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 as WWF Monday Night Raw, replacing previous program WWF Prime Time Wrestling.
The Monday Night Wars
When Raw premiered in 1993, it retained the family-friendly image that the then-WWF 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 heel stable the New World Order (nWo), and Hulk Hogan subsequently turning heel, Nitro would go on an 84-week winning streak against Raw. In response, the WWF 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 Pillman responded to Austin's invasion by threatening him with a gun. Pillman was also heard using the f-word during the segment. In response, the USA Network forced the WWF and Pillman to apologize for the incident.
The rebranding of the WWF would become more apparent during 1997, during which time rival hardcore wrestling promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling (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 shock rock musician Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" for it's theme song. A week later, Bret Hart went on a profanity-laden tirade when company owner and announcer Vince McMahon attempted to interview him after Hart lost his WWF Championship to Sid Vicious thanks to interference by Austin, with Hart's rant being the result of his contention that the then-heel Austin's outrageous actions against him always went unpunished. 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 WWF 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 October 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 the WWF 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, Bill 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 the WWF had purchased WCW (in reality, only selected WCW assets, including WCW's trademarks, its video library and selected wrestler contracts, had been purchased by the WWF). 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 28, 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. At the event, Booker T would come out and interfere in the title match. After King of the Ring, the Invasion storyline began to kickoff.
On the July 2, 2001 edition of Raw is War, the last 20 minutes were given to WCW. A WCW Championship match between Booker T and Buff Bagwell took place. However, the match received poor reviews, and it is said that Vince McMahon hated the segment. This caused the storyline to go in a different direction that originally planned. The initial plan was for WCW to be branched into its own entity, with its own touring schedule, house shows, and pay-per-views. Raw would be given to WCW, and SmackDown to the WWF. On the July 9, 2001 edition of Raw is War, the WCW contingent turned heel when they joined forces with ECW, which had been purchased in storyline by Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. This would lead to the pay-per-view, InVasion. At the pay-per-view, Stone Cold Steve Austin would join WCW and ECW, which later became known as The Coalition, and later, The Alliance. In response, Vince McMahon, would reinstate The Rock, who had not appeared on WWF programming since the night after WrestleMania X-Seven due to taking time off to film The Scorpion King. The Rock would go on to face Booker T at SummerSlam for the WCW Championship, which he won.
As the storyline continued, the WWF changed the name of Raw is War, to Raw. The reason being that the Monday Night Wars were over, and due to the September 11, 2001 Islamic terrorist attacks. The Invasion storyline ended at Survivor Series with Team WWF defeating Team Alliance in a Winner Take All match. The next night on Raw, Ric Flair made his first appearance in eight years, and announced that he and Vince McMahon were partners, as Shane and Stephanie had sold their stocks to him in order to buy WCW and ECW, respectively. Steve Austin also turned babyface for the first time since before WrestleMania X-Seven.
Over the next few years (during which time the WWF was renamed WWE on May 5, 2002 due to a ruling against it in its legal dispute with environmental group the World Wildlife Fund over the WWF initials), many WCW names would appear on WWE programming. The New World Order, consisting of Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash would appear in February 2002, Eric Bischoff and Rey Mysterio in July 2002, Scott Steiner would appear in November 2002, and Goldberg would appear in March 2003. Sting was the only WCW main eventer to not go to WWE until 2014, when he appeared at that year's Survivor Series.
On the March 25, 2002 edition of Raw, the first Draft was held. During the telecast, 20 superstars were drafted to either Raw or SmackDown! A supplemental draft was held later, where mid-carders were drafted to either show. This edition of Raw would be the last to use the graphics, set, and theme song that had been used since the Attitude Era. The next week, a new set, graphics, and theme song were used.
- January 11, 1993 - Series Premiere
- September 11, 1995 - First Raw of the Monday Night Wars.
- January 8, 1996 - WWF debut of Steve Austin.
- April 1, 1996 - WWF debut of Mick Foley who, at the time, was using his character, Mankind, which used the gimmick of a half-masked, deranged psychopath.
- September 23, 1996 - The debut of the "Fake" Diesel and Razor Ramon characters. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, who played the characters respectively during their time in WWE, had left for WCW earlier in the year. However, the WWF still owned the rights to the names. Razor Ramon was played by Rick Bognar and Diesel was played by Glen Jacobs. Jacobs would go on to become Kane about a year later, in October 1997. The segment has been panned as well as being known for one of the more stranger Raw segments.
