There are a few truths in life. Death. Taxes. Monday nights belonging to wrestling and football. In terms of the last two, both are institutions of Monday night television entertainment. While one occurs on a gridiron, the other takes place in this column’s title. That’s right: a squared circle. One involves throwing pigskins, while the other has performers chugging beers, interacting with the crowd, and using sledgehammers, tables, and chairs from time to time to gain the upper hand in a match.
Born in 1993, Monday Night Raw would change the television landscape when it came to weekly programming and it has been going strong for over twenty years. But when the copyright logo appears and the screen fades to black it isn’t always the end of the show. The main program may be over for the millions watching worldwide, but the show still goes on in after-party fashion for the thousands in attendance.
The multi-disc compilation (three discs for the DVD, two discs for the Blu-ray set) is hosted by Renee Young. Probably the best backstage interviewer they’ve employed since “Mean” Gene Okerland – and not because she’s easy on the eyes, but because she’s very knowledgeable about the performers (she even attended WrestleMania VI – no she wasn’t sitting next to Edge). Her appearances on this release are infrequent, but when Renee does show up it’s to offer a quick thought or set up another round of after-show moments.
A collection of thirty-two of the best after-show moments from the past fifteen years, Best of Raw After the Show is a nice companion to The Attitude Era release from November 2012. It begins at the height of that era in 1999 and the first disc of the Blu-ray is dominated by Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Moving from the Attitude Era through the organization’s name change (where it got the “F” out) the compilation ends with its now modern era. So it’s no surprise that the second disc is where John Cena looms large. But the second disc almost feels like a B-side by comparison. The best after-show moments occur in the Attitude Era, where crowds could get away with so much in terms of poster slogans (see if you can spot the “Steph Gets Me Stiff” poster during one of the segments). It is definitely noticeable when Steve Austin and The Rock are replaced by John Cena and a slew of matches that occurred after Monday Night Raw went off the air. Granted, the quality of wrestling was poor during the Attitude Era, so I understand why the second disc is dedicated to featuring matches involving the likes of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Edge, among others. As fun as it is to see unreleased matches pitting John Cena against his two greatest in-ring rivals, CM Punk and Edge, I’d rather watch Steve Austin and Chris Jericho trade barbs in the middle of the ring, plus The Rock being upstaged by a fan in the front row. Oh, and then there’s Steve Austin letting bygones be bygones as he has a beer-guzzling party with the man that would arrive and supersede his push in WCW, Hulk Hogan.
The Best of RAW After the Show is a novelty WWE Home Video release for sure. Fans that balk at seeing so many repeats in terms of match selection (the most vilified probably being the HBK/Razor Ladder Match from WrestleMania X) will be happy to know that this set contains not only footage that’s never made it to DVD or Blu-ray, it has footage that’s never been seen anywhere outside of the live events where they transpired. A bigger novelty is the absence of play-by-play and color commentary. Home audiences will only hear wrestler intros, the crowd’s response (cheers, boos, et al.), wrestlers on mic and the sounds that occur during a match when one is Irish-whipped, body-slammed or hit with a signature finisher.
Watching a match without commentary can be a fun experience. While men like Jim Ross can add an interesting narrative to the match, the lack of commentators is a nice change of pace. Besides, to have Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Paul Heyman, and anyone else who has occupied the announce table between the years 1999-2013 provide commentary would be a disservice to a title that promotes an “After the Show” experience.
Rather than give my own play-by-play account of what happens in the near three-dozen segments and matches that comprise this set, here is a listing of moments that are included:
• Stone Cold Salute to Shane McMahon & Triple H: From Orlando, Florida, May 10, 1999.
• Shane McMahon Smells What the Rock is Cookin’: From Los Angeles, California, April 3, 2000.
• Too Cool Dance with The Dudleys / Chris Jericho / Big Show: From Uniondale, New York, May 8, 2000.
• The Big Red People’s Elbow: From St. Louis, Missouri, June 12, 2000.
• The Rock & Shawn Stasiak — Third Time’s a Charm?: From San Antonio, Texas, September 10, 2001.
