WWE Monday Night Raw: Ranking the Show's Theme Songs & Opening Montages
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Since 1993, WWE Raw has filled Monday nights with wrestling, drama and unforgettable moments. Marilyn Manson, Nickelback and Papa Roach have helped kick things off over the years.
We’ve seen the themes change as WWE tries to tap into wrestling fans' collective musical taste. At times, they've been right on, finding a song that captures the state of the product.
Other times, they've been off the mark.
From that very first season to 2012's offerings, this is a ranking of the combination of theme song and video montage that has opened Raw's episodes.
WWE's first departure from the Raw's first theme song was a disaster.
The underwhelming tune boasts anemic guitar and cheesy vocals. It feels more like the theme for a sappy cop drama.
The video clips feature far too little wrestling.
We see more than we need of Raw cheerleaders, Shawn Michaels dancing on a roof and a helicopter buzzing around.
It all has a surreal tinge to it. WWE was attempting something new, but their artistry fell flat.
They'd soon learn to properly use police sirens as part of a video package once Raw is War came around.
Monday Night Raw’s second season kept the first season’s theme song, but went with a new video package.
Raw’s original theme song isn’t something anyone’s going to sing in the shower, but it was a recognizable and fitting number. It throbbed and rumbled with the same energy the show had at the time.
The video montage showcases the big stars of the time: Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Yokozuna and others. The effects-heavy presentation comes off as a touch gimmicky and this doesn’t have near the excitement as some of the better versions over the years.
Papa Roach provided the theme song for the second half of the '00s.
Its catchiness can't compensate for its cloyingness. The first part of the song, guitar-heavy and powerful, is enjoyable, but the whiny chorus grates on the ears.
The graphics get in the way much of the time here. The various skylines featured shouldn't be more visually dominant than the wrestlers.
The soundtrack to the 2008 Raw opening montage was the same as 2009's, Papa Roach's "…To Be Loved."
What earns this a slight higher rating is the video montage.
2008's version has less of the digital buildings in the way. It also benefits from having a bit more eye candy in the form of various Divas.
Not much difference between the two otherwise.
Monday Night Raw in 1996 opened with the show's original song. The video game-sounding tune was always a bit odd, but fitting and memorable.
Here a drum machine breakdown syncs perfectly with a pyrotechnic display near the end.
The wrestlers are shown close up, giving them a larger than life feel. The cuts are quick and the use of black and white footage blended with color footage adds depth.
The montage features a number of exciting wrestling moves from powerbombs to moonsaults.
Unlike the other Raw opening sequences backed by Papa Roach, the 2007 version focuses on the wrestlers rather than the background and graphics.
Randy Orton, Triple H, Bobby Lashley, Shawn Michaels and others are shown prominently in a well-edited series of video clips.
The song's energy is infectious even if Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach ruins the mood with the chorus.
The very first opening sequence for Monday Night Raw was innovative. Guitars screeching, drums pounding—there is an exciting edge to it.
This rates the highest of all the montages that use the first theme because of the excellent video package.
Scenes of wrestling slide across the screen. The WWF logo is integrated smoothly into the mix.
The Undertaker is seen in a photo negative effect and Razor Ramon is filmed in red. The video is layered and visually compelling.
Even Damien Demento looks cool here.
Slick and high definition, modern Raw openings have the advantage of superior technology.
Sheamus, CM Punk, Evan Bourne and the rest of the roster appear vivid as the Raw logo and graphics flash around them.
Nickelback's "Burn it to the Ground" has been the theme song since 2010. As lame as many folks think Nickelback is, this is a fitting, energetic song that sticks in your head.
The "hey" portions of the song help to get fans pumped up for the show.
It's hard to distinguish this intro from the 2011 version. The Nickelback song plays in the background and the clips used are largely the same.
There's a bit more Kofi Kingston seen here with him doing the Boom Drop through a table. Mickie James and Shawn Michaels' presences can only help as well.
The same chugging rhythm of the 2011 and 2012 versions is here as well as the same John Cena salute at the end.
The third opening montage of this recent era is clumped together, only minutely higher than 2011 and 2010.
Nickelback still provides the rock and roll. The cast of characters is largely the same, save for the additions of Sin Cara, Alberto Del Rio and The Rock.
What makes the best of its kind is the timing of the video and the music.
Kofi jumps to the music. Mark Henry seems to screams along with it.
Blood, beer, chair shots and fire: this Attitude Era intro summed up the show's tone at the time quite well.
A short montage is backed by "Thorn In Your Eye," performed by various WWE wrestlers and a collection of musicians called Slam Jam. Scott Ian played guitar.
The rap-rock track hits hard and fast.
Classic moments and tenets from the era are on display here from Mick Foley's infamous fall from the Hell in a Cell to Steve Austin's mouth filling with beer froth.
Take everything good about the 1999 Raw intro, the fire, the jump cuts and guitar and add more clips of wrestling and you have the theme for 2000.
A double chokeslam from Big Show is added as well as a shot of Jeff Hardy legdropping Bubba Dudley through a table.
WWE lengthened the opening a bit to provide more action shots, but was wise not to do anything but tweak something that was working extremely well.
You can thank Union Underground for Raw's theme during this time, "Across the Nation."
It's a straight-ahead rock song that fits perfectly with the videos and the mood of Raw.
There isn't much in the way of graphics here. Instead, the montage relies on jump cuts from wrestling to sexy women to cars crashing.
Spears and Five-star Frog Splashes highlight an opening that set the mood for the show every week.
Union Underground was rocking Raw's intro in 2003 as well. This is virtually the same as the 2004 version.
The roster is slightly different. Hurricane Helms and Scott Steiner are thrown into the mix here.
'03 just beats out '04 because of a bit more sex appeal, even if it is cheap. Along with the clips of the top shirtless women that appears in the 2004 version, there are a few more shots of the Divas including a face-first dive into a pool of mud.
The WWE Wrestler and musician collective Slam Jam created this theme as well.
"We're All Together Now" isn't amazing by any means, but it's a hard-hitting rocking song that goes well with clips of explosions and people getting kicked in the face.
WWE smartly features Steve Austin prominently. His tough guy walk is undeniably cool.
Vader and Ken Shamrock appear on over sized screens as shots of war and wrestling are intertwined.
"Across the Nation" powers the Raw intro again, but here WWE perfects the video portion of the opening.
Shawn Michaels' famous superkick to an incoming Shelton Benjamin is added. There's more blood. There are wrestlers on ladders and women kissing.
The difference between '05 and '06 is minimal. The 2005 version really only differs in terms of roster. A shot of Kurt Angle and a Triple H sledgehammer shot are some of the only changes.
Both of these versions have the video timed perfectly to the music, harnessing the power of sight and sound.
The doors to a mysterious warehouse open. Explosions and rabid dogs flash on the screen.
The best Raw intro kicks off as Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" erupts in the background.
The montage jumps from a flaming ring to screaming Sycho Sid. Stone Cold walks under a spray of sparks.
No opening matched the show's intensity like this version. It captured the raw energy of the Attitude Era, its unpredictability and brutality.