"You are watching the longest running weekly episodic television show in history! This is Monday Night Raw!"
(full title: WWE Monday Night Raw
) is a professional wrestling
TV series that showcases the superstars of WWE
. Airing new episodes year-round (for the most part) since its debut in 1993 - with over 1,000 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
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, NBCUniversal
During the '90s
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
, 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 over 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 Fingerpoke of Doom
. Following that night, people would bring signs to WWE events that read "Foley put my ass 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
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
, 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
aired its 1000th episode
, and with it switched from a two hour format to a three hour format.
"RAW IS WAR IS A TROPE IN YOUR SIDE!":
- A Show: WWE's flagship program since it debuted.
- 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. It was eventually resolved in July 2012 when Hornswoggle was revealed as the GM.
- A far worse example would be the "GM-less" era; after Eric Bischoff was fired from the position in December 05, the central story Raw was who would replace him. Shane McMahon, 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. That is, until the July 9, 2012 episode of RAW when the mystery RAW GM was finally revealed (more on that later).
- Bad Boss: Whoever is in charge of the show tends to be one of these (i.e. Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, John Laurinaitis, Vickie Guerrero), as opposed to Smackdown's typically more benevolent GM's.
- Bowdlerise: The Hulu Plus version of RAW has several matches and segments cut out. Those matches usually feature either mid-carders, jobbers, or Divas.
- Broadcast Live: since September 1999.
- Butt Monkey: Vince McMahon, during the later half of 2012.
- Canon Discontinuity: The promos for the March 4, 2013 show, billed as "Old School Raw," started with a scene from the beginning of the very first episode before jumping ahead to the New Age Outlaws, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock and the Attitude Era in general, as if nothing had happened during the four years in-between.
- 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.
- Demoted to Extra: Since the early 2010s, full-time mid-carders such as Wade Barrett, The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes, and Zack Ryder as well as the Divas have been demoted storyline-wise in order to make room for part-time (but very marketable) talent such as The Rock and Brock Lesnar (usually in the weeks heading into WrestleMania and SummerSlam) in an effort to give RAW a boost in the ratings.
- Dueling Shows: With WCW Monday 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, 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 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 Raw. For a few months after that, they were "the biggest threat WWE has ever faced" — bigger than The Alliance, bigger than the NWO, 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. On the July 9, 2012 episode of Monday Night Raw, his identity was revealed to be Hornswoggle.
- 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.
- Jobber Entrance: This was the standard in the mid-nineties when Raw was only an hour long, which made sense because there was only so much time to do the matches. Ironic though, ever since Monday Night RAW went to three hours beginning with the 1000th episode on July 23, 2012, many wrestlers (even some main eventers) had their entrances cut out in order to make room for more commercials, in-ring promos, backstage segments, recaps, and social media segments. Only John Cena and CM Punk seemed to be immune from this since they're the top two full-time Superstars on the show. Other Superstars who are spared from a jobber entrance are The Rock, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker.
- Note that the last four are all part-timers.
- 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 Runner: It's been on the air constantly since 1993. And they will not let you forget it.
- Long-Runner Cast Turnover: Since Raw has been on the air for close to 20 years and the wrestling business being what it is, this is kind of a given.
- In fact, only three people who appeared on the very first episode, Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, and The Undertaker, are even still with the company today.
- Milestone Celebration: Whenever they've celebrates an anniversary, with the latest being the 20th Anniversary of Raw on January 14 2013.
- Muppet Cameo: Yes, The Muppets did show up on Raw during the Halloween Episode. Notable highlights include Sheamus meeting up with Beaker and Statler and Waldorf snarking on the main event as only they could.
- They guest-hosted again, with a memorable bit involving Daniel Bryan running into his cousin, a muppet goat. The Muppet episodes do very well in the ratings — because even wrestling fans love the Muppets — and they'll be guest hosting again in March 2014 as a promotion for Muppets Most Wanted.
- 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 Triple H 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.
- Retraux: The Monday Night Raw "Old School" specials in 2010 and 2013.
- Theme Tune
- No Theme Tune: The opening credits were seemingly dropped in late-2012 in favor of an opening recap (though it seems to be making a comeback lately: the last two Raws before the Money In The Bank 2013 pay per view reinstated the intro).
- Real Song Theme Tune: During the show's run the show has used "The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson (better known later as a theme song for Smack Down), "... To Be Loved" by Papa Roach and "Burn it to the Ground" by Nickelback. "The Energy" by Shinedown is currently sometimes used as bumper music.
- Thematic Theme Tune: Currently used with "The Night" by Kromestatik, albeit as bumper music these days. Also seen in the past with "Thorn in Your Eye", "All Together Now" and Union Underground's "Across the Nation".
- Trope Co. Trope of the Week: A lot of the Product Placement comes in this form.