10. Steve Austin and the Zamboni
Date: September 28, 1998
Any time you saw a Raw with no ramp in the arena, you knew an angle might be coming. Vince McMahon, WWE’s chairman, was in the ring for a WWE Championship presentation for The Undertaker and Kane after the two “brothers” pinned Steve Austin at the same time to win the title. However, the presentation was interrupted.
Austin showed up driving the Zamboni at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. The cops and security guys couldn’t stop him, so Austin drove into the arena. The crowd was going crazy as Austin drove the Zamboni towards the ring. He ran across the Zamboni and decked Vince with a clothesline that drew a huge ovation from the crowd. It was one of those moments that Raw fans will never forget.
9. The Rock, This is Your Life
Date: September 27, 1999
I don’t think anybody watching Raw in the Attitude Era can forget “This is Your Life” hosted by Mick Foley (as Mankind) as a tribute to The Rock. It was a nearly 30-segment promo, which is unheard of with no interruptions on live television. They were probably given some guidelines to it, but clearly they went off on their own and took it on a unique path.
Rock was greeted by people from his path, including an old football coach and a high school girlfriend with Rock firing off some memorable one-liners like “Poontang pie your ass outta here!”
The whole thing was done to try to have Foley suck up to The Rock because The Rock was cool and Foley was awkward. Even though Foley was being nice, The Rock was a jerk to him and the fans still loved him for it. This was my favorite line: “The Rock’s birthday is May 2nd, you stupid son of a bitch!”
The segment drew massive ratings, but it was not the highest-rated segment in Raw history, like WWE claims, because some Austin matches did better — including a match against The Undertaker on June 28 that drew 10.7 million viewers. With that said, this was one of most memorable promo segments there’s ever been. No doubt about that.
8. Chris Jericho debuts on Raw
Date: August 9, 1999
There was a millennium countdown clock shown on Raw for several weeks leading up to the big moment on August 9, 1999. Most of us assumed it was going to have something to do with Chris Jericho (who we knew from ECW and WCW) making his WWE debut, but we didn’t know for sure. In that era, there were so many rumors about wrestlers all the time. When Jericho’s name appeared on the screen and he said, “Welcome to Raw is Jericho,” the crowd in Chicago went crazy.
That promo from Jericho led to a classic promo confrontation with The Rock. They are two of the best talkers in the history of wrestling, so it’s fitting that The Rock was in the ring when Jericho showed up for his debut. It was vintage Jericho, as he was obnoxious, funny and abrasive while telling us that he was there to save the company. The Rock put him in his place by telling him it didn’t matter what his name was and the crowd loved The Rock for it.
It is one of the best debuts in WWE history and a fitting moment for Raw.
7. Dolph Ziggler wins the World Heavyweight Championship
Date: April 8, 2013
The Raw after WrestleMania has produced several great moments. It’s a big night for WWE because the crowd is usually raucous and WWE has gone out of their way to tell the fans at home that this is not the usual WWE crowd. It’s as if they don’t want fans to make noise. Anyway, on the night after WrestleMania in 2013, Dolph Ziggler had the defining moment of his career.
Ziggler was a heel who won the Money in the Bank briefcase the previous summer. Alberto Del Rio had just competed in a World Heavyweight Title match where he was dealing with a left leg injury. Ziggler walked down to the ring with his buddies AJ Lee and Big E. It only took a few minutes for Ziggler to hit the Zig Zag and beat Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Title. The crowd cheered loudly, even though Ziggler was a heel, because he had earned the respect of the fans as a smaller guy and had some of the best matches in WWE.
Ziggler’s title reign ended up being short and forgettable, but this moment will live on forever as one of the best in Raw history.
6. Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon hug on Raw
Date: July 15, 2002
“It takes a real son of a bitch to be successful in this business. From one son of a bitch to another, allow me to introduce you to the new General Manager of Raw, his name is Eric Bischoff.” – Vince McMahon
I’ll never forget the moment as former WCW President Eric Bischoff walked onto the Raw stage and hugged WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. The two men battled each other for years with Bischoff being the brains behind WCW’s Nitro program that debuted in 1995 and beat WWE in the ratings for a few years. The battle was won by WWE, but along the way there was legitimate bad blood between the guys.
