WWE Raw, also known as Monday Night Raw or simply Raw, is a professional wrestling television program that currently airs live on Monday evenings at 8 pm EST on the USA Network in the United States. The show's name is also used to refer to the Raw brand, in which WWE employees are assigned to work and perform on that program; the other programs and brands currently being SmackDown and NXT. The show debuted on January 11, 1993 and has since been considered as the flagship program of WWE.
Raw moved from the USA Network to TNN in September 2000, which was rebranded to Spike TV in August 2003. On October 3, 2005, Raw returned to the USA Network, where it remains today. As of December 9, 2016, all episodes of the show, older than 30 days, are now available on demand on the WWE Network.
Since its first episode, Raw has broadcast live from 208 different arenas in 171 cities and towns in eleven different nations (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan in 2005, Iraq in 2006 and 2007, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Mexico).
|Created by||Vince McMahon|
|Opening theme||"Enemies" by Shinedown
"Dreams That I Have" by CFO$ featuring Will Roush (Bumper)
"Stories of Greatness" by CFO$ featuring KIT (Bumper)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||24|
|No. of episodes||1,287 (as of January 15, 2018)|
|Camera setup||Multicamera setup|
|Running time||185 minutes (scheduled)|
|Original network||USA Network (1993–2000; 2005–)
TNN/Spike TV (2000–2005)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original release||January 11, 1993 – present|
|Preceded by||Prime Time Wrestling (1985–93)|
Beginning as WWF's 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 was sixty minutes in length and 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 Superstars and 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 the Manhattan Center, 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.
On September 4, 1995, the WWF's chief competitor World Championship Wrestling (WCW) began airing its new wrestling show, Monday Nitro, live each week on TNT, which marked the start of the Monday Night Wars. Raw and Nitro went head-to-head for the first time on September 11, 1995. 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, due to the nWo angle, Nitro started a ratings win-streak that lasted for 84 consecutive weeks, ending on April 13, 1998. On February 3, 1997, Raw went to a two-hour format, to compete with the extra hour on Nitro, and by March 10, it was renamed to Raw Is War. After WrestleMania XIV in March 1998, the WWF regained the lead in the Monday Night Wars with its new "WWF Attitude" brand. The April 13, 1998 episode of Raw Is War, which was headlined by a match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, marked the first time that WCW had lost the head-to-head Monday night ratings battle in the 84 weeks since 1996.
On January 4, 1999, Mick Foley, who had wrestled for WCW during the early 1990s as Cactus Jack, won the WWF Championship as Mankind on Raw Is War. 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 Raw Is War to see the underdog capture the WWF Championship. This was also the night that Nitro aired a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match in which Kevin Nash lay down for Hollywood Hogan after Hogan poked him in the chest.
On September 25, 2000, Raw Is War moved from the USA Network to TNN (which later became Spike TV). The new television contract with Viacom, TNN/Spike TV's parent company, and the subsequent purchase of competitor WCW led to many changes in WWF's programming content.
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 for $3 million. The final episode of Nitro, which aired on March 26, 2001, 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 purchase of WCW and the September 11 attacks, the program was retitled as Raw on October 1, 2001, permanently retiring the Raw Is War moniker.
In March 2002, as a result of the overabundance of talent left over from the Invasion storyline, WWF initiated brand extension, which promoted its core business of professional wrestling through such brands, named after their two major television shows, Raw and SmackDown!. Shortly thereafter, the WWF was legally required to change the name of the company to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
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.
On the August 29, 2011 episode of Raw, it was announced that performers from Raw and SmackDown were no longer exclusive to their respective brand, thus effectively dissolving the brand extension.
On May 25, 2016, WWE reintroduced the brand split, and a new set with red ring ropes, a brand new stage, used at SummerSlam. Furthermore, the broadcast table was moved to the entrance ramp similar to how it was in 2002–2005.
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. 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 in television listings, and by the show's on-screen graphics beginning with the June 9, 1997 episode. In 1995, the entrance way was changed to feature "Raw" in giant letters. In 1997, WWF 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.
Beginning October 1, 2001, in direct response to the September 11 attacks, the first hour was referred to as Raw instead of Raw Is War and the second hour changed from the War Zone to the Raw Zone by the show's on-screen graphics; however, announcers would generally refer to the entire two-hour block as Raw on-air. 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. 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 March 10, 1997 – March 25, 2002.
