WWE Raw is a television show produced by World Wrestling Entertainment. It is considered WWE's flagship show, and currently airs on Monday nights on the USA Network. The show began on January 11, 1993.
The Monday Night Wars
When Raw premiered in 1993, it retained the family-friendly image that WWE was known for at the time. However, in September 1995, WCW launched Nitro, which would compete with Raw for ratings supremacy. As WCW's product changed with the introduction of the nWo, and Hulk Hogan subsequently turning heel, Nitro would go on an 84-week winning streak against Raw. In response, WWE would begin to change their product from being family-friendly, to being more adult-oriented, similar to the Jerry Springer show, which had become very popular at the time. A controversial segment aired on the November 4, 1996 edition of Raw would be a foreshadowing of sorts of things to come. In the segment, Stone Cold Steve Austin broke into Brian Pillman's house, and threatened him with a gun. Pillman was also heard using the f-word during the segment. In response, the USA Network forced WWE and Pillman to apologize for the incident.
The rebranding of WWE would become more apparent during 1997. During which time ECW invaded Raw. On February 3, 1997, Raw switched to a two-hour format. On March 10, 1997, Raw was renamed Raw is War, and used Marilyn Manson's The Beautiful People for it's theme song. A week later, Bret Hart went on a profanity-laden tirade when Vince McMahon attempted to interview him. Much of the segment went uncensored.
On March 29, 1998, the Attitude Era officially began at WrestleMania XIV when Stone Cold Steve Austin won the WWE Championship from Shawn Michaels. More segments pushing the envelope aired on Raw is War. On April 13, 1998, Raw finally beat Nitro in the ratings for the first time in 84 weeks. For the remainder of 1998, the ratings would go back and forth, with Nitro winning their last night on December 28, 1998. From that point on, Raw would go on to dominate for the remainder of the Monday Night Wars.
January 4, 1999 would be a pivotal night in the Wars. On Nitro, the main event was set to be Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg for the WCW Championship. At some point in the broadcast, Eric Bischoff had announcer Tony Schiavone make the following announcement:
Fans, if you're even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here at one time as Cactus Jack, is gonna win their World title. Ha! That's gonna put some butts in the seats, heh.
The episode of Raw had been taped a week prior, and WWE had even acknowledged the title change on their website. However, immediately after the comment was made, 600,000 viewers switched from Nitro to Raw. On the same Nitro, Goldberg had been arrested for stalking Miss Elizabeth, and a returning Hulk Hogan challenged Nash, which he accepted. As the match began, Hogan looked as if he was getting ready to hit Nash, only to just touch him with his finger. Hogan got the pinfall, and won the match. This eventually became known as the Fingerpoke of Doom, and in the eyes of many, was the beginning of the downfall of WCW.
On the March 26, 2001 edition of Raw is War, it was announced that WWE had purchased WCW. After the last episode of Nitro aired, a simulcast began on USA and TNT. In storyline, Vince McMahon came out to gloat about his purchase of WCW, when Shane McMahon came out on Nitro to announce that he had purchased WCW from under his father's nose. This was done to further a storyline between Vince and Shane McMahon, as the two were to have a match at WrestleMania X-Seven, the largest show of the year, which was just six days away. Although the purchase was made, and WCW was now off the air, the Invasion did not begin immediately following WrestleMania X-Seven. On the May 21, 2001 edition of Raw is War, WCW wrestler Lance Storm came out through the crowd, and interfered in a match. Over the next few weeks, various WCW wrestlers would come out, and interfere in matches. Eventually, Diamond Dallas Page, one of WCW's most well-known names, would debut on Raw to start building up a match with the Undertaker at King of the Ring.