Less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the WWE TLC pay-per-view, a show that wrestling fans all over the world are calling one of the best of the entire year, the WWE had the chance to follow it up with an episode of WWE Raw (in conjunction with The Slammy Awards) that would not only have fans talking but excited about the product and happily tuning in to the rest of the shows that are part of WWE Week on USA Network (which includes a commercial free live WWE Smackdown tomorrow and Tribute To The Troops on Wednesday). Unfortunately, instead of a show worthy of a followup to TLC, they produced one of the worst episodes of WWE Raw of the entire year. The fact that the show featured the return of WWE legend, and two-time WWE Hall of Famer, The Nature Boy Ric Flair, as well as some other surprise returns, The Slammy Awards and the debut of another new wrestler from NXT just makes the fact that Raw was so bad even more sad.
With the exception of a few surprise returns from past WWE Superstars for whom it may or may not have been a one-time appearance, there were only three great segments/matches from the entire three-hour episode of WWE Raw, with two other matches being worth watching and the rest of the show being a complete waste of time. Those three great parts were the return of The Nature Boy Ric Flair, the segment between Big Show and Sheamus and the main event match of the night.
Initially, Ric Flair returned to present the Superstar Of The Year Award, which inexplicably and unsurprisingly went to John Cena (as CM Punk would later point out, Cena actually had one of the worst years of his career whereas he was WWE Champion for literally the entire year). Anyway, after presenting Cena with the award, Cena said that out of respect he was going to give the award to Flair, who is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time. This brought out WWE Champion CM Punk, who correctly pointed out that Flair was not even in the WWE for 50 weeks out of the year and that no Superstar in the entire WWE was more deserving of the award than him. Punk says that he could still kick Flair’s ass, even with just one good leg, and Flair calls his bluff and makes his way down to the ring. Punk and Paul Heyman follow, and although Punk attacks Flair with his crutches to initially gain the upper hand, there is little he can do on one leg and Flair eventually sends him out of the ring and then puts Heyman in the Figure Four Leg Lock. Suddenly, The Shield appear in the crowd and Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns make their way to the ring. Kane and Daniel Bryan attempt to help Flair but The Shield takes out all three men and are about to put Flair through a table when Ryback makes the save, taking out all three members of The Shield and sending them back into the crowd.
As for Ric Flair’s return, it was a huge shock as I hadn’t read any reports or rumors online about it, and also taking into the account the lawsuit between TNA and WWE that was supposedly preventing WWE from hiring any former TNA wrestlers or personnel. But it was absolutely phenomenal to see Flair back in a WWE ring and hopefully we will see him on TV on a regular basis as part of a prolonged storyline, albeit hopefully as a manager and not an active wrestler (Flair always said that even though he wrestled in TNA he considered his retirement match at Wrestlemania 27 to be his last match so hopefully he keeps his word and does not wrestle in WWE).
Later in the night, World Heavyweight Champion Big Show came out with his title in one hand and the giant chair from last night in the other and bragged out defeating Sheamus with the chair the previous night at TLC. Sheamus came out but instead of attacking Big Show he shook his hand and congratulated him on winning the match, but when Big Show started insulting Sheamus, Sheamus attacked Big Show and ultimately laid him out with the giant chair. As Sheamus left the ring, Dolph Ziggler ran down to it with his Money In The Bank briefcase and was about to cash it in on an unconscious Big Show when John Cena ran down and attacked Ziggler as retribution for the previous night (although he should really be made at AJ Lee and not Ziggler, unless the two were in cahoots, which even at the end of Raw we still are not sure about).
Earlier in the night, when AJ Lee and John Cena won the Slammy Award for Kiss of the Year, AJ came out to accept the award from Vickie Guerrero, who was the presenter, and the two of them started to fight and had to be broken up by Ziggler. AJ then jumped in Ziggler’s arms and started kissing him, with Ziggler kissing right back (making Ziggler both a better wrestler and kisser than John Cena). So when Ziggler complained to Vickie about Cena costing him the chance to cash in the MITB briefcase, Vickie did not care, and when Ziggler insulted her (calling her and her jealousy old and tired) she booked a mixed tag team match between herself and Cena against Ziggler and AJ.
This mixed tag team match was the main event of the night (and unfortunately, despite starting at 10:50pm, was the only match of the night that actually interested me). Ziggler and Cena started things off but as soon as Cena got the upper hand Ziggler takked in AJ, forcing Vickie to come in and the two of them to start fighting. As soon as Vickie got the upper hand, AJ tagged in Ziggler and left the match, prompting Vickie to leave as well. This left Cena and Ziggler to face each other one-on-one, but AJ quickly returned with a new Superstar who we have never seen before with her (anyone who watches NXT on Hulu Plus, and you all should as it’s consistently an awesome show, would recognize him as Big E Langston, a wrestler who demands that the referee always count to five when he is pinning his opponent). Langston hit the ring and laid out Cena. WWE Raw comes to a close with Langston standing over Cena, AJ skipping around him and Ziggler in the corner looking like he has no idea what’s going on.
