clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cageside Time Machine: The debut episodes of RAW and Nitro

Don't need money, don't need fame...
Don't need money, don't need fame...

Ring of Honor (ROH) enters a new era today as its TV show debuts on Sinclair Broadcasting Group-owned stations across the country.

A new, weekly TV show is a big moment in any wrestling company's history and ROH is hoping this will be no different for them. While some -- including Cageside's own Keith Harris -- think ROH might be going about their new venture the wrong way, today is an exciting moment for the company that made Samoa Joe, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan famous.

In honor of ROH TV making its debut, we'll hop in our time machine and take a look back at the debut episodes of both WWF Monday Night RAW and WCW Nitro, the two shows that jump started the Monday Night Wars and one of the most entertaining periods of time in the sport's history.

Hop in and gun it to 88!

WWF Monday Night RAW - 01/11/93

We're live from the Manhattan Center in New York City! We open up with Sean Mooney (remember him?) and Bobby Heenan outside the arena and "The Brain" is trying to get inside but can't. It's sold out, Weasel!

Vince McMahon, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and Rob Bartlett are our hosts. I know you're asking, "Rob who?" He's a comedian who was brought on by McMahon, I guess, because he was "edgy" and would bring in young viewers. McMahon is a genius, for sure, but when he misses, he REALLY misses.

The first match in RAW history is the late Yokozuna taking on Koko B. Ware. The bird man! I loved that guy and his parrot, Frankie, growing up. Yokozuna is accompanied to the ring by a couple of geishas and a kimono-wearing Mr. Fuji. I prefer the suit and bowler hat personally.

Yokozuna squashes Ware -- no pun in... ah, why the hell not? PUN INTENDED! -- as they were building him up to a WrestleMania main event against Bret Hart. Speaking of Hart, McMahon interviews his opponent for the Royal Rumble, Razor Ramon. "Da Bad Guy" had beat down little brother Owen a few weeks prior and was promising to do the same to the "Hitman" come Rumble time. Looking back, I can't believe I bought that he was Cuban. I was so dumb.

Before the Ramon interview, we got some tag team action consisting of The Steiner Brothers destroying some guys called The Executioners. I looked them up and it turns out one of them was Duane Gill aka Gillberg! Small world! Also, Doink the Clown comes out and chills with the audience for seemingly no reason.

Next up we get an Intercontinental Title match between champ Shawn Michaels and Konnan playing the Max Moon character. If you don't remember Max Moon, he looked like if a character from Tron and Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat had a retarded love child.

Despite his awful attire, there's a good wrestler underneath and the two have a pretty good match. Meanwhile, "The Brain" has been trying to get into the venue the entire time, at one point dressing in drag and pretending to be Bartlett's aunt. Oh, Heenan, how I miss you.

Finally, the main event for this important moment in wrestling history is The Undertaker taking on... Damian Demento? That's underwhelming.

'Taker hits all his usual spots and gets the easy win and like that, the first chapter of RAW closes.

WCW Nitro - 09/04/95

The debut episode of Nitro takes place on location at the Mall of America because hey, if mall tours worked for Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, they'll work for WCW. Also, after you're done soaking in all the in-ring action, you can stop by Pastamania and carbo-load!


I wish I were making this up.

Unlike RAW which opened up with Yokozuna taking on a guy with a feather fetish, Nitro begins its history with Brian Pillman versus Jushin freakin' Liger! The match choices are like day and night, complete opposites... aside from the fact that both include a guy whose dead now.

Too soon?

They have a decent but short match and then we get a colorful, blonde Sting talking about how he's going to beat Ric Flair. As much as things change, they really do stay the same, don't they?

All of a sudden, Lex Luger --wearing the puffiest shirt ever -- comes out of nowhere and the place goes crazy! Okay, Eric Bischoff goes crazy. The audience which is likely composed of confused and bored mall attendees cheer politely.

Sting defends his US Championship against Flair next in the same Sting/Flair match we've all seen a thousand times; a million times if you're an old fart like me. Arn Anderson is apparently beefing with his friend at this point because he comes in and brawls with Flair, causing a disqualification (DQ) finish.

Next, Scott Norton bullies Bischoff and Steve "Mongo" McMichael sticks up for him. Norton and "Mongo" face off but Savage is here to calm them down! Heenan AND "Macho Man"? I have the weirdest sense of deja vu. And what's next? A video hyping Sabu?! I completely forgot about that! Weird!

In the main event, Hulk Hogan puts down his bowl of Hulk-A-Roos and takes on Big Bubba Rogers aka The Big Boss Man. It's your standard Hogan match with Rogers getting the early advantage, Hogan hulking up, and then finally hitting the big leg drop.

But afterwards, the Dungeon of Doom hit the ring! Kevin Sullivan -- who is built like Danny DeVito's stunt man -- and his crew try to attack Hogan but Luger hits the ring and the two clear house! They bump each other in the back and nearly deck each other! 

Hogan is all, "What are you doing here, homie? I don't trust you." Luger is all, "This is where the big boys play and I'm a big boy so I should play here, I figure. Also, I know I just showed up 10 minutes ago but I want a title shot."

They hesitantly shake hands as the show ends.

Any Cagesiders watch either of these -- or ROH's -- debut and want to chime in?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats