Since it first aired in the 1950s, WWE or World Wrestling Entertainment has become a worldwide sports entertainment powerhouse. It is broadcasted in over 150 countries and it has a million viewers all around the world. Most of you are probably familiar about the basic principles of wrestling and could name a couple of popular wrestler faces such as John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Batista, and The Rock, but there’s more to WWE Raw than what you see in the surface. That’s why in this article, we are going to find out some interesting facts about this iconic TV show.
The original concept of Raw was different from what Raw is offering today
WWE Raw is quite different from the big-budget and heavily produced arena show we can watch today. Back in 1993, the format of the show was literally raw. It had stripped back production with a gritty presentation. It was shot in the small setting of the Grand Ballroom on the seventh floor of Manhattan Center in New York City.
The show was supposed to be called “Uncooked Raw”
Before the show was launched, WWF was trying to come up with a catchy name that will match Vincent McMahon’s vision of a bolder production. Former Vice President of Business Operations Dick Glover suggested the name “Uncooked Raw” and everybody in the room agreed that the name summarized what the show would be. Fortunately, someone suggested that they should drop the word “Uncooked” and call the show “Raw” instead.
The name “Raw” was derived from a feeling
Wrestling shows are always titled in ways that can pack a punch – explosive, catchy, and marketable, like “Nitro,” “Smackdown,” and “Dynamite.” If we compare it, “Raw” doesn’t quite fit the bill. But the name originated more from the idea of what WWF wanted “Monday Night Raw” to feel like. At one point, the working name was reportedly “Down, Dirty, Gritty, Raw,” which was quite a mouthful. Another choice was “Down & Dirty,” but the marketability was low.
Bruce Prichard, Vince McMahon’s right-hand man at the time, said they wanted a show that was grungy, dirty, and unpolished. They decided they wanted the show to feel “raw,” and the rest is history. On January 11, 1993, “Monday Night Raw” was launched on the airwaves as an uncooked, uncut, and uncensored broadcast.
WWE was originally WWF
World Wrestling Entertainment hasn’t always been known as WWE. From 1979 to 2002, it was known as World Wrestling Federation or WWF. But the wrestling franchise was forced to change its name following a lawsuit filed by the World Wildlife Fund, which also goes by WWF. The two organizations actually settled in 1994 on terms that the WWE would cut back on the use of the acronym, but in 2002, it was found that the original agreement had been breached. So, WWE was created out of necessity.
There’s no brick-and-mortar WWE Hall of Fame
Unlike the Football Hall of Fame and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, there is no actual WWE Hall of Fame that you can visit. The organization hosts an actual WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony around every WrestleMania.
Raw’s home was New York in the beginning
Many fans forget that WWE was once an east coast wrestling promotion. In the early days of Monday Night Raw, the show only took place in New York. Even today, most people associate Connecticut with WWE if they are considering an east coast connection.
The first 32 episodes of Raw emanated from the Manhattan Center, the Castle Recreation Center, and the Mid-Hudson Civic Center – all in New York City. Most of the shows took place at The Manhattan Center. It wasn’t until September 27, 1993, that Raw ventured outside the state.
Raw was supposed to be “posh”
Apparently, Vince McMahon had a grand vision for “Raw,” where it would take place in an elegant setting. When the show was held in New York’s Manhattan Center – with its ballroom setting – McMahon allegedly wanted to set up tables by the ringside, where they would serve upscale dinners to the patrons to make the show into a high-class dinner theater. But since The Manhattan Center didn’t remain as a permanent venue, this idea remained in the hangar, thankfully.
The first ever post-WrestleMania Raw was nothing special
WrestleMania weekend is majorly hyped by both fans and media alike. It’s where the collective core fans are at their most vociferous and defiant. The Raw episode that follows immediately after WrestleMania has also come to its own. Raw always features a hot crowd, big debuts, and surprises during these episodes. However, the first Raw after WrestleMania was not even close to as exciting as it is now.
Post-WrestleMania Raws used to be low-key affairs. In 1993, the night-after telecast consisted of matches that were taped two weeks earlier. The most notable part of it was the debut of Jerry “The King” Lawler, who started as an announcer for WWF Superstars a year before. He had also wrestled in the 1993 Royal Rumble for years, but that was the first time WWE fans saw him compete in the ring. He fought Jim Powers and walked out of the match twice because the fans kept chanting “Burger King” at him.
