WWE Raw
WWE Raw. Image Credits: Twitter

WWE Raw, also known as Monday Night Raw or simply Raw, is an American professional wrestling television program that currently airs live on Monday evenings on the USA Network from 8:00–11:00 PM EST in the United States. The history of WWE Raw began as WWF’s Monday Night Raw on January 11, 1993. Over the next two decades, Raw would become the promotion’s flagship show, achieving numerous milestones along the way.

WWE Raw, along with Friday Night SmackDown, is among the two flagship shows of WWE. WWE Raw is the longest-running weekly episodic television program. Since its first episode, Raw has been broadcast live from 208 different arenas, 171 cities and towns, and eleven different nations: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Afghanistan in 2005, Iraq in 2006 and 2007, South Africa, Germany. Japan, Italy, and Mexico.

WWE Raw Logo
WWE Raw Logo. Image Credits: Twitter

In September 2000, Raw moved from the USA Network to TNN,  which 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 Raw are available on-demand on the WWE Network.

History of WWE RAW

Early Years

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 Raw formula was considerably different from the taped weekend shows that aired at the time such as Superstars and Wrestling Challenge. Raw originated from the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center, a small New York City theatre, and aired live each week. The combination of an intimate venue and live action proved to be a successful improvement.

WWE Raw Premiere 1993
Image Credits: WWE

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.

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.

The poor rating (2.2) for the January 20, 1997 episode of Raw, the night after the Royal Rumble, caused the WWF and USA Network to increase Raw to two hours and prevent TNT’s Nitro from having an unopposed hour. Throughout 1997, further controversial elements emerged with Raw Is War and WWF programming.

The classic feud between the villainous WWF Chairman Mr. McMahon and fan favourite Stone Cold Steve Austin caught the interest of fans. The April 13, 1998 episode of Raw Is War, which was headlined by a match between Austin and McMahon, marked the first time that WCW had lost the head-to-head Monday night rating battle in the 84 weeks since 1996.

Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon. Image Credits: Twitter

By the summer of 1999, every Raw was generally live, which remains the format today.  Back then, the duration of the live program was 2 hours. A few exceptions still exist, most notably during the Christmas and holiday season when WWE will tape two weeks worth of shows so their superstars go home for the holiday season. Raw will also often air on tape delay whenever the company is touring overseas, such as its biannual airing of Raw from the United Kingdom (which is shown live in that country).

Spike TV Years

Raw Is War premiered on TNN (which later became Spike TV) on September 25, 2000. 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. The final episode of Nitro aired on March 26, 2001.

Raw Is War
Image Credits: Twitter

Brand Extension

In spring of 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. Shortly thereafter, the WWF was legally required to change the name of the company to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

WWE logo
WWE logo. Image Credits: Twitter

On March 10, 2005, Viacom and WWE decided not to go on with the agreement with Spike TV, effectively ending WWE Raw and other WWE programs’ tenure on the network when their deal expired in September 2005. WWE announced that WWE Raw received its highest ratings in three years. On-camera, the show began to be referred to as Monday Night Raw again.

On December 10, 2007, WWE Raw celebrated its 15th anniversary in a three-hour special on the USA Network. The WWE Raw 15th Anniversary DVD was also released which featured some of the most memorable moments in WWE Raw history, hosted by Todd Grisham. In August 2011, the brand extension was suspended with superstars from SmackDown appearing on WWE 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 and saw the removal of the “Supershow” part from the show’s name.

Second Brand Extension

On May 25, 2016, WWE reintroduced the brand split, with distinctive rosters for both Raw and SmackDown. On the July 11, 2016, episode of Raw, Vince McMahon named Stephanie McMahon the Commissioner of Raw. On January 22, 2018, WWE celebrated the Raw 25 Years, with a simulcast show at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn and the home of the first Monday Night Raw, the Manhattan Center.

WWE Raw Logo
Image Credits: Twitter

From June 24, 2019, WWE implemented an order from Vince McMahon that there would be no wrestling during commercial breaks to Raw and SmackDown. An exception was during split-screen viewing of both the match and commercials.

WWE Raw Production

Raws 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 rating 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 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 70-foot tall large-screen video wall known as the “TitanTron”, which consisted of a projection screen with several metal stage trusses and a video projector.

