With the events of TLC 2012 still being fully digested, we were treated to some rather unexpected events on Monday Night Raw this week.
The presentation of the Slammy Awards contributed greatly to an initially slow-paced show, but it was that very awards ceremony that later injected life into the evening, thanks largely to some very special guest appearances.
The action was topped off with a completely out-of-the-blue swerve which could hardly have been predicted by many, in what was overall a pretty good showing of Monday Night Raw.
In what will be the final installment of my "5 Talking Points from Monday Night’s Show" articles, we identify some of the biggest developments to emanate from Raw this week.
This was one of the biggest highlights of the show for me.
In celebration of the annual Slammy Awards, a number of old faces returned to WWE television—and with great effect.
From the surprising interruption of the Boogeyman, to the in-ring return of ECW legend own Tommy Dreamer via an entertaining appearance from the New Age Outlaws—there were plenty of familiar faces to add to the excitement.
We also saw a clean-cut Triple H on WWE programming for the first time ever, and though it may not be quite the same as his iconic former 'do, the Game still looked the part as he received the Slammy for Match of the Year.
Though largely ineffectual in the long term, such moments made for a great spectacle on Monday Night Raw, though one return stood out head and shoulders above the rest.
After months of speculation, the Nature Boy is back.
And despite nearly making a hash of presenting the Superstar of the Year award, Flair went on to deliver the best segment of the night in my mind.
Seeing him spar with CM Punk on the mic was a nice moment that many thought may never happen, and furthermore who would have ever thought we would witness Dean Ambrose and Ric Flair trading blows in a WWE ring?
At the ripe old age of 63, Flair still entertained the masses, and he even managed to sell admirably to his assailants and pull of a picture perfect figure-four leglock on Paul Heyman.
Having had my doubts about Flair’s ability to still deliver in this business, I stand thoroughly corrected.
We can only hope this wasn’t a one off and that a return to the company in some form of off-screen role can be negotiated between all parties involved.
From the completely unexpected, to an event that many had been anticipating for a while now: AJ locked lips with Dolph Ziggler.
Her interference in the Showoff’s match last night seemed very much more anti-Cena than pro-Ziggler, but did events on Raw confirm there could be some form of alliance between AJ and Ziggler?
Perhaps not, as the former later ditched the latter in their inter-gender tag match at the end of the evening, and I can’t help but feel that the kiss was only done to facilitate Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero’s resultant split.
But nonetheless, whether on his own or aligned with AJ—the future looks bright for Mr. Money in the Bank.
Based on evidence from Raw, it would be safe to assume that Sheamus vs. Big Show and Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett will be continuing for a little longer.
Both feuds saw separate altercations which can only point to another match, most probably at Royal Rumble in just under six weeks time.
I’m not sure where I stand on this one, as both rivalries put on solid showings at TLC, but it would have been nice to see Barrett have a shot at winning the Royal Rumble and perhaps a change of scenery regarding the World Heavyweight Title picture.
Either way, a solid six-week build for the Rumble could be enough to convince me and other doubters that continuing these feuds is the right call.
As for Cena and Ziggler, events earlier in the show appeared to suggest that this feud was also continuing, but in the final moments, a rather large spanner was thrust into the works.
That spanner was none other than Big E Langston, who has seemingly been promoted to the main roster from NXT.
His attack on Cena was a massive shock, particularly when one considers recent events on NXT (**SPOILERS**).
But all in all I think this is a great idea by the WWE. It pushes another star into the main roster, and it will certainly get him noticed in such a high-profile feud.
Sure, it may be a short-term move to keep Cena occupied until WrestleMania while the Rock and CM Punk dominate the WWE Title scene, but the exposure for Langston could nonetheless be very beneficial indeed.
With the Shield stealing the show at TLC, and now Langston making it to the big time, the future certainly appears bright for the WWE.
For that, and more specifically the reinvention of NXT into a televised development territory, the company should be applauded.
Though it was arguably the return of old faces that made the show a solid spectacle, there are plenty of up-and-coming talents who could emulate such success in the coming weeks, months or years of WWE programming.
With the Shield continuing to run riot, Dolph Ziggler finally assuming his position in the limelight, and the emergence of Big E Langston to add to the equation, the WWE has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks and looks more prepared for the future than ever.
Combined with the potential guidance of experienced guys like Ric Flair backstage, the WWE could be about to embark on a new period of great prosperity to last a number of years to come.
But what do you guys think about Monday night’s show: Is Ziggler going to side with AJ?
Is Big E Langston ready for the big time?
And what was the Shield’s motivation for attacking Tommy Dreamer and Ricardo Rodriguez?
Comment below with your thoughts on Raw, the future of the WWE and of course your opinions on any of the issues discussed in the article.