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"Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for welcoming us into your home for this edition of Monday Night RAW!"
A Professional Wrestling Series that currently showcases the superstars of the WWE's Raw brand (the full name of the program is WWE Monday Night Raw). Airing new episodes year-round (for the most part) since its debut in 1993 - with over 900 episodes (and counting) under its belt so far - Raw is the longest running series in the company's history, and one of the longest in television history.
It originally aired on the USA Network, switched to the National Network (TNN) - now known as Spike TV - in 2000, and went back to USA in 2005, with its first night back on the Network dubbed the "WWE Homecoming" (which isn't far off, considering that the 'E has since formed a trusty partnership with USA's parent company, NBC-Universal).
During the '90s, Raw had fierce competition in the form of WCW Monday Nitro, which led to the legendary period known as The Monday Night Wars, a source of the industry's biggest success (and some of its most famous Take Thats). Because Raw was generally pre-taped in its early years, WCW's Eric Bischoff would often spoil the results of the program on Nitro, which was aired live every week. It also helped that WCW had a hot faction in the form of the New World Order. For 84 consecutive weeks, Nitro beat Raw in Ratings, and WCW nearly sent WWE into bankruptcy during this period.
In reflection of the company's shift into the Darker and Edgier Attitude Era, the show was re-christened Raw is War - apporpriate, considering the series was at war with Nitro. In a Take That that went horribly, horribly, wrong for WCW, the January 4, 1999 episode of Nitro featured Tony Schiavone spoiling the results of that same night's (pre-taped) episode of Raw by saying Mick Foley (who wrestled for a time in WCW under the name Cactus Jack) would win the WWE Championship, sarcastically following up with "That's gonna put some butts in the seats." The jab backfired as a half-million viewers switched the channel to Raw to see Foley win the title. It also didn't help that Nitro provided those who stuck by Nitro with a WCW Championship match that infamously ended in under a minute with the Finger-Poke of Doom. Following that night, people would bring signs to WWE events that read "Foley put my butt in this seat!" This marked the beginning of the tides turning between the two programs, with Raw starting to beat Nitro in ratings, and when Raw permanently switched to a live format starting in September 1999 (thanks to healthy pay-per-view buyrates), Nitro had no more spoilers of the competition to fall back on.
In September 2001 (a few months after WWE bought out WCW), Raw is War was renamed to simply Raw in light of the 9/11 attacks, although a few years later the name would be reverted to Monday Night Raw, with Raw back to a convenient short-name. (It should be noted that starting in 1997, the second hour of Raw was called War Zone; this was - and still is - done for reasons relating to measuring television ratings. When the Raw is War name was dropped, the second hour became Raw Zone.)
With the brand extension of 2002, WWE was split into two brands: the Raw brand and the SmackDown brand (a third brand, ECW, was around from mid-2006 to early 2010). Since then, Raw has developed a reputation for housing established veterans and high-level main eventers.
From 2009 to late 2010, thanks to a mandate by network overlords NBC-Universal, Raw was given a special "guest host" gimmick where a celebrity / group of celebrities of varying levels of fame hosted an episode each week, and - up until the appointment of a General Manager - they were also allowed to book matches, having been given "unlimited power" by Vince McMahon. While quite a few were undoubtedly stinkers (Dennis Miller, ZZ Top), there were some gems as well (Seth Green, Bob Barker, William Shatner, Mike Tyson), and it was thanks to this gimmick that Bret Hart returned to Raw for the first time since the Montreal Screwjob. The guest host gimmick eventually started losing steam after Bret Hart was named Raw's General Manager (a role he served for a couple of months before being "taken out" by The Nexus); eventually, guest hosts were called "guest stars" to reflect their loss of booking power, and showed up mainly to shill their latest stuff. By the end of 2010, the "guest stars" gimmick was dropped almost entirely.
On July 23, 2012, Raw will air its 1000th episode, and thereafter switch to a three hour format.
Tropes featured include
- Aborted Arc: For example the Anonymous Raw GM storyline. In June 2010, Vince McMahon appointed a new Raw General Manager "who [preferred] to stay anonymous" and thus relayed all his orders through a laptop computer seated next to the announcer table. Despite some teasing hints that went nowhere, some mildly heelish decisions and a couple of feuds (including one where Edge actually beat up the laptop), his identity was never revealed and the whole thing was quietly swept under the rug in October 2011 when Triple H took over.
- A far worse example would be the "GM-less" era; after Eric Bischoff was fired from the position in December 5, the central story Raw was who would replace him. Shane Mc Mahon, Dusty Rhodes, and various other big names were teased, along with a running gag of the most unlikely people approaching Vince and asking for the job only to be blown off. After about a month or two, the whole thing was dropped, with one glaring problem; there was still no general manager. The position would not be filled until June of 07, a year and a half later, and would receive no mention up until that point.
- Bad Boss: Whoever is in charge of the show tends to be one of these (i.e. Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, John Laurinaitis ), as opposed to Smackdown's typically more benevolent GM's.
- Broadcast Live: since September 1999.
- Channel Hop: From USA to TNN/Spike and back.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: When Bret Hart appeared in 2010 after the Montreal Screwjob he said that he guessed hell just froze over.
- The same kind of effect was created in 2002 when Eric Bischoff first appeared on the show. And Vince hugged him.
- Dueling Shows: With WCW Nitro, causing the WWF to push the envelope more. The ratings for Raw have never been as high since then.
- During the early days of the Brand Extension era (i.e. back when WWE was actually taking the idea seriously and wrestlers stayed on their own shows), Raw had a Kayfabe rivalry with Smackdown.
- Enemy Mine: The 2010 rise of the Nexus Power Stable on WWE Raw saw the teaming up of former rivals like John Cena, Edge, and Chris Jericho after each getting ambushed by the Nexus.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The NXT season one rookies were just some wet-behind-the-ears, fresh-out-of-training nobodies—maybe something someday, but for now not worth much. Then they banded together to form The Nexus, and completely tore apart Monday Night Raw. For a few months after that, they were "the biggest threat WWE has ever faced"—bigger than The Alliance, bigger than the N Wo, bigger than the McMahon-Helmsley Regime, you name it. Ironically, their undoing came when Daniel Bryan, the only rookie who actually had a good amount of experience before coming on NXT, and who had been expelled from the group for showing remorse, joined the WWE wrestlers in the fight against The Nexus.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: An anonymous general manager who only communicates to whomever's in the arena via e-mails sent to Michael Cole.
- I Always Wanted to Say That: In the Dec 6, 2010 edition, circumstances had led to CM Punk subbing for Michael Cole in reading the e-mail from the Raw General Manager, a role that Punk played up for all its worth.
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: Called "The Red Brand" by both the IWC and the WWE staff themselves.
- Lighter and Softer: Since it went from being TV-14 to TV-PG.
- Long Runners: It's been on the air constantly since 1993. And they will not let you forget it.
- Politician Guest Star: One 2008 episode featured campaign speeches from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. Later in that same show, Obama and Clinton impersonators went head-to-head in an alleged wrestling match.
- Product Placement: Frequent—see the trope page for some specific examples.
- Punk in the Trunk: At one point, Kane and Triple H were in a feud; and at the end of the episode Kane tossed Trip into a car's trunk and drove off - but then we saw the car trunk pop open just as they were going to black! Oops. Dealt with at the top of the next episode:
Triple H: I've got a special guest gonna come out here later - but before we come to that, I'd like to give a little personal message to Kane. Kane, this is just advice, but next time you try to accost somebody by sticking them into the trunk of a car, you should try to make sure that the trunk does not have one of those child safety latches on the roof - I mean, you can just pull it and jump OUT of the trunk before the person even drives off. Just a bit of advice.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Many times during the show's run, with its current theme being "Burn It To The Ground" by Nickelback.