WWE Raw (also WWE Monday Night Raw or Raw) - a wrestling television program broadcast live every Monday on the USA Network. The name of the program is also used in relation to the Raw brand, to which the majority of WWE players are assigned. Raw was first broadcast on January 11, 1993, and has since been considered WWE's number one weekly show.
Raw was transferred from USA Network to TNN (later Spike TV) in September 2000. On October 3, 2005, WWE Raw returned to USA Network, where it is broadcast to this day. Archived episodes of WWE Raw are available to view on the WWE Network.
From the first episode, Raw has been broadcast live from 208 different arenas in 171 cities of eleven different countries (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Italy, India and Mexico). Since the thousandth episode of Raw was broadcast on July 23, 2012, the program has been broadcasting for three hours. Previously, the three-hour format was reserved for special episodes of the program.
The first episode of WWF Monday Night Raw was broadcast on January 11, 1993 on the USA Network. The new show was to replace Prime Time Wrestling, which had been broadcast on the channel for eight years. Raw pioneered professional wrestling on television. Until now, wrestling events were recorded in small halls with a small audience or in slightly larger arenas. The Raw format differed from that of the WWF (Superstars and Wrestling Challenge) weekend pre-recorded events of that time. Instead of pre-recording fights, commentary and wrestler monologues, the entirety of Raw was broadcast live.
Originally, Raw was broadcast weekly from the Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center Studios, a small theater in New York City. The combination of cozy arenas and live action made the federation profitable, but over time, the weekly live events took a toll on the WWF. From spring 1993 to spring 1997, one Raw each live (usually after pay-per-view) was followed by several more episodes. WWF recorded a dozen or so Raw galas at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York (in 1984–1986, another WWF Weekly - Championship Wrestling was recorded at the Civic Center). In November 1993, the first episode of Raw Outside New York was recorded (the gala was held in Bushkill, Pennsylvania). Raw soon left the Manhattan Center, and subsequent episodes of the program were produced in various cities in the United States.
Another characteristic of Raw were fights between the more important players of the federation (Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect, Doink the Clown, The Undertaker, Yokozuna or 1-2-3 Kid). Previously, most of the fights in the WWF weekly programs were "squashes" (short fights between famous fighters and unknown local wrestlers). Only Saturday Night's Main Event and The Main Event hosted fights similar to those on Raw, but, unlike Monday's program, the two were held intermittently. On Raw, there were also fights developing the images of wrestlers and rivalries between them.
Vince McMahon, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett were the original hosts of the show; they also took part in commenting on the gala. Bartlett - a comedian unfamiliar with wrestling - was soon replaced by Bobby Heenan. Heenan left the federation in December 1993, and Savage left the WWF in October 1994. McMahon became Raw's lead host. In April 1995, Jerry Lawler joined McMahon as a commentator until January 2015.
Raw is War and Monday Night Wars
In September 1995, WWF's main rival, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), began broadcasting their weekly payout live.