10 WWE Days We Would Love to Relive
In the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray plays a cynical TV weatherman who, while on assignment covering Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pa., finds himself reliving Feb. 2 over and over again.
As unappealing as life in a never-ending time loop sounds, we can all agree there are certain days in WWE history that merit revisiting, if not reliving ad infinitum. Until the kinks get worked out and a time machine comes to market, however, all we can do is wax nostalgic and offer up these 10 hand-selected examples of repeat-worthy days from WWE’s past.
( VOTE: Which day would you like to relive the most?)
March 31, 1985
With appearances by a slew of A-list celebs to its name, a Pro Wrestling Illustrated “Match of the Year” award-winning main event on its lineup and The Eighth Wonder of the World “making it rain” with Big John Studd’s cash, what’s not to like about WrestleMania I? ( PHOTOS)
Though the relatively primitive production values of the first WrestleMania may be pooh-poohed by those of us who have grown accustom to giant pyrotechnic displays and vast TitanTron screens, and true, nobody speaks of Tito Santana vs. The Executioner in particularly lofty terms, WrestleMania I would nonetheless be near the top of any WWE devotee’s list of days to relive. Part of the appeal of having been in Madison Square Garden that night was that nobody was quite sure how WWE’s first super supercard was going to unfold.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” WWE Hall of Famer “Mean” Gene Okerlund told WWE Magazine years later. “What was this thing really going to turn out to be?”
Nobody knew if there’d be a second Show of Shows, let alone a 29th edition all these many years later, but everyone who was in that building that night knew they were witnessing something extraordinary. Just imagine the instant cred you’d have at this year’s WrestleMania Axxess by showing up with a WWE ticket stub dated March 31, 1985 …
Aug. 29, 1992
Any time 80,000-plus fun-loving WWE fans come together to celebrate an evening (or in this case, late afternoon) of sports-entertainment, you just know the occasion is a special one.
It is not hard to justify the inclusion of Aug. 29, 1992 — the date of SummerSlam 1992 — on this list. Beyond its staggeringly large crowd, the event holds major historical significance for being the first WWE pay-per-view held outside North America. With the event taking place at London’s Wembley Stadium, a sea of WWE loyalists turned out to watch national hero The British Bulldog headline against his brother-in-law and Intercontinental Champion Bret Hart. The duel was the type of encounter that inspires youngsters to don wrestling trunks. More than just a display of sheer technical brilliance, the match was emotionally charged in all the right ways, and when it comes to “hometown” victories, none can match the feel-good vibe of Bulldog’s Intercontinental Title win. ( WATCH) Beyond that, SummerSlam 1992 also featured an awe-inspiring WWE Title fight between Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage, not to mention the adrenaline-pumping entrances of The Road Warriors and The Undertaker, who rode to ring on motorcycles and the back of a hearse, respectively.
Jan. 11, 1993
More than 20 years removed from the debut of Monday Night Raw, any member of the WWE Universe would jump at the chance to go back in time and be part of the intimate Manhattan Center crowd that was fortunate enough to witness the birth of WWE’s flagship program firsthand. Though nothing particularly memorable transpired in the ring that night — among other fights, The Undertaker destroyed Damien Demento in less than three minutes and Shawn Michaels brought the intergalactic Max Moon back to earth — Raw’s debut was transcendent for other reasons. (Most notably, the fact it was the first edition of what would eventually become the longest-running weekly episodic television show in history.) ( WATCH)
Beyond the members of the WWE Universe who would’ve liked to have been in the audience that night, somebody else who might want to relive Raw’s debut would be Rob Bartlett, the comic-turned-commentator who took Bobby Heenan’s position ringside during Raw’s early days. Chewing gum and pronouncing Yokozuna’s name as “Yokozuma” right off the bat, Bartlett didn’t exactly dazzle in his debut at the commentary desk, and he might qualify for a do-over.
Sept. 22, 1997
There’s just something about Madison Square Garden that brings out the best in WWE. With The Attitude Era clearly in bloom and the hallowed halls of MSG presiding as its home, the Sept. 22, 1997, edition of Raw was a transformative affair that delivered on several long-anticipated, and fiercely desired, scenes.
