|Created by||Vince McMahon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||23|
|No. of episodes||1,145 (As of May 4, 2015[update])|
|Camera setup||Multicamera setup|
|Running time||195 minutes|
|Original channel||TNN/Spike TV (2000 –2005 )
USA Network (1993 –2000 ; 2005 –present) WWE Network (2014 –present) [Only re-runs]
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original release||January 11, 1993– present|
WWE Raw is a sports entertainment television program that currently airs live on Monday evenings on the USA Network in the United States and Tuesday mornings on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. It also airs live in India on Tuesday mornings on Ten Sports. The show debuted on January 11, 1993 and since has been the flagship program of WWE's syndicated programming. WWE Raw moved from the USA Network to TNN in September 2000 and then to Spike in August 2003, when TNN was rebranded. On October 3, 2005, WWE Raw returned to the USA Network, where it remains today.
Since its first episode, WWE Raw has broadcast live from 208 different arenas in 171 cities and towns in ten different nations (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan in 2005, Iraq in 2006 and 2007, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Mexico). As of the show's 1,000th episode that aired on July 23, 2012, Raw has become a three-hour broadcast from two hours, a format that had previously been reserved for special episodes.
- 1 History
- 1.1 USA Network
- 1.2 The Nashville Network/The National Network/Spike TV
- 1.3 Return to USA Network
- 2 Production
- 3 Name controversy
- 4 Special episodes
- 5 On-air personalities
- 6 Champions
- 7 International broadcast
- 8 Theme music
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Beginning as WWF Monday Night Raw, the program first aired on January 11, 1993 on the USA Network as a replacement for Prime Time Wrestling, which aired on the network for eight years. The original Raw, which was sixty minutes in length, broke new ground in televised professional wrestling. Traditionally, wrestling shows were taped on sound stages with small audiences or at large arena shows. The Raw formula was considerably different from the taped weekend shows that aired at the time such as WWF Superstars and WWF Wrestling Challenge. Instead of matches taped weeks in advance with studio voice overs and taped discussion, Raw was a show shot and aired to a live audience, with angles playing out as they happened.
Raw originated from the Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center Studios, a small New York City theater, and aired live each week. The combination of an intimate venue and live action proved to be a successful improvement. However, the weekly live schedule proved to be a financial drain on the WWF. From Spring 1993 up until Spring 1997, Raw would tape several week's worth of episodes after a live episode had aired. The WWF taped several weeks worth of Raw from the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York in April 1993, and again in June and October (from 1984-1986 the Civic Center was the home of another WWF TV show Championship Wrestling). The first episode produced outside of New York was taped in Bushkill, Pennsylvania in November 1993 and Raw left the Manhattan Center permanently as the show would be taken on the road throughout the United States and had in smaller venues.
Raw, uniquely in its day, featured some competitive matches between upper level talent such as Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect, Doink the Clown, The Undertaker, Yokozuna, and the 1-2-3 Kid in its early years. Up until that point, unless it was part of an ongoing feud or a title match, most matches on nationally televised WWF programs were primarily "squash" matches (which were featured on Raw early on as well). Only Saturday Night's Main Event and The Main Event generally featured the type of matches Raw had, though unlike Raw, those two programs were run infrequently. Huge storyline-developing matches were regularly featured, such as Ric Flair vs. Mr. Perfect in January 1993; this would be Flair's last appearance in the company for almost 9 years. The Kid's upset victory of Razor Ramon in May 1993 would result in The Kid becoming an upper roster mainstay for years to come.
Vince McMahon, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett were the original hosts of the show, Bartlett being a comedian who previously had nothing to do with the wrestling industry. He would be replaced by Bobby Heenan in April 1993, though he left the company in December and would leave McMahon and Savage to host the show alone. Savage would leave in October 1994, leaving McMahon with several different co hosts each week including Shawn Michaels and Jim Cornette. Jerry Lawler would become McMahon's permanent co host in April 1995 in a role he kept until December 29, 2014 when it was announced Booker T would be replacing Lawler on commentary following his hospitalization for diverticulitis. Lawler has since been named as a permanent co-host for SmackDown.
