Irony, thy name is WWE.com's No. 1 Greatest Moment in Raw History. It's certainly the most applicable term when describing the events of March 26, 2001, though Mr. McMahon might have some other…choice words regarding the matter.
The evening of irony started in Cleveland, Ohio, where the WWE Chairman opened Raw and WCW Monday Nitro, which had been emanating from Panama City Beach, Fla. In a first-ever simulcast on both programs, WWE's billionaire Chairman made the shocking announcement that he had acquired WCW. One could argue that WWE had long ago won its ongoing "Monday Night War" with the Ted Turner-owned competition; however, there was no debating that Mr. McMahon, with less than a week before WrestleMania X-Seven in Houston's sold-out Astrodome, now believed that he was sitting on top of two worlds.
But the boss was a tad premature with his blockbuster proclamation. Inside the ring midway through Raw, Mr. McMahon clarified for our fans how Time Warner had "practically begged" him to buy WCW. He agreed -- with the caveat that he would only seal the deal on pay-per-view, "when Ted Turner himself walks down the aisle at WrestleMania and delivers the contract to me!" Evidently, the victor of the "Monday Night War" felt no need to exhibit compassion for the vaunted "Billionaire Ted," or for a brand he planned to forever "bury" -- much like he intended to do to his own son, Shane, in their upcoming WrestleMania Street Fight.
Suddenly, the billionaire Chairman's vitriolic tirade gave way to startled surprise as his entrance music kicked in, and the face of his offspring filled up the entire TitanTron. Shane, it turned out, was in Panama City Beach for WCW Monday Nitro, and he had just entered the ring to make a special announcement of his own:
"Dad, the deal is finalized with WCW, and the name on the contract does say ‘McMahon,'" he said. "However, the contract reads ‘Shane McMahon.' That's right -- I now own WCW!"
Our fans were beyond elated; based on the raucous cheers coming from both venue audiences, one can logically presume that many parties took place in Cleveland and Panama City Beach that night. As for WWE's Chairman, we've seen him register utter shock and disbelief many times over the years. But the expression on his face as Shane declared himself the owner of WCW… well, let's put it this way: It was as if his entire world was a limousine, and it just blew up. (To better appreciate the reference, check out Greatest Raw Moment No. 13.)
Just as Shane would kick his father's posterior at WrestleMania X-Seven, his invading WCW -- allied with a Stephanie McMahon-led ECW -- would get the better of Mr. McMahon for much of 2001, until WWE's Superstars emerged triumphant in a winner-take-all match-up at Survivor Series. WCW and ECW's rosters would become integrated into the WWE locker room, creating an elite mix of Superstars that to this day entertains our fans around the world under the Raw, SmackDown and ECW brands. Needless to say, the result of what transpired that March evening on Raw forever altered the face of sports-entertainment -- for the better, ironically.
Who knows? Perhaps one day Mr. McMahon will even learn to appreciate the irony.