• Stone Cold’s Music City: From Nashville, Tennessee, September 17, 2001.
• The Rock Questions an Olympic Champion: From Miami, Florida, December 24, 2001.
• Stone Cold Steve Austin & Hulk Hogan Share a Cold One: From St. Louis, Missouri, April 22, 2002.
• Under-Take-A-Rooni?: From Seattle, Washington, August 12, 2002.
• Rock-A-Rooni: From Toronto, Canada, February 24, 2003.
• The Rock & Stone Cold Steve Austin Meet Again: From St. Louis, Missouri, March 17, 2003.
• Rock Fan Smells It: From Seattle, Washington, March 31, 2003.
• Stone Cold Steve Austin & Goldberg Confront Eric Bischoff: From Halifax, Canada, May 5, 2003.
• Ric Flair Celebration: From Greenville, South Carolina, May 19, 2003.
• Stone Cold Steve Austin Salutes Cameraman: From Montreal, Canada, July 7, 2003.
• Stone Cold Steve Austin & Chris Jericho Verbal Exchange: From Tucson, Arizona, August 25, 2003.
• Moolah’s 80th Birthday: From Columbia, South Carolina, September 15, 2003.
• Stone Cold Steve Austin & Goldberg Unite: From Cleveland, Ohio, November 3, 2003.
• Stone Cold Steve Austin Entertains All: From Portland, Oregon, February 9, 2004.
• The Rock / Stone Cold Steve Austin / Mick Foley Reunion: From Atlanta, Georgia, March 1, 2004.
• Triple H & Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels & Randy Orton: From Cincinnati, Ohio, February 25, 2005.
• Hulk Hogan Poses with Batista & John Cena: From Montreal, Canada, August 15, 2005.
• Ric Flair Thanks North Carolina: From Charlotte, North Carolina, January 23, 2006.
• John Cena vs. Edge: From San Antonio, Texas, July 17, 2006.
• Triple H vs. Randy Orton: From Boston, Massachusetts. August 27, 2007.
• DX Joined by John Cena and…: From Worcester, Massachusetts, November 2, 2009.
• John Cena vs. CM Punk: From Boston, Massachusetts, July 11, 2011.
• Triple H Meets Zack Ryder: From Lafayette, Louisiana, October 3, 2011.
• Randy Orton, Big Show & Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane & Cody Rhodes: From Miami, Florida, April 2, 2012.
• John Cena’s Special Day: From Detroit, Michigan, April 23, 2012.
• The Rock & John Cena Join Forces: From St. Louis, Missouri, July 23, 2012.
• Cha-Cha-Cha-La-La: From East Rutherford, New Jersey, April 8, 2013.
If springing for the high-def experience, you’ll be treated to these exclusives.
• Stone Cold Steve Austin & Lilian Ride ATV: From Cincinnati, Ohio, March 29, 2004.
• Triple-Threat Steel Cage Match: John Cena vs. Edge vs. Triple H: From Anaheim, California, May 8, 2006.
• Sheamus in Vegas: From Las Vegas, Nevada, January 28, 2013.
• The Rock Gives Cody Rhodes a Cajun Greeting: From Lafayette, Louisiana, February 18, 2013.
• Bret “Hit Man” Hart Appreciation Night: From Calgary, Canada, May 27, 2013.
• Tables Match: John Cena vs. Ryback: From Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 17, 2013.
The Best of Raw After the Show is the first WWE Home Video release of 2014 that I can classify as a must own for fans of the Monday night program. It is definitely geared for diehard fans that are nostalgic for the ratings-getter Attitude Era. Newcomers may not be quite as absorbed seeing moments like the Fabulous Moolah celebrating her 80th birthday, but longtime fans will have fun bingewatching hours of never before seen moments, unless you were there to see it in person, of course. Hopefully, I’m not alone in enjoying the hell out of this compilation. I would love it to start a new series of “After Show” compilations, involving SmackDown! and future volumes of its flagship program.
Tags: john cena, monday night raw, Squared-Circle Science, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, WWE, WWE DVD