WWE Raw has become an institution of Monday night television. For many fans, the show has been airing for their entire lives. In the mid-1990s, things weren’t going as well for WWE, and USA Network nearly canceled the popular weekly wrestling series.

On the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer recalled a story about how a new USA Network executive decided to cut WWE Raw completely. Last-minute ratings bounce saved ultimately saved the show.

“The decision was made, I think this was 96-97, in that range. If you want to know when, look up Wikipedia: Tuesday Night Fights. USA Network had Monday Night Raw and Tuesday Night Fights, which was the boxing show. The guy that they brought in to run USA, he was not a fan of boxing and he was not a fan of wrestling. He pretty much made the decision to cancel both.

What happened was, right before the decision was implemented, Raw got hot and the ratings got so big that you wouldn’t want to cancel it. The ratings were way too high. They would’ve been canceled if they had kept the ratings that were there. Because boxing and wrestling were doing pretty similar ratings, the Monday and Tuesday. They were solid ratings, they weren’t through the roof or anything like that, but they were certainly good enough to keep. But they were both about to get canceled. Then, the Raw ratings started really moving up fast.

At that point, it’s just like way too popular to be canceled. But, the decision was made to cancel it, and they did end up canceling Tuesday Night Fights which never came back. A lot of people thought that losing Tuesday Night Fights really hurt boxing as far as it was a good place to see boxers on the way up and showcase them and everything like that that was on a big station, not like an HBO or something that had less viewership. So yeah, that happened.”

Most wrestling fans can’t imagine Monday nights without Raw. It was closer to happening than anyone would believe today. Fortunately, the show is now an anchor of the network and not in any danger of being canceled any time soon.

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Transcription by Thirsty for News

Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a news contributor for Ringside News and Thirsty for News. Michael has an M.A. in Communication Technology from Point Park University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

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