20 Things That Didn't Exist when Raw Debuted
Living in a Raw World
Extreme Championship Wrestling
ECW was the little engine that could. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, the rough-edged collection of bar-tough brawlers and often obscure grappling wizards that called Philadelphia home broke through to national prominence in the late ‘90s. Besides becoming a very respectable third player on the American scene (behind WWE and WCW), ECW is often remembered for its profound influence on its larger rivals.
Although ECW technically existed as an entity in January 1993, it was years away from maturing into the colossal force it would become. Moreover, the “E” in ECW still stood for “Eastern.” It was not until late summer 1994 that ECW would make the jump to “Extreme,” forever changing the landscape of sports-entertainment. ( WATCH FULL MATCH: Eddie Guerrero vs. Too Cold Scorpio)
Without the “Land of the Extreme,” there perhaps never would have been an Attitude Era or a WWE Hardcore Championship. Had it not been for ECW, natural cruiserweights such as Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio may have never had a chance to fly on a national stage, let alone thrive there. Reality-blurring interviews, creative fan chants, and nontraditional approaches to producing wrestling TV all owe a great deal to ECW.
In 2012, however, there is little confusion – even to your grandmother – as to what Tweeting and Twitter are all about. Launched in 2006 by Jack Dorsey (@jack), the social media juggernaut boasts more than 500 million registered users, including President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga and Yoshi Tatsu. With the typical Tweet capped at 140 characters, Twitter forces its users to exercise brevity, or what Shakespeare once penned as “the soul of wit.”
Beyond its use to update friends on the status of one’s lunch, Twitter is used by news media the world over to break stories, and corporations leverage it for expanding brand awareness. The site has also galvanized revolutions: Social media, particularly Twitter, played a “pivotal part of Arab Spring,” according to a September 2011 study by researchers at the University of Washington.
The WWE Universe also uses Twitter to connect with Superstars and Divas or, in the hyper-specific context of WWE.com, inadvertently propose story ideas. ( Underrated: Superstars Without Their Due) Superstars, meanwhile, have used Twitter to defend themselves in (or instigate, occasionally) Twitter wars. From Ashton Kutcher and Zack Ryder, to Chris Brown and CM Punk, to Flo Rida and Heath Slater, Twitter has become a popular forum for celebrities and grapplers to air their grievances – much to the delight to the WWE Universe.
Hell in a Cell
One Superstar who can attest to this is Mick Foley. Having been tossed off the Cell’s roof, as well as through it, Foley’s scarred body is a living testament to Hell in a Cell’s barbaric effect on competitors. Foley’s four appearances inside the Cell, ( WATCH FOLEY'S PLUNGE) however, pale in comparison to the 12 Hell in a Cell Matches fought by the Superstar most closely associated with the demonic cage, The Undertaker.
It is hard to imagine how WWE of 1993 would have reacted to Hell in a Cell if it were introduced four years earlier. Could the New Generation-era WWE have handled the destruction and chaos? Would a Giant Gonzales vs. The Undertaker match be a no-brainer? We’ll never know.
That’s right: The Canadian crooner, whose pop leanings have endeared him to a global audience, was not even alive when the word “Raw” entered the WWE Universe’s collective vernacular. While The Hulkster spent the early part of 1993 fending off Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster, the Biebster was not yet a glimmer in his father’s eye.
Since then, the teen pop sensation has all but devoured the universe, and his status as one of the galaxy’s best-known celebrities has inevitably brought him shoulder-to-shoulder with WWE Superstars from time to time.
One example would be at the MTV European Music Awards last December, when current World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus presented Bieber with the Best Male Award. More recently, Bieber counted himself among the entourage for boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. during “Money’s” fight against Miguel Cotto. Also in Mayweather’s corner that night were 50 Cent and WWE COO Triple H.
“It was quite the interesting trio,” Triple H later told WWE.com.
WWE Divas Championship
If you were to dial back to January 1993, however, you’d find that not only was a Divas Championship nowhere to be found – there wasn’t even a women’s division to speak of. Although the lineage of the WWE Women’s Championship dates back to WWE Hall of Famer Fabulous Moolah’s win over Judy Grable in 1953, that title was deemed inactive in 1990 and remained dormant by the time Raw took the air in ’93.
Resuscitated later that year, the Women’s Title ended up spending time around the waists of Alundra Blayze, Bull Nakano, Lita, Trish Stratus, Beth Phoenix and others before Michelle McCool unified the championship with her Divas Title in September 2010.
