Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: Slammy Awards, Ric Flair returns, Triple H makes a big Undertaker announcement, Big E Langston debuts, Tommy Dreamer returns, The Shield followup from TLC
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Ric Flair returns: WWE delivered a big surprise. I had no expectation of Flair appearing while the legal dispute with TNA was still in play, so it was a nice surprise to see the two-time Hall of Famer return. I'm surprised they gave away so much Flair interaction in one show. We saw him with C.M. Punk, Paul Heyman, The Shield, Daniel Bryan, Ryback, and Kane all in one show. It will be interesting to see whether Flair returning to television still packs a ratings punch. WWE gave him a lot of air time during what is normally the highest rated hour in the show. I was hoping Flair would return as the general manager and perhaps they will get there. Either way, they got things off to an entertaining start.
Triple H appearance and Undertaker announcement: Hunter did the best job of making his award feel important. I wish WWE took this approach with more awards because the fans seem much more engaged when the awards are treated seriously. The Undertaker announcement was closed the awards portion with a newsworthy moment heading into WrestleMania season.
Tommy Dreamer returns: Another nice surprise. Dreamer's involvement kept the live crowd engaged in a 13-minute 3MB match. Think about that for a moment. I don't expect this to be more than a one-off for Dreamer, but it worked with the Philly crowd and he was able to wear his House of Hardcore t-shirt to help promote his indy brand.
Ryback vs. Antonio Cesaro: A cautious Hit. I don't like the idea of feeding a secondary champion to Ryback when anyone else could be placed in that position. The Hit is due to the fact that they protected Cesaro by having him walk out rather than take the pinfall. I'm cautious because I assume this will lead to a rematch that Ryback will win and I hate the idea of secondary champions losing non-title matches to guys who aren't going after their title. By the way, Ryback was good on the mic during his brief acceptance speech. I was very surprised to hear the Owen Hart reference.
Overall show: Yes, most of the Slammy Awards suck. You can either get all bent out of shape because your favorite wrestler didn't win an award or was not nominated or you can accept that normal people don't lose their minds over awards like Kiss of the Year and the Tell Me I Did Not Just See That Award. Sure, I wish WWE would take a more serious approach to the Slammy Awards, but why lose sleep over something so trivial? I turned on the show expecting followup to TLC and a bunch of campy awards. I didn't get much TLC followup, I got a lot of campy awards, and I also got a newsworthy a show with the return of Flair, the debut of Langston, and a number of good cameo appearances.
WWE Raw Misses
John Cena gives his Slammy to Ric Flair: As you may have noticed from the previous paragraph, I don't take these awards seriously. However, you'd think WWE would take their own awards seriously enough that they didn't have Cena use it as a pandering chip by presenting it to Ric Flair. This wasn't a Hashtag of the Year award, this was the Superstar of the Year award, which has been positioned as the most meaningful award in past years. I may not take these awards seriously, but WWE should do more to protect the key awards so that viewers maintain some level of interest. By the way, if Cena was so excited to see Flair and cared about him so much that he gave him his award, why didn't he come out to save him from The Shield attack a few minutes later?
WWE assumes its viewers are morons: I all for promoting the app, but do they really think their viewers are such dimwits that they needed to tell them repeatedly how to download an app? By the way, download the FREE Prowrestling.net app on iPhone, Android, and Amazon Fire!!! Yes, a cheap plug, but at least I'm not insulting your intelligence by explaining how you go about downloading it.
Big E Langston debut: This just didn't jump out at me as a big moment when Langston hit the ring and attacked John Cena. The live crowd seemed clueless as to who Langston is (aside from the two guys who could be heard chanting his name) and it didn't seem to create that buzz in the building that occurs when a new character debuts out of nowhere. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes and this certainly isn't doomed to fail as Langston has a lot of talent and charisma, but his debut just didn't seem to pack a big punch I thought it would, perhaps due to the fact that it occurred at the end of such a loaded show.
The Shield: Don't get me wrong, the act is still the hottest thing to hit WWE in a long time, but I was left disappointed in the followup to their amazing TLC match. The announcers spoke about the match and even went so far as to say they dominated their opponents, but WWE didn't do enough to make that star making performance shine for the larger audience on Raw.
Big Show and Sheamus: It felt like the feud jumped the shark a bit when the live crowd was pelting Show with "boring" chants to the point that he actually acknowledged them. I've enjoyed the feud thus far, so perhaps they can reel me in again even though I was hopeful that their TLC match would be the blowoff for now. I also hoped that we'd seen the last of the giant chair at TLC. The cash-in tease by Dolph Ziggler got the adrenaline going in the building and made the Philly fans who disliked Cena dislike him even more.
Alberto Del Rio: He went from an upper mid-card heel who worked television main events to turning babyface for no reason and feuding with 3MB. This is awful. Meanwhile, Ricardo Rodriguez has turned out to be the ballsy guy in the company over the last 48 hours. He came to the defense of the Spanish announce team at TLC and then tried to save Tommy Dreamer from The Shield on Raw.
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