WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Dec. 17, 2012) from Philadelphia, featuring all the fallout from the TLC pay-per-view (PPV) this past Sunday night in Brooklyn and this year's edition of the Slammy Awards, which gave us a ton of superstar returns.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions:
- Big Show is a good enough heel these days that I feel like Sheamus is only getting cheers because of that. And you know what? That's okay, because it means Show is really fucking good at his job. I still find it difficult to get into his workrate, and that will probably never change, but it's impossible to deny his abilities as a performer.
- That big chair. What a super cool chair. Show should carry it around with him everywhere and just sit in it and be cool. What a chair.
- Dolph Ziggler teasing the Money in the Bank cash in was a legitimately exciting moment. Like, sit up in your seat and get a small adrenaline push exciting. The Philly crowd was great, too. Thanks to that gigantic chair and the finish to last night's world heavyweight championship match, this looked like it would be the moment and Ziggler was finally going to win the title. Alas, John Cena ruined the party, to a decidedly mixed reaction. Sometimes it's hard to know which direction is up in WWE anymore because guys are booked one way but get the complete opposite reaction. That happens sometimes but how many members of the roster are supposed to lean one way but get cheered the other?
- Brooklyn Brawler on Sunday night and now Tommy Dreamer back in Philly last night? This is no legend tour part deux. No, this is WWE realizing they have to beat fans over the head to let them know that Alberto Del Rio and The Miz are, in fact, babyfaces now and we're supposed to like them. This despite the fact that it's nearly impossible to do so.
- You know things have gone so far south there's no recovering when Santino Marella is shitting all over you with his comedy and it's not ironic or unintential. The only time I can think of Santino doing this to another wrestler was the tea party with Sheamus and Kozlov but that was different because it was booked like Santino was poking a bear unintentionally, and it was hilarious. This was WWE sending a message that they've had enough of Tensai's botchy, awful matches and he's going to have to pay for their having brought him back and gotten nothing in return for it. That's taken the form of getting squashed by Kofi fucking Kingston of all people and getting laughed at while a joke jobber pokes at him. Like it wasn't bad enough the dude used to be named after a dick piercing. It's too bad, too, because I really wanted to see his former sidekick beat the shit out of him at some point. Whatever happened to that guy anyway?
- Both Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara just look beat down. Maybe that's a perception thing but they look road worn, like the grind has them beat and ready to be done. The work is good enough to get by but I'm glad teams like The Rhodes Scholars are around to suck some of their heat up.
- Did anyone ever like The Boogeyman? If you did, can you explain your reasons why? Genuinely curious. Thanks!
- Brad Maddox was entertaining in his short time on television, though June actually said she's starting to wonder if there's more to this guy than just a pretty face. Hint hint, WWE.
- Explain something to me, please: Why is it that Road Dogg can't say "ass" when his theme comes up -- as in, "yo ass betta call somebody" -- but he totally can say "ass" when introducing his New Age Outlaw partner, Bad "Ass" Billy Gunn? I don't get it.
- I'm starting to wonder if this entire thing with AJ Lee isn't some sort of rib. Or maybe it's something far more sinister, like Vince McMahon met her and she came across like a good, down to Earth, strong woman with a powerful voice and Vince wanted to defile her so he booked her to look like a slut by making out with half the roster on television. Or maybe it's something similar but less sinister, like they're booking her to kiss as many guys as possible before the fans turn on her for doing so but it's not working because she's still over like crazy. And you know what, good for you, WWE fans. Good for you for not turning on AJ because of it. Everything about WWE tells you you should but you haven't and that's awesome.
- Ric Flair's return to Raw coincided with what should be a contender for "Segment(s) of the Year." First, it was great to see him back in WWE, where he belongs. Second, CM Punk was absolutely on his game, just spitting hot fire with more passion than we've seen from him in a long time. Third, the tease of the physicality was great with both guys playing things up to the max before a commercial break to keep you hooked. Fourth, the actual physicality was perfectly well done. How insanely awesome was Punk doing the Flair strut on one leg? Dude was Flair strutting with a gimp and it was phenomenal. Fifth, Flair taking him out long enough to make Paul Heyman squeal in the figure four leglock was incredible in too many ways to tick off. Sixth, The Shield coming down to get in on the party just put this segment into overdrive, taking it to a new level of awesome we haven't seen in a long time. Having Team Hell No come down to help Flair was a great touch. Seventh, Ryback was once again used well here by making the ultimate save for Flair before he was about to go through a table, getting him over, Flair over, AND The Shield over for their dastardly act. Eighth, Flair on the babyfaces shoulders as everyone clapped and cheered was cool because it was the acknowledgement that it's damn good to have him back. Finally, his interaction in the back with Kane and Bryan alternating between YES, NO, and WOO before Ron Simmons came in with a DAMN!?? There was too much amazing in this.
- Still reeling from the amazing, need a second.
- Okay, back. I think I'm a mark enough that John Cena winning "Superstar of the Year" pissed me off enough that I think we're going to have to do our own year-end awards here at Cageside Seats. If you guys can handle us asking you to vote even more. We ask that a lot.
- We were having a talk in the comments in this post here (click that link) about how I tend to flip flop on guys within short time spans. I vehemently defended myself against this accusation because I can only ever think of having done it with one guy, and that's Brodus Clay. Surely you all remember my devoting entire posts on a weekly basis to his Funkasaurus character when it debuted. I was a big fan. Then a few months went by and suddenly I had turned and didn't like him anymore. Nothing had really changed, either, or at least it didn't appear to. So what was the problem?
- Well, that was the problem. Nothing had changed and he was still the exact same guy he was when he debuted. He didn't evolve one bit and, in fact, he still hasn't. But this is why the timing of this was so good. Clay had a match with JTG last night, a guy he's had about a million matches with during his run as the Funkasaurus. My first reaction was to shake my head that we were getting the same old shit once again. Then the match happened and Clay did a few things within said match that I found myself enjoying. It brought about the realization, once again, that in pro wrestling it's almost always the small things that put you over the top. Those small things I'm talking about were Clay shouting "MY BAD" just before a suplex and screaming "SHEEWAH" during said suplex. "CALL MY MOMMA" followed and he hit his finisher for the pin. Another squash, yeah, but he was doing small things I liked initially that he had stopped doing and once he brought them back, he was more interesting. It's as simple as that. Think of Cody Rhodes and his mustache. He's the same guy he was before growing that 'stache but you can't help but feel differently about him for it. The small things make all the difference, folks.
- Biggest pop of the night went to Triple H? Really, Philadelphia? Fine.
- All I can tell you about Big E. Langston is that he's got 99 problems but a bench ain't one. Hit me! (I refuse to call him "Ryblack" and you shouldn't call him that either. It's bad.)
This was a fun show, a super solid episode of Raw that had the benefit of good timing to go along with it. With the Jets playing the Titans on Monday Night Football, the rating might even be a little higher than it has been for a while and that's good because this deserved it.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on last night's show. Did you dig it as much as I did?