Originally Posted by Toffee Guy
I was an active campaigner during the time WWF went to a 11 day Raw delay in the U.K., late 1996 to early 1997, back in the pre-internet days, I wrote several letters back and forth to Sky complaining, as well as to other publications.
So here is the definitive list of dates of shows that aired and didn't air, and what actually happened:
The delay started just after Summerslam 1996. The last Raw to air on a Friday @10pm, on just the usual 4 day delay was the August 19th Raw (aired in U.K. on Friday August 23rd).
In the U.S., the WWF were pre-empted from USA in the last week in August due to U.S. Open tennis. WWF had no Raw on Monday August 30th, but had a make-good one hour 'Raw Championship Friday' show on Friday September 6th.
However in the U.K., on Friday August 30th, and Friday September 6th, we got two one hour highlight shows from the WWF's Middle Eastern tour, the Kuwaiti Cup, taped back in May 1996.
The Raw Championship Friday show, aired on USA on September 6th, aired in the U.K. on Friday September 13th. As a result of the knock on effect, the Monday September 9th Raw, airing on that day on USA, aired in the U.K. on Friday September 20th, and thus, the 11 day delay was in place. This had a knock on effect with the other programming, as WWF Mania and WWF Superstars were also put back a week in order to make sense with WWF storylines. For example, the Sunday September 15th WWF Superstars show aired on Sunday September 22nd in the U.K. Another reason for WWF Superstars being put back a week was because at the time, WWF did the voiceovers for the taped WWF Superstars live on air, so they could be as up to date as possible, and allow them to make up-to-date comments. The matches would be a few weeks old, but the announcers (JR and Vince) would be sat in the Titan Towers studios at 10am Sunday morning doing the voiceovers live on air.
These delays caused many problems and were deeply unpopular at the time. WWF was still extremely popular as a product in the U.K. I remember going to WWF live event in Birmingham in November 1996, and the Survivor Series ppv had only aired the night before on Sky Sports (on a 10 day delay). Lots of people in the crowd had missed the airing, and were shocked to see Sid as WWF Champion. In addition, Faarooq had debuted his new NOD gimmick at the ppv and the post-Survivor Series tv tapings, which hadn't aired in the U.K. yet, and yet he was doing the NOD gimmick in front of a bemused U.K. audience (many of whom were expecting the blue helmeted-Faarooq).
Things came to a head in early 1997, when WWF went 2 hours with Raw. The first 2 hour Raw in the U.S. was the Monday February 3rd show, taped from the Toronto Sky Dome in a last minute WWF decision (the arena was very dark as a result). This show was split into two parts for U.K. airing. First part aired on Friday 14th February and second part on Friday February 21st (meaning we were now 18 days behind the U.S. - people were getting furious at this point).
There was no Raw in the U.S. on Monday February 10th (Westminster Dog Show pre-emption), but there was a make-good live Thursday Raw Thursday 2 hour show on February 13th (the infamous show were Shawn Michaels gave up the WWF title after losing his smile and acting if he was retiring through injury). This show never aired in the U.K., though clips were shown on WWF Mania.
The 2 hour Monday February 17th Raw, featuring Sid winning the WWF title from Bret after Austin interference, aired in the U.K. on Friday February 28th, in one hour edited form. So the delay had now been cut from 18 days back down to 11 days (after skipping the Thursday Raw show), but there was now a major problem with the editing and things getting left out. At this point I was writing to Sky and complaining. They even started advertising Wrestlemania 13 as airing on a delay in April!
Then there was a breakthrough - WWF made a big deal with Sky, to start airing Raw and all programming up-to-date again, as well as EVERY monthly ppv live - including the 2 hour In Your Houses, beginning in April, which they hadn't aired before live.
The first sign of this was immediate - WWF held a one-night European title tournament show in Munich, Germany on Wednesday February 26th, and this aired THAT NIGHT (!!!!!) on an hour or two delay on Sky Sports (around 10pm-ish). What's more, it was the full 2 hour show. Rejoice!
It would take a few weeks to catch up with other things though- the 2 hour Monday February 24th Raw, featuring the ECW invasion at the Manhattan Center, aired on Friday March 7th in one hour edited form on Sky.
The Monday March 3rd Raw in the U.S. was a tape of the February 26th European title tournament, with added promos and a Paul Heyman phone call on commentary. We had already seen this 'as live' on February 26th (so now the delay was gone, and crazily, we were now ahead of the U.S.! Such a ridiculous time this was).
The first ever Raw Is War, with the debut of the Titantron and stage, aired in 2 hour form on Monday March 10th in the U.S. We FINALLY were back up to date, on the 4-day delay for Raw, and this aired in the U.K...... in one hour edited form! Sky was teasing us....
FINALLY - the Monday March 17th Raw, go home show for WM13, aired in the U.K. - in full 2 hour version - on Friday March 21st. Hallelujah! Wrestlemania 13 aired live two days on Sky Sports, the first live WWF ppv on Sky since Summerslam 1996.
And we were over this rocky period in WWF/Sky wrestling history.