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 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 The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect, Lex Luger, Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, Doink the Clown, 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. Also, The 1–2–3 Kid's upset victory over Razor Ramon in May 1993 would result in The Kid becoming an upper roster mainstay for years to come.
Vince McMahon, Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett were the original hosts of the show, as well as serving as traditional commentators. Bartlett, a comedian who previously had nothing to do with the wrestling industry, would be replaced by Bobby Heenan in April 1993. Heenan left the company in December and would leave McMahon and Savage to host the show alone, before 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 on April 10, 1995 in a role he kept until December 29, 2014 when it was announced Booker T would be replacing Lawler on commentary for Raw following Lawler's hospitalization for diverticulitis. Lawler has since been named as a permanent co-host for SmackDown and later pre-shows. On June 8, 2015, Byron Saxton would be replacing Booker as a permanent co-host for Raw following Booker's filming Tough Enough, along with Michael Cole and John "Bradshaw" Layfield, who joined Raw as a color analyst on April 1, 2013, making Raw announce team consist of Cole, Layfield and Saxton, since one night live episode of Main Event on October 28, 2014. Corey Graves would later replace JBL.
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. 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 Stone Cold 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. The November 4, 1996 episode is also the first appearance of The Rock, as Rocky Maivia.
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. The WWF also decided to run Raw as a live show more often to combat Nitro, with the normal schedule being one live Raw followed by a taped episode.
On February 3, 1997, Raw went to a two-hour format, to compete with the extra hour on Nitro, 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 1.9 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 Is War 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, Stone Cold Steve Austin's building feud with WWF executives, and primarily Vince McMahon (who was now known as the legit owner of the WWF), and the emergence of D-Generation X (DX) as an anti-establishment group. On November 17, Vince McMahon was interviewed by Jim Ross about the infamous Montreal Screwjob at the Survivor Series, and said to the world that "Bret screwed Bret" and claimed that Hart was a tragic figure on that night, thus starting the Mr. McMahon gimmick. Hart had then left for WCW immediately following the Survivor Series event.
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 Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Mankind and an established star The Undertaker. The classic feud between the villainous WWF Chairman Mr. McMahon and fan favorite 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 ratings battle in the 84 weeks since 1996.
On Raw Is War, fans were immersed in the feud between Mr. McMahon and Stone Cold 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 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 Is War 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 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 blatantly laid down for Hollywood Hogan after Hogan poked him in the chest.
Tragedy befell the WWF 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 (which was named Raw Is Owen), 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 episode 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 Is War 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.
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.
Just before the final night of Monday Night Wars, Jim Ross was joined in commentary by the owner of ECW Paul Heyman, who replacing Jerry "The King" Lawler on March 5, 2001, until July 9, 2001. Heyman made a return on Raw Is War as a commentator on July 30, 2001, until November 12, 2001.
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. 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 purchase of WCW and the September 11 attacks, Raw quietly replaced the Raw Is War program on October 1, 2001.
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, and the WWF having an abundance of talent on the roster. 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 Women's Championship, as those WWE titles would be defended on both shows. In September 2002, then 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 a SmackDown! exclusive, it was no longer referred to as "undisputed". Following this, the Women's Championship soon became a 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.
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 2005 draft was held on the June 6 episode of Raw. The first draft lottery pick was then WWE Champion John Cena, thus moving the WWE championship to Raw and having two titles on the brand. Eventually, then World Heavyweight Champion Batista took his title to SmackDown!, leaving only the WWE Championship on Raw. On June 26, 2005, Jonathan Coachman revealed that he would be the new color commentator for Raw, a position he held until April 24, 2006 when he left to become the Raw General Manager on June 11, 2007. Coachman also did the play-by-play over the next three weeks before Joey Styles revealed that he would be the new lead announcer for Raw on the following week after the firing of Jim Ross by Linda and Vince McMahon on October 10, 2005. 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 WWF/E Champions such as Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold 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 pay-per-view. 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 9, 2006 episode of 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 episode of ECW. Some countries that received WWE programming up to three weeks late had all Chris Benoit matches edited out.