Bischoff ended up being Raw GM for about three years and was fantastic in the role. What this moment proved is that anything could happen in WWE. Seeing Vince and Eric hug on the Raw stage was proof of that.
5. Brock Lesnar returns after eight years away
Date: April 2, 2012
It was another Raw after WrestleMania moment. John Cena was in the ring in Miami one night after he lost to The Rock in the main event of WrestleMania 28 and he wanted The Rock to come out there to see him. Instead, Brock Lesnar showed up.
There were rumors that Lesnar was in Miami that weekend, but we had no idea if he was going to show up at WrestleMania, at Raw or if he was just there to have discussions about coming back. Lesnar left WWE in 2004, went on to have a productive run in UFC as one of the biggest draws they ever had and when his UFC run appeared to be over, the rumors of Lesnar going back to WWE were everywhere.
When Lesnar’s music hit that night, the crowd went wild as Lesnar walked around the stage to soak up the ovation. It is one of the loudest pops in the history of wrestling. Lesnar slowly made his way towards the ring (with fans chanting “holy shit” for the moment), got in the ring with Cena and dropped him with a F5. It’s one of those moments that made the Raw after WrestleMania so special.
4. CM Punk’s speech on the Raw stage
Date: June 27, 2011
CM Punk’s “Pipebomb” promo ended Raw in a unique way as he sat on the stage in a Stone Cold shirt. Punk was given the chance to speak his mind about how he hates the idea that John Cena is the best because Punk believed that he was the best in the world. Punk talked about Cena being better than him at kissing Vince McMahon’s ass, just like Hulk Hogan and Dwayne (The Rock). It was funny when Punk said he was breaking the fourth wall and waved to the camera.
The promo was about Punk believing in himself. Punk coined the phrase “I’m a Paul Heyman Guy” that night while mentioning Brock Lesnar left while Punk claimed he would leave with the WWE Championship. He said he was the best in the ring, on the microphone and even on commentary. Punk admitted that it made him sick that The Rock was main eventing WrestleMania the next year and that made it feel really real. When Punk mentioned New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor, it was really unique. Punk even said hello to his friend Colt Cabana.
Punk trashed Vince McMahon, John Laurinaitis, Vince’s idiotic daughter Stephanie, and doofus son-in-law Triple H and shortly after that, Punk’s microphone turned off. It was the end of Raw for that night. I can remember jumping on Twitter and people were amazed by that promo. It’s been seven years. I’m still amazed by it.
A few weeks later, Punk had a five-star match where he beat Cena for the WWE Championship and left the company. That was only just an angle, though, because Punk signed a new deal. But Punk did legitimately quit in 2014 because of some of the same things he whined about in this promo.
3. Steve Austin delivers a beer bath
Date: March 22, 1999
The Rock was the WWE Champion and in the ring with his buddies Vince and Shane McMahon. Their promo was interrupted by Steve Austin, who entered the arena driving a Coors Light beer truck. The crowd was going wild as Austin drove the truck down to the ring. Austin was set to face The Rock at WrestleMania 15 six days later, so it was a hell of a way to get people excited about the WrestleMania match.
Austin mentioned he’s going to drink a lot of beer after WrestleMania, but Austin suggested a pre-match beer. That led to Austin grabbing a hose from the back of the truck and spraying Vince, Rock and Shane with beer. It was one of the craziest scenes in the history of WWE television as Austin sprayed them in beer with the crowd going crazy.
I’ll never forget the visual of Vince McMahon literally swimming in the beer in the ring. It was hilarious and reminds me of how fun Raw could be during its best period.
