Ten memorable moments that highlight Raven’s career. Are these moments you found memorable, too?
Debut As Raven In ECW:
In January 1995, the man formerly known as Johnny Polo in the WWF made his debut in Extreme Championship Wrestling sporting a new look. It’s a look that he would have for the rest of his career. Raven arrived in ECW forming an alliance with Stevie Richards. Raven played a character where he was a loner and was out for revenge towards Tommy Dreamer for stealing the hot girl from a camp they went to when they were older. Paul Heyman really made Raven a huge part of ECW from 1995 to the summer of 1997.
Feud With Tommy Dreamer:
As mentioned before, Raven’s first feud in ECW was with Tommy Dreamer. It’s a feud that would be on and off for, well, their entire careers. From 1995 to May 1997, Dreamer was never able to pin Raven. No matter the violence, no matter how much blood would be lost, Dreamer could never get the win over Raven. At Wrestlepalooza 1997, Dreamer was able to finally beat Raven in the middle of the ring. This was done mainly because Raven was leaving and heading back to WCW. They would have a few matches in the WWE, Dreamer won several matches against Raven in the WWE.
Feud With Sandman:
Raven didn’t dominate this feud like he did against Dreamer, but there were several memorable moments during the feud. At one point, Raven was able to get Sandman’s wife and child to side with him and turn on Sandman. At the time, it was a huge angle and for ECW it created tons of heat on Raven since Sandman was one of the most popular acts in the company. They would trade ECW World Heavyweight Championship wins and competed in a barbed wire match against each other in December ’95. It’s one of ECW’s most memorable feuds.
Work As Commentator:
I feel like not a lot of people remember or know of Raven’s work as a commentator in the WWE. He was known as Johnny Polo and worked mainly on Coliseum Video releases with Stan Lane or Gorilla Monsoon. Whenever I put in a CV release from 1993 or 1994 there is always a few matches that Raven called with Monsoon and the commentary is always entertaining. Raven is great on color commentary.
Feud With CM Punk:
After his release from the WWE in January 2003, Raven made a splash on the independent scene and was quickly thrown into a feud with CM Punk in Ring of Honor. Other promotions would try to take advantage of the feud, but it’s mostly remembered for taking place in ROH. The feud was great in the sense that Punk is straight edge and Raven had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. For the early stages of ROH, the feud brought hardcore into the company as they had a series of battles including steel cage matches, a dog collar match and a hardcore match.
Walks Out On WCW:
In the summer of ’99, Eric Bischoff held a meeting with the talent in WCW telling them that if they didn’t like what was going on they could walk out right now with their outright release. Raven was the only guy to take Bischoff up on the offer and left WCW. He left a six figure guarantee contract because he wasn’t happy. Eric would even give Raven credit for having the balls to leave the job and respected Raven for doing so. Raven had a decent career in WCW winning the United States Championship, for less than 24 hours and the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
Return To ECW:
Shortly after leaving WCW, Raven made his surprise return to ECW in Queens, NY and along with Tommy Dreamer was able to win the ECW World Tag Team Championships by beating the Dudley Boys, who were leaving for the WWE. Raven would develop a love/hate relationship with Dreamer. The return was memorable, but his run with ECW this time around wouldn’t be all that memorable. He would be gone by June ’00.
Arrival In TNA:
Raven tends to have memorable debuts for companies. Raven arrived in TNA days after his WWE release in January 2003. From the moment he arrived in the company, Raven was promoted as a main event wrestler and was the company’s number one heel. Raven started a feud with Jeff Jarrett that lasted for four months and should have seen him win the NWA World Championship on April 30th, 2003, but ended up coming short of his destiny.
Winning The NWA-TNA World Championship:
Raven would achieve his dream of winning the NWA-TNA World Championship two years later than he probably should have. Raven was able to win the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary 2005 in June. Raven’s reign as champion would last for four months before he lost it back to Jeff Jarrett at a non-televised event in Canada for Border City Wrestling. At the time, TNA had just gotten a TV deal since they were only doing internet shows, and having Jarrett as the champion appeared to be the best decision for them. That’s an argument for another day.
This could go down as the greatest hardcore match to ever take place during the Attitude Era. Raven took on Rhyno for the WWE Hardcore Championship at Backlash. For eight minutes these two put on a really good match and Raven was able to get the crowd behind him to make it even better. Plus, Rhyno looked like the dominate force that he should have been presented as in the company. It may be random, but it’s one of the matches that I remember when it comes to Raven’s career.
What are your memories of Raven’s career? Feel free to share them below!
Thanks for reading.
— Bob Colling (http://wrestlingrecaps.com)