WWE Raw Preview: Celebrating 1,000 Episodes with Title Matches, Returns and More
On Jan. 11, 1993, a new wrestling show made its debut on the USA Network. WWE, then the World Wrestling Federation, presented Monday Night Raw and the wrestling world was soon changed forever.
The show has gone through many names, including Raw is War and Raw SuperShow, but it has been the No. 1 wrestling show for years. There was a time, though, that Raw was No. 2.
During the infamous Monday Night Wars, WCW took the top spot for over a year and things weren't looking good for the WWE. Raw was a taped show at the time, and WCW would eventually make a fatal mistake that ultimately cost them.
With the Attitude Era in effect, WCW revealed that Mick Foley would be winning the WWF Championship. Fans immediately tuned out of Nitro and into Raw as a result. While WCW did beat WWE a few times after that, Raw has been on top ever since.
Then WWE head Vince McMahon bought WCW in 2001 which left Raw as the only Monday night wrestling show on television. While TNA Wrestling did challenge them for a bit in 2010, WWE Raw remained on top.
Now here we are, 19 years since the first episode, and Raw is about to reach something no television show has ever accomplished. Tonight is the big 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw and the WWE has stacked it in a big way.
The company has confirmed a number of things including two title matches and many returns, so let's see what WWE has in store for this historic episode!
D-Generation X to Open the Show
In August 1997, Shawn Michaels and Triple H joined forces with Chyna by their side. Soon joined by associate Rick Rude, they were known as D-Generation X.
Michaels and Triple H would create some memorable Raw moments, but the group would become stronger after Michaels left the WWE.
While DX is probably best known for Triple H, the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac, the Game and the Heartbreak Kid were the originals.
Michaels and Triple H would get back together as DX on multiple occasions, most notably for a feud against Vince McMahon and for a reign as WWE tag team champions, but with Michaels' retirement in 2010, D-Generation X was no more.
To celebrate this milestone episode, Michaels and Triple H will be reuniting once again. Not only that, but they will be kicking off the show when it begins at 8 p.m. ET.
What do Shawn Michaels and Triple H have in store for the WWE Universe? Will fans see a full D-Generation X reunion with the Road Dogg, Billy Gunn and X-Pac?
Brock Lesnar Returns to Answer Triple H's SummerSlam Challenge
Brock Lesnar made his return to the WWE the night after WrestleMania XXVIII. As John Cena was talking of his loss to the Rock, Lesnar appeared to simply deliver the F-5 and make a statement in the process.
The following week, then-general manager John Laurinaitis revealed that he brought Lesnar back to legitimize the WWE and rid the company of Cena. At Extreme Rules, Lesnar would take the face of the WWE to the limit, but Cena had his arm raised in victory at the end.
The next night, Lesnar injured the arm of Triple H and hasn't been seen since. Paul Heyman would make his return to the WWE as Lesnar's representative and declare that he quit once again and was suing the WWE.
He and Triple H would have a few verbal exchanges since then, but the chief operating officer of the WWE would take it a step further at No Way Out.
Triple H challenged Lesnar to a match at SummerSlam, and after initially declining the challenge, Heyman revealed that Lesnar would soon respond to the challenge in person. His return was revealed to take place at the 1,000th episode, so now fans await Lesnar's response.
Will Brock Lesnar accept Triple H's SummerSlam challenge? Will Lesnar interrupt D-Generation X's reunion? Is this situation going to boil over into an all-out fight?
Christian to Defend His Intercontinental Championship
The WWE Intercontinental Championship was established in 1979 and was the WWE's secondary championship. The title was a mainstay back in the day and it continued on as such when Raw debuted in 1993.
The title has seen many legends such as Pat Patterson, Pedro Morales, Randy Savage and Bret Hart hold it, while many great current superstars like Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes and current champion Christian have held onto it.
The belt was once a stepping stone to the World Championship, and while its importance has dwindled in recent years, the title is still WWE's most important secondary title.
Fans recognized that as last week when WWE held a poll on which title they'd want to see defended on the historic episode.
The choices were Christian's Intercontinental Championship, Santino Marella’s United States Championship and Layla's Divas Championship. The fans chose this title to be defended, but the challenger is not known.
Who will Christian defend his Intercontinental Championship against? Will it be a current superstar or one from Raw's past?
The Legends Come Out to Play
Last month, WWE began to celebrate the upcoming 1,000th episode with the returns of former WWE superstars. Three-time WCW champion Vader made his return first as he squashed Heath Slater in a match. Next were Cyndi Lauper, two-time women's champion Wendi Richter and Hall of Famer Roddy Piper, all of whom embarrassed Slater.
This storyline has seen the likes of two-time WWE champion Sycho Sid, Doink the Clown, three-time WCW champion Diamond Dallas Page, two-time WWE champion Bob Backlund, former Intercontinental champion Rikishi and 15-time world tag team champion Road Warrior Animal make their returns in recent weeks.
The legends have been appearing one-by-one, but now they will be coming out to play. Superstars from the past will be all over this episode as they help WWE celebrate 1,000 episodes. The question is, though, who will be appearing?
Advertisements for the event have shown the likes of Bret Hart and the Undertaker, so will one or both be appearing? How about Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the main components in the Attitude Era? Will any of them encounter Heath Slater?