- November 4, 1996 - The "Pillman's Got A Gun" segment. In storyline, Steve Austin breaks into Brian Pillman's house, with the latter pulling a gun on Austin. Many cite this segment as the beginnings of the Attitude Era.
- March 10, 1997 - Raw is renamed Raw is War.
- March 17, 1997 - After losing a steel cage match and the WWF Championship to Sid Vicious due to the interference of then-heel Steve Austin, Bret Hart snaps on Raw, launching into a vicious in-storyline verbal tirade and a subsequent heel turn.
- August 18, 1997 - After being out with an injury, Rocky Maivia would turn heel, and join the Nation of Domination. He would begin referring to himself as The Rock.
- November 10, 1997 - Raw after the 1997 Survivor Series, where the infamous Montreal Screwjob took place.
- November 17, 1997 - In response to the fallout from the Montreal Screwjob, Jim Ross conducts an interview with Vince McMahon. The interview, which would dub the phrases "Time Honored Tradition" and "Bret Screwed Bret", would remain controversial for years to come. The same night, Rick Rude would appear on both Raw and Nitro, with Nitro being aired live. The Montreal Screwjob and its aftermath (which saw several WWF stars quit the company to defect to WCW) was the beginning of McMahon's on-camera heel turn and the development of his Mr. McMahon gimmick, considered by many as simply an extension of his real-life business persona.
- December 15, 1997 - In a pre-taped message before the start of Raw is War, Vince McMahon a "new era" of programming, declaring "Raw and War Zone are the cures for the common show".
- January 19, 1998 - Raw after the 1998 Royal Rumble. However, this Raw is best known for the WWF debut of Mike Tyson. In a famous segment, Tyson is introduced to the ring by Vince McMahon, where it is announced he would be the Special Guest Enforcer as WrestleMania XIV. Stone Cold Steve Austin comes down, and a fight ensues between Tyson and Austin. The inclusion of Tyson in WWF Programming leading up to WrestleMania XIV would garner major media attention, and would eventually help WWF gain the upper hand in the Monday Night Wars. Austin also begins his gradual face turn around this time as he begins feuding with McMahon.
- March 2, 1998 - Debut of the "scratch logo" on Raw is War. The logo made its official debut a few months prior on November 9, 1997 in the "Try Lacing My Boots" promo.
- March 30, 1998 - Raw after WrestleMania XIV. Triple H takes over as leader of DeGeneration X, Sean Waltman returns as X-Pac. Triple H begins to refer to DX as the DX Army. First official Raw of the Attitude Era.
- April 13, 1998 - Raw wins the Monday Night Wars for the first time in 84 weeks.
- April 27, 1998 - Raw is held at the Hampton Coliseum, while Nitro is held at the Norfolk Scope. The two venues were only about 30 miles apart. DX went to the Norfolk Scope to "invade" WCW in an angle. In interviews, Eric Bischoff, who ran WCW at the time has since commended the segment.
- October 5, 1998 - Mankind introduces Mr. Socko during a segment featuring an injured Vince McMahon. The Socko gimmick would become so popular, it would become part of Mankind's character. The same night, Stone Cold Steve Austin attacked McMahon in a hospital room setting.
- October 26, 1998 - Raw is War loses to Nitro in the ratings for the final time. Starting from the next week until March 26, 2001, Raw would become dominant in the Monday Night Wars.
- December 7, 1998 - The Undertaker has his druids chain Stone Cold Steve Austin to the Undertaker's symbol, and hoisted above the Titantron. The segment is controversial, as it tends to mock crucifixion. It received negative attention from religious groups.
- January 4, 1999 - Mick Foley wins the WWF Championship. Since the show was taped, the results were read on WCW Nitro. Immediately after the results were read, around 700,000 viewers switched from Nitro to Raw to see Foley win. This was also the same night the "Fingerpoke of Doom" happened on Nitro. Many cite this as the beginning of the fall for WCW.
- March 22, 1999 - Stone Cold Steve Austin drives a beer truck to the ring, and sprays The Corporation (Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, and The Rock) in beer.
