With yesterday’s news that Monday Night Raw had reached a new all-time low in terms of ratings, what better time than now to revisit the highest-rated segment in not only the history of Raw or in the history of WWE, but the history of professional wrestling on cable TV?
The night was June 28, 1999, and Stone Cold Steve Austin was coming after The Undertaker for the WWF Championship, a belt Austin won for the third time at WrestleMania XV earlier in the year before having it wrenched away from him in the main event of Over the Edge 1999 (a title change overshadowed by Owen Hart’s fatal accident earlier in the night). The two met inside Charlotte, North Carolina’s Charlotte Coliseum for a clash that resulted in the Texas Rattlesnake capturing his fourth title after delivering two straight Stone Cold Stunners to Taker (and a swift punch to the face of Paul Bearer). The match pulled in an astounding 9.5 rating (which translated at the time to 10.72 million viewers), making it the highest-rated segment in pro wrestling history, despite what Vince Russo repeatedly claims about Mankind and The Rock’s “This Is Your Life” segment (which drew an 8.4 quarter-hour).
Overall, Raw pulled in a 6.8 share for their broadcast that night — nearly double that of WCW Nitro, which earned a 3.6 share. What was Nitro’s counter-programming to Austin/Taker, you ask? Why, a lumberjack match between WCW Champion Kevin Nash and David Flair that ended with a bunch of people being tasered and Nash physically taking a woman against her will. Watch if you dare.