WWE Raw (also advertised as WWE Monday Night Raw) is a sports entertainment television program that currently airs on the USA Network in the United States and originally debuted on January 11, 1993. It remained there until 2000, when Raw was moved to TNN, later known as Spike TV. In 2005, the show was moved back to the USA Network. Since its launch in 1993, Raw continues to air on Monday nights. Raw is generally seen as the company's flagship program due to its prolific history, high ratings, weekly three-hour live format, and emphasis on pay-per-views.
Since its first episode, WWE Raw has been broadcast live from 197 different arenas in 165 cities and towns in nine different nations (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan in 2005, Iraq in 2006 and 2007 for specials Tribute to the Troops, Germany in 1997, Japan in 2005, Italy in 2007, and Mexico in 2011). The show currently broadcasts on a 3-week tape delay in South Africa on private broadcaster e.tv on Sunday evenings at 5:00pm. As of the show's 1,000th episode, airing on July 23, 2012, Raw has become a three-hour broadcast, a format that had previously been reserved for special episodes.
In 2010, TNA Impact!, which normally airs on Thursdays, went head to head with Raw in a three-hour live broadcast. This would be the first time since March 2001 that two major wrestling promotions would go head-to-head in a Monday night ratings competition. TNA promoted the debut of Hulk Hogan leading to the broadcast.
WWE countered by announcing the return of Bret Hart, who had not appeared with the company since the Montreal Screwjob in 1997. The ratings showed that, much like the first Monday Night War, Raw came out on top, averaging 5.6 million viewers while Impact! was watched by more than 3 million viewers for the opening hour, though towards the end of the show the viewership declined to 2.2 million viewers. On March 8, 2010, Impact! permanently moved to Monday nights to compete head-to-head with Raw.
After declining ratings, Spike TV executives announced that starting April 5, Impact! would air an hour earlier than Raw. However, Impact! was moved back to Thursdays as Raw garnered better ratings and the audience of TNA was reduced. On April 19, 2010, many of the Raw superstars were stranded in Belfast due to the ash cloud from the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull hovering over most of Europe, causing many flights to be put on hold. Former ring announcer Lilian Garcia announced that night while the SmackDown roster took part in production of the Raw episode. On August 30, 2010, Raw aired its 900th episode. In November, Raw went "Old School", bringing back classic WWF styles, such as the WWF logo, red, white, and blue ring ropes, and button-up shirts with bow-ties for the referees, among other things.
On August 29, 2011, it was announced that SmackDown wrestlers would be allowed to compete on Raw full-time as part of the new Raw SuperShow format, with a similar announcement made for Raw wrestlers on SmackDown later that week. With both programs now featuring the full roster (as well as Raw and SmackDown house shows) this marked (for all intents and purposes) the end of the brand extension. On July 23, 2012, Raw celebrated its 1,000th broadcast while the "SuperShow" subtitle was quietly retired.
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