Raw Is War and The Monday Night Wars
In September 1995, the WWF's chief competitor World Championship Wrestling (WCW) began airing its new wrestling show, WCW Monday Nitro, live each week on TNT. Raw and Nitro went head-to-head for the first time on September 11, 1995. Due to Raw' still being pre-recorded on certain weeks, Nitro play-by-play voice Eric Bischoff, who also was WCW's Vice President at the time, would frequently give away the results of WWF's taped Raw shows on the live WCW show. Some fans also looked at Raw taping results on the steadily growing Internet; this caused the ratings of the taped Raw episodes to decrease.
At the start of the ratings war in 1995 through to mid-1996, Raw and Nitro exchanged victories over each other in a closely contested rivalry. Beginning in mid-1996, however, thanks primarily to the nWo angle, Nitro started a ratings win-streak that lasted for 84 consecutive weeks, ending on April 13, 1998.
Controversy erupted on the November 4, 1996 episode when Brian Pillman, engaged in a feud with Steve Austin, pulled a gun on Austin during a home-invasion segment. Pillman was also heard shouting the word "fucking" during the segment, which, due to the live nature of Raw, went uncensored. Executives at USA Network were not pleased with the episode, and forced the WWF and Pillman to apologize for the incident. Pillman was sent to a mental hospital a few days after the incident.
On February 3, 1997, Monday Night Raw went to a two-hour format, as an edgier, more hostile attitude was starting to come in full stream in the WWF. In an attempt to break the momentum of what had turned into ratings domination by Nitro, Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was brought in as Jerry Lawler challenged ECW on February 17, 1997. In an episode where Raw returned to the Manhattan Center, the challenge was answered with Taz, Mikey Whipwreck, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, D-Von Dudley, and The Sandman and "ECW Representative" Paul Heyman appearing and performing ECW-style matches for the WWF audience.
On March 3, 1997, a house show from Berlin, Germany, which was filmed with few cameras and poor lighting and featured an array of cold matches with no storyline builds to them, aired as that week's episode of Raw. The show was very poorly received by fans (earning only a 0.7 rating, one of the lowest the show has ever recorded) and WWF executives, alike. The following week, Raw was completely revamped with a new set, new theme music (originally "The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson, later a WWF-created song), and was renamed Raw is War. The March 17, 1997 episode featured a heated Bret Hart/Vince McMahon altercation where Hart shoved McMahon to the mat and engaged in a profanity-laden tirade, much of which went uncensored.
Throughout 1997, further controversial elements emerged with Raw and WWF programming. Notable angles included Bret Hart and his Hart Foundation declaring war on the United States lifestyle, Paul Bearer delivering an intense promo on June 30 claiming that The Undertaker's brother Kane was still alive after surviving a house fire twenty years prior and claiming that the Undertaker had started it, gang warfare between the Nation of Domination, the Disciples of Apocalypse and Los Boricuas erupting in the summer, Steve Austin's building feud with WWF executives, and primarily Vince McMahon (who was now known as the legit owner of the World Wrestling Federation), and the emergence of D-Generation X as an anti-establishment group.
On November 17, Vince McMahon was interviewed by Jim Ross about the infamous Montreal Screwjob at the 1997 Survivor Series and said to the world that Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart and said that Bret was a tragic figure on that night. Bret would be shifted to WCW.
After WrestleMania XIV in March 1998, which featured Mike Tyson as a ring enforcer, and Shawn Michaels' final match up until 2002, the WWF regained the lead in the Monday Night Wars with its new "WWF Attitude" brand, led in particular by rising stars Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and Mankind. The classic feud between the WWF Chairman Vince McMahon and fan favorite Steve Austin caught the interest of fans. The April 13, 1998 episode of Raw, headlined by a match between Austin and McMahon, marked the first time that WCW had lost the head-to-head Monday night ratings battle in the 84 weeks since 1996.
