On July 23, WWE Monday Night Raw marks 1000 episodes. Of course, they're bragging that they've logged more episodes than any other primetime show. Well, at least they're qualifying it, since there are daytime shows that have racked up more episodes.
WWE's feat took 19 1/2 years to accomplish, as Raw first hit the air as a 1 hour broadcast on January 11, 1993, live from New York City. Vince McMahon was at the mic, partnered with locally based radio personality Rob Bartlett, who was otherwise one of Don Imus' sidekicks back then, and the late Macho Man Randy Savage. This trio didn't last the year, as Bartlett was gone, I believe, before the series reached its first anniversary. Savage left some time after that, his seat filled by Jerry "The King" Lawler, who's been there for the most part since, save for a lengthy stretch in 2001.
Raw, in the course of its evolution over 2 decades, not only brought pro wrestling back to primetime television after a long absence, but also was the gateway that led WWE away from traditional pro wrestling to "sports entertainment". We should've known then that McMahon, long hailed as a visionary as well as a bit of a maverick, was gradually going off the deep end in real life before he reinvented himself by creating the on-screen persona of a ruthless executive who didn't care what the fans thought or wanted. Some say that the "Mr. McMahon" persona was an extension of who the man was behind the scenes.
We know now that McMahon, who'll be 66 next month, lost his creative touch a long, long time ago. Savage passed away last year. Bartlett's current whereabouts are unknown, as I don't think he's still with Imus, either, and I doubt he'll be invited to the party on Monday. Bobby Heenan, whom you'll see in an opening skit with Sean Mooney, retired a few years later due to throat cancer, and was later inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Mooney moved on and is now working for Fox Sports Net out west.
Now, then, let's set the WABAC machine to January 11, 1993......