Counting to 1,000: Special memories from Raw's milestone episodes

Counting to 1,000: Special memories from Raw's milestone episodes

You don't reach the incredible milestone of 1,000 episodes without hitting many other remarkable ones along the way. It was more than 17 years ago that Raw celebrated its 100th episode, and since that time, while the faces and champions may have changed, the inimitable nature of WWE's flagship program has remained constant – and never ceases to amaze.

As Raw rapidly approaches its historic 1,000th episode on July 23, there's no better time to trace how we got here, milestone by exciting milestone. Join as we take a closer look at each of these milestone episodes. You'll find out which Superstars grabbed the spotlight, who put on the best matches, and learn why Raw has always been a show where "anything can happen," just as Mr. McMahon first proclaimed nearly two decades ago. ( WATCH PLAYLIST)

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1st Episode of Raw – Jan. 11, 1993

Bobby Heenan dresses up to get entrance in the Manhattan Center: Raw, January 11, 1993

Bobby Heenan once again tries to get into the Manhattan Center for the debut episode of Raw. Can he trick security to let him in if he's dressed like a woman?

Live from the Manhattan Center in New York City, a revolution was born. With Mr. McMahon, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and comedian Rob Bartlett providing commentary, Monday Night Raw's inaugural one-hour episode featured plenty of action and unprecedented production value for a professional wrestling show.

Who the champs were: Bret "Hit Man" Hart (WWE Champion), Money Inc. (World Tag Team Champions), Shawn Michaels (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: Don't let the zany spacesuit fool you, Max Moon put up quite a fight against a young Shawn Michaels. After some acrobatic exchanges which included Moon hitting Michaels with a seated senton off the ring apron, The Heartbreak Kid prevailed with a superkick followed by a teardrop suplex for the win. Fun fact: The teardrop suplex used to be HBK's finisher, not the epic superkick later to be dubbed Sweet Chin Music.

Star of the night: Damien Demento was no match for The Undertaker in the first-ever Raw main event. The Phenom, who already had one WWE Title reign to his credit, finished his opponent off with his signature Tombstone piledriver. Undertaker is the only WWE Superstar still in active competition that performed on the first episode of Raw.

"Anything can happen" moment: Bobby Heenan proved he would do whatever it took to get inside the Manhattan Center for the premiere of Raw, even if it meant dressing like a woman in disguise. "The Brain" donned a wig and makeup as he claimed to be Bartlett's aunt and later tried on a Rabbi getup.

100th Episode of Raw – Feb. 27, 1995

Lex Luger vs. Tatanka: Raw, February 27, 1995

This rivalry began at SummerSlam and ends on the 100th episode of Raw.

Who the champs were: Diesel (WWE Champion), The Smoking Gunns (World Tag Team Champions), Jeff Jarrett (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: Lex Luger and Tatanka, two of WWE's biggest powerhouses at the time, collided in a back-and-forth battle in which neither Superstar could seem to gain the decisive edge. In the end, it was Tatanka who lost via count-out after a clash ringside with WWE Hall of Famer Chief Jay Strongbow changed the momentum of the bout.

Stars of the night: Appearing in an interview live via satellite, Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor had some harsh words for Bam Bam Bigelow. The Beast from the East joined in via satellite and fired back at Taylor, which set the wheels in motion for their historic faceoff at WrestleMania XI. The marquee matchup on The Grandest Stage of Them All brought extra attention to WWE due to all the mainstream coverage.

"Anything can happen" moment: After Tatanka was locked in the sleeper hold by Luger, he came to the realization that Chief Jay Strongbow decided to teach his signature move to The Total Package instead of him. Tatanka flew into a rage and destroyed Strongbow's ceremonial headdress. Bad move. In response, the WWE Legend laid into Tatanka with a mighty chop to the chest as the crowd erupted.

200th Episode of Raw – March 10, 1997

Jerry "The King" Lawler and Paul Heyman have a heated debate: Raw, March 10, 1997

Paul Heyman and Jerry "The King" Lawler nearly cause a riot when their heated and controversial debate headlines Raw.

