Raw’s 25th Anniversary – How the wrestling and music defined one another.

“Welcome everyone to Monday Night Raw” the first words uttered by the slightly mad but genius mind of Vince McMahon. The WWE’s flagship program ‘Monday Night Raw’ has reached its 25th anniversary. While I grew up watching Smackdown we cannot deny the impact Raw had on wrestling fans and those in the pop culture, especially in the last few years.

 

But why I bring up the anniversary is due to the fact that in the last 25 years, just as the wrestling and the ‘sports-entertainment’ have evolved and slightly been tweaked and redeveloped over a course of two decades. So has the music and the way in which the wrestling and popular music have sort of intertwined with one another.

 

So my goal is simple, take a look back at the different eras of ‘Monday Night Raw’ and compare the music that was going on in that time and see where the line blurs between the music and the wrestling.

 

 

1993-1997 New Generation Era:

A year prior to the debut of ‘Monday Night Raw’ a steroid scandal bought the company to its knees, so to combat it the WWE began focusing on the younger more athletic type of superstars. Leading the charge where the likes of Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon and the Undertaker.

 

The music at the time was also being led by up and coming bands and artists who would define the early 90s. Bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden and Hip-Hop groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Public Enemy, showcased the music and attitude that these young up and comers had. The energy, the rawness and the relatability that these artist had to those growing up in the early 90s, was something wrestling fans saw in the wrestlers. Kids could look up to a Shawn Michaels or an Undertaker based on the fact that they were themselves were like them. Ordinary individuals who weren’t ‘superheroes’ like Hulk Hogan who ran the WWE a decade prior.

 

While sure the company was also going through an unsettling period with fan attendance dwindling, the uninspiring wrestling gimmicks like a man dressing as a bull (No I am serious, a guy dressed a bull so inspiring) and the ‘Monday Night Wars’ beginning to pick up when WCWs flagship program ‘Nitro’ started to compete with ‘Raw’. So to compete WWE had to start triggering their edgy bone to compete with their major competitor.

 

1997-2001 The Attitude Era:

Inspired by the grungy wrestling company that was ECW and wrestlers such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, Triple H and many more leading the charge. An edgier programming began airing on Monday Nights titled ‘Raw is War’.

 

So while it’s easy to see how music was evolving with Grunge systematically dying with the death of Kurt Cobain, music and wrestling almost started to reflect one another. An anti-hero like Steve Austin and The Rock, where almost comparable to the ‘Gallagher Brothers’ they weren’t supportive of a system and what they wanted was the gold (being the WWF title at the time) and brothers Noel and Liam where exactly like that. Goldust is another example, while he debut a year before the start of this new era he’s comparable to Marilyn Manson who debut his sophomore album ‘Antichrist Superstar’ the same year and the controversy both earned in their two different fields is comparable.

 

While WWF started to embrace the edgy content of gang warfare that was happening the same time as the East Coast and West Coast saga, between the likes of Tupac and Notorious BIG. Groups or Stables like DX, The Corporation, The Ministry where competing on the same level, but the different maker being that art allows us to see the winners and losers, whilst reality sees the unfortunate demises of the lives of Tupac Shakur and BIG.

 

 

2002-2008 The Ruthless Aggression Era:

Post Attitude Era is just as comparable to the music coming from the early 2000s. It wasn’t grunge, nor was it the hip-hop scene from LA. The wrestlers that defined that era where either dwindling down, retiring or leaving. This opened the spot for many new wrestlers such as the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista and Edge to take the charge.

 

2000 music whether it be the indie darlings of Interpol, The Killers and pop-punk acts like AFI, new rockers like Queens of the Stone Age and the Foo Fighters, new rappers such as the likes of Eminem and 50-Cent who were just controversial yet equally important as those from the decade prior. The music was really important, in fact so many big bands we know that from this era debut and are still making an impact. Alter Bridge who composed the song ‘Metalingus’ was the theme song for Edge who was one of the popular stars of that era, was one of the reasons why Alter Bridge are now one of Rock’s most prominent bands.

 

While sure the Ruthless Aggression era suffered with the mistreatment of their woman wrestlers (I won’t call them divas) and how they treated certain wrestlers. The era was one of highlights, which makes it even sadder that it ended with two of their stars Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, both passing and a beginning of a new and not so popular era to not only wrestlers but even the changing of music.

 

 

2008-2013 The PG Era:

While it’s easy to look at the plus side of the PG era, I mean safer wrestling, the feuds from the likes of Undertaker and Edge, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels and John Cena and CM Punk where memorable and really fun.

 

But this was also an era where WWE dropped the ball hard. The reliance of celebrities which worked in the 80s and in some regard the 90s, wasn’t helping the product. The feuds while I mentioned a few were good some unfortunately where lacking, underutilising talent like Drew McIntyre and they still treated the woman like sex appeal (Just not too explicitly like the era before)

 

Music wasn’t lacking as bands like M83, Cage the Elephant, Foo Fighters to name a few where still delivering belter after belter of great music. Even the up and coming stars like Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar got people talking. Unfortunately the music at the time was also uninspiring especially on the charts, it was as if everything sounded the same but like most things and newest technologies that where available to stream music, WWE would begin to embark on their own streaming service.

 

 

2014 to present The Reality Era:

The WWE network debut in February 2014 and while it has its issues, overall it’s really good. Music streaming services are just doing the same, as Apple Music officially launched the following year. The wrestling going forward was beginning to look great. While factoring in the resurgence of the independent wrestling scene in the UK and the world and of course New Japan being a boss. The music was also being independent as artist would make their own labels, building up their audiences.

 

Not only that but NXT the developmental program for WWE has also reached popularity at this time due to the realistic but compelling storylines and incredible wrestling. The music was also a showcase of this programming, as the NXT Takeover specials (their own PPVs) theme music was alternative and reflective of the programming. Having the likes of Sleeping with Sirens, Bring Me The Horizon, A Day to Remember and many more showcases not only can the WWE programming be alternative but showcasing these bands that are big in their own regard shows that the two can work together.

 

While I can’t predict the next 25 years of wrestling, hell anything can happen New Japan and WWE might collaborate and hell maybe AFI will perform at Wrestlemania. The point is we have to be patient and wait to see what happens. For now tune in tonight to check out the 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw. Let’s just hope it’s good.

 

 

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