Twenty years ago the WWE debuted a brand new flagship program, a live wrestling show designed to take the wrestling industry into the modern era. Filled to the brim with energy, enthusiasm and the fashion of the 1990's, Raw immediately became the most important wrestling show on television.
Today, that much at least hasn't changed and everything has changed. Of the wrestlers on the first Raw, only one remains with the company, the seemingly immortal Undertaker. But the spirit and ingenuity that made the show an immediate success has carried the promotion through two decades worth of Raws.
Of course we all expected the WWE to pull out all the stops for this anniversary extravaganza. Some of the promotion's biggest stars seemed destined to make special appearances, including the biggest star of them all, Stone Cold Steve Austin.
No one showed. We got Ric Flair. We got Mick Foley. But the big guns all stayed home, or at least in the back. Overall, it was quite a disappointing show, especially after last week's masterpiece.
But, of course, not everything was awful. That's part of the fun of watching wrestling. For hardcore fans following the scene behind the cameras, as well as the action in front of it, wrestling is a meta experience, trying to figure out who is getting the job done and who is on their way to the independent circuit. Who's cutting it and who doesn't quite have what it takes?
Those judgments are made match by match and segment by segment. How did your favorite do? We'll grade them after each show and keep a running tab throughout the year to see who is making the grade and who is failing miserably.