So those were the three segments/matches that were very good if not great. The other match that was good was a six-man tag team match pitting 3MB (Heath Slater, Jindar Mahal & Drew McIntyre) against new face Superstars The Miz, Alberto Del Rio and their surprise partner in the returning Tommy Dreamer. While any match or segment featuring 3MB is almost guaranteed to be a complete train wreck, turning The Miz and Del Rio face makes them even more interesting and exciting than they were before and it was great to see ECW legend Tommy Dreamer return to, and kick ass in, the ring. As you would expect, Dreamer got the win for his team when he hit his DDT on Slater. The other match of the night that was watchable was the Divas match between Divas Champion Eve Torres and Kaitlyn (who was seeking revenge on Eve for costing her the #1 Contenders Battle Royal the night before). Although the match was short, it showcased some amazing power from Kaitlyn, who I’ve said all along is easily the strongest Diva on the roster, and saw Kaitlyn pin the champion which now technically makes her the new #1 contender for the title.
Here is a very quick rundown, in chronological order, of the rest of terrible matches that were on this debacle of a show:
Rey Mysterio defeated Damien Sandow in a match that would have been better if it had lasted more than two minutes.
Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston defeated Tensai.
The Great Khali defeated David Otunga.
Brodus Clay (who is in contention with Tensai for biggest fall from the top in 2012) defeated JTG (who I forget is even on the roster).
Cody Rhodes defeated Sin Cara in a match that, like the match between their respective tag team partners, would have been better if it had lasted more than two minutes.
Ryback defeated United States Champion Antonio Cesaro via countout when Cesaro left the match (the only good thing to come out of this match was the fact that Ryback did not squash the US Champion).
As for The Slammy Awards, for some of the winners I seriously questioned the legitimacy of the online voting and for others, assuming that the voting is legitimate, I questioned the intelligence of the WWE fans who actually voted for said winners. Also, if Michael Cole explained to me one more time how to download an app to my phone, I was going to throw my phone at the TV. Here is a quick rundown on the winners, in the order in which they were presented:
Most Shocking Moment – Kofi Kingston’s handstand to avoid being eliminated at the Royal Rumble. I voted for CM Punk hitting The Rock with a GTS on Raw 1,000, which I thought was more “shocking” than a handstand. Smackdown GM Booker T presented the award and before the winner was announced The Boogeyman made his return to the WWE by smashing a clock on his head and eating some worms (I really hope this return was not just for one night).
Comeback Of The Year – Jerry Lawler. While Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho and and DX were all really cool comebacks, Jerry Lawler did come back from having a heart attack and actually dying, so I’ll give this one to him even though DX was more of a surprise (we had no idea it was going to happen) and Lesnar was just awesome (even though the Internet dirt sheets spoiled the surprise of his return). Also, the New Age Outlaws presented this award, which made me wish so much that Road Dogg and Billy Gunn would come back as a full-time tag team.
Kiss Of The Year – AJ Lee & John Cena, beating out the other nominees of AJ Lee & CM Punk, AJ Lee & Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee & Kane (do you see the pattern?).
Superstar of the Year – I already said all there is to say about John Cena winning this award. As a side note, he beat out CM Punk (who should have won), Big Show and Sheamus.
LOL Moment Of The Year – The Rock making fun of John Cena in Boston. I remember that promo very well and I remember hating every second of it and thinking it was not funny at all. And, of course, The Rock did not show up to accept his award despite challenging for the WWE Championship in six weeks at the Royal Rumble. The segment that should have won hands-down was the anger management therapy sessions with Daniel Bryan and Kane, which collectively were the funniest segments we’ve seen on WWE TV in a long time, not just 2012.
Hashtag Of The Year – Ryback for #FeedMeMore, beating out the Superstar who presented the award (with Layla) and should have won, social media giant Zack Ryder.
Newcomer Of The Year – Ryback, of course, despite the fact that he debuted two years ago as Skip Sheffield and so he is technically not a “newcomer.” I thought Damien Sandow or Antonio Cesaro should have won.
Match Of The Year – This was the only award of the entire night that I completely agreed with as the End Of An Era Hell In A Cell Match from Wrestlemania 28 between The Undertaker and Triple H won (in my mind, The Rock vs. John Cena, also at Wrestlemania 28, would be a close second). Mean Gene Okerlund, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Jim Ross presented the award, which was accepted by Triple H (sporting a shaved head). At the end of his acceptance speech, Triple H uttered the best line of the night when he said “You have not seen the last of The Undertaker.”