WWE Raw
Image Credits: Twitter

With WWE Raw moving to TNN from the USA in September 2000, the TNN network logo was added on top of the TitanTron. The Chyron graphics were added to the bottom in July 2001. On October 3, 2005, as Raw returned to USA Network, the 2002 set was retained but the beams and lighting on the sides were modified. The Spike TV logo was removed from the bottom side of the TitanTron.

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.  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.

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, WWE 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, WWE 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.

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 featured the absence of a traditional TitanTron which had been a custom since 1997.

On September 30, 2019, for its season premiere (and coinciding with the premiere of SmackDown on Fox later that week), WWE Raw introduced a new set (including the reinstatement of pyrotechnics, which had been dropped in 2017 due to budget issues), updated logo, and new theme music.

WWE Raw On-Air Personalities

WWE Raw Commentators

Jerry Lawler WWE Raw
Image Credits: Twitter

 

Current

  • Tom Phillips (January 27, 2020)
  • Jerry Lawler (March 27, 1995 – December 29, 2014, March 30, 2015, August 28, 2017, September 30, 2019)
  • Byron Saxton (March 30 – April 5, 2015, January 27, 2020)

Former

  • Vince McMahon (January 11, 1993 – April 14, 1997)
  • Randy Savage (January 11, 1993 – July 4, 1994)
  • Rob Bartlett (1993)
  • Bobby Heenan (1993)
  • Gorilla Monsoon (1993 – 1994)
  • Jim Ross (July 11 – July 25, 1994, August 5, 1996 – June 23, 2008, April 4, 2011 – October 8, 2012, January 14, 2013)
  • Shawn Michaels (1994 – 1995)
  • The Honky Tonk Man (1997)
  • Michael Cole (December 8, 1997 – July 23, 2001, June 30, 2008 – September 23, 2019)
  • Paul Heyman (March 5 – November 12, 2001)
  • Jonathan Coachman (April 7, 2003 – April 24, 2006, January 29 – August 27, 2018)
  • Joey Styles (2005 – 2006)
  • Josh Matthews (2011 – 2012)
  • Booker T (April 25, 2011 – March 26, 2012, January 5, 2015 – May 14, 2018)
  • John “Bradshaw” Layfield (September 17, 2012 – July 18, 2016)
  • Byron Saxton (2015)
  • Austin Aries (December 19, 2016 – March 6, 2017)
  • David Otunga (2018)
  • Corey Graves (July 25, 2016 – September 23, 2019)
  • Renee Young (August 13, 2018 – September 23, 2019)
  • Dio Maddin (September 30 – November 4, 2019)
  • Samoa Joe (November 18 – December 23, 2019)
  • Vic Joseph (September 30, 2019 – January 20, 2020)

WWE Raw General Managers/Executive Directors

Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman. Image Credits: Forbes

Executive Director

  • Paul Heyman (June 27, 2019 – present)

Former General Managers

  • Eric Bischoff (July 15, 2002 – December 5, 2005)
  • Steve Austin (April 29 – November 16, 2003)
  • Mick Foley (December 1 – December 15, 2003, July 18, 2016 – March 20, 2017)
  • Jonathan Coachman (2007)
  • William Regal (2007 – 2008)
  • Mike Adamle (2008)
  • Shane McMahon (2008)
  • Stephanie McMahon (2008 – 2009, April 4 – April 25, 2016)
  • Vickie Guerrero (April 6 – June 8, 2009, May 10, 2010)
  • Bret Hart (May 24 – June 21, 2010)
  • Various GM (2010 – 2011)
  • John Laurinaitis (October 10, 2011 – June 17, 2012)
  • AJ Lee (July 23 – October 22, 2012)
  • Brad Maddox (2013 – 2014)
  • John Cena/Various GM (2014)
  • Kurt Angle (April 3, 2017 – December 17, 2018)
  • Baron Corbin (acting) (August 20 – December 17, 2018)

WWE Raw Ring Announcers

Mike Rome
Mike Rome. Image Credits: Twitter

Current

  • Mike Rome (2019 – present)

Former

  • Howard Finkel (1993 – 2003)
  • Tony Chimel (1997- 1999)
  • Lilian Garcia (1999 – 2009, 2014 – 2016)
  • Jonathan Coachman (2003, 2006)
  • Justin Roberts (2006 – 2007, 2009 – 2014)
  • Todd Grisham (2007)
  • Eden Stiles (2015 – 2016)
  • JoJo (2016 – 2018)

WWE Raw Broadcast

In the United States, the show airs live on the USA Network. WWE Raw also airs Wednesdays on Universo in Spanish. Occasionally, WWE Raw is aired on same-day tape delay when WWE is on an overseas tour. WWE Raw is also shown live on BT Sports in the United Kingdom and Ireland. WWE Raw aires live in India at 5.30 am on Tuesdays on Sony Ten 1. Since October 6, 2014, WWE Raw has been airing live throughout Latin America on Fox Sports.

Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman
Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman. Image Credits: Bleacher Report

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.

Online Streaming

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 as a condensed 90-minute version is available, not the full version as shown the previous night on the USA Network.

After WrestleMania 32 in 2016, WWE began with airing the newest episodes of Raw and SmackDown on YouTube for countries that don’t have WWE programming on traditional TV for free in less than 24 hours after the original broadcast (The links are blocked in countries where the shows are traditionally available).

Canada

From 1995 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.  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 (particularly one segment that featured the 3-Minute Warning assaulting Kitana Baker).

In parallel, TNN/Spike TV also aired Raw live uncensored as it is carried through Canadian cable and satellite providers and USA Network remains not available for distribution in Canada. All archived broadcasts of Raw are available on the WWE Network. Rogers Media secured the rights to Canadian WWE programming until 2024.

The Middle East

Raw airs in the Arab world on MBC Action on Mondays at 8 PM Egypt Standard Time, on FM1 in Iran and on Sport 1 and Sport 1 HD in Israel. Raw further began airing on D-Smart in Turkey.

Europe

Raw airs on ABXplore in Belgium and is translated into Dutch, French, and German. The show airs on Nova Sport in the Czech Republic and on AB1 in France. Raw airs live on DAZN and with German commentary on ProSieben MAXX in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein on Wednesdays at 10 PM. The show airs every Saturday on Skai TV in Greece.

WWE Raw
Image Credits: Twitter

Raw airs live on Sky Sport Uno, Sky Sport Arena, with an international version of one-hour shows airing on Cielo in Italy in Italian. The show airs on Extreme Sports Channel in Poland. It airs on SIC Radical and on SIC K on Friday nights in Portugal. Raw airs on Telekom Sport in Romania. The show airs on Prva Srpska Televizija in Serbia.  It airs on Neox in Spain in Spanish. It airs on BTV in Lithuania. Raw airs on BT Sport in Great Britain and Ireland. Raw airs on Match! Fighter in Russia, in Russian. In Spain, Raw airs every Saturday at 1 PM on Mega.

Asia and Pacific

Raw airs on Sony Ten 1 and Sony Ten 1 HD in Nepal. It airs on Mola TV On-Demand in Indonesia. Raw airs live on Sony Ten 1 HD and Sony Ten 1 in India. And airs exclusively in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Raw streams live on FOX+ app with an encore telecast on Fox Sports (Philippines) on the same day. Raw airs live on SuperSport 2 HD in Singapore.

Raw airs both live and delayed on Fox8 and Thursday nights on 9Go! as a one-hour version in Australia. Raw airs live on J Sports 4 in Japan. Raw airs live on Sky 5 and Friday nights on Prime as a one-hour version in New Zealand. Raw airs in China on various local networks within China and Videoland Television Network in Taiwan in both English and Thai. Raw airs on ViuTVsix in Hong Kong, on Ten Sports in Pakistan, and on IB Sports in South Korea.

Latin America

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 and Imagen Televisión in Mexico.

South Africa

Previously the rights to broadcast Raw, along with other WWE shows, were held by free-to-air broadcaster e.tv.  Raw would play on Sundays in the evening, with a 7-day delay, edited to one hour and was the most-watched program on the channel. However, in 2017 e.tv decided not to renew its broadcasting deal with WWE. The rights were later resold to SuperSport (the initial broadcasters of WWE programming).

In 2019 SuperSport, along with its parent company MultiChoice, signed a deal to broadcast the 24-hour WWE channel as a pop-up channel for five months on their DStv platform. Currently, there are announcements made by DStv that the channel could be made permanent on the platform.

Jamaica

WWE Raw airs live on Flow 1 and has a replay on Saturdays at 12 PM.

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