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). 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 mid 2014, this set would also be featured in pay-per-views. 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, and it was repeated in 2014 from 29 September. WWE is one of many organizations who provide financial contributions as well as getting customers and employees to support the cause.
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 added a small LED board to the left side of the ring on Raw. This LED board was also used at WrestleMania 31. The LED board since is now on an on/off basis, featuring in some weeks and not others. 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.
On the September 14, 2015 season premiere of Raw, the middle rope was colored gold. Throughout the month of October 2015, the WWE announcer table, entrance ramp and ring skirts were co-branded with Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Breast cancer. Also the middle ring rope was pink to promote the fight against breast cancer. On the November 16, 2015, episode of Raw, WWE had a moment of silence for the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris, France on November 13, 2015. Another moment of silence was held months later in June for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
On July 25, 2016, the ropes returned to red, the announce table moved back to the top of the stage for the first time since 2005, and a new HD set and graphics were debuted. The new set was almost identical to the set used for SummerSlam 2012 and 2013. It received some negativity after the newly dubbed "New Era" was using an older set. The set was revamped just four weeks later with a more elaborate and distinctive design. The new set features the absence of a traditional TitanTron which had been custom since 1997. In its place is a curved LED banner with several rows of rectangle LED lights behind it. The new set also introduced LED floor panels on the entrance ramp along with LED ring posts.
|Song title||Written and/or performed by||Dates used||Ref|
|"Monday Night Raw"||Jim Johnston||January 11, 1993 – March 3, 1997|||
|"I Like it Raw"||Jim Johnston||1995|||
|"The Beautiful People"||Marilyn Manson||March 10, 1997 – March 24, 1997|||
|"Thorn In Your Eye"||WWE Superstars & Slam Jam||March 31, 1997 – March 25, 2002|||
|"We're All Together Now"||WWE Superstars & Slam Jam||March 31, 1997 – March 25, 2002|||
|"Across the Nation"||The Union Underground||April 1, 2002 – October 2, 2006|||
|"...To Be Loved"||Papa Roach||October 9, 2006 – November 9, 2009|||
|"Burn It to the Ground"||Nickelback||November 16, 2009 – July 16, 2012|||
|"Tonight Is the Night"||Outasight||July 23, 2012 (only used for Raw 1000)|||
|"The Night"||Kromestatik||July 23, 2012 – August 11, 2014|||
|"The Night" (2014 Remix)||CFO$||August 18, 2014 – July 18, 2016|||
|"Enemies"1||Shinedown||July 25, 2016 – present|||
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 episodes 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 (both males and females), ring announcers, commentators, and on-screen authority figures. Raw also has had various recurring on-air segments hosted by members of the roster.
The show airs live on the USA Network. Raw and also airs Wednesdays on Universo in Spanish. 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 5) in the United Kingdom and Ireland and on Sky Sport 2 in Italy. Raw aires live in India at 5.30 am in Tuesdays on Sony Ten. Since October 6, 2014, Raw has been airing live throughout Latin America on Fox Sports. The show also airs live on Supersport in South Africa on Tuesdays at 02:00 am 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., Syfy in the United States started airing a 2-hour replay of Raw on May 20, 2016. For the U.S. audience, Raw has been under a multi-year contract extension for the USA Network which currently is under a 10-year stint; the agreement does not get renewed until January 2023.
On September 24, 2012, Hulu Plus signed a multi-year deal with WWE to stream all of the company’s TV shows and some of its web series which includes Raw. Episodes of Raw are available for viewing the following day and only a condensed 90 minute version is available, not the full version as shown the previous night on the USA Network.
From 1996 to 2006, Raw was shown on The Sports Network 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 United States 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.
Raw airs live on Fox Sports in Mexico and across Central and South America. It also airs on La Red in Chile, Unitel in Bolivia, Canal Uno in Colombia, Teleamazonas in Ecuador, Andina de Televisión in Peru, Repretel: Canal 11 in Costa Rica, Canal VTV in El Salvador, Canal 5 in Honduras, RPC Canal 4 in Panama.