- April 26, 1999 - After losing the WWF Championship at Backlash the night prior, The Corporation turns on The Rock. As a result, The Rock turns babyface. With this babyface turn, as well as Austin leaving to have neck surgery seven months later, The Rock would begin to become one of the most popular WWF/WWE Superstars of all time.
- Raw Is Owen (May 24, 1999) - Owen Hart Tribute Show
- August 9, 1999 - WWF debut of Chris Jericho.
- August 23, 1999 - Triple H wins his first WWF Championship.
- September 27, 1999 - The "This Is Your Life" segment featuring Mick Foley and the Rock, airs. It generates the highest Raw rating ever, with an 8.4.
- November 29, 1999 - The in-storyline wedding of Stephanie McMahon and Test is interrupted by Triple H, who shows a video of himself and a drugged Stephanie getting married in a Las Vegas chapel. This was the beginning of the McMahon-Helmsley Faction storyline. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon would get married in real life in the fall of 2003.
- January 31, 2000 - WWF debut of The Radicalz (Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero). They would be the last WCW wrestlers to go to the WWF after appearing on Nitro the week prior, or the same night.
- June 26, 2000 - Raw after the 2000 King of the Ring pay-per-view. Vince McMahon delivers his "Genetic Jackhammer" promo that would write him out of WWF storylines until December, so he could focus on getting the XFL ready. The "Genetic Jackhammer" promo would end up being a gimmick of sorts for the Mr. McMahon character. That same night, Shawn Michaels announced the new commissioner would be Mick Foley. Foley would remain commissioner until December.
- September 25, 2000 - Raw begins airing on TNN (now the Paramount Network).
- March 5, 2001 - Paul Heyman replaces Jerry "The King" Lawler as Color Commentator after Lawler walked out of the company with his wife, Stacy "The Kat" Carter.
- March 26, 2001 - Final night of the Monday Night Wars as well as the Raw before WrestleMania X-Seven. After a match between Ric Flair and Sting on Nitro, it was simulcast with Raw. Shane McMahon was revealed, in storyline, to be the owner of WCW, birthing the start of what eventually became the Invasion storyline.
- April 2, 2001 - Raw after WrestleMania X-Seven. The Rock would fight Stone Cold Steve Austin in a cage match as a re-match from the night prior. Austin had just turned heel, and at the end of the match, aligned himself with Triple H to create The Two-Man Power Trip. The team would last for several weeks, before Triple H's quadriceps injury a month later. The Rock would be in-storyline suspended, as he would leave for a few months to film The Scorpion King.
- May 21, 2001 - During a tag match, Triple H tears his quadriceps muscle. He would be out of action for the remainder of 2001, completely missing the Invasion storyline.
- May 28, 2001 - The Invasion storyline unofficially starts when WCW's Lance Storm comes through the crowd to interfere in a match. Over the next few weeks, various other WCW wrestlers would appear on Raw and Smackdown and interfere in matches.
- June 18, 2001 - Following segments on both Raw and Smackdown featuring someone stalking the Undertaker's wife, the stalker came forward, being Diamond Dallas Page. The segment set up a match at King of the Ring 2001, which was that Sunday.
- July 2, 2001 - The final 20 minutes of Raw are given to WCW. The match was Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell for the WCW Championship, with the action called by WCW announcer Scott Hudson and color commentator Arn Anderson. The segment was poorly received, coming under criticism for not having enough action and for not having the best of WCW on display. The match ends in a no contest when Steve Austin and Kurt Angle run in and attack both Booker T and Bagwell (who, in a 2015 podcast interview with Austin, stated his suspicions about Vince McMahon's true plans for WCW, pointing out that the poor reception of the WCW match may have been by McMahon's design, as it took place in the pro-WWF city of Tacoma, Washington instead of being held the following week in the WCW-friendly area of Atlanta).
- July 9, 2001 - Following the poor reception of the Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell match the week prior, the WCW contingent, which had been acting as faces against WWF heels up until that point, turns heel and aligns with ECW, which had been formed earlier that night by several WWF stars who were ECW alumni. Stephanie McMahon is revealed, in storyline, to be the owner of ECW. The WCW/ECW would be referred to as The Coalition, and later, The Alliance.
