Welcome to this week's edition of Raw: Buy or Sell.
Every Tuesday, I'll examine the hottest angles from the latest episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, and tell you whether I'm on board with what WWE is doing (buy) or if I didn't like what I saw (sell).
Some angles and matches won't be covered, as some things on every show don't really warrant a comment. I'll try to stick to the parts of the broadcast that truly matter to WWE fans.
Feel free to comment on what you'd buy or sell from the latest episode of Raw. Tell me if you agree with my choices, or if you think I'm off the mark.
There were lots of reasons to sell the Slammy Awards on Monday night's Raw program. Instead of picking on any one particular reason, I'm going to sell the entire Slammys concept because of the way it was presented.
The most problematic thing for me was the way the voting worked. "Nominations" were announced by a presenter just prior to a commercial break. Once the commercial started, voting began. When the commercial was over, the award was presented. That gave the audience somewhere between 2 and 4 minutes to get its votes in. That doesn't seem like a significant amount of time. Thus, it makes the awards seem less significant.
The continual pimping for the WWE app made the Slammys themselves feel almost like a secondary attraction. It seemed like WWE was more interested in producing app downloads than presenting a meaningful awards show. I was amused, however, when Michael Cole tried to demonstrate how to vote on his iPhone, and when he got to the voting screen on the app, it was blank.
The way the awards were handed out made them feel haphazard to me. There'd be a match, then an award, then a match, then an award, then a recap and an award. The awards would have come off as much more important if they'd had their own hour, probably the first hour of the show.
My last reason for selling the Slammys is that the order of the awards presented was odd. Superstar of the Year is supposedly the top award, but it was handed out before the awards for "Trending Now" and "LOL Moment of the Year." I know that WWE was trying to get Ric Flair on the air at precisely the top of the first hour, but it tainted the prestige of the award to have it presented before the throwaway categories.
I'm buying the fact that Jerry Lawler was given the Slammy for Comeback of the Year. I was so amazed at how strangely this category was set up, that I can't even remember all of the other nominees. I know that Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho were two of the three.
Why would Lawler, who suffered a heart attack on the air, be lumped in with two guys who returned to WWE for big paychecks after spending time doing things outside of wrestling? It's not the same concept at all.
They should have given Lawler his very own category. "Best Return from Being Deceased for 15 Minutes" or something like that. His comeback was from death. Jericho's was from Dancing With the Stars.
I was glad, and relieved, that WWE had the common sense to give the award to Lawler (you don't actually think the voting was legit, do you?). I have a feeling that the Philadelphia crowd would have rushed the stage if the trophy had gone to someone else.
I'm selling the fact that AJ Lee was given the Slammy for "Kiss of the Year."
First of all, there shouldn't be an award for "Kiss of the Year." Most of the time, WWE romance angles are shoddy, at best. Divas don't usually come out of this looking like wholesome, athletic performers, if you know what I mean.
Secondly, AJ was the whole category. She was nominated for kissing Daniel Bryan, for kissing Kane, for kissing CM Punk and for kissing John Cena. (The Cena kiss was the one that eventually won the Slammy.)
So, what is the message here? There's a woman on the roster who is, at best, of loose morals. At worst, she's dangerously unbalanced. She, at the time of the presentation, had been romantically linked to at least four men in the past eight months or so. This doesn't sound like "Kiss of the Year." It sounds like "Easy Diva of the Year."
To celebrate winning her Slammy for exposing most of the WWE roster to cold sores and worse, AJ later kissed Dolph Ziggler, thus solidifying her status as "locker room hero."
Though I didn't care for much of the Slammy Award presentation on Monday Night's show, I did get a kick out of most of the presenters, particularly the ones brought back from Slammys past.
It was fun to see the New Age Outlaws on the screen, doing a little of their act. It was also cool to see Gene Okerlund standing on the stage with Jim Ross and Ricky Steamboat. (Did anyone else notice that Steamboat had a suit on his upper body and jeans on the lower part?). I even got a minor kick out of seeing The Boogeyman come back for a few seconds, though I'm not sure why he was onstage.
