Wednesday, June 27, 2018

DVD Review - WWE RAW X: Tenth Anniversary Special (Jan. 2003)

On January 14, 2003, Monday Night RAW celebrated its tenth anniversary with an awards show ceremony that served more as a public masterbation of WWE's public image than anything of merit. Eventually, they released the special, along with a handful of special features, onto DVD. I never got to watch the special live since it wasn't part of the TSN package, but I was able to procure the DVD and so this is what I'm going to be looking at.

The DVD itself is a slim package; a single-disk release with gatefold cover telling all the chapters and bonus features. Compared to the other vanilla releases from WWE Home Video at the time, this was a pretty cheap package, both in terms of cost and quality. On the bright side, however, the slim size does make it a nice, snug fit for those packed library shelves.

There is not much to the actual RAW X special that is really worth talking about; it is a third-rate awards show similar in vein to the Slammy Awards that were around for a couple years and would eventually be revived a decade or so later, except instead of calling it the Slammies, they have these shitty looking TV trophies with RAW X stickered on called Rukus Awards. The show was held at the former WWF New York restaurant at Times Square - later redubbed the World and eventually sold off. I hear it's a Hard Rock cafe nowadays, though I could be wrong on that count.

Anyway, I will spare you the detailed play-by-play and cut straight to the points.

Trish Stratus wins the Diva Of The Decade award... despite only being in WWE for roughly two or three years. You'd figure one of the other choices would be more worthy winners, like Sable (a.k.a. Brock Lesnar's future wife) or Chyna or even Sunny... but I guess Trish gets it because she's employed with the company at the time. Not that Trish wasn't bad or anything (and to be fair, she'd get better as time went on), but compared to the other choices who did more than she did... this may have tipped you off that something wasn't on the up-and-up.

Raw Moment #10 features snippets of the This Is Your Life, Rock segment that is the highest rated segment in RAW history... no, bro. Don't tell me Steve Austin vs. Undertaker for the WWF Title a couple months before was the highest rated segment, bro! That's an overrun bro! THIS, bro, THIS, THIS, THIS, BRO! EQUALS RATINGS BRO!!

Ahem... bro.

Kurt Angle wins the "Don't Try This At Home" award for missing a moonsault in a cage match... um, okay. Kurt decides to cut a heelish promo thanking himself while Team Angle members Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin hold up the American Flag behind Kurt. Sadly, Kurt's speech is cut off as he's out of time. Okay, I'll admit it; this was fun to watch and one of the very, very, VERY few highlights in this show.

And then we have Stacy Kiebler introducing us to a montage of bad gimmicks in WWE over the past decade, some of which aren't actually bad gimmicks and, actually, would make a lot more sense than the crap that has come along since then (or even today, for that matter.) Strangely enough, Katie Vick doesn't seem to be included anywhere in that video. Nice nod; Stacy makes mention to "a dentist with bad teeth" and some bozos shout out Kane in response. If you got the reference, you'd know why it's a nice nod. And if you didn't... well, it'd go over your head.

RAW Moment #9 features Steve Austin crushing the Rock's limo with a monster truck. And bro, I SWEAR TO GAWD, BRO, I... okay, I'll shut up, bro. Also, another moment from the Attitude Era... I wonder if this has any bearing on the rest of this countdown.

Mick Foley wins the "Tell Me I Didn't See That" Award for that one bit where he did his three faces of Foley on the Titantron (that 97 street fight he had with HHH at MSG), but sadly isn't there to accept the award for some reason. Unfortunately, there's going to be a number of absentee award winners on this show and it pretty much exposes the sad state of this awards presentation when the real stars couldn't be bothered to show up for a variety of reasons.

Ric Flair introduces the montage of dead wrestlers up to that point. The song they use for the montage? "Tell Me A Lie." The Shawn Michaels "lost his smile" song. Okay.

Chris Jericho skips the nominees for the "Gimme The Mic" award and wants to give the award to himself when he read the Rock's name. He should have pulled an Owen here and just kept the Award for himself without even bothering to read the winner, but whatever. This leads us to a pre-recorded Rock promo that the crowd boos, planting the seeds for his awesome Hollywood Rock run that would feature his dissing Hulk Hogan and putting over the Hurricane as a credible threat before being tore down by everyone else.

RAW Moment #8: Shane Buys WCW... and then does a half-assed Invasion angle that dies a horrible death due to there being too many McMahons for anyone to give a shit. Say, speaking of which...

McSon-In-Law and Nipple H win the "Shut Up And Kiss Me" award because of course they do.

RAW Moment #7: Vince McMahon in the hospital after suffering a leg injury at the hands of Undertaker and Kane, where the world was introduced to Mr. Socko as well as Bedpan McMahon. See, Vince succeeds where Stephanie (and HHH, to be honest) fail as villains; they may be able to get the upper hand over the heroes, they may even be dominant at times, but every so often, they need to show a little ass and get theirs. Vince knew this, Vince played this role well in his feud with Austin, and that's why it's one of the best feuds in WWF/E history that made an otherwise shoddy period of television that much more bearable.

(Yeah, I've been watching the old RAWs from that period and other than a couple moments here and there, they DON'T hold up.)

Mae Young's Hand wins the "Network Difficulty" awards for its too hot for TV content. Yes, Mae Young giving birth to a hand was so "too hot for TV" that they replay it numerous times during "best moments" packages. And yes, this "cute" segment won a "Network Difficulty" category over other nominees that included the rather infamous Steve Austin/Brian Pillman gun angle that nearly got RAW kicked off the network, thus being the closest thing to an actual network difficulty. All the other choices - HLA, Austin stunning Santa - those were just stupid things for the sake of being stupid.

