This week's episode of WWE Raw seemed ... crowded.
I don't just mean in personnel, though there were many -- aside from the regular plethora of WWE superstars (including some still on the roster you don't regularly see), Raw saw returns from "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, the New Age Outlaws and the trio of "Mean" Gene Okerlund, Ricky Steamboat and Jim Ross (who all presented Slammy Awards), Tommy Dreamer (who competed in a match) and The Boogeyman (who seemed like he was there just to provide a random "tell me I didn't just see that" moment before a commercial break). Big E Langston, who is currently one of the most popular standouts at NXT, closed Raw by attacking John Cena, as a smiling AJ Lee watched on.
Aside from the people, what I mean by "crowded" is that it felt like there was too much going on at all times, and many aspects of Raw suffered because of it -- for one, the transitions and cuts to commercial seemed odd and out of place -- likely in part due to the fact that WWE needed fans to vote for the Slammy categories during a 2-to-4-minute time span (the commercial break) and come back with results.
Particularly for the reveal of Flair, Michael Cole kept alluding to a "special guest presenter," then audio of Ric Flair doing his trademark "woo" then saying "and the nominees are" was heard on the broadcast, then before commercial it was again teased as a "special presenter," which left me wondering why the surprise was spoiled, if it wasn't a technical error. It could have been to allow fans to let others know that Flair would be in the next segment so people would tune in, but I suppose I'm a surprise traditionalist and would have preferred the complete uninterrupted moment to unfold.
Another big reason was the Slammy Awards -- not the idea of the Slammys, but in this case I feel it may have been too much having them on a night after a big pay-per-view event where so much was left unanswered and there needed to be answers. It seemed odd to see Dolph Ziggler break up a possible fight between Vickie and AJ before he addressed beating John Cena. It seemed equally odd to see John Cena give Ric Flair props and smiling before having addressed his loss to Dolph Ziggler.
The Slammy Winners: Kofi Kingston won "Tell me I didn't just see that" for his Royal Rumble elimination dodge. I feel that between him and John Morrison's parkour dodge, the bar has been set to get one creative Royal Rumble deflection on a yearly basis. Brad Maddox came out early thinking he won but left sulking. I still want an explanation as to why he's allowed in the building after losing a million-dollar contract match to Ryback.
Jerry Lawler won the "Comeback of the Year" award. This was the only choice. Anything else would have caused a riot.
AJ and John Cena won for "Kiss of the Year."
Ric Flair presented John Cena with "Superstar of the Year." The awards were voted on by the WWE universe, and it would seem that since Cena is more popular, he would win. Realistically, CM Punk, who was champion for all of 2012, likely deserved to win, but WWE can never really lose in a situation like this, given that if the fans vote, the heat ultimately goes on the fans. Punk and Heyman cut a promo on Flair, who challenged them in the ring, which saw Heyman get a figure four, to the delight of the Philadelphia crowd. The Shield came down, and it turned into a brawl when Team Hell No joined. I wonder what this means for the future of Ric Flair in WWE. I'm still sad there was a career after the greatest superstar sendoff of all time after WrestleMania 24, but the Nature Boy will always be the Nature Boy and many fans will always like to see him.
Santino Marella and Tensai (who was wearing a purposely ridiculous bandage on his head) presented The Rock with "LOL Moment of the Year." Shockingly, The Rock wasn't there to accept. Santino said he would keep the Slammy if The Rock didn't claim it. I don't blame him, I would have, too.
Layla and Zack Ryder presented "Hash Tag of the Year," which went to Ryback for "#FeedMeMore."
Ryback won "Newcomer of the Year." He quoted Owen Hart ("Enough if enough and it's time for the change") before saying he was that change. At least this promo wasn't full offood puns.
Triple H vs Undertaker from WrestleMania 28 won "Match of the Year." Triple H accepted the award, and broke the news that The Undertaker would return at some point in the future, saying "this isn't the last you have seen of the Deadman."
Rey Mysterio beat Damien Sandow -- With Team Hell No occupied in a main event feud with The Shield, I wonder if the time has come to give the gold to another team and let them anchor the tag division, which still interests me.
Kaitlyn beat Eve, likely leading to a future title match. The crowd didn't seem too invested in this match.
Kofi Kingston defeated Tensai quickly after Tensai showed some powerful offense. Wade Barrett attacked Kofi after the match, which furthers their rivalry.
The Great Khali, accompanied by Natalya (why not) beat David Otunga.
Brodus Clay beat JTG. Interesting 24 hours for JTG, who went from hero in Brooklyn to fodder for Brodus in Philly.
Cody Rhodes beat Sin Cara. To save time during the broadcast, many superstars already found themselves in the ring as presenters / winners did speeches. Another reason why Raw seemed crowded.
Sheamus shook the Big Show's hand, then the Big Show sunk low and made fun of Sheamus' heritage, while promoted an attack using the enormous folding chair. I guess this one isn't over. I hope it ends before 2012. Dolph teased a cash in here but Cena blocked it.
3MB lost to Miz/Del Rio/Tommy Dreamer. Clever move using the likes of Brooklyn Brawler and Tommy Dreamer in areas where they are most popular to help along Miz and Del Rio's move to "good guy" status.
More seeds were planted in the separation of Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero. It's about time.
Antonio Cesaro humored Ryback in the ring a bit before bailing after some Ryback power moves.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun