WWE Monday Night Raw nearly lost its spot on the USA Network in the mid-1990s. The series was lagging in the ratings and new executive leadership at the cable giant wanted to go in a different direction. Fortunately, ratings rebounded and the company was able to keep the show on its flagship station.
Long before the WWE Network was a glimmer in Vince McMahon’s eyes, the company sought to protect itself from such a move. McMahon decided to try to buy his own network so that Raw would always have a television home. When USA decided to keep the show after a viewership increased, the idea was ultimately left on the table, according to Dave Meltzer on the latest Wrestling Observer Radio.
“I remember in, I would say before they ever talked about the WWE Network, there was talk as soon as they got pretty hot and they started making a lot of money where they really could afford something like this, I started hearing the talk of Vince buying a TV station. This was from people in the company, and it was kind of like, ‘We almost lost Raw.’ I don’t want to say it would’ve put them down for the count, they would have had syndication. But, the power of syndicated television and everything was going to lessen.
I think they would’ve survived, but it would’ve hurt them greatly. I think, in time, perhaps another station would’ve picked them up. But, it wouldn’t have been as strong as USA. But there was definitely the thing of, ‘You know, we’re at the whim of being hurt really, really badly and it would be really good to have our own TV station so we know at least we will have something where we’re guaranteed, we have our fallback, in case somehow or other we get canceled.’ This was before, you know, Raw now is kind of like an institution on television and it’s not going to get canceled. There would be plenty of people who would want it.
USA, it’s carrying the network whereas before it was just a show on the network and the network itself was a very popular network. Now, it’s carrying the network, so they’re safe. There was that feeling, I remember, where it was like, ‘We gotta learn from this lesson.’ That’s when the first talks of trying to buy a TV station took place. But, it was never imminent because they never were close to being canceled again, because even when their ratings dropped greatly after 2002, 2003, 2005, in that range, where numbers were falling and everything, it was still one of the leading shows on cable television. They were never in danger of being canceled.”
WWE Monday Night Raw went from the brink of cancelation to carrying the entire network on its back. That never came to pass, as the Attitude Era ushered in record ratings and an all-time high for the popularity of professional wrestling. It is interesting to imagine how things could’ve gone had Vince McMahon gone through with his idea to buy his own cable network.
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Transcription by Thirsty for News