WWE Raw and Slammy Awards: Ric Flair Returns and Is the Episode's Highlight

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterDecember 17, 2012

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 24:  Ric Flair looks on while awaiting the entrance of Hulk Hogan during the Hulkamania Tour at the Burswood Dome on November 24, 2009 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Paul Kane/Getty Images

Bringing back WWE legend "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair for Monday's Slammy Awards-centered Raw was a brilliant move. Even on a night loaded with guest stars like Boogeyman, Ricky Steamboat, Tommy Dreamer and The New Age Outlaws, Flair was the highlight.

He remains one of wrestling's most famous faces and is apparently willing to take a bump at any age.

His presence begets awe. As JBL put it, "It's like Babe Ruth returning to Yankee Stadium."

Ever since TNA released Flair on May 11, rumors have circulated about if and when he would return to WWE. He finally did as the presenter for the "Superstar of the Year" award, in an appearance that proved impactful on many levels.

Other than spoiling the surprise by playing a "Wooo!" sound bite a tad early, WWE utilized Flair's return wonderfully. Before Flair had made his entrance, WWE showed clips of the Superstar of the Year nominees with that familiar battle cry being a giveaway.  

Addressing the reverent crowd, Flair stumbled a bit before announcing John Cena as the winner.

Cena gave Flair the award as a show of respect. Soon CM Punk's music hit and the WWE champ came out on his crutches to argue why he was the rightful winner of the Slammy.

Here was Flair's first role for the episode, Punk's victim.

Like Punk did with Bret Hart recently, he used Flair as his verbal punching bag, making himself look even more dastardly. In contrast to Randy Orton's Legend Killer gimmick, Punk's gimmick has been one of Legend Dismisser.

Punk has built his villainy on abusing past stars both verbally and physically (i.e. Jerry Lawler) and Flair became his biggest conquest.

"I never wanted to be you," Punk told Flair.

He shouted in Flair's face as Paul Heyman mockingly delivered Flair's trademark "Wooo!" Eventually the tension between them led to Punk challenging the multi-time world champion.

"With one leg, I could still kick your ass," Punk screamed.

A short fight saw Punk break a crutch over Flair's back. Flair managed to eye-poke his way out of the situation and then crunched Heyman's leg in the figure-four leglock.

Serving as Punk's victim and presenting awards was only the beginning for Flair, though.

The Shield surfaced a few moments later. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins prowled around the ring before striking. Flair stood courageous in the face of being outnumbered. 

Flair's presence as a victim made the group look even more dangerous, more merciless than they've shown to be thus far.

Reigns looked to smash Flair though a table. As tough as Flair is, the thought of a man of his age going through a table was disturbing. Team Hell No and Ryback came to Flair's aid, preventing that from happening.

Fans then got a flashback of Flair's brawling, fearless nature.

Flair's appearance on this episode served to elevate Punk's heel status and help The Shield ascend. Preying on someone of his stature is sure to help one's career.

Flair entertained as the recipient of beatings and as the eternal showman.

During a passionate speech to the crowd, Flair said while pointing to the ring, "If I die, I want to die right here or with a woman from Philly."

Ric Flair was the Slammy Awards' biggest surprise guest and an icon welcome back any time. The question now is if Flair is back for good and what plans WWE has for him.