Now, the butterfly-emblazoned championship stands alone as the ultimate prize for WWE Divas.
According to Toyota, the Prius family of automobiles accounts for nearly 72 percent of the company’s cumulative hybrid sales. Since 1997, the total number of Toyota hybrid vehicles sold worldwide have led to fewer than the approximately 26 million tons of CO2 emissions that “would have been emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance,” the company further estimates.
Seeing how Raw's TV debut preceded the WWE brand extension by nearly a decade, it only makes sense that WWE had little reason for a Superstar draft until Raw and SmackDown were turned into two distinct and competing outfits in 2002.
Post-brand split, however, the draft turned into an annual game-changer that sent Raw Superstars to SmackDown and vice versa. The rules changed over the years: some years, draft picks were decided by a lottery system. More recently, the order of picks was determined by the winners of inter-brand match-ups. The consequences were major: In 2005, for example, WWE Champion John Cena was drafted to Raw, while World Heavyweight Champion Batista moved to SmackDown.
During ECW's brief return under the WWE umbrella, it, too, got in on the action, with the 2007-2009 acting as “tri-branded” lotteries. Since Raw evolved to become Raw SuperShow last August, however, it remains to be seen whether the WWE Draft will return this year.
iPhones, Droids and the bulk of the smart-phone market
Evidence of this can be traced back to Paul Heyman, whose trademark use of the mobile phone would be grossly out of place today. Although Heyman’s cell-phone strikes unquestionably left welts on the backs of his charges’ foes, Heyman would have considerably less luck if he tried a similar tactic with a Droid in 2012.
Apart from the physical differences between a cell phone of 1993 and a smart phone of 2012, the capabilities of such mobile devices have grown exponentially. Today, iPhones, Droids and Blackberrys not only interrupt movies and hinder face to face conversations; they can also be used to explore a world of apps, not to mention answer almost any question instantly … cell phone service willing. Although a concept version of the first smart phone, the IBM Simon, was unveiled in 1992 and released publicly in 1993, that contraption bears little resemblance to the phones that are currently mass-marketed.
Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match
Initially a realm defined by three teams (Edge & Christian, the Dudley Boyz and the Hardy Boyz), the WWE TLC Match first appeared at SummerSlam 2000 – a solid seven-plus years after the first Raw. Since then, a diverse collection of Superstars, including Jerry “The King” Lawler and Kane, have competed in such affairs. Much like Hell in a Cell and the Elimination Chamber, the WWE TLC Match and the similarly themed Money in the Bank Match have become so popular that they now have their very own pay-per-views each December and July, respectively.
The fantasy world including Hogwarts School and Lord Voldemort is the creation of author J.K. Rowling, who was reportedly in the throes of writing the Potter series around the time of Raw’s debut. In 2011, the series met its apparent finale with the theatrical release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.”
Invented in the late 1990s and brought to market in 2005, Vibram FiveFingers are thin-soled shoes that have gained popularity in recent years for their wide variety of applications. From running to yoga, and weight lifting to trekking, the funky-looking footwear – which has individual sections for each toe – is meant to create a near-barefoot experience for the person whose feet they cover.
The minimalist running shoe market has expanded since FiveFingers were introduced, with other manufacturers getting in the game and “toe shoes” becoming an increasingly common sight on city sidewalks. Had they existed in 1993, however, one can only wonder if FiveFingers would have been leveraged by barefoot Suprestars such as Yokozuna or The Headshrinkers.
Currently, the shoes also have at least one loyalist in the WWE locker room: Triple H. One look at the WWE COO’s WrestleMania XXVIII workout video suggests that The Game, who would very conservatively be described as a gym buff, likes to get as close to barefoot as possible when slugging giant tires with a sledgehammer and performing mountain climbers.
The Elimination Chamber
The Chamber’s terrifying arrival in WWE, however, did not occur until 2002. The on-screen brainchild of then-Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff, the Elimination Chamber was originally conceptualized by WWE COO Triple H. The Game, along with Booker T, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Kane and Rob Van Dam, partook in the Chamber’s maiden voyage at Survivor Series 2002.
“The Elimination Chamber is brutal because the Chamber itself is brutal,” Triple H told WWE Magazine earlier this year. “There are six guys in the ring, but it’s almost like there’s a seventh opponent in there with you, and he’s the one you have to really look out for.”