Case in point: After weeks and weeks of increasingly bad blood building between them, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin finally dealt his first Stunner to WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon. A euphoric moment for any blue-collar worker who’s been wronged by an oppressive boss, the Stunner was galvanizing for all (even if it did cost Austin a night in jail). Little did the WWE fans in attendance realize at the time that it was only the first of many Stunners The Texas Rattlesnake would punish The WWE Chairman with in the years to come. ( WATCH)
Elsewhere that night, the ultra-physical war between Mick Foley and Triple H was given a match format that was appropriately conducive to its hard-hitting dynamic: a no-holds-barred Street Fight. As enthralling as the bout would’ve been under normal circumstances, it was made all the more extreme by the fact Foley recruited old pal Cactus Jack (Foley’s lone alter-ego to have not competed WWE at that point) to take the place of the softer Dude Love persona. Add in a rare one-on-one match between Stampede-groomed ring legends and Hart Foundation stablemates Owen Hart and Brian Pillman, and Sept. 22, 1997, stands out as a unique night in Raw’s proud history.
Nov. 9, 1997
Some days are meant to be relived so that they can be appreciated more fully, with the benefit of hindsight and a larger understanding of what that date meant historically. Other days, meanwhile, we’d like to do over so as to change what transpired. For followers of WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Nov. 9, 1997, definitely falls into the latter category.
The date is that of the infamous Montreal Incident, when WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon double-crossed then-WWE Champion “Hit Man” during a title bout against Shawn Michaels. Ordering the official to call for the bell early, Mr. McMahon prevented Hart vs. Michaels from ending legitimately, temporarily marring the prestigious WWE Title and robbing the WWE Universe of an honest ending to what had been a competitive — and widely anticipated — matchup. That the double-cross occurred in Montreal only served to further enrage Hart loyalists and set up Earl Hebner for a future of “You screwed Bret” chants. ( WATCH)
Reliving Nov. 9, 1997, might not produce the desired effect of ensuring “Hit Man’s” storied WWE career was without interruption. After all, Hart had already signed a multi-million dollar contract with Ted Turner–backed World Championship Wrestling in advance of Survivor Series that year. But given the overwhelming sadness with which most view that day and the subsequent years of avoidable ill will among Hart, Michaels and Mr. McMahon caused that day, it’s worth a shot …
March 26, 2001
Even in World Championship Wrestling’s darkest hour — sometime around the WCW Cruiserweight Championship Piñata on a Pole Match, perhaps — it never quite seemed plausible that the world’s No. 2 sports-entertainment brand would ever go away entirely. But when the once-mighty powerhouse was put up for sale in early 2001, absolutely no one predicted the announcement of a new owner would go down the way it did: on Monday Night Raw. ( WATCH)
Having clearly won the bitterly fought Monday Night War, WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon was standing in a ring in Cleveland on March 26, 2001, when he declared his intention of purchasing WWE’s weakened competitor. Interrupting the Chairman, however, was his own son, Shane McMahon, who appeared live via satellite from Panama City Beach, Fla., the site of the final WCW Monday Nitro in history. In a mind-blowing exchange that was simulcast on Raw and Nitro, the younger McMahon informed his father that he had swooped in on the deal and purchased WCW himself. The shock of seeing the distinctive red turnbuckles and cable ropes of WCW’s ring on WWE television is a feeling anybody who lived through The Monday Night War would like to experience all over again. For some, it was bittersweet; for others, long overdue.
March 17, 2002
Held March 17, 2002, WrestleMania X8 featured 10 matches, including a thrilling Undisputed WWE Championship Match between Chris Jericho and Triple H. Yet the one bout everyone still talks about today, more than a decade later, was the first-ever encounter between heroes of different WWE eras, The Rock and Hulk Hogan. Even though Hogan had been less-than-humble toward the WWE Universe heading into The Show of Shows, the more than 68,000 WWE diehards in attendance at Toronto’s SkyDome were split between cheering for The Great One and supporting The Hulkster. The polarity resulted in one of the loudest WWE crowds ever heard, and each turning point in the match was punctuated by deafening applause and chants. ( WATCH)
It was clear from the outset that both The Rock and Hogan felt the electricity in the air that night, and in his book “Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps,” even hardened critic Jericho described the bout as “epic.” Conceding The Rock vs. Hogan wasn’t a technical masterpiece, Y2J nonetheless noted that the “ridiculous crowd reactions” made it one of the year’s best matches. To go back in time and experience the goose-bump-inducing energy that night would be something any member of the WWE Universe would salivate over.