The WWE Universe witnessed some major changes on the 200th episode of Raw. One month after Raw went to a two-hour format, the show's second hour was labeled "Raw Is War" – a reference to the ongoing Monday Night Wars with WCW – while the first hour was still known as "Raw." With the new branding also came a fresh set, pyro and Attitude Era-influenced opening.

Who the champs were: Sycho Sid (WWE Champion), British Bulldog and Owen Hart (World Tag Team Champions), The Rock (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: Four of the scariest Superstars to ever step into a WWE ring collided in the huge main event pitting WWE Champion Sycho Sid and Undertaker against Mankind and Vader. Sid and Undertaker's partnership would not last through the night as the giants were just two weeks away from facing each other at WrestleMania 13. In the highlight of the match, Undertaker chokeslammed Sid and then launched himself over the ropes to take down both Mankind and Vader on the outside. ( WATCH)

Stars of the night: ECW's crossover into WWE territory in the late 90s led to a number of surreal moments, and the "great debate" between Jerry "The King" Lawler and Paul Heyman was no exception. Lawler railed against Heyman's ECW and the extreme pioneer spit fire right back at him – not literally, of course. The hardcore performers of ECW also made a major impact, with Tazz confronting Lawler earlier in the show and Sabu crashing through a table as he tried to crush "The King" from off the top rope.

"Anything can happen" moment: Chyna left no doubt she was a force to be reckoned with on Raw. The muscle bound "Ninth Wonder of the World" emerged to target Marlena while Triple H assaulted Goldust from behind. The brawl took an unexpected turn, though, when Chyna lifted then-WWE official Harvey Wippleman over her head and tossed him like a lawn dart at the other officials.

300th Episode of Raw – Feb. 22, 1999

The Undertaker vs. Kane - Inferno Match: Raw, February 22, 1999

Kane and The Undertaker compete in Raw's first-ever Inferno Match.

Who the champs were: The Rock (WWE Champion), Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart (World Tag Team Champions), Val Venis (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: The first and only Inferno Match to ever take place on Raw was a sight to behold. With the ring surrounded by flames, half-brothers Undertaker and Kane tried to set each other ablaze to win the diabolical contest. Kane's leg was engulfed in the fire when The Phenom caught him going for a big boot and made him suffer the dire consequences.

Star of the night: The Rock was at the very top of his game during this time period, further evidenced by the WWE Champion's verbal evisceration of Big Show in their first in-ring encounter. The Great One later fought Big Show to a No Contest when both Superstars attacked guest referee Mankind before the match began.

"Anything can happen" moment: As if an Inferno Match wasn't enough, the WWE Universe also witnessed a wild, anything-goes brawl between Hardcore Champion Hardcore Holly and Bart Gunn. A crate of bananas – yes, bananas – and a sack of flour came into play on the 15-foot high stage before a man in a bizarre kabuki mask interfered and tossed Gunn off the stage and through a table.

400th Episode of Raw – Jan. 22, 2001

Counting to 1,000: Special memories from Raw's milestone episodes

Who the champs were: Kurt Angle (WWE Champion), The Dudley Boyz (World Tag Team Champions), Chris Jericho (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: Emotions were running high one day after the Royal Rumble as Triple H and Stephanie McMahon teamed up to take on WWE Champion Kurt Angle and Trish Stratus on the 400th episode of Raw. The inter-gender main event didn't disappoint, and The Game delivered a shocking Pedigree to Trish, allowing Stephanie to make the cover for the emphatic victory.

Star of the night: The celebration for Triple H and Stephanie was soon interrupted by the sound of breaking glass. Triple H had called out "Stone Cold" Steve Austin throughout the night and threatened to hit him with his signature sledgehammer, but it was The Texas Rattlesnake who got the last laugh when he ambushed his rival and dropped him with a "Stone Cold" Stunner to close the show.

