The 1000th episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, which kickstarts the show's move to a weekly three hour format, is set to be the most star laden show since their first ever special of that length on October 3rd, 2005 when they returned to the USA network after five years on Spike TV. On that show WWE brought out all their big guns to guarantee a big rating while going head to head with an UFC Ultimate Fight Night on Spike headlined by David Loiseau beating the late Evan Tanner:
- Mick Foley started the show by being the guest on Piper's Pit which ended with then "Legend Killer" Randy Orton laying out both Foley and Piper with RKOs to close the segment;
- Shawn Michaels went to a draw in a 30 minute iron man match with Kurt Angle;
- Edge beat Matt Hardy in a ladder match to end their worked shoot feud together;
- Triple H turned on Ric Flair by walloping him with his trusty sledgehammer;
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin Stunnered the whole McMahon family, Vince, Shane, Stephanie and even Linda, one by one;
- Hulk Hogan challenged Austin to a match that never happened;
- WWE champion John Cena beat Raw GM Eric Bischoff in a no DQ match for the title which segued into a brawl between all the top guys on Raw and Smackdown.
I don't think WWE can quite match that for a ridiculously hot-shotted line up in this day and age, but such a major pay-per-view calibre line up is likely the template for what they have in store for us on July 23rd.
Indeed, as Dave Meltzer reported in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the landmark Raw is WWE's current top booking priority, which means "all hands on deck and every major star being reached out to". Basically any former WWE superstar not currently under contract to TNA could perceivably show up for the celebrations.
Already confirmed is Shawn Michaels to reform DX for the umpteenth time with Triple H, even though HBK wasn't fully aware of these booking plans.
Despite the nuclear heat Brock Lesnar currently has with Vince McMahon, I'd expect Lesnar to be involved in some fashion with the D-Generation X angle. Indeed, Triple H has lobbied hard to make sure that his SummerSlam match with that "phony UFC fighter" stays on the books, he wants it that bad, so his planned speech at No Way Out will surely build for Brock's return on this date.
His movie schedule may not permit a live appearance, but The Rock will likely send a video in from wherever he's shooting his latest movie.
Even though it will be eight months away from The Undertaker's next WrestleMania match, WWE are considering the Deadman for the show too, probably to tease the next person to attempt to end his streak.
Given the historic nature of the milestone Raw, it's unsurprising that WWE has already called up all their legends under contract like Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Duggan, Jimmy Hart and Gene Okerlund to ensure their appearances on the big night. They weren't a large part of the Raw era, so they'll likely attempt to bring in names from that time period too, especially "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Batista and Edge.
There's a lot of pressure on the writing team to build this up over several weeks like the biggest PPVs and to come up with a "knock your sox off" angle to get everybody talking and guarantee strong return viewership, particularly for the extra opening hour. Over recent years, whether it be Vince's limo being blown up and his illegitimate child or the Raw set collapsing on Mr. McMahon or Nexus' beatdown of John Cena or CM Punk "shooting" on WWE authority, there's been a tendency to shoot a shocking angle out of the blue in the summer to shake things up without a solid plan in place for how to payoff the storyline. The more things change, the more they'll likely stay the same I guess.