2. Mick Foley becomes the WWE Champion
Date: January 4, 1999
The match aired on January 4, but it was taped six days earlier on December 29, 1998. I remember reading the spoilers the next day and seeing that Mick Foley won the WWE Title. I couldn’t believe it. On WCW Nitro on January 4, they famously had announcer Tony Schiavone mention Foley’s title win and he said sarcastically “Yeah, that will put butts in the seats.” It led to over 600,000 viewers to flip over to Raw to see the moment.
Mankind was feuding with WWE Champion The Rock for a few months leading up to this match. Ringside was full of people, with Rock having The Corporation at his side and Mankind with Degeneration X to support him. When everything broke down, Steve Austin’s music hit and the crowd went wild. Austin nailed Rock with a chair to the head. He then put Mankind’s hand on Rock and the ref counted the pin to give Mankind his first WWE Championship.
I think you could make the case for this moment as getting the loudest crowd reaction in WWE history. The combination of Austin coming out to destroy Rock with a chair and Mick Foley winning the WWE Title was huge. A truly unforgettable moment in Raw history.
1. Tyson and Austin!
Date: January 19, 1998
This is my favorite and most memorable Raw moment because at the time of this incident, Mike Tyson was considered the baddest man on the planet who was also legitimately nuts. This was a few months after he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear in a famous boxing match, which led to Tyson being banned from boxing.
We knew Tyson was going to be involved in WrestleMania somehow, although it was not known what his role might be. Tyson was interviewed by Vince McMahon in the ring when Steve Austin’s music hit to interrupt before Vince could tell us what Tyson’s role would be.
There are a lot of Stone Cold promos that I love, but this is right near the top:
“I’m sick and tired of seeing Mike Tyson. He comes in, shaking everybody’s hands and making friends with all the WWF superstars. And it’s made me so damn sick I’ve been in the back throwing up. I ain’t gonna shake your damn hand because I’m not out here to make friends with ya. I respect what you’ve done in the boxing world, but Jesus Christ son when you step in this ring you’re messing with Stone Cold Steve Austin and that’s something that you don’t do.
Let me make it short and sweet. What I’m telling you is I want a piece of Mike Tyson’s ass. (To Vince: “Don’t say one word Vince or I’ll knock your ass out too.”) I respect what you’ve done Mike, but you’re out here calling yourself the baddest man on the planet. Right now, you’ve got your little beady eyes locked on the eyes of the world’s toughest son of a bitch! I can beat you any day of the week, twice on Sunday, but do I think you can beat your ass? Hell no! Do I think I can beat your ass? Why hell yeah! I don’t know how good your hearing is, so I’ve always got some sign language and here’s to ya!”
Austin flashed the middle fingers at him and the brawl was on with about 20 guys in the ring to try to break it up. It was a chaotic scene with Jim Ross famously screaming “Tyson and Austin” repeatedly. The fans chanted “Austin” for their hero who didn’t back down from anybody.
This segment helped legitimize Austin in the eyes of the fans. Austin called himself the toughest son of a bitch for years. For him to go in the ring, get in Tyson’s face and start a chaotic scene made people believe in Austin as the guy we could believe in. Fantastic television.
What also made the segment amazing was how mad Vince was at Austin. “You ruined it” is what Vince kept saying. Vince even tried to punch him. This was before Vince was all over the show as the top heel. It was one of those segments that really added a lot of heat to their rivalry over the coming months and years.
Tyson and Austin got WWE mainstream press, which is what they wanted with Tyson being there. In addition to that, I can remember going to high school the next day where all of my friends were talking about it and we thought maybe Austin would have a match with Tyson. That didn’t happen, but it would have made a lot of money.
When I think of Raw at its best, I think of action, excitement and can’t-miss television. No segment in Raw history represented that better than Tyson and Austin.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at some WWE Monday Night Raw‘s greatest moments. The name Steve Austin sure appears a lot, huh? That’s because he was the face of the company during their best years and when you think of Raw, you think of him more than anybody. I’m happy with how the list turned out, although I can probably come up with another 50 moments that I remember very well and loved too.
If you go to the Collections section on WWE Network, they have posted their own top 100 moments in Raw history. There’s some good stuff to re-watch if you have the time.