On Raw, fans were immersed in the feud between Vince McMahon and Steve Austin, while superstars like Triple H, Mankind and The Rock were gradually elevated to main event status in the WWF. Other superstars such as Kane, Val Venis, the New Age Outlaws and Edge, among others were coming through the ranks and exposing the WWF as territory where new talent could ascend, as opposed to WCW. Matters were so heated between the two programs that, when both shows were in the Hampton Roads area on the same night (Raw in Hampton, Virginia, Nitro in Norfolk, Virginia), DX was sent to film a "war" segment at the Norfolk Scope where they berated WCW and interviewed fans on camera who stated that they received their Nitro tickets for free (presumably in an attempt by WCW to pack the arena to capacity due to low ticket sales).
On January 4, 1999, Mick Foley, who had wrestled for WCW during the early 1990s as Cactus Jack, won the WWF Title as Mankind on Raw. On orders from Bischoff, Nitro announcer Tony Schiavone gave away this previously taped result on a live Nitro and then sarcastically added, "that's gonna put some butts in the seats," consequently resulting in over 600,000 viewers switching channels to watch Raw. This was also the night that Nitro aired a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match in which Kevin Nash blatantly laid down for Hulk Hogan after Hogan poked him in the chest.
Tragedy befell the World Wrestling Federation at the Over the Edge pay-per-view on May 23, 1999 when Owen Hart died in an in-ring stunt gone wrong. The following night on Raw, the entire episode was dedicated to the memory of Hart with various WWF personalities delivering out-of-character comments on the accident. While the episode was the second highest rated edition of Raw up to that point, it was regarded by several critics, including Hart's brother, Bret, as being in bad taste.
On September 27, 1999, Mick Foley helped Raw achieve some of its highest ratings ever with a segment featuring himself (as Mankind) and The Rock. In a send-up of the TV series This Is Your Life, Mankind presented people from The Rock's past, such as a home economics teacher, gym teacher and old high school girlfriend, all of whom were hilariously rejected by The Rock. The This is Your Life segment remains one of the highest rated segments in Raw viewership history, with an 8.4 rating.
The Nashville Network/The National Network/Spike TV
WCW purchase (2000–2002)
WCW's sharp decline in revenue and ratings led to Time Warner selling selected assets such as the WCW name, tapes, and contracts to the WWF in March 2001. The final edition of Nitro aired on March 26, 2001. The show began with Vince McMahon making a short statement about his recent purchase of WCW and ended with a simulcast with Raw on TNN and Nitro on TNT including an appearance by Vince's son Shane. The younger McMahon interrupted his father's gloating over the WCW purchase to explain that Shane was the one who actually owned WCW, setting up what became the WWF's "Invasion" storyline.
Following the sale of WCW and the September 11 attacks, WWF Raw quietly replaced the Raw is War program on October 1, 2001.
WWE Raw and brand extension (2002–2005)
In early-to-mid-2002, the WWF underwent a process they called the "Brand Extension". The WWF divided itself into two de facto wrestling promotions with separate rosters, storylines and authority figures. Raw and SmackDown! would host each division, give its name to the division and essentially compete against each other. The split came about as a result of the WWF purchasing their two biggest competitors, WCW and ECW. The brand extension was publicly announced by Linda McMahon during a telecast of Raw on March 25, 2002 and became official the next day. Shortly thereafter, the WWF was legally required to change the name of the company to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Wrestlers became show-exclusive, wrestling for their specific show only. At the time this excluded the WWE Undisputed Championship and WWE Women's Championship, as those WWE titles would be defended on both shows. In August 2002, WWE Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar refused to defend the title on Raw, in effect causing his title to become exclusive to SmackDown! The following week on Raw, General Manager Eric Bischoff awarded a newly instated World Heavyweight Championship to Raw's designated number one contender, Triple H. Because the WWE Undisputed Championship was now SmackDown! exclusive, it was no longer seen as "undisputed." Following this, the WWE Women's Championship soon became Raw-exclusive as well. As a result of the Brand Extension, an annual "draft lottery" was instituted to exchange members of each roster and generally refresh the lineups.
