WWE Old School Raw: Celebrating Old-School Versions of Top WWE Superstars
WWE Raw goes old school Monday night. The novel theme had a positive impact for ratings last outing (when comparing the traditional 9-11 hours). With the second installment coming during WrestleMania season, old school Raw should draw some of the strongest ratings of the three-hour era.
The vast majority of top stars on the show have been in professional wrestling long enough to go through multiple incarnations.
Their old-school counterparts were characters played earlier in their careers that are decidedly different than their current personas.
Old school versions of many top stars helped build their current popularity as their careers evolved.
CM Punk's old-school persona is not unlike his current incarnation. Still a self-assured straight edge superstar, old-school CM Punk differs in looks more than anything else.
Punk's long hair used to be one of his trademarks. In fact, as a straight edge messiah and leader of the Straight Edge Society in 2010, he grew his hair and beard to simulate Jesus himself. Or Charles Manson.
Few WWE superstars have transformed more than Triple H over the course of a career. Triple H entered the WWE as Hunter Hearst Helmsley. He was a well-to-do blue blood with an English accent as make-believe as his fortune.
But after his real-life relationship with Shawn Michaels was turned into a storyline alliance, Michaels christened Helmsley as "Triple H." Triple H would ditch Beethoven for Motorhead as he adopted more of an alpha-male character closer to his real-life personality.
John Cena was rather generic upon debuting in the WWE against Kurt Angle. But after some fine-tuning he found his niche as a rebellious rapper who pushed the envelope with provocative—and surprisingly entertaining—rhymes.
As Cena began gaining more momentum as a top star, however, he slowly moved away from his hip-hop roots in favor of a more corporate, PG-friendly avatar.
Dwyane Johnson had a tough go of it as Rocky Maivia, but blossomed once he turned heel and went simply by The Rock.
The Rock was a key member turned leader of the Nation of Domination. As a heel, Rock tapped into a wealth of charisma that seemed buried beneath an over pursuit of acceptance during his initial run.
Mark Henry reprised his role as Sexual Chocolate for one night only during the last old school Raw. As the most dominant monster heel currently in the WWE, it's highly unlikely that lightning will strike twice.
Henry was able to run wild with a playful personality as an oversized love machine. As Sexual Chocolate, Henry wasted no time connecting with WWE fans and Divas.
Chris Jericho made his initial splash on pro wrestling as a long-haired rock star. His first meaningful run came in WCW as a long-tenured WCW Cruiserweight champion.
As an expert agitator, Chris Jericho portrayed a whiny, self-aggrandizing heel who always knew how to elicit a reaction.
One of Jericho's most famous promos came during his WCW Nitro days. Jericho attempted to recite a list of 1,004 holds in order to four-up Dean Malenko—known as a man of 1,000 holds.
Before being a lovable giant as one-half of Team Hell No, Kane was billed as an unstoppable monster looking to terrorize the Undertaker.
As is natural for a character of his nature, Kane has become much softer than his initial hellfire-and-brimstone mannerisms. But even today, there remain traces of his monster-heel roots.
The Undertaker is an ageless character who has remained immortal save a few years as The American Badass.
Undertaker has gone through multiple transformations and character evolutions; however, he has largely stayed true to his mystique as a deadman. A deadman who Vince McMahon, speaking existentially, says is alive.