On December 10, 2007, Raw celebrated its 15th anniversary in a three-hour special on the USA Network. The Raw 15th Anniversary DVD was also released which featured some of the most memorable moments in Raw history, hosted by Todd Grisham. On the 2008 draft lottery, CM Punk got drafted to Raw and then won the World Heavyweight Championship from Edge who was a SmackDown superstar. Triple H who was the WWE Champion at the time got drafted to SmackDown while Kane, who was the then ECW Champion, got drafted to Raw. After the draft lottery in 2009, the WWE Championship was brought back to Raw when Triple H was drafted from SmackDown while the World Heavyweight Championship was brought back to SmackDown when Edge defeated John Cena to win the title at Backlash.
From 2010 to 2011, the heel stable The Nexus feuded with John Cena and the WWE Raw roster. On September 19, 2011, Triple H fired The Miz and R-Truth.
From July 2010 to July 2012 there was the Anonymous Raw General Manager after firing the previous general manager, Bret Hart, who ran Raw intermittenly. 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. It was revealed the Anonymous Raw General Manager was Hornswoggle on July 9, 2012.
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, with exclusive live chat by Charlie Sheen via Skype. On January 14, 2013, Raw celebrated its 20th year on the air. On April 1, 2013, John "Bradshaw" Layfield joined the broadcast team alongside Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler. Layfield sitting in as a commentator as September 16, 2012 at Night of Champions, replacing Lawler, who was recovering from a heart attack he suffered during Raw in Montreal, Canada the previous Monday. Layfield also appeared on Raw as a commentator for one night on December 9 and 23, 2013, and January 6, 2014, while Lawler was absent and sick during the day. He also sat in on September 17, 2012, and October 8, 2012, and October 28, 2012 at Hell in a Cell pay-per-view alongside Cole and Jim Ross, following Lawler's recovering from a heart attack once again. He made a return as a commentator on Raw's 20th Anniversary special episode on January 14, 2013, alongside Ross and Lawler, following Ross sat in for Cole, who allowed him to call the main event between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler inside steel cage. In the same time, 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 song. The post-WrestleMania Raw has typically featured highly vocal crowds throughout history, regardless of location. On January 26, 2015, the post-Rumble Raw in Hartford was postponed due to a major winter storm and travel bans across Connecticut that were occurring at the time, and that night's episode instead became an exclusive interview inside the WWE World Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, the weather reports from John Layfield, and the clips from the night before, albeit with commercial breaks, courtesy of the WWE Network. Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Renee Young interviews several wrestlers, including Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, and Roman Reigns to talk about last night's Royal Rumble in Philadelphia.
Jerry Lawler was going to join the broadcast team in 2012 on SmackDown until he had a heart attack. Lawler became ill with diverticulitis on January 1, 2015, leading to the WWE pay-per-view events kickoff analyst 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. Booker T also joined the broadcast team on Raw as the alternate color commentator on September 26, 2011, until October 3, 2011, and October 2, 2011 at Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, along with Michael Cole and Jim Ross, April 25, 2011 Raw episode alongside Josh Mathews, Cole and Lawler, and he also joined with Cole and Lawler to provide commentary on June 20, 2011, November 21, 2011, and March 26, 2012. On June 1, 2015, Booker T left Raw as a commentator to film Tough Enough, leaving the color-commentator position vacant. However, NXT color commentator and WWE pay-per-view events kickoff analyst Byron Saxton replaced him afterwards on June 8, 2015. Saxton appeared as guest announcer on Raw for two weeks after WrestleMania 31, alongside Jerry Lawler because Cole, Layfield, and Booker T were assaulted by Brock Lesnar in the opening segment. Cole, Lawler, and Layfield would continue to provide commentary during WWE pay-per-view events until December 13, 2015 (TLC), before Saxton took over for Lawler at the announce table on the next pay-per-view events (Royal Rumble, Fastlane and others) in 2016. 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 team match which lasted around half a minute, a Twitter hashtag called #GiveDivasAChance trended worldwide for around 1.5 days, with Diva AJ Lee and both Stephanie and Vince McMahon commenting on the hashtag and the status of the Divas division.
Charlotte along with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch made their official debut on the July 13, 2015, episode of Raw after Stephanie McMahon called for a "revolution" in the Divas division. While Charlotte and Lynch allied with Paige, who was feuding with Team Bella (The Bella Twins and Alicia Fox), Banks allied with Tamina and Naomi, leading to a brawl between the three teams. In her pay–per–view debut, on July 19 at Battleground, Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks and Brie Bella in a triple threat match, with all members of the respective teams at ringside. The following night on Raw, Charlotte defeated Brie in a singles match.
On July 19, 2015, The Undertaker returned at Battleground by interfering during the main event match between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins. On the July 20, 2015 episode of Raw, Undertaker explained his actions at Battleground. Later on in the night, Paul Heyman was talking about Battleground and about what happened at WrestleMania XXX, where Lesnar defeated Undertaker to end The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, the Undertaker came out and started a brawl with Lesnar, which saw the WWE roster separating them both. On the 24th-season premiere, a historic match was made by Triple H as the main event would be Sting versus Big Show. Seth Rollins and John Cena got involved in the match, which Sting won via disqualification. Sting teamed up with Cena against Seth Rollins and Big Show and won by submitting Rollins.
Immediately after losing to Brock Lesnar at Hell in a Cell in October 2015, The Undertaker was given a standing ovation from the crowd. He decided to pay back their respects by doing his signature pose, but as he did so The Wyatt Family appeared and attacked him before carrying his unconscious body backstage. The following night on Raw, Bray Wyatt explained that he wanted to claim The Undertaker's soul and obtain its powers. Kane then appeared and attempted to attack the Wyatts, but he would be ambushed and attacked by the other Wyatt Family members before being carried backstage. On the November 9, 2015 episode of Raw from Manchester, United Kingdom, The Undertaker and Kane reunited as The Brothers of Destruction, reemerged and attacked The Wyatt Family. On the November 12, 2015 episode of SmackDown from Manchester, United Kingdom, Wyatt challenged The Undertaker and Kane to a tag team match against two members of The Wyatt Family of his choosing at Survivor Series, which they accepted later that night. Shane McMahon returned to WWE for the first time in almost seven years on the February 22, 2016 episode of Raw by interrupting his sister, Stephanie McMahon, receiving the "Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence" Award from their father, Vince McMahon, to announce that he wanted control of Raw since under Stephanie McMahon the company has had problems. By making a deal with his father, Shane would wrestle The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 in a Hell in a Cell match; if Shane McMahon won, he would gain control of Raw. Also, if Shane won, Wrestlemania 32 would be The Undertaker's last Wrestlemania. However, if Shane lost, Vince would get all of the items out of Shane's lock box. Although Shane McMahon lost to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 32, he was general manager for a while. The February 29, 2016 episode of Raw, which was broadcast live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, marked the first time the show aired on a Leap Day in its 23-year history. That night's episode featured Stephanie McMahon's speech after accepting the "Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence" Award from Mr. McMahon from the week after Fastlane, and the main event between Dean Ambrose and Alberto Del Rio (with The League of Nations' King Barrett, Sheamus and Rusev), which ended in a disqualification win for Ambrose, while Del Rio, Barrett, Sheamus, Rusev and Triple H attacked him. Triple H would wrestle Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Roadblock, where Triple H won by pinfall and retained the title. On the March 14, 2016 episode of Raw from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Roman Reigns came back and had a brawl with Triple H after a win against Dolph Ziggler, in which Reigns hit Triple H with a LED monitor on his head, which required Triple H to need stitches. The referees (including Rod Zapata and Darrick Moore, except the injured Dan Engler), the securities, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger and The Usos had to stop Reigns' attack. The Undertaker also came back and chokeslammed Shane McMahon in front of his father, Vince.