- August 20, 2001 - Kurt Angle drives a milk truck to the ring, spraying down the Alliance with milk. The segment was a homage to two years prior when Steve Austin brought a beer truck to the ring, and sprayed the Corporation.
- October 1, 2001 - Following the end of the Monday Night Wars, as well as the September 11, 2001 Islamic terrorist attacks, Raw is War changes its name back to Raw.
- November 19, 2001 - Following the end of the Invasion storyline at Survivor Series, Ric Flair is revealed to be part owner, in storyline, of the WWF. Also that night, Jerry "The King" Lawler returned to color commentary for the first time since he walked out of the company with his then-wife Stacy "The Kat" Carter.
- January 7, 2002 - Following his May 2001 quad tear, Triple H returns to Raw at Madison Square Garden.
- March 18, 2002 - WWF television debut of Brock Lesnar, who had been recently called up from the WWF's then-developmental group Ohio Valley Wrestling.
- March 25, 2002 - The First WWF Draft.
- April 1, 2002 - The first episode of Raw after the WWF Draft. Both belts for the Undisputed WWF Championship are replaced with a new belt, presented to Triple H by Ric Flair. A new set and theme song also debuted this episode. The theme song "Across the Nation" by The Union Underground, would be the theme song to Raw until 2006.
- May 6, 2002 - First episode of Raw under the WWE name.
- May 27, 2002 - Final episode of Raw to feature Stone Cold Steve Austin for the remainder of 2002. After declining a feud with Brock Lesnar, Austin abruptly left the company, and would not return until February 23, 2003 at No Way Out.
- July 15, 2002 - Eric Bischoff debuts on Raw as the General Manager.
- September 2, 2002 - After Brock Lesnar signed exclusively with SmackDown, making the Undisputed WWE Championship once again the WWE Championship. Eric Bischoff came out with the World Championship Belt from earlier in the year, renaming it the World Heavyweight Championship, and awarding it to Triple H.
- October 21, 2002 - The infamous "Katie Vick Funeral" segment. The segment featured Triple H, posing as Kane, at a funeral home where he precedes to have mock intercourse with a dummy in a casket. The segment was panned and poorly received, with many citing that it was in bad taste.
- Raw X Anniversary (January 13, 2003)
- March 24, 2003 - The Rock performs his first "Rock Concert." The segment was used to build up a match between himself and Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIX that Sunday.
- March 31, 2003 - WWE debut of Bill Goldberg, who speared The Rock, setting up a match at Backlash 2003.
- June 23, 2003 - Since his debut in 1997, Kane finally unmasks. He turns heel as a result, after returning as a babyface in October 2002. Kane's behavior following this segment would include setting Jim Ross on fire during an interview, electrocuting Shane McMahon's genitals with a car battery, and helping Mr. McMahon defeat the Undertaker at the 2003 Survivor Series, ending his biker persona. This would eventually lead to the return of the Undertaker's deadman persona and a match against Kane against WrestleMania XX.
- October 3, 2005 - Raw returns to the USA Network.
- Eddie Guerrero Tribute Show (November 14, 2005)
- Tribute to the Troops (December 19, 2005)
- September 25, 2006 - A power failure causes the lights to go out for the first 20 minutes or so of the broadcast. However, the show continued on.
- Chris Benoit Memorial (June 25, 2007) - This special featured some of Benoit's greatest matches as well as tributes to Benoit from fellow WWE wrestlers following the revelation of his death that afternoon. It was during this broadcast that the details of what happened with Benoit and his family (which was discovered to have been a double-murder/suicide, which occurred over a three-day space between June 22 and June 24) were revealed on news networks. The next night, during ECW on the SciFi Network, Vince McMahon announced that there would be no further mentions of Benoit on WWE programming. In international markets, this episode was replaced by a special featuring the greatest championship matches.
- March 31, 2008 - Ric Flair's retirement ceremony. At the end of the show, WWE honored Flair by having Triple H act as an emcee, having wrestlers from Flair's career come and pay their respects. After Raw went off the air, the Undertaker came down to the ring to pay respects to Flair.
- July 28, 2008 - First PG Era episode of Raw.
- Trump Raw (June 22, 2009) - The first commercial-free Raw, featuring an appearance by Donald Trump.
