WWE’s first week of 2023 has now come and passed, and it has had plenty of highs and lows.
The stock surged, Money in the Bank 2023’s location was revealed, Sasha Banks officially debuted for New Japan Pro-Wrestling as Mercedes Mone, and Vince McMahon returned to World Wrestling Entertainment.
Monday Night RAW teased the impending return of Cody Rhodes. Meanwhile, NXT began to heat up ahead of New Year’s Evil. Perhaps most notable is the continued angle between The Bloodline and Kevin Owens, as it took another big step forward on Friday Night SmackDown.
While there’s a lot to enjoy each week, this weekly article takes a look back at major matches, moments, and news stories from wrestling’s past. Some of the stories are exhilarating and happy, while others can be more depressing. Regardless, they’re all major moments in the rich and eventful history of WWE.
This week in history includes a title change that created a seismic ratings shift, a return most fans never expected to see, one of the biggest ovations of all time, and more.
Below are five key events that happened this week in WWE history.
#5. Mankind won the WWF Championship during RAW on January 4, 1999
WWE RAW was held on January 4, 1999, in Worcester, Massachusetts, with the-then WWF on its way to the Royal Rumble event. While shows on the road to the Rumble often feel somewhat like filler, this one had a major championship bout. The Rock defended the WWF Title against Mankind in the main event.
Mr. McMahon and The Corporation were in The Rock’s corner while D-Generation X supported Foley. Things were chaotic in the closing moments of the bout, but Stone Cold Steve Austin showed up and ultimately helped Mankind win the bout. Mrs. Foley’s baby boy managed to win the big one in an incredible feel-good moment.
While Mankind winning the world title was an incredible moment, the show was also monumental thanks to the competition. Eric Bischoff had WCW announcer Tony Schiavone reveal the outcome of the taped match live on the air, but hundreds of thousands of fans switched from Nitro to RAW to see Foley win.
#4. Bret Hart returned to RAW on January 4, 2010
The January 4, 2010 edition of WWE RAW featured a return many fans never expected to see. Bret Hart made his big World Wrestling Entertainment return, stepping into the ring to greet fans for the first time in years.
For those unaware, Hart had a difficult exit from the company thanks to the Montreal Screwjob, where Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels changed a planned finish for a match and cost The Hitman the WWF Title. While the situation was complicated, there was bad blood on both sides.
The bad blood made his return all the more special. Michaels and Hart spoke to each other in the center of the ring, ultimately shaking hands. Unfortunately, The Hitman’s later meeting with McMahon was less peaceful. McMahon kicked The Hall of Famer in the gut and insisted that the former champion deserved to be screwed.
#3. Old School RAW was held on January 6, 2014
A special edition of WWE RAW took place on January 6, 2014. The special episode was titled Old School RAW, and it featured a blend of modern stars along with legends from the past.
Legends featured on the show included Ric Flair, Too Cool, Bob Backlund, Arn Anderson, Sgt. Slaughter, DDP, and Mean Gene Okerlund, among others. They were used in various ways, including interviews, segments, guest referee roles, and matches.
The show closed with a match pitting CM Punk against Roman Reigns. After Reigns defeated Punk, The Shield beat down the Straight Edge Superstar. Thankfully, WWE Hall of Famer Jake Roberts came out and distracted the group, allowing Punk to make a comeback.
Roberts placed a giant snake on Dean Ambrose, and Punk stood tall to close the show.
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#2. Triple H made an incredible return at RAW on January 7, 2002
One of the biggest fan reactions of all time took place on the January 7, 2002, edition of WWE RAW. The event was the hyped return of Triple H, who had been out of action for nearly a year due to a torn quad.
The night was, in many ways, built around The Game’s return. The classic video package highlighting his injury and rehabilitation played featuring U2’s Beautiful Day track, and it was talked about the entire night.
Once Triple H did come out in front of the crowd, the audience erupted. He was showered with cheers to a level not previously seen in his career. Once the crowd quieted down, he revealed that he was going to be in the Royal Rumble Match.
Kurt Angle then tried to interrupt his big return but ate a Pedigree for his troubles. The Game stood tall to close an epic main event segment.
#1. Edge cashed in at WWE New Year’s Revolution on January 8, 2006
WWE New Year’s Revolution took place on January 8, 2006, in Albany, New York. The pay-per-view featured several big stars such as Edge, Ric Flair, Trish Stratus, Triple H, and Big Show in action.
The scheduled main event for the evening was an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship. John Cena successfully defended his title against Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Chris Masters, and Carlito, but he was a bloody and exhausted mess afterward.
The show seemingly came to a close, only for Vince McMahon to come out and announce that the night wasn’t quite over yet. The first-ever Money in the Bank cash-in then took place, with Edge quickly defeating an exhausted John Cena to win the WWE Championship.
What do you make of the memorable moments from this week in WWE’s rich past? Let us know in the comments section below.