Did you watch wrestling when you were young? Do you have fond memories of colorful characters such as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, or the "Macho Man" Randy Savage? What about Bob Backlund, "Mean Gene" Okerlund, or Jerry "The King" Lawler? If so, you are not alone.
To some, they were superheroes. Many children of the 80's and 90's spent plenty of Saturday mornings eating cereal with their dad or grandpa watching men fly on their television sets - not like a bird or a plane, but from top ropes and turnbuckles. It was perhaps the most basic form of entertainment: cheering for good guys and booing the bad guys.
Back in the day, as they say, there were several respectable wrestling leagues, or territories. Today, most have been acquired by Vince McMahon's WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), formerly known as the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) before losing a foreseen legal battle with the World Wildlife Fund.
Most notable in this history of acquisitions were the "Monday Night Wars" between the WWE and Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling. WCW had the WWE on the ropes in the ratings for some time as their Monday Nitro program stayed ahead of Vince's flagship, Monday Night RAW.
WCW's Monday Nitro attracted former "hero" talent with lucrative contracts, had a nearly unlimited budget, and produced a live show each week. It was even common for the announcers to "spoil" the results of RAW's pre-recorded show at the top of their program since they aired in the same time slot of competing networks. Ironically, this would eventually backfire as a bulk of their viewers changed the channel to watch Mick Foley, a fan-favorite underdog who once wrestled for WCW as "Cactus Jack," win the competing world title on January 4th, 1999. They would never recover from this incident, and McMahon would eventually purchase the intellectual property and talent from Turner's stable.
Now the WWE produces two weekly programs for television: Monday Night RAW (which is now a live premiere broadcast) and Friday Night Smackdown (a pre-recorded show featuring mid card and veteran talent). WWE also produces weekly internet programs such as Superstars and NXT and the occasional television mini-series such as Tough Enough.
Tonight, Monday Night Raw celebrates 1,000 episodes, making it the longest running episodic television show, without a hiatus, in television history. Tonight will also begin their shift to a three hour format, adding an hour of live content each week.
If you are a former fan of the WWE (or WWF), you may want to tune in as familiar faces are guaranteed to make an appearance. Current fans won't want to miss the wedding of Daniel Bryan and AJ - who, according to Bryan, cost him the world heavyweight title to the Irish superstar Sheamus at Wrestlemania earlier this year.
The largest buzz surrounding tonight's showcase involves a world title match between the WWE's "poster boy," 12 time world champion John Cena, and current WWE world champion (and fan favorite) CM Punk.
Will Cena return to world championship status and continue to be the face of the WWE, or will he become the first WWE superstar in history to lose a "Money in the Bank" title match and pass the torch to Punk?
Tonight's main event has everything it takes to provide wrestling fans with a long, bitter feud. It also has the potential to call us back to Wrestlemania 6, where a defeated Hulk Hogan raised the hand of his opponent, The Ultimate Warrior. Hogan made history for the fans by handing over his title with grace and sportsmanship.
To a childhood fan of wrestling, when it all comes down to "cheering for good guys and booing the bad guys," there is nothing better than the rare opportunity to cheer two champions.
Monday Night Raw 1,000 airs tonight on the USA Network at 7:00 PM CST.