John Cena fights CM Punk and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson returns as WWE's 'Monday Night Raw' hits historic 1,000th episode

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TV history will be made tonight (Monday, July 23) on USA when "Monday Night RAW" celebrates its 1,000th episode, making the WWE spectacle the longest-running episodic show.

The three-hour event will include stars from the past including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and a wedding. D-Generation X returns and WWE champion CM Punk fights John Cena for the title.

Putting it all in perspective is Jerry "The King" Lawler, a fixture on the show, who provides color commentary and still wrestles at 62. Here, he chats with Zap2it about the milestone and wrestling.

PICS: WWE Wrestlers

Q: How exciting is the upcoming 1,000th episode?

A: It's such an amazing milestone, 1,000 episodes, the longest running weekly episodic TV show in the history of television. For me personally to be a part of over 950 episodes, it is exciting. 

Q: What should fans expect?

A: It is going to be a three-hour show (8, Eastern 7, Central). At the very beginning there will be a reuniting of D-Generation X from the attitude era of WWE. There will be an endless parade of all of these superstars. We are going to have a wedding AJ and Daniel Bryan are going to get married on the show.

Q: Is this a real marriage or a wrestling stunt?

A: They are really getting married. They have been a couple for some time. What better way to start off your life as a married couple than to do it in front of the entire world? This is seen worldwide in over 100 countries. Why not let the world be part of these two lovebirds?

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Q: For those who watch, and clearly the fans are legion, this needs no explanation. But for others, how do you explain the appeal of wrestling?

A: It is almost impossible to explain what wrestling means to different individuals. What type of person watches 'Monday Night RAW'? The great thing for us is it runs the entire gamut. It goes from very, very young to very, very old. I have had people come up to me and say, 'I used to watch but I grew out of it.' How do you grow out of being entertained? It is a combination of so many things, like a pyrotechnic show. All the things that go on an athletic event, and a little bit like a soap opera. And you get to know these superstars on a personal level, and that is part of the big appeal; they can invest in the show.

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Q: Did you have any notion that WWE RAW would run this long?

A: I had been involved with wrestling, as a wrestler for 20 years before WWE RAW started. I was involved in my hometown of Memphis, so I knew it was possible and could happen, but on a grand scale and being on cable television, I didn't know because you see so many network shows come and go like 'Seinfeld' and going back to 'Gunsmoke' and 'Lassie.' We have so far surpassed all of those shows and blew them away and they didn't last as along as RAW has. I never dreamed we would be celebrating 1000th episode. If someone came to me and said, 'You are going to do this one thousand weeks,' I would have said, 'Yeah, right what mental facility did you escape from?'

Q: What is your favorite wrestling move?

I have become synonymous with a move. With Andy Kaufman, I did the pile driver, grab [people] by the waist turn them upside and down and drop them on their head. That's called the pile driver. People don't like to seem to be pile driven.

Q: It sounds like an experience best avoided. How injured have you been over the years?

A: To be perfectly honest people ask, 'How have you lasted 42 years?' And I have one simple four-letter word I answer with, and that is luck. I have just been fortunate and lucky.  In a 42-year career, and wrestling maybe 300 times a year and I have never had a serious injury. I have seen guys within a month blow out a knee or tear ligaments. I have never had surgery. I did a dive off the second row every single match and, never worn kneepads. 

Q: What percentage is real and what is staged?

A: This, our WWE product, is purely entertainment. These guys are great athletes and we compete and put our health and bodies on the line. The main goal of every superstar is to entertain our fans and let them go away from watching a TV show [saying], 'I got my money's worth.' And that is what this is all about. People say this is fake. I say to them, 'Do you go to the movies? Did you think Tom Cruise was really dead?' We're not trying to kill or injure each other. We are trying to put out an entertaining product.

Q: So many people have been on the show. Which stars wowed you?

A: I grew up idolizing Jim Brown and I had to pinch myself and say, 'You are sitting next to Jim Brown.' All he wanted to do was talk about wrestling. William Shatner. William Shatner inducted me into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Photo/Video credit: USA
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