"Anything can happen" moment: You just never know when a title is going to change hands on Raw. Case in point: Test stunning William Regal in the first match of the night to capture the European Championship. Even more remarkably, it only took Test about a minute and a half to seal the victory with his big flying elbow drop.

500th Episode of Raw – Dec. 23, 2002

Booker T and Goldust vs. Chris Jericho and Christian: Raw - World Tag Team Championship Match, December 23, 2002

Booker T and Goldust put the World Tag Team Championship on the line against Christian and Chris Jericho in a special holiday edition of Raw.

Who the champs were: Kurt Angle (WWE Champion), Triple H (World Heavyweight Champion), Los Guerreros (WWE Tag Team Champions), Booker T and Goldust (World Tag Team Champions), Triple H (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: Arguably one of the best tag matches to ever take place on Raw, World Tag Team Champions Booker T and Goldust tangled with Chris Jericho and Christian for 17 minutes of fast and furious action. Jericho almost made Goldust tap out with the Walls of Jericho, but Booker T saved his partner, and Goldust later caught Jericho by surprise with a rollup pin. What added an exclamation point to this match was the electric Oklahoma City crowd.

Star of the night: The Dudley Boyz ensured it was a special homecoming for Jim Ross in his beloved state of Oklahoma. In a matchup teaming Ross and Jerry Lawler against William Regal and Lance Storm, Good Ol' J.R. bowled over Regal with a pair of brass knuckles after Storm was taken out by Bubba Ray and D-Von's 3D. Ross was hoisted atop The Dudley Boyz's shoulders as the Oklahoma University band played him off.

"Anything can happen" moment: A Santa's Little Helper Match may seem strange to some, but Triple H's challenge to Scott Steiner was just plain crazy. The Game wanted to go mano-a-mano with Big Poppa Pump in an impromptu arm wrestling match, boldly telling Steiner: "You're built for show. I'm built to go." Predictably, Steiner (who had mountainous biceps) won the contest, as well as the redo requested by Triple H.

600th Episode of Raw – Nov. 22, 2004

Chris Jericho vs. Batista: Raw, November 22, 2004

Chris Jericho goes one-on-one with The Animal on Raw.

Who the champs were: JBL (WWE Champion), Triple H (World Heavyweight Champion), René Duprée and Kenzo Suzuki (WWE Tag Team Champions), Eugene and William Regal (World Tag Team Champions), Shelton Benjamin (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: They called him "The Animal" for a reason. Batista leveled Chris Jericho with a wicked clothesline from behind, then, with the urging of fellow Evolution member Ric Flair, he refused to break a reverse chokehold while Jericho was trapped in the tree of woe. Months later, the dominant Batista would embark on the longest World Heavyweight Title reign in the history of the championship.

Stars of the night: Throughout the evening, it appeared that Triple H had legitimate beef with Batista, but in reality, Evolution staged an elaborate ruse that fooled many members of the WWE Universe. At the close of the show, Triple H, Batista and Flair gloated over their mind games, proving they still had a few tricks up their sleeves even without Randy Orton as part of the group.

"Anything can happen" moment: On Nov. 15, 2004, ABC's Monday Night Football made waves with a racy skit pairing Nicollette Sheridan from "Desperate Housewives" and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens. Raw's Attitude Era slogan of "uncut, uncensored, uncooked" certainly applied to the brilliant piece of satire that opened the 600th episode. With Trish Stratus playing the role of Sheridan, and Shelton Benjamin as Owens, it was Mr. McMahon who punctuated the locker room scene by looking into the camera and asking the WWE Universe, "Are you ready for some wrestling?" 

700th Episode of Raw – Oct. 23, 2006

Triple H vs. Randy Orton: Raw, October 23, 2006

Former Evolution members, Triple H and Randy Orton collide inside the ring on the 700th episode of Raw.

