Monday Night Raw: The Attitude Era is over…
Yesterday we had a look at the early years of Monday Night Raw as the longest running weekly episodic show in US television history. Today we continue this path with the 2000’s, where the Attitude Era bowed down to the Ruthless Agression:
Raw moves from USA Network to The Nashville Network (which is rebranded to Spike TV in August 2003).
On March 18th, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson hosts NBC’s Saturday Night Live for the first time with AC/DC as the musical guest; he has since hosted a total of five times, entering the coveted “Five Timers Club” in 2017.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson appears on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno. He goes on to make appearances on NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien and NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
WWE undergoes a process called the “brand extension,” in which Raw and SmackDown are split to operate as two distinct brands. To continue to shake up rosters among the two distinct brands, WWE introduces a Draft Lottery. The Rock is the first draft pick and is moved from Raw to SmackDown.
Along with this extension, the World Heavyweight Championship and Women’s Championship become titles exclusive to Raw.
John Cena makes his official WWE television debut on the June 27th episode of SmackDown on UPN.
January 14th Raw celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a special awards ceremony and party held in Times Square.
The first Tribute to the Troops airs on December 25th on Spike TV, filmed at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq.
In 2005, Raw moves back to USA Network; the show’s first night back on USA is billed as “WWE Homecoming.” On USA, the show’s ratings averages jump 14% in P18-49 (2.45M) and 11% in P2+ (4.7M) compared to fourth quarter averages one year earlier on Spike. This was the first-ever three-hour Raw, seven years before Raw went permanently to three hours.
On June 6th, John Cena is drafted to Raw shortly after winning his first WWE Championship – a title which he holds onto for 280 days.
On September 30th, John Cena appears on NBC’s The TODAY Show for the first time. He goes on to make appearances on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno and NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
SmackDown moves from UPN to the CW and becomes the second-highest watched program on The CW.
Raw airs its 700th episode on October 23rd on USA Network, making it the longest running weekly episodic entertainment show, without a hiatus, in television history.
WWE delves into their first foray in HD broadcasting on USA Network. To celebrate, Raw corresponds with a brand new universal TitanTron that incorporates HD LEDs.
Tribute to the Troops airs in a non-standard WWE timeslot for the first time on NBC; the special features a message from President George W. Bush.