No matter who appears, it'll be a nice surprise to see the legends come out!
Daniel Bryan and A.J. to be Married
After Daniel Bryan won the SmackDown Money in the Bank briefcase last year, he began to attract WWE Diva A.J. Bryan would dismiss her advances at first, but they soon got together.
Despite Bryan's heelish ways, A.J. was madly in love with him and remained so when he cashed in his briefcase on the Big Show at the TLC PPV to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
As world champion, Bryan would use her in various ways, including a shield against the Big Show. It didn't matter what he did or what others said about him, A.J. wouldn't leave his side. Instead, it would be Bryan that dumped her.
At WrestleMania XXVIII, A.J. would give him a good-luck kiss and it would result in Bryan losing the title in 18 seconds to Sheamus. A.J. couldn't let go, though, and continued to follow him.
She became attracted to WWE champion CM Punk when Bryan began to target the title and Bryan started to suck up to her, especially when she became the special referee for their final encounter at Money in the Bank.
After a pair of marriage proposals, and Punk declining A.J.'s and her denying Bryan, Bryan tried again last Monday on Raw. A.J. would accept this time and the wedding date was set for this 1,000th episode.
Will this wedding go smoothly? Does Daniel Bryan have an ulterior motive for marrying a woman he despised a month ago? Will A.J.'s interaction with Kane this past Friday on SmackDown lead to the Big Red Monster crashing the ceremony?
A New General Manager Takes Charge
The WWE has seen many authority figures over the years. From presidents and commissioners to part-owners and general managers, both Raw and SmackDown have seen a number of people put in charge.
WWE has seen the likes of Jack Tunney, Gorilla Monsoon, Sgt. Slaughter, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and William Regal in the role of president or commissioner, but when the brands split, each show got its own authority figure.
Raw has seen Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, Vince McMahon, Regal, Mike Adamle and Hornswoggle while SmackDown has seen Stephanie McMahon, Paul Heyman, Kurt Angle, Teddy Long and Vickie Guerrero.
For the first time in a while, one man was in charge of both a few months ago. John Laurinaitis had been serving as Raw general manager when his team defeated Teddy's team at WrestleMania. As a result of the victory, Big Johnny gained control of both Raw and SmackDown.
He had made some questionable decisions, and after the Big Show lost to John Cena at No Way Out, McMahon fired Laurinaitis.
Since then former authority figures have taken charge as the board of directors came to a decision on a permanent one. Foley, Guerrero and Hornswoggle have all returned since then, while Zack Ryder even got a shot at running SmackDown two weeks ago.
Last week, the board of directors seemed to be making the decisions, and this week they will be revealing the new, permanent general manager.
Who will be taking charge? Will it be a former authority figure or somebody completely new?
The Rock Makes His First Live Appearance Since April
The Rock made his return to the WWE to be the host of WrestleMania XXVII. Before the event, though, he had a few run-ins with John Cena.
The two would go at it verbally leading up Cena's WWE Championship match against the Miz, and that led to the People's Champion screwing Cena out of the match.
The following night, the big match between the Rock and Cena was made for WrestleMania XXVIII.
The Rock would disappear after that due to him filming various movies, but they would continue their feud through social media. The Rock would make appearances when he could, including his return match teaming with Cena at Survivor Series in a winning effort against the Awesome Truth.
At WrestleMania, the Rock defeated Cena in the main event and showed the world that he could still deliver on the Grandest Stage of Them All.
The following night, the Rock made a blockbuster announcement. He declared that he was going to target the WWE Championship one final time, but he hasn't appeared since that day. The People's Champion will now be returning, and not via satellite, but live and in person.
What will the Rock have to say? Will he continue in his quest for the WWE Championship?
CM Punk vs. John Cena: WWE Championship
At the 2011 Money in the Bank PPV, CM Punk challenged John Cena for the WWE Championship. Punk was threatening to walk out of the WWE with the title and Vince McMahon was threatening to fire Cena if he lost.
Punk did indeed win and left the WWE with the title in his hands. Cena wasn't fired, though; in fact he would win the WWE title from Rey Mysterio a week later. As Cena celebrated, Punk made his return claiming to be the real champion.
At SummerSlam, they went one-on-one to decide the sole WWE champion and Punk would defeat the face of the WWE. Alberto Del Rio would cash in his Money in the Bank contract afterwards and take the title away from Punk in the process.
Cena would win the belt one more time, but after losing it to Alberto Del Rio, he left the title picture in October.
Punk would regain the title at Survivor Series and has been champion ever since, having successful title defenses against Dolph Ziggler, five men inside the Elimination Chamber, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and Kane.
Cena, on the other hand, has been battling Kane, the Rock, Brock Lesnar, John Laurinaitis and the Big Show since then.
At this year's Money in the Bank event, Cena would win the WWE Championship Money in the Bank match and make an announcement last week on Raw concerning the briefcase. He told Punk that he had a week to prepare because he was cashing in on the 1,000th episode.
What will happen as these two superstars renew their rivalry? Will John Cena become an 11-time WWE champion, or can CM Punk cause Cena to become the first Money in the Bank winner to fail at cashing in?
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about this episode of Monday Night Raw and it should be the best show this week. Can WWE deliver on this historic episode? Tune in at 8 p.m. ET to find out!
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