The best return of the night was obviously when Ric Flair came out to announce the winner of the Superstar of the Year award. Here's hoping that Naitch is back for more than just one night. He had the normal Flair charisma on the mic, and looked natural in his interactions with John Cena and CM Punk. He also saved a segment from going completely off the rails, but more on that later.
I'm a big Alberto Del Rio fan. I think he's got the in-ring talent and the mic skills to be a top star in WWE for years to come. As a fan, I was aware that it was time to do something to freshen up Alberto's act. I'm all for Del Rio making a babyface turn, but I'm selling the way it's been done so far.
Del Rio first turned at the TLC pay-per-view, when he rushed to the ring to defend his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez. Thus, he found himself in a six-man tag match with The Miz and The Brooklyn Brawler against 3MB.
Last night, Del Rio was again in a three-man tag match against 3MB. This time, his teammates were Miz and Tommy Dreamer.
I don't have anything against either Dreamer or the Brawler, but they aren't big stars. In fact, in WWE terms, neither of them were ever big stars, though Dreamer was a main eventer in ECW. Del Rio isn't getting any momentum for his turn by being seen on TV with the likes of Dreamer and Brawler.
Also, while 3MB is a relatively new act, and has shown some signs of getting over as a heel stable, it still isn't a high-quality opponent for someone of Del Rio's status. He needs to be facing a big-time heel, and pairing with significant babyfaces, in order for this turn to work.
I did like the idea of pairing him with Miz, who is also in the midst of a babyface turn. I have to sell Del Rio's turn for now, based on execution. Hopefully, WWE will continue the turn, and put Alberto in the ring with some bigger names.
Lately, WWE seems to be trying to elevate the prestige of its second-tier championships. The Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team championships have all gotten much better treatment than they used to lately, and that trend continued on Monday night's show. I'm buying the elevation of the secondary titles.
The show opened with a singles match between Damien Sandow and Rey Mysterio. The two had faced off in tag team action at TLC the night before, with Sandow and his partner, Cody Rhodes taking the No. 1 contender's spot for the tag team titles away from Rey and Sin Cara.
The fact that the tag teams were in the opening segment made the No. 1 contender's match and the chase for the tag belts seem significant. Also significant was that Rhodes and Sin Cara both came to ringside with their partners.
Later in the show, Rhodes and Sin Cara had a match, and Sandow and Mysterio came to ringside to support their partners. This solidifies the teams, and the division as a whole.
Kofi Kingston was also in a match last night. If it's possible for a 200-pound man to squash a 375-pound opponent, Kingston did so to Tensai. Having Kingston dominate a big opponent makes him seem more credible as Intercontinental Champion.
What really sold the prestige of the belt was when Wade Barrett, who Kingston had defeated the night before at TLC, came out and attacked the champ after he beat Tensai. This shows that WWE might continue the feud for the IC belt, instead of simply having Kingston wrestle random opponents in meaningless matches.
It also showed that the IC title is something desirable. Barrett was mad that he didn't win it the night before, and was willing to attack Kingston in order to enhance his chances of getting it in the near future.
WWE also did a good job of presenting the US Champion, Antonio Cesaro, in a good light. Cesaro was matched up with Ryback in a surprisingly well-wrestled contest.
Though Cesaro lost the match, it was by countout, when he walked away from Ryback. He got tossed around a bit in the ring, but also got some offense in. The fact that WWE cared enough about Cesaro and the US Championship enough to protect them says a lot.
Here's hoping that the secondary titles continue to gain prestige in WWE.
When Sheamus left The Big Show unconscious in the middle of the ring during last night's Raw, and Dolph Ziggler came storming down the aisle with his MiTB briefcase in his hand, I was marking out.
Finally, Ziggler was going to cash in the case, win the World Heavyweight Championship, and begin a long run at the very top of the WWE. He'd feud with the best of them, and raise the prestige of the WHC to new heights. The moment was finally here.
Then came John Cena. Sigh. Cena knocked Dolph down, shoved him around a bit, and threw him out of the ring. Thus, glory for The Show Off is at least another day away.