On May 25, 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. The following week, Mick Foley was introduced as Raw's new General Manager. The draft took place on the live premiere of SmackDown on July 19, with the general managers of the respective brands hand-picking the wrestlers for their brands. Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and General Manager Mick Foley created a new championship, the WWE Universal Championship. This championship would be exclusive to the Raw brand, as the WWE World Championship had become exclusive to the SmackDown brand. Color commentator Corey Graves replaced JBL immediately following the 2016 WWE draft. As part of the "New Era", Raw received a new logo 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, Clash of Champions was scheduled as the first Raw-exclusive pay-per-view since January 2007, and the reintroduction of the Cruiserweight division. On October 3, Raw made history once again by having their women face off in the main event for the first time since December 6, 2004, as Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte by submission to regain the WWE Raw Women's Championship, and on October 30 had the first Women's Main Event Hell in a Cell match. In October 2016, Bill Goldberg returned to Raw after 12 years, and Raw got a big boost in ratings. On October 17, Goldberg returned to RAW to answer Brock Lesnar's challenge which he accepted at Survivor Series. Raw made history once again by having their women face off in the main event for the first time ever in a Falls count anywhere match as Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte by submission to regain the WWE Raw Women's Championship.
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 by the show's on-screen graphics. 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.Notes
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.
During the first brand extension introduced in 2002, only those championships exclusive to Raw were seen on Raw. On the special live August 30, 2011, episode of Raw, it was announced that wrestlers from the Raw brand could now appear every week on SmackDown. This mirrored the proclamation made on Raw the previous day that SmackDown brand wrestlers could now appear every week on Raw. These moves made both programs full-roster "supershows", effectively ending the brand extension.
On July 19, 2016, the brand extension was brought back and for the first time ever, the draft was held on SmackDown. With the second brand extension, the champions exclusive to Raw are listed below:
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 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 TEN Sports. Since October 6, 2014, Raw has been airing live throughout Latin America on Fox Sports Latinoamérica. 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., 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 (Raw's 30th Anniversary).
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.
As of December 9, 2016, all episodes of Raw are available on demand on the WWE Network. Recent episodes are available for on-demand viewing 30 days after the original air date.
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 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.
The show currently airs live on Sportsnet 360.
Raw airs in the Arab world on OSN Sports and MBC Action, on Iran-FMTV in Iran and on Sport 1 and Sport 1 HD in Israel. Raw further began airing on D-Smart in Turkey.
Raw airs on AB3 in Belgium and is translated into Dutch, French, and German. The show airs on Nova Sport in the Czech Republic and on RTL9 in France.
Raw airs on ProSieben MAXX and ProSieben Fun in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. The show airs on Nova Sports 3 in Greece.
Raw airs live on Sky Sport 2, Sky Sport 2 HD, with international version shows airing on Cielo TV in Italy in Italian.
Raw airs on RTL 7 in the Netherlands. 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 Sport.ro in Romania. The show airs on Prva Srpska Televizija in Serbia. It airs on Neox in Spain in Spanish.
Raw airs live on Sky Sports 5, Sky Sports 5 HD, with replay shows airing on Sky 1 and Sky 1 HD in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Raw airs on RING.BG in Bulgaria. The show airs on Televizija OBN in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It airs on BTV in Lithuania.
Raw airs on TEN Sports in Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. It airs on MNC Sports 2 in Indonesia.
Raw airs live on TEN 2 and TEN 1 in India. And airs exclusive in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It airs on live on Fox Sports in the Philippines every Tuesday at 9:50pm.
Raw airs on SuperSports 2 HD in Singapore. The show airs on TrueVisions in Thailand. The show airs on 2×2 in Russia.
Raw airs live on Fox8 in Australia. The show airs live on J Sports 4 in Japan. It airs live on the BOX in New Zealand.
Raw airs in China on various local networks within the People's Republic of China and Videoland Television Network in the Republic of China in both English and Thai.
Raw airs live on Fox Sports Latinoamérica in Mexico and across Central and South America. It also airs live on La Red in Chile, Unitel in Bolivia, Teleamazonas in Ecuador, Andina de Televisión in Peru, Repretel: Canal 11 in Costa Rica and Canal VTV in El Salvador. It airs on Canal 5 in Honduras. Raw airs on RPC Canal 4 in Panama in Spanish.
It airs on e.tv in South Africa.