Return to USA Network
Brand extension continues (2005–2011)
On March 10, 2005, Viacom and WWE decided not to go on with the agreement with Spike TV, effectively ending Raw and other WWE programs's tenure on the network when their deal expired in September 2005. On April 4, 2005, WWE announced a three-year deal with NBCUniversal to bring Raw back to its former home, the USA Network, with two yearly specials on NBC and a Spanish Raw on Telemundo. On the same week as Raw 's return to the USA Network, Spike TV scheduled Ultimate Fighting Championship's live Ultimate Fight Night in Raw's old timeslot in an attempt to go head-to-head with Raw.
The show's first night back on October 3, 2005 on the USA Network was billed as the "WWE Homecoming," a three-hour special that featured the return of former WWE Champions such as Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Triple H and Vince McMahon, along with cameos from legends such as Roddy Piper, Jimmy Hart, Jimmy Snuka, Harley Race and Ted DiBiase. Also, it featured a 30-minute Iron Man match between Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. USA also showed Raw Exposed, an hour of the best moments of Raw during its previous run on USA. WWE announced that Raw received its highest ratings in three years, gaining close to six million viewers. On-camera, the show began to be referred to as Monday Night Raw again.
During the September 25, 2006 episode of Raw in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the opening of Raw suffered a blackout. Spotlights were the only lights running in the house, thus the opening match (between Lita and Candice Michelle) was contested in the dark. Power in the presentation was later restored. Another similar moment happened back on May 26, 1996 in Florence, South Carolina for WWF In Your House 8: Beware of Dog, when a major thunderstorm hit the Florence Civic Center causing major chaos for the PPV. That Tuesday, Beware of Dog, returned to North Charleston, South Carolina to finish out three matches that were not shown because of the lost power feed. That October 2006 Raw held a three-hour season premiere called the "Raw Family Reunion", where the Raw brand debuted a new logo and theme song, Papa Roach's "...To Be Loved". The episode also featured talent from the SmackDown! and ECW brands. Later that month, on October 23, Raw aired its 700th episode.
On June 25, 2007, Raw was scheduled in Corpus Christi, Texas to be a three-hour special memorial show for the storyline death of the Mr. McMahon character. Two weeks earlier, the show had broadcast an angle in which Mr. McMahon was presumably murdered by a bomb planted within his limousine. The 'Mr. McMahon' tribute was cancelled on the day it was due to air after the real life death of Chris Benoit and his family. The show was hastily canceled, the audience was denied entrance to the arena and that night's episode instead became a three-hour tribute to Benoit, airing highlights from the WWE DVD 'Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story' and a selection of Benoit's most famous matches. Several wrestlers paid tribute in the form of real interviews about him and Vince McMahon broke character to address the viewers about what had happened. However, when the facts of Benoit's death came to light, WWE pulled this episode from international markets which aired Raw on a tape delay basis. Several channels announced the episode was being withheld for legal reasons. A substitute Raw, hosted by Todd Grisham from WWE Studios, was created featuring recaps of John Cena's WWE Championship victories, mainly the ones that had occurred over the past year. The episode started with a message from Vince McMahon which originally aired on the June 26 edition of ECW. Some countries that received WWE programming up to three weeks late had all Chris Benoit matches edited out.
In December 2007, Raw celebrated its 15th anniversary in a three-hour spectacular on the USA Network. The Raw 15th Anniversary DVD was also released which featured some of the most memorable moments in Raw history.
End of brand extension (2011–present)
In August 2011, the brand extension was suspended with superstars from SmackDown appearing on Raw as well (and vice versa), and the show was named RAW Supershow.
On July 23, 2012, Raw aired its 1000th episode, which also began its permanent three-hour format. The "Supershow" part was removed from the name after this time extension. In January 2013, Raw celebrated its 20th year on the air.
