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WWE Raw, also known as Monday Night Raw or simply Raw, is a professional wrestling television program that currently airs live on Monday evenings at 8 pm EST on the USA Network in the United States. The show’s name is also used to refer to the Raw brand, in which WWE employees are assigned to work and perform on that program; the other programs and brands currently being SmackDown and NXT. The show debuted on January 11, 1993 and has since been considered as the flagship program of WWE.
Raw moved from the USA Network to TNN in September 2000, which was rebranded to Spike in August 2003. On October 3, 2005, Raw returned to the USA Network, where it remains today. Archived episodes of the show air on the WWE Network, with episodes available on-demand and more to be added overtime.
Since its first episode, Raw has broadcast live from 208 different arenas in 171 cities and towns in eleven different nations (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan in 2005, Iraq in 2006 and 2007, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Italy, India, and Mexico).
Beginning as WWF’s Monday Night Raw, the program first aired on January 11, 1993 on the USA Network as a replacement for Prime Time Wrestling, which aired on the network for eight years. The original Raw, which was sixty minutes in length, broke new ground in televised professional wrestling. Traditionally, wrestling shows were taped on sound stages with small audiences or at large arena shows.
The Raw formula was considerably different from the taped weekend shows that aired at the time such as Superstars and Wrestling Challenge. Instead of matches taped weeks in advance with studio voice overs and taped discussion, Raw was a show shot and aired to a live audience, with angles playing out as they happened.
Raw originated from the Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center Studios, a small New York City theater, and aired live each week. The combination of an intimate venue and live action proved to be a successful improvement. However, the weekly live schedule proved to be a financial drain on the WWF. From Spring 1993 up until Spring 1997, Raw would tape several week’s worth of episodes after a live episode had aired.
The WWF taped several weeks worth of Raw from the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York in April 1993, and again in June and October (from 1984–1986, the Civic Center was the home of another WWF TV show, Championship Wrestling). The first episode produced outside of New York was taped in Bushkill, Pennsylvania in November 1993 and Raw left the Manhattan Center permanently as the show would be taken on the road throughout the United States and had in smaller venues.