July 9, 2012
By: John Clapp, Tom Herrera, Howard Finkel, Zach Linder, Bobby Melok, Ryan Murphy and Kevin Powers
Written: July 09th, 2012
The enormity of 1,000 episodes of Raw is staggering in its own right, but what about the thousands of matches that went into filling the minutes between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s invasion of Brian Pillman’s home and Mae Young’s procreation of a rubber hand?
There have been unforgettable title changes on Raw, dramatic Ladder Matches, and on at least one occasion, a bout where all the competitors dressed up like NBA players. Here, WWE.com honors the 50 greatest Monday night matches that inspired emotion, wonder and chants of “This is awesome!” from the WWE Universe.
#48 John Cena, Hulk Hogan & Shawn Michaels vs. Christian, Tomko & Chris Jericho (June 27, 2005)
In a special Six-Man Tag Team Match on the June 27, 2005, episode of Monday Night Raw, three generations united as John Cena lived the dream of many WWE Superstars and fans by teaming up with Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels.
In a battle against Christian, Tomko and Chris Jericho, HBK surprised Cena with their partner, The Hulkster. The match stands out as a true milestone in Raw’s history as three of WWE’s biggest Superstars of all time successfully joined forces. Hulk Hogan even paid tribute to Cena after The Hulkster dropped Tomko with a clothesline and performed the Cenation leader’s trademark taunt, “You can’t see me!”
Hogan, Michaels and Cena were victorious and following the contest, Cena and HBK stood in the ring and posed with The Immortal One.
#44 John Cena & Undertaker vs. DX vs. Jeri-Show (Nov. 16, 2009)
Madison Square Garden has been WWE’s home base since Bruno Sammartino dominated the scene, so it’s no surprise that the sports-entertainment empire goes all out whenever they return home. On a night where the always inflammatory “Rowdy” Roddy Piper made his return to Raw, John Cena formed an unexpected alliance with The Undertaker to take on D-Generation X and Jeri-Show, Chris Jericho & Big Show, in a Triple Threat Tag Team Match of epic proportions.
Unsure of his partner from the start, Cena admitted that he was starting to believe The Deadman was actually dead, but that didn’t stop the two powerhouses from rocking the ring. Holding their own against two more experienced duos, the Cenation leader and The Demon from Death Valley weren’t exactly pulling off Hart Foundation-style double-team maneuvers. They were more or less just hitting whatever was in front of him. That proved to be more than enough in the end as the fearsome Undertaker distracted Triple H, allowing Cena to deliver an Attitude Adjustment to get the win for his team in The World’s Most Famous Arena.
#42 Team Lakers vs. Team Nuggets (May 25, 2009)
With both Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals and Raw scheduled to take place on May 25, 2009, Denver Nuggets owner, Stan Kroenke, booted WWE out of The Mile High City. The Nuggets’ opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers, welcomed WWE to their home court, STAPLES Center, which led to an interesting main event on that Monday night: a 10-Man Tag Team Match pitting the “Lakers” against the “Nuggets.”
Lakers public address announcer Lawrence Tanter introduced both starting lineups. The Nuggets fielded Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, The Miz and Big Show, while the Lakers countered with John Cena, Batista, Jerry “The King” Lawler, MVP and Mr. Kennedy. Clad in their respective teams’ jerseys, the squads hit the ring and fought hard. Team Nuggets had a distinct size advantage with The World’s Largest Athlete crushing the competition until Team Lakers led a fourth-quarter comeback that culminated with MVP hitting The Playmaker for the win. A sore Team Nuggets tried to jump the victors, but Team Lakers showed that home court advantage pays off, clearing the ring before celebrating with the Los Angeles crowd.
#8 Rob Van Dam vs. Edge vs. John Cena: WWE Championship Triple Threat Match (July 3, 2006)
With no disqualifications and no count-outs, the action was bound to be frenzied as Rob Van Dam defended his WWE Title against Edge and John Cena in a Triple Threat Match. Surprisingly, the champion wasn’t the biggest target as the match began, with Van Dam and Cena fighting over who got to dish out more punishment to Edge. The collusion didn’t last long and all three competitors hammered away at each other, thrilling the sold-out Philadelphia crowd with near-pinfall after near-pinfall.
After Cena dodged RVD’s Five-Star Frog Splash, it appeared the Cenation leader was moments away from victory when he connected with an Attitude Adjustment. The Ultimate Opportunist, however, was already plotting his next move while he lurked on the arena floor. Before Cena could cover “Mr. Monday Night,” Edge snuck back into the ring and clobbered Cena with the WWE Title, then pinned Van Dam. In the blink of an eye, The Rated-R Superstar had shocked the WWE Universe and captured his second WWE Title.
#6 Rey Mysterio vs. John Cena: WWE Championship Match (July 25, 2011)
When CM Punk absconded with the WWE Title following his victory over John Cena at Money in the Bank, Mr. McMahon announced a tournament to crown a new champion. Rey Mysterio defeated three Superstars en route to winning his first WWE Title, but Cena, who did not receive entry into the tournament, was given an immediate chance to regain the title from Mysterio.
Wrestling his second WWE Championship Match in one night, Mysterio took on Cena in a competitive back-and-forth affair. Both Superstars looked to have the match won on several occasions, but each finishing combination was reversed to provide a dazzling level of unpredictability. In the bout’s thrilling conclusion, the champion looked to have Cena in position for the 619, but Cena’s “Never give up” mantra shone through. He snatched his opponent, threw him onto his shoulders, and executed a picture-perfect Attitude Adjustment to become WWE Champion for the ninth time.
#1 John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels (April 23, 2007)
When WWE Champion John Cena and Shawn Michaels stepped in the ring for a WrestleMania 23 rematch, the WWE Universe knew they were in for a great contest. What they ended up witnessing was something the likes of which had never been seen on Monday nights.
These two warriors put on a mat classic, battling for the entire second hour of Monday Night Raw. The Cenation leader did his best to repeat his WrestleMania success against HBK, but Michaels simply had no quit in him this night. The WWE Hall of Famer weathered Cena’s offensive assault all around ringside, frustrating the champion. When Cena finally looked to have HBK on the ropes, Michaels proved once again why they call him The Showstopper. He flipped out of the Attitude Adjustment and decked the champ with Sweet Chin Music for the win, putting a thrilling cap on a classic match.