In 2013, the Raw episode filmed in New Jersey directly following WrestleMania 29 was noted as having various memorable moments involving chants from the event's vocal crowd, one of the most recognised is Fandango's theme tune 
Jerry Lawler was to join the broadcast team in 2012 on SmackDown until he had a heart attack. Lawler became ill with diverticulitis on January 1, 2015 with Booker T taking his announcing duties. When Lawler recovered from diverticulitis, WWE moved him to the Smackdown broadcasting team after the broadcast on January 9, 2015 with his first air date as January 15, 2015. For the 52 episodes of Raw in 2014, it was noted that only 18 episodes (34.6%) featured the show ending with a main event match with a decisive finish. At one point around WrestleMania, there were 10 occasions over 11 weeks where Raw ended with either a talking segment or a main event that ended in a disqualification or non-finish.
Raw was awarded the 2014 Wrestling Observer Newsletter award for Worst Television Show, while its commentators John Layfield, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole came in the top three in that order for the Worst Television Announcer award. Jon Mezzera and Wade Keller of Pro Wrestling Torch said respectively in 2015 that the Raw commentators "don't pay attention to the product. They are too busy making jokes and talking about other segments on the show and bickering with each other to actually pay attention and call what is happening in a match" and "It’s not the announcers, though, it’s the direction they’re given. That falls on Vince McMahon."
After the February 23, 2015 episode of Raw saw the Divas division being showcased by a tag match which lasted around half a minute, a Twitter hashtag called #GiveDivasaChance trended worldwide for around 1.5 days.
On the 1,000th episode of Raw, "The Night" by Kromestatik debuted as the theme for Raw while "Energy" by Shinedown served as the secondary theme-song until August 18, 2014, when it was replaced with "Denial" by We Are Harlot. From November 16, 2009 – July 23, 2012, the theme song for the Raw brand was "Burn It to the Ground" by Nickelback. Prior to this, the theme song for Raw was "...To Be Loved" by Papa Roach, which had been used since October 9, 2006 and "Across The Nation" by The Union Underground which was used from April 1, 2002 – October 2, 2006. The rap outro of "Thorn In Your Eye" featuring Scott Ian of Anthrax was the theme song from 1998-March 25, 2002.
Since March 10, 1997, broadcasts of Raw were split into two hours and given hourly names for television ratings purposes, with the first hour being referred to as Raw is War and the second as War Zone by the show's on-screen graphics. Beginning October 1, 2001, the first hour was referred to as Raw and the second as Raw Zone by the show's on-screen graphics; however, announcers would generally refer to the entire two-hour block as Raw on-air. On May 17, 2012, WWE and USA Network announced that Raw would switch to a permanent three-hour format beginning with the 1,000th episode on July 23, 2012. Since then, all three hours of the broadcast have been known solely as Raw, though they are still considered three separate programs for Nielsen ratings purposes (as indicated by the on-screen copyright notice shown near the end of each hour).
Raw 's original set featured red, white and blue ring-ropes, a blue ring-apron, blue steps and a small stage made of neon tubes. In 1995, the entrance way was changed to feature "RAW" in giant letters. In 1997, WWE changed to red ring-ropes for Raw as well as Raw Is War being written along the ring due to their rivalry with WCW. They also updated the stage to feature a large screen known as the TitanTron. Raw updated to a new TitanTron in 2002. When the War ended, they began advertising their website on the ring aprons instead. They occasionally used black ropes. In 2008, Raw went HD debuting a new stage. In 2010, WWE retired the red ropes for Raw after thirteen years for an all white scheme, and in 2012 became standard for all WWE programming. In 2012, Raw updated their HD set. Starting in 2014, this set would also be featured in PPVs. From late September through the end of October 2012, the middle rope at all WWE programming was changed to pink due to WWE's alliance with the Susan G. Komen organization for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This was repeated in 2013, from late September to early November. This was once again, repeated in 2014 from 29 September.