Also, the Austin/Pillman angle took place in 1996, making the earliest nominee thus far. Outside of some superstars featured montages, you don't get a lot of mention of the early years of RAW. Sure, those years are not quite as well known as the "recent" stuff, but you still had some great moments there. Mr. Perfect beating Ric Flair to kick him out of the WWF in one of the earliest RAWs, Sean Waltman scoring the upset win over Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels passing out from a concussion, Shawn Michaels losing his smile... oh wait, never mind.

RAW Moment #6: DX's Nation Parody from 1998. I actually went back and watched this one. It was pretty funny. I thought the DX Corporation parody was better; Shawn keeps dropping the ball on that one.

Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the RAW Superstar of the Decade in a category that also included Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Mick Foley. Considering Austin was AWOL at the time due to problems, I was quite surprised that McSon-In-Law never got the nod to stroke his ego. Instead, we get Austin winning the award, which prompts Vince McMahon to come out and accept the award on his behalf because Austin wasn't invited. In hindsight, I wonder if this was done in order to slowly re-educate the folks on Steve Austin since he would be back in WWE a month or so later, but at the time... eh.

RAW Moment #5: Steve Austin confronts Mike Tyson in a moment that actually made headlines and arguably shifted the tide in WWF's favor during that whole Monday Night pillow fight with Turner.

And for tonight's final award, we have RAW Match Of The Decade, which includes the Cactus Jack/HHH street fight from 1997, the Steve Austin/Kane WWF championship match from 1998, the Jeff Hardy/Undertaker WWE title match from 2002, and the TLC match from Las Vegas in 2002. And that's it. The winner is TLC Vegas, which also has the distinction of being included on the DVD... hence I'll save my thoughts for then.

RAW Moment #4: DX invades WCW in a "tank" that's really a jeep with a rocket launcher. Hey, people give Vince Russo plenty of shit over the years, but at least he says DX invaded WCW with a rocket launcher and not a TANK. A tank is what Rusev rode in at Wrestlemania 31. Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't nominate the segment where DX blew up the CNN Center.

RAW Moment #3: Rock and Hogan stare each other down in anticipation of their first Wrestlemania encounter... although they failed to show the subsequent nWo beating, Rock being taken into an ambulance, and then Hogan ramming said ambulance with a semi.

RAW Moment #2: The Owen Hart tribute show... your mileage will vary on whether this was a good choice or a distasteful one, but at this point in time, I'm rather indifferent either way.

And then Edge shows up to introduce the #1 RAW Moment, which is the Steve Austin beer truck segment. Edge then tells all the superstars to get on stage and... that's it. End of show.

This show was a complete and utter farce where the ego-stroking and political machinations was readily apparent. The focus was primarily on the latter half of the decade rather than the decade as a whole, so anything taking place from the very early days of RAW wasn't getting touched on. Also, you have some undeserving winners in some case - no diss on Trish who went on to be one of the better women in WWE, but she was NOWHERE near that level in January 2003... also Mae Young's hand getting a "Network Difficulities" award over a moment that actually did cause network difficulties, WTF?! - while the big stars who did win weren't around to collect their rewards, which speaks volumes as to how much of a waste of time this was.

RAW X wasn't miserable; it was just depressingly dull. And I can't say that the show was bad due to high expectations because I don't think I ever caught this live; I only bought the DVD release and that's how I was able to watch. So by the time that happened, we were months into the year. I've read reviews calling this a farce, but watching it with my own two eyes pretty much confirmed that sentiment.

As I stated at the beginning, this Tenth Anniversary "special" was released onto DVD. And the DVD itself isn't really anything special. You have a few interviews with various WWE talents that were available to be interviewed, you have all the RAW moments that they showcased, and for whatever reason, you also have the Smackdown recap of the show you have on DVD because... sure, why not?

You have the making of the RAW On The Roof opening sequence that they used for a few episodes of RAW, there's a couple additional awards covering Best Entrance and Best Impersonations, and included as easter eggs, a couple of the original RAW openings from years past.

In terms of the spare awards, Undertaker won for Best Entrance (deservedly so, as he often does have the best entrances in the business, even in its mockiest mockery stage) while McSon-In-Law won for Best Impersonation (and got a Rukus award whose RAW sticker fell off... okay, that was funny.)

And then you have two matches; the main event of the first Monday Night RAW from 1993 featuring journeyman wrestler and supposed Wrestlecrap foil Damien Demento going one on one against the Undertaker (nothing special, Taker wins to the surprise of no one) and then you have the aforementioned TLC match from Las Vegas, which featured RAW Tag-Team champions Kane and the Hurricane successfully defending their titles against Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley, Rob Van Dam & Jeff Hardy, and Chris Jericho & Christian in a four way TLC match.

And you know what? It's a great match, don't get me wrong. It's a damn fine match that holds up to the tradition and excitement of past TLC matches and showed that you didn't need the usual trio of tag-teams (the Hardyz, the Dudleyz, the Edgez and Christianz) to make the formula work. However, I don't know if I would call it the best RAW match of that decade, as you have some fine matches in there that were worthy of contention... but ultimately weren't because either they came along too early or didn't feature anyone on good terms with the company or whatever.

Also, the match ended with Kane being triumphant and be awarded with Katie Vick for his troubles... I'm not sure that's a good reward in the short or long term.

The DVD as a whole is pretty slim pickings. As a time capsule of sorts, it's a fairly interesting look at the mentality of WWE at the start of what was looking to be a really rough year creatively. The main show itself was embarrassingly petty and fairly transparent about what to expect from the company going forward, even if that wasn't the intent. And the extras included aren't much to write home about. As a celebration of RAW - both as a DVD release and a television special - RAW X falls well below the mark.

And that concludes any need for me to traverse back to 2003 WWE. And thank fuck for that.

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