I'm selling this move on both an emotional and logical basis. As a fan, I'm ready to see Ziggler ascend to the role of title holder. The longer he holds on to that briefcase, the more the anticipation builds...to a point. After enough teases and letdowns, I don't really expect him to cash in the briefcase anymore. I'm starting to perceive Dolph as a guy just below that level of a champion. That's not a good thing.
On a logical basis, I'm selling Cena's interference because it simply doesn't make much sense. Attacking Ziggler, who was about to pin dominant heel Big Show, is a heel move by the No. 1 babyface in the company. I'm all for a Cena heel turn, but he's going to have to go after a legitimate babyface, not a tweener like Ziggler.
Further, it makes Cena's character look dumb. Couldn't he have let Dolph get the belt, then attacked him? It would likely have given him a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble or even sooner. Besides that, it was AJ, not Dolph, who cost Cena the match at TLC. Shouldn't he be mad at her?
Another reason to sell this run-in is for what it led to. Because Cena ran in and stopped Ziggler from taking the title, and for various other reasons, Vickie Guerrero, the Managing Supervisor of Raw, booked a match that featured Ziggler and AJ Lee against Cena and Vickie.
This made no sense either. Ziggler has a tenuous tie to AJ at best. Vickie has been Cena's biggest nemesis for the past two months. By pairing the combatants off the way she did, Guerrero simply created a match in which none of the wrestlers could trust their partner.
Thankfully, Vickie and AJ soon left the ring, which made the match what it should have been in the first place: Cena vs. Ziggler.
I have to sell the appearance of Big E Langston as well. While I'm all for the introduction of new faces to the roster, and I'm in favor of surprise angles, the bit with Langston didn't resonate. Why would he attack Cena? Maybe he got a kiss from AJ.
Before you bomb my mailbox with threatening messages, let me explain why I'm buying the presentation of WWE's Superstar of the Year award to John Cena.
I'm not buying it based on any notion that he deserves to be Superstar of the Year. That honor clearly belongs to CM Punk, who held the most prestigious title in the WWE for every day of 2012.
I'm not buying it based on Cena's cheesy presentation of the award to Ric Flair. That was a move that demonstrated exactly why Cena haters are Cena haters. It didn't feel sincere, and it made for uncomfortable television.
I'm buying the angle for what it led to. Because Cena was given an award he clearly didn't deserve, and then tried to give the award away, CM Punk appeared on the stage. It's always a good thing in WWE when CM Punk comes onto the stage.
Punk got to air his grievances and his claim to the award made perfect sense. (This is a clear example of how the fan voting isn't really fan voting. There is no way on earth that fans voted for Cena over Punk for this award.)
Punk also got to solidify his heel status by verbally and physically attacking Ric Flair. There's no surer way in the WWE to show you're a heel than to attack one of the legends.
The injustice of giving Cena the award led to another reason to buy this angle. The Shield must have been thinking what I was thinking, and advanced to the ring to fight this foolishness. This put them in contact with Flair, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Cena, Punk and Ryback all over again. After an outstanding debut match at TLC the night before, The Shield was solidified as a force with this segment.
The logic behind having The Shield come to the ring during this segment was flawless. Since Punk was the one who got screwed, it leaves open the possibility that he and The Shield are somehow aligned.
However, since Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins are pledged to block injustice in the WWE, they could legitimately say that they don't work for Punk, but saw giving Cena the award as a travesty of justice.
The biggest reason to buy this angle was Flair. First of all, there were hints in his promo and in his interaction with some of the other stars, that he might be sticking around. That would be a very good thing.
Second, only Flair could have awarded that trophy to John Cena without risking a riot. Imagine if Vince McMahon had stood at that podium and awarded Cena "Superstar of the Year" instead of Punk. The crowd, which still booed Cena mercilessly, would have rushed the stage.
The premise of this segment is a sell. There is NO WAY that John Cena won a fan vote to take this award from Punk. However, for what it led to, the angle itself is a buy.
Did I get it right? Did I miss something? Speak your mind in the comments section, and I'll be back next week with another Raw: Buy or Sell.