In short, the Elimination Chamber combines the every-Superstar-for-himself and tiered-entry elements of the Royal Rumble Match with an amped-up version of Hell in a Cell’s oversized cage. To date, the Chamber, sometimes referred to as “Satan’s Prison,” has been unveiled on 15 different occasions, and it now has its own dedicated pay-per-view each February. ( ALL-TIME ELIMINATION CHAMBER PHOTO GALLERY)
The Tampa Bay Rays
Originally named the Devil Rays, the club entered Major League Baseball in 1998. After enduring 10 consecutive losing seasons, the Rays changed their name (dropping “Devil”), altered their uniforms and improved to 97 wins in the 2008 season. That same year, the club won the American League pennant over the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Since then, the Rays have often been framed as a model baseball organization that places a premium on drafting and developing talent.
That now-legendary declaration, uttered by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at the 1996 King of the Ring coronation ceremony, cemented The Texas Rattlesnake as a force to be reckoned with in WWE. Prior to winning the King of the Ring Tournament, Austin was little more than a routinely overlooked, yet superbly talented, mid-carder. After laying waste to the reborn, Bible-thumping Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the tournament final, however, Austin skyrocketed to the front of the pack, thanks, in large part, to his callous and memorable acceptance speech.
Mocking John 3:16, one of the most widely cited verses in the New Testament, Stone Cold’s venomous interview spawned a sensational sound bite and a hugely successful tee shirt, not to mention the beginning of WWE’s Attitude Era. ( ICONIC WWE SOUND BITES)
Yet, with the support of major electronics companies, the sleeker and more robust DVD slowly nudged cassettes off of rental store shelves beginning a couple of years after Raw’s debut. The optical disc format was not only more convenient, space-wise, but it also paved the way for extra features, “Easter eggs” and alternate commentary tracks on movie and event releases.
Fast forward from ’95 to today, and the WWE Universe can relive their favorite matches from Raw (and SmackDown) via an assortment of year-end “Best of” DVDs and Blue-ray discs found at WWEShop.com.
Biannual Olympics cycle
Starting with the Lillehammer, Norway, Winter Olympics in 1994, however, the Winter and Summer Games were decoupled, and instead of both sets happening every four years, they now alternate every two.
Of course, a certain WWE Superstar happened to compete in the Summer Olympics during the final year in which both events were held. At the ’92 Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain, “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry took part in the weightlifting event as part of the super-heavyweight division.
Though the notion of such a service would have likely blown minds when Raw debuted in January 1993, YouTube is now the go-to spot for not only third-generation recordings of old “Where’s the beef?” commercials that have been converted into digital format, but also plenty of original content. Since being purchased by Google in late 2006 for the handsome sum of $1.65 billion, the site has also entered dozens of partnerships with entertainment companies and specialized content providers, WWE included. ( WWE ON YOUTUBE)
Besides being the domain of hilarious monkey videos, “Rickroll” pranks and overnight celebrities, YouTube is home to seven WWE web series, ranging from the off-the-wall “Santino’s Foreign Exchange” to the garbage-juice-saluting “Are You Serious?”
WWE Championship "spinner" belt
After the then-Doctor of Thuganomics overpowered JBL for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 21, the championship underwent a thuggish transformation that was partly inspired by the growing popularity of “spinner” car rims. With that, the spinner championship has been in use ever since. Although subsequent titleholders have tweaked their prizes – most notably, The Miz, who turned the title centerpiece upside-down to create an “M” – the basic design of the championship has remained intact for the past seven years.
Since then, the blue-and-white Facebook logo has infiltrated nearly every crevice of society, which should come as little surprise considering its user base totals more than 900 million people. The story of Facebook’s creation was the premise for a major motion picture, “The Social Network,” and the social media network’s initial public offering in May priced at $38.
Yet in 1993, the term “Facebook” made about as much sense as “Head Pamphlet.” The internet was in a nascent state, after all, and the idea of cultivating digital crops via a FarmVille app was still years away.
In 2012, though, Facebook is deeply entrenched in cultures throughout the world, and the passionate WWE Universe is no exception: WWE’s Facebook network has more combined fans than the NFL and all of its 32 teams combined.
What'd we miss? Can you think of other trends or inventions that have been developed since January 1993? If so, add your voice to the conversation over at WWE InterAction!