WWE RAW 20th Anniversary DVD Collection Review: Benoit Matches On DVD, Years Missing, More

WWE released the "Raw 20th Anniversary Collection" last month with the WWE's flagship show turning 20 years old in 2012. I received a review copy in late November, and finally got a chance to catch up on most of the 12-disc collection (I did skip some matches and segments).

One interesting note is that the DVD contains two matches featuring Chris Benoit. Benoit's entrances are cut, and there is a segment between Benoit and Kurt Angle on the March 2001 episode that is cut as well. Also, the commentary during Benoit's matches is edited.

There are a few other minor edits on the DVD as well, mostly pertaining to ring entrances. For instance, The Undertaker's "Rollin'" theme was dubbed over. Also, it should be noted that there are no episodes from 1994, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

The series kicks off with about 30 minutes of fact and figures, hosted by Michel Cole and The Bella Twins. This includes statistics like which cities hosted the show the most, celebrities appearing, title changes, etc. While many of the figures are interesting, it does get old after a bit.

To my surprise, the first episode in the collection is not the very first RAW, but rather the May 17, 1993 show. While the first episode doesn't contain any classic matches, it does feature stars like The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall and Yokozuna. It seems like it would have been good to include the episode as a bonus or something.

Still, the May 17th episode was loaded, and it is a great way to kick off the collection. I vividly remember the angles from the show, which included Marty Jannetty returning and beating Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental Championship and Sean Waltman upsetting Razor Ramon. However, I had forgotten that both of those memorable angles took place on the same episode.

We fast forward almost 3 and a half years to the next episode, which actually aired on a Friday on September 6, 1996. While there wasn't anything particularly historic about the episode, it does feature a lot of legends, including "Stone Cold" Steve Austin facing Marc Mero with Brian Pillman on commentary, Shawn Michaels defending the WWF Championship against Goldust and Jerry Lawler interviewing a young Mark Henry, who said that he was training but admitted that he wasn't ready to start wrestling yet. Another interesting note is that during a match between Mankind and Alex Porteau, Jim Ross said that Kurt Angle was meeting with WWE officials the day before. It would be another two years before Angle would eventually sign with the WWF. Also during the episode, JR revealed that "Diesel" and "Razor Ramon" were heading back to the WWF, which led to the disastrous angle with Ross bringing in Rick Bognar as the new Razor, and Glenn "Kane" Jacobs as the new Diesel.

Here is a rundown of the rest of the episodes featured:

- February 24, 1997: With much of the talent away on a European tour, this show featured the original ECW invasion. ECW matches included Stevie Richards vs. Little Guido, Taz vs. Mikey Whipwreck, and Tommy Dreamer vs. D-Von Dudley. A Shawn Michaels tribute video aired, The Road Warriors returned and Ken Shamrock made his WWF debut in an interview segment. The main event was The Undertaker vs. Faarooq (Ron Simmons).

- February 26, 1997: The next episode aired just a week after the previous episode on the collection. It featured Triple H defeating Bret Hart by countout, Sid Vicious defending the WWE Championship against Mankind, a great Steve Austin promo via satellite and The Rock defending the Intercontinental Championship against Vader. But the real reason why this episode is featured is because of the classic main event, featuring WWF Tag Team Champion Davey Boy Smith defeating his partner, WWF Tag Team Champion Owen Hart, to win the WWF European Championship.

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