The first title change at Raw
Shawn Michaels was one of the greatest wrestling stars to hail from WWE. The telecast on May 17, 1993, offered a little more in the way of unpredictable fun. It was when Marty Jannetty defeated Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and captured the gold. The battle was great for wrestling fans, but new watchers couldn’t help but also get invested in the feud between two former friends. It was the first title change in the history of Raw, and it wasn’t the last.
Hulk Hogan never wrestled on Raw before WCW
Hulk Hogan joining the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1993 would ultimately lead to the unforgettable “Monday Night Wars” of the 90s. Despite Hogan being on the WWE roster in 1993, he never wrestled on the program.
What’s even more shocking is that fans considered him the WWE champion for a couple of months in 1993. He even appeared very little on the program besides a few promos and taped segments.
The first WrestleMania featured Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper
In 1985, the first WrestleMania took place on March 31 at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. The main event featured Hulk Hogan and Mr. T defeating Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Cyndi Lauper was also there as a ringside manager for female wrestler Wendi Richter.
There was Thursday Night Raw
WWE Raw became a Monday night staple like NFL football. But it was getting clobbered in a ratings war against WCW Nitro, as the two shows go head-to-head on the same night, at the same timeslot. This made McMahon wonder what would happen if Raw aired unopposed. WWE aired an episode on Thursday to test the waters.
The unique Thursday Night Raw broadcast on February 13, 1997, actually turned out to be a huge episode. The infamous Shawn Michaels came out to tell fans he was relinquishing his WWF Championship because he had lost his smile. What that meant exactly was still unclear, but at the time, the storyline was that Michaels had a knee injury that threatened his career. Regardless of the true meaning, this changed the trajectory for WrestleMania 13, blowing the door wide open for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to become one of the biggest wrestling stars. Since this episode, Austin began feuding with Bret Hart, bringing them to a climactic fight at WrestleMania 13.
It was also when the intercontinental championship was bagged by Rocky Maivia, which set up the story that led to the creation of The Rock.
Stone Cold and Brian Pillman almost got the show canceled
One of the most infamous segments in the history of WWE Raw happened during a heated feud between Brian Pillman and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. This segment saw Steve Austin breaking into Pillman’s house for a confrontation, and Pillman pulled a gun on Stone Cold. A chaotic scene unfolds as Kevin Kelly (who was there to interview Pillman) tries to defuse the situation while Pillman’s wife cries on the couch. The show goes off the air while Pillman is still wildly pointing the gun. Monday Night Raw was almost thrown off the air for running an angle that showed implied gun violence.
McMahon’s hope with this segment was to bring more realism to the show to steer away from the cartoony feel of Monday Night Raw. The segment felt so authentic that many parents and even advertisers called USA Network to express their concerns about the violent content.
Wayne Becker, USA Network’s Vice President of Sports, wanted Raw to be canceled. But when things cooled down, it was agreed upon that WWF must tone down the content a bit. CEO Kay Koplovitz sternly lectured McMahon concerning Raw’s darker direction.
Of course, later down the line, the show continued to push boundaries as the sex-laden, blood-soaked, and obscenity-filled Attitude Era was just around the corner. It became a launch pad into what the true “Stone Cold” character would become.
The Attitude Era was only five years long
When most people think about WWE Raw, what comes to mind is the insane and prodigious WWE Attitude Era. The Rock, The Undertaker, and Stone Cold all launched their careers in this era of huge viewership. But many people forget that the Attitude Era lasted only five years, from 1997 to 2002. Its impact, especially on the fans, felt like those days lasted at least a decade.
An episode of Raw attempted to show the Royal Rumble Match in 1997 for free
The 1997 Royal Rumble match had a controversial ending – Steve Austin was declared the official winner when he was actually eliminated earlier in the match, but referees failed to catch his feet touching the ground. A lot of people were confused, and to capitalize on this confusion, WWF marketed the January 27, 1997 episode as “Royal Rumble Raw.” WWE wanted to market the match for free. USA Network executives suggested this idea as a surefire ratings grabber.
In the first two-hour broadcast of “Monday Night Raw,” many fans expected to see the controversial Royal Rumble that had happened 24 hours prior. Sadly, all fans got was a filler card with the highlights from the Royal Rumble matches sprinkled in. The problem was the pay-per-view companies didn’t agree to show the WWE matched away for nothing when there was money to be earned.
