Day 355: 432 Words About Raven [Wrasslin’ For Lunch]

Rejoice! I finally figured out what to call “those pieces where I ask somebody to come up with a subject for me”. From now on, it’ll be referred to as Word Count Wednesdays. But crap, that’s already the day I do Wrasslin’ For Lunch. Also, I’m typically off on Wednesdays. It’d be a shame to make my throwaway day land on my day off, when I have more time to write. So I guess I have to go back to the drawing board. But for now, I decided to make today a Wrasslin’ For Lunch/Word Count Wednesday hybrid. I asked Mike for a number and a wrestler, so here’s 432 words about Raven:

What about Raven? That is the question. What about Raven? The name doesn’t mean much to people. He was stuck in the mid-card during a strange era. He wasn’t a prototypical “Vince” guy, so therefore, he wasn’t left with many options when the WWE became the only show in town. People that know him, revere him, but he was never the best at anything. He was “a boy” through and through and most likely has a permanent spot in my Boy Stable.

In 1999, when I first started watching wrestling, I wasn’t old enough to be fully exposed to ECW. If I remember correctly, Video Watch didn’t even let me rent the few tapes they had. But once they landed a TV deal with TNN, I salivated at the thought of people not being able to stop me from watching it. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would totally suck.

But in the second episode, Raven caught my eye.

Wrestlers always have “a look”. Even if they don’t, they do. It might just be “generic wrestling dude”. Stone Cold was a hick with his cutoff shorts. The Rock was a pretty boy with his $500 shirts. Mankind was a lazy slob with his sweatpants. But Raven didn’t fit any of those archetypes. Raven was cool. Or at least he was cool in a Gen X sense, which I thought was extremely cool, or cool to the extreme. He wore flannels around his waist and T-Shirts to bands I never heard of [but I’m sure were fucking awesome]. He was the epitome of Mid-90s MTV Cool and I was magnetized to him. Finally, somebody to look up to and aspire to be.

That night, him and Tommy Dreamer won the tag titles from the Dudley Boyz and the rest was history. I would tune in every Friday night to get my Raven fix and talk him up to my friends [err…just Zach]. When he made his WWF debut at Unforgiven 2000, I was excited, even if he was a stupid heel. He went on a decent run with the Hardcore Title in 2001 but once the Invasion Angle hit later that year, his WWF career was dead in the water.

By the time he came back to TV, he had a whiny persona that constantly beckoned, “What about Raven?” To his credit, he was probably one of the first wrestlers to take his misuse and make it a storyline. He walked so that the Catering Crew could run.

Oh wait, there was the J.O.B. Squad. Maybe Raven wasn’t that special after all…