Who the champs were: John Cena (WWE Champion), Booker T (World Heavyweight Champion), Paul London and Brian Kendrick (WWE Tag Team Champions), The Spirit Squad (World Tag Team Champions), Jeff Hardy (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: Former Evolution members Randy Orton and Triple H were still on top of the WWE in this main event, but this time their alliances were much different. With Edge and Lita in his corner, The Viper made a big statement by defeating The Game, who had reunited D-Generation X with Shawn Michaels. It was Eric Bischoff, however, who served up the great equalizer by slipping Orton a steel chair in a chaotic finish to the 700th episode.

Stars of the night: Randy Orton and Edge were out to prove that Rated-RKO was the new elite duo and D-Generation X was old news. On this night, the outspoken Superstars backed up their words, but the rivalry was far from over as the next few months would feature more of their memorable clashes.

"Anything can happen" moment: Ric Flair evened the odds against Kenny and the Spirit Squad by bringing out some help of his own. WWE Hall of Famers Sgt. Slaughter, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes protected "The Nature Boy" and allowed him to score a sneaky pinfall, and then the four Legends delighted the crowd with a group dance that had to be seen to be believed.

800th Episode of Raw – Sept. 22, 2008

Shane McMahon goes to face-to-face with Randy Orton: Raw, September 22, 2008

Shane McMahon meets Randy Orton face-to-face on the 800th episode of Raw.

Who the  champs were: Triple H (WWE Champion), Chris Jericho (World Heavyweight Champion), Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (WWE Tag Team Champions), Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes (World Tag Team Champions), Santino Marella (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: Evan Bourne vs. Kane seemed like a David vs. Goliath matchup, but Bourne's aerial assault turned it into quite a competitive affair. Bourne took The Big Red Monster off his feet a few times and executed a dazzling moonsault when Kane was on the outside. But Bourne's upset bid was crushed when The Devil's Favorite Demon bounced him off the canvas with a vicious chokeslam.

Star of the night: Chris Jericho made his presence felt just two weeks before he would defeat Shawn Michaels in a Ladder Match at No Mercy. The World Heavyweight Champion kicked off the show atop a ladder as he called out The Heartbreak Kid and was part of the winning team in the main event, which featured JBL, Lance Cade and Jericho squaring off with Batista and Michaels.

"Anything can happen" moment: General Manager Mike Adamle's suspension of CM Punk lasted only minutes. Shane McMahon's surprising return included overturning Punk's suspension, resulting in a heated face to face confrontation with an irate Randy Orton. Also worthy of note, Charlie Haas appeared at a Dave & Buster's to serve up laughs with his impersonation of the legendary Mr. Perfect. ( WATCH)

900th Episode of Raw – Aug. 23, 2010

Who the champs were: Sheamus (WWE Champion), Kane (World Heavyweight Champion), The Hart Dynasty (WWE Tag Team Champions), Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Champion)

Match of the night: Before their epic showdown at WrestleMania XXVII, John Cena and The Miz had their fair share of encounters, including this intense back-and-forth battle on the 900th episode of Raw. The Awesome One kicked out of the Five-Knuckle Shuffle and wriggled out of the STF, but he couldn't see Daniel Bryan's ambush coming and Miz won via disqualification. ( WATCH)

Star of the night: Even though WWE Champion Sheamus presided over the night's action from his throne, it was Randy Orton who stood tall at the close of the show. It was a bit of foreshadowing as The Apex Predator triumphed one month later at Night of Champions to capture his sixth WWE Title.

"Anything can happen" moment: It's not often you get to see a string of four finishing maneuvers delivered in succession. After the Anonymous Raw GM's email revealed that Sheamus would defend his WWE Championship in a Six-Pack Challenge at Night of Champions, the top contenders crowded around the champ and looked ready to rumble. From there, it was bang-bang-bang-bang: Sheamus was hit by Chris Jericho's Codebreaker, Jericho nailed by Edge's Spear, Edge slammed by Cena's Attitude Adjustment, and finally, Cena drilled by Orton's RKO.


What's in store for Raw's historic 1,000th episode on July 23 at 8/7 pm CT? As we've learned from past milestone episodes, there's always a good chance of huge surprises on any given Monday night. On Raw, the one thing you can expect ... is the unexpected.

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