I really believe this match is often lost in the annals of the WWE’s history because like the match at #2, it was not a match featured at a WrestleMania or other PPV event. But when you go back and watch it you realize just how good it was on July 11th, 1994. Hart vs. The 1-2-3 Kid to me, was the greatest RAW match of all-time in the first 1000 episodes and deserves to be ranked #1 on my list throughout the last nearly 20 years of RAW television programming.

Jeff who is part of The Bower Show on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT & ESPN 1300 in New Haven, CT announced that current WWE Champion CM Punk will be returning to the show this Thursday July 19th to promote the upcoming RAW 1000th episode.

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Jeff Peck

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