Nov. 17, 2002
When Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote about best-laid plans going awry, he clearly wasn’t envisioning the structure known as WWE’s Elimination Chamber. Now in its 11th year, the devastating hodgepodge of steel chains and bars and pods is taken for granted by younger members of the WWE Universe, yet there was a time not all that long ago when the Chamber and its unique rules were simply conceptual. At Survivor Series 2002, the WWE Universe watched with curiosity as the blueprint transformed into a tangible arena of destruction. Would the Chamber prove innovative and successful, or would it reveal itself to be an embarrassing misstep needing to be brushed under the rug?
“In typical WWE form, it was twice as big as I envisioned it and twice as elaborate,” Triple H explained to WWE Magazine in 2011 about the Chamber’s unveiling. “We don’t do anything small, so I should have known better.”
Of course, we all know now that the Chamber was an absolute home run, but the “What if?” factor alone was enough to make Nov. 17, 2002, a night worth reliving. Then, factor in all the championship gold that changed hands that night — Billy Kidman won the WWE Cruiserweight Title, Victoria secured the WWE Women’s Championship, Big Show took home the WWE Championship, Los Guerreros won the Tag Team Titles and HBK prevailed in the Elimination Chamber to win the World Heavyweight Title — and Survivor Series 2002 goes down as truly historic.
June 27, 2011
Once caught, the sports-entertainment bug stays with a person for life. Yet, the eternal light that is pro wrestling doesn’t always burn at the same intensity and brightness for every WWE fan, all the time. Life gets busy and distractions get in the way. It’s natural. We get it.
But just when things look their bleakest, there are those WWE events that are so transcendent, so jaw-dropping, they bring even the furthest outliers back into the fold. Such was the case when CM Punk picked up a microphone on June 27, 2011, and unleashed what will forever be known as the first “pipe bomb.” By taking on the establishment head-on, mocking Mr. McMahon’s brass rings and saying hello to his best friend "Colt Cabana," The Voice of the Voiceless lured thousands and thousands of “lapsed” WWE fans back into sports-entertainment’s warm glow. An instant viral hit, video of Punk’s outlandish comments spread like kudzu and prompted viewers to wonder if The Straight Edge Savior would ever be allowed on WWE TV again.
On June 28, fans rushed to WWE.com and YouTube in droves to watch the unapologetic Punk deliver his famous speech over and over again. If the first “pipe bomb” isn’t a WWE experience worth revisiting, nothing is. ( WATCH)
April 2, 2012
Ahh, the night after WrestleMania. With the WWE Universe still coming down from The Show of Shows high the night before and many of WWE’s most loyal fans still in town, the first Raw after WrestleMania has not only become the symbolic start of a new season in WWE, but also one of the most beloved and unpredictable nights of the year. Even in that context, April 2, 2012, is hard to beat.
Ambitious though it was to try to follow the drama of WrestleMania XXVIII — what, with its battle between John Cena and The Rock and The Undertaker’s Hell in a Cell war against Triple H — Raw’s scorching-hot crowd in Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena took the post-Mania celebration to new heights. It started off hot, with an electrifying address by The Rock’s in which he promised to win back the WWE Championship gold. Throughout the night, the Daniel Bryan–inspired “Yes!” phenomenon — as organic an expression of fans’ loyalty to a Superstar as there’s ever been — grew and grew, only to take on a life of its own in the months that followed. And, far be it for the first post-Mania Raw to end on anything less than a shocking revelation, Brock Lesnar’s historic return and beat down of John Cena closed the program in dramatic form. ( WATCH)
Would we like to relive April 2, 2012? Why, yes! Yes! Yes!