- January 4, 2010 - Bret Hart appears on Raw for the first time since the Montreal Screwjob in 1997.
- Monday Night SmackDown (April 19, 2010) - Due to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland, most of the RAW roster remained in Belfast after a European tour. As a result, the SmackDown roster was featured. Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, and Ryan Phillipe from the film MacGruber, made guest appearances.
- Viewer's Choice Raw (June 7, 2010) Best known for the debut of The Nexus, which would begin a storyline that would last for the rest of 2010.
- Old School Raw (November 15, 2010) The set, graphics, and pyro were designed to look like the 1993 format.
- February 14, 2011 - The Rock appears on WWE programming for the first time since 2004. He is announced as the guest host for WrestleMania XXVII.
- April 11, 2011 - After a neck injury, Edge announces his retirement.
- The Rock's Birthday Bash (May 2, 2011) - This was also the day Osama bin Laden was killed in retaliation for 9/11. On Raw, The Rock led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Ring announcer Lillian Garcia sang The Star Spangled Banner at the start of the show. At the WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view the night before, the news of Bin Laden's death began to come out near the end of the show. John Cena broke the news to those in attendance at the pay-per-view.
- June 27, 2011 - CM Punk delivers his now-infamous pipebomb promo. As a result, he turns babyface after being a heel with stables such as the Straight Edge Society and The New Nexus.
- Raw 1000 (July 23, 2012) 1,000th episode of Raw.
- September 10, 2012 - At around 10:00 pm, Jerry "The King" Lawler suffers a heart attack live on air. During a tag team match between Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. The Prime Time Players, Lawler collapsed, and immediately, EMT's rushed him backstage where they performed CPR on him. Lawler had been in a tag team match earlier that night were he teamed up with Randy Orton to face CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler. After the heart attack and in respect of the situation, there was no commentary for the rest of the show, with Michael Cole only providing updates on Lawler's condition. This was also when Cole's heel character was dropped, as during that time, he had an on and off feud with Lawler.
- November 12, 2012 - Jerry "The King" Lawler returns to Raw following his heart attack two months prior.
- Raw 20th Anniversary (January 14, 2013)
- The Ultimate Warrior Tribute Show (April 14, 2014) Tribute show for the Ultimate Warrior, who had been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame a week prior, and died just two days later.
- August 18, 2014 - WWE debuts a new logo. This logo was first used to promote the WWE Network.
- Raw Reunion (January 19, 2015) First appearance of Sting on Raw.
- Raw Special in Studio Show (January 26, 2015) Due to a Winter Storm in the northeast, travel bans were issued in Connecticut, where Raw was set to be held at the XL Center in Hartford. As a result, the show was moved to WWE Headquarters in Stamford, where various wrestlers appeared and conducted interviews. Also, the 2015 Royal Rumble match was shown in its entirety, occurring the night before.
- February 8, 2016 - Daniel Bryan officially announces his retirement from professional wrestling after numerous injures and doctors being hesitant to clear him. In an interview done with ABC's Good Morning America, he would also reveal that he suffered from seizures as a result of the concussions he had received.
- February 22, 2016 - Raw after the 2016 Fastlane pay-per-view. Shane McMahon appears on WWE programming for the first time since 2009 where it was announced that he would face the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 32.
- July 18, 2016 - Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon announce the General Managers for Raw and SmackDown: Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan, respectively.
- July 25, 2016 - First Raw after the 2016 Draft. Since WWE Champion Dean Ambrose, who was drafted to SmackDown, retained the title at Battleground the night before, Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley announce the WWE Universal Championship. A match at SummerSlam is announced between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor for the Championship. Also on this night, Sasha Banks wins the WWE Women's Championship from Charlotte.
- August 22, 2016 - After winning the Universal Championship at SummerSlam the night prior, Finn Bálor relinquishes the title due to a shoulder injury.
- January 30, 2017 - Samoa Joe debuts on the main roster.
- February 20, 2017 - Prior to going on air, scenes from the film Fighting with My Family, which details the life of WWE wrestler Paige and her family, were filmed. A match between the actors who play Paige and AJ Lee were filmed. After Raw went off the air, The Rock came out, and called CM Punk on the phone, and left him a voice message.
- January 22, 2018 - Raw 25th Anniversary. Held at the Manhattan Center and the Barclays Center.