The show’s live aspect was dropped because of financial issues
Despite the increasing demand from the fans to attend the show, things weren’t working out to be cost-effective when it comes to filming WWE Raw live. The show experienced a financial drain and logistics nightmare when it comes to setting up and unpacking every week. That’s why Vincent McMahon decided to cut the live aspect of the show. They settled with taping several episodes at a time after a live broadcast.
Raw’s highest rating segment
WWE Raw’s highest rating segment happened on September 27, 1999, during Mick Foley’s “This Is Your Life.” It received a whopping 8.4 rating which became one of the most celebrated productions in WWE Raw’s history.
Raw’s highest-rated episode drew an 8.1 rating
The highest-rated episode of “Monday Night Raw” happened because of a stroke of luck for WWF and some misfortunes for WCW. On May 10, 1999, the episode of RAW drew an astonishing 8.1 rating, which was caused by a few things. WCW Nitro did not air that night due to NBA Playoffs, so Raw was the only wrestling show in town. Raw also made the episode a star-studded main event, with Steve Austin, The Rock, and Vince McMahon taking down the team of the Undertaker, Triple H, and Shane McMahon.
More than 9 million viewers tuned in that night, and that’s roughly three times greater than what a typical Raw episode does today.
Almost all of the viewers watch Raw’s live broadcast
Wrestling Observer Newsletter says that about 88 percent to 92 percent of Raw’s TV viewership is during its live broadcast. That’s an amazing amount of viewers considering we are at the era where many television shows are DVR’d.
Over 6.1 million fans of Raw have attended the live Raw shows
WWE Raw isn’t just about obtaining viewers on screen, the show also serves as an important attraction for filling large venues such as arenas. An estimate of 6.1 million fans has attended the Monday night show that has toured across 250 cities in the US.
WWE Raw has over four million viewers every week
Even if their audience fluctuates, the show has an average of around four million viewers a week. This number makes Raw one of the most-watched regular programs on primetime cable TV.
WWE Raw is the longest-running weekly TV show in history
WWE Raw first aired on TV in 1993 and it’s still an ongoing show until today. WWE Monday Night Raw is considered to be the longest-running weekly TV program in US history. If we’re going to list it down, WWE Raw has a total of 26 seasons and 1,363 episodes as of July 8, 2019.
WWE Raw has about a billion viewers every week all across the globe
Although the four million viewers in the US every week is a big number, it’s just a drop in the ocean if we look at the number of viewers WWE is believed to have globally every week. WWE Raw is broadcasted in thirty different languages and it airs in over 150 countries worldwide.
Raw wasn’t always on the USA Network
The USA Network was home to “Monday Night Raw” from its launch on January 11, 1993, up until September 18, 2000. But it’s sometimes forgotten that the show jumped ship to TNN/Spike TV and joined the Viacom family for five years. Starting in September 2000, the USA didn’t get to enjoy Monday night rating dominance.
McMahon brought the circus back to USA Network in 2005, and USA aired Raw’s homecoming episode on October 3rd. The show has remained with USA Network ever since.
A dog show bumped Raw out of its timeslot
Airing on a Monday primetime slot has always been connected to the Raw brand, but it wasn’t always the case when the Westminster Dog Show needed a slot on the USA Network. The dog show ran annually, with night one airing on CNBC and night two airing on the USA Network since 1984. For years, the two shows clashed a lot, and Raw would have to move to a different night.
Sometimes, WWE would put on alternative programming that occurred before the dog show went live. It was strange to see a juggernaut of a show get pushed by a dog show, but it does happen.
The show dropped “War” on its name in 2001
If you were a fan of the show in the late 90s, you would remember that WWE would refer to the second half of “Raw” as “War Zone,” while the other half is “Raw is War.” WWF moved to edgier programming during the Attitude Era and gave the show edgier names. The idea of considering “Raw” as a “warzone” started in 1997 before the Attitude Era began.
This move seemed weird for an average observer – why not just name the whole show as “Raw is War?” The show split its name due to TV ratings. By airing what looks like “different shows,” WWF could negotiate advertising rates on whichever hour did better. The “show” with a higher viewership could work out a deal with premium advertisers that might only run its commercials on that specific hour.
But the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, changed WWF’s thoughts on using “war” as a marketing word for their weekly “Raw” broadcast. As talks about the “war on terror” grew, WWF changed their show title to “Monday Night Raw” three weeks after the terror attacks. They also dropped the idea of the “War Zone” in the second hour. This wasn’t the only name change – they also changed the December pay-per-view Armageddon to “Vengeance” for that year.