On August 18, 2014, Raw switched to a full 16:9 letterbox widescreen presentation, with a down-scaled version of the native HD feed on a 4:3 SD feed. In conjunction with this, Raw updated its graphics package, with the new WWE logo (first used with the WWE Network's launch in February) now on the lower-right corner of the screen, right next to the word, "LIVE". Also, the new WWE logo is seen on the ring's turnbuckle covers. The USA Network logo has also been moved to the lower-left hand corner of the screen. Also, Raw 's theme song ("The Night") was modified. On re-runs on the WWE Network and on delayed broadcasts for most international markets, Raw is edited without the word "LIVE" and the hashtag. On March 23, 2015, WWE has added a small LED board to the left side of the ring on Raw. This LED board is also used in WrestleMania 31.
The name for "Raw" was disputed in June 2009 when Muscle Flex Inc., a Los Angeles-based fitness company, had taken legal action against the WWE after a court ruled that some of WWE's trademarks related to Raw were similar enough to the In the Raw trademark that they caused confusion among Canadians. On June 18, 2008, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office then issued a final decision that found certain wares listed in the trademark application from WWE (No. 1,153, 018) were confusingly similar and thus lacked distinctiveness from the Muscle Flex trademark, which Muscle Flex is in the process of acquiring. The WWE appealed the CIPO's ruling to the Federal Court of Canada, but failed to file the required documents by the deadline.
In August 2009, the court ruled in favor of Muscle Flex, Inc. that it was successful in defending its In the Raw trademark against the WWE. In a press release date issued on July 20, 2009, Muscle Flex Inc. disclosed that it was in possession of WWE Raw-labeled items that it believes directly infringe on its In the Raw trademark such as various CDs, VHS tapes and a number of apparel items. According to the WWE's most recent reported financial quarter in 2009, combined sales of WWE's consumer products and digital media business segments produced $40 million in global revenues. In previous quarters, these numbers were even higher.
Throughout its broadcast history, the show has aired editions that have different themes. Some of them are yearly events such as the Slammy Awards. Others include tributes to various professional wrestlers who have recently died or retired from actively performing, as well as episodes commemorating various show milestones or anniversaries.
The show features various on-air personalities including the wrestlers themselves, ring announcers, divas, commentators and on-screen authority figures. Raw also has had various recurring on-air segments hosted by members of the roster.
Before the "supershows", the brand extenstion championships were exclusive to Smackdown were seen. On the special live August 30, 2011 episode, it was announced that wrestlers from Raw could now appear every week on SmackDown. This mirrored the proclamation made on Raw the previous day where SmackDown wrestlers could now appear every week on Raw. These moves made both programs full roster "supershows", effectively ending the Brand Extension. All championships can occur now on either show.
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The show airs live on the USA Network. Raw also airs Wednesdays on NBC Universo in Spanish, as well as on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons also in Spanish, it also airs Saturdays on Universal HD. Occasionally, Raw is aired on same-day tape delay when WWE is on an overseas tour. Raw is also shown live on Sky Sports (normally Sky Sports 3 or 4) in the UK and Ireland and on Sky Sport 2 in Italy. Raw aired in India at 4pm on Thursdays on TEN Sports, three days after the original broadcast. The channel began airing Raw live from the first episode of 2015. Since October 6, 2014, Raw has been airing live throughout Latin America on Fox Sports. The show also airs on etv in South Africa on Sundays at 17:00 CAT. RAW had aired in Australia on Fox8 since 2003, usually on a 27-hour tape delay, but has started airing live as of February 4, 2014.
From 1996 to 2006, Raw was shown on TSN until it moved to rival sports broadcaster The Score (now renamed Sportsnet 360) after it was announced that TSN would be carrying Monday Night Football' for the 2006 season. This also meant that Canadian viewers would be watching via tape-delay, as The Score does not broadcast Raw live. Around that time, The Score aired Countdown to Raw until May 2013 when Raw is shown live to match the US airtime.
During its run on TSN, which aired live, occasionally had been censored live for extremely violent scenes, or when female wrestlers or characters were assaulted by male wrestlers. These actions are supposed to be in order to meet Canadian broadcast standards, with repeat broadcasts often more heavily edited. This move had disappointed many wrestling fans over the years, and is unusual since the violence of wrestling scenes are not significantly different from other television programs aired on regular Canadian networks.