President Donald Trump is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame
Whether you like Trump or not, the 45th POTUS has left a unique legacy in the world of wrestling. He has attended many WWE events throughout the years, and Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza hosted WrestleMania 4 and 5. He even competed in the ring a few times, notably against Vince McMahon during WrestleMania, and dropped real money from the rafters.
McMahon inducted Trump into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2013. Linda McMahon, Vince’s wife, even served in Trump’s cabinet when he was president as the head of Small Business Administration.
Trump “buys” Raw, and Vince felt the burn
Besides having a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame, Trump also participated in one of the more peculiar occurrences in WWE history. In 2009, Trump “bought” Monday Night Raw from Vince McMahon as a publicity stunt. To play it up, USA Network even had a press release that made the sale sound legit. Some stockholders took the story at face value, resulting in a seven percent fall in its stock price over the course of a day. It just proved to Vince that not all publicity is good publicity.
The mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, is a former WWE champion
Speaking of politicians, Glenn Jacobs, the Republican mayor of Knox County, was also a pro wrestler in the WWE. He signed with WWE in 1995 and was known by his ring name Kane. He was then inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2021.
John Cena wrestled the most in Raw history
Some people may know John Cena from the big screen, but his career as a pro wrestler was truly remarkable. Cena was a 16-time world champion, winning the WWE Championship 13 times and the World Heavyweight Championship three times.
The Undertaker won 21 consecutive WrestleMania matches
From 1991 to 2013, The Undertaker won a total of 21 back-to-back WrestleMania matches before finally losing in a match at WrestleMania 30. Brock Lesnar broke his streak, becoming the most shocking result in wrestling history.
A lot of fans were unimpressed with WWE’s decision to put a stop to something that has taken a life on its own, while others believe that it should have ended at the hands of an up-and-coming superstar. But nevertheless, putting a stop to The Undertaker’s streak made Brock Lesnar one of the biggest attractions in wrestling.
WrestleMania 32 was the event with the most attendance
More people gathered at WrestleMania 32 than at any other previous show. On April 3, 2016, a record crowd of 101,763 people from all 50 states and 35 countries gathered at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The previous record was 93,173 at WrestleMania 3 in 1987, where the fight between wrestling legends Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant was the main event.
Andre the Giant died soon after Raw premiered
Andre the Giant is one of the most iconic wrestlers to ever live in history. By the time WWE Raw made it to air on national TV, Andre was already on the tail end of his career and also his life.
Raw debuted on January 11, 1993, and only after 16 days on the 27th, the world of wrestling lost its giant. Andre died at age 46 due to congestive heart failure. It was no doubt that if it weren’t for his untimely passing, Andre would’ve surely appeared at one point or another in the first year of WWE Raw.
WWE doesn’t allow blood in the ring anymore
Since 2008, WWE has banned wrestlers from bleeding in the ring. It was partly a result of WWE programming that shifted from TV-14 to TV-PG. Also, it’s because of Shawn Michaels.
The whole thing took place in July 2008 at The Great American Bash when Shawn “The Heartbreak Kid” Michaels faced off against Chris Jericho. The fight ended prematurely after Michaels started to bleed heavier than usual, forcing the referee to declare Jericho, the winner. After that match, McMahon announced that no more blood would be on the ring.
Raw does not have an off-season
WWE isn’t a sport in the traditional sense, but as sports entertainment, it’s as good as you’re going to get. Unlike major sports like baseball, football, basketball, and hockey, WWE doesn’t take a break. The organization operates 52 weeks a year, and pro wrestlers play every Sunday.
Women took center stage for the first time at WrestleMania in 2019
In April 2019, the women’s match was the headliner of WrestleMania 35 as Raw Women’s Championship for the first time in WWE history. The match-up, which was held at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, featured Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, and Charlotte Flair. Lynch came out victorious as the 2019 Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion.
Fun fact: This was also the first WrestleMania since 2000 not to feature The Undertaker.
WWE Performance Center is in Orlando
Orlando, Florida, is known as the Theme Park Capital of the World, but rides and roller coasters aren’t the only forms of entertainment the city has to offer. It’s also a training ground where up-and-coming wrestlers go if they want to be part of the main WWE roster.
Now that we list down some of the most interesting facts about this iconic TV show, it’s time for you to catch up on all the episodes you’ve missed. If you want to learn more about other sports, make sure you check out this site.