WWE Money in the Bank 2011
July 17th, 2011
Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Attendance: 12,000 (Sellout)*
July 17th, 2011
Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Attendance: 12,000 (Sellout)*
To say that there's a lot of hype and expectations going into tonight would be a gross understatement. After Punk lit the wrestling world on fire with several worked shoot promos on RAW, everyone and their mother with any interest in wrestling has suddenly perked up and started paying close attention to the future of one Phil Brooks. Throw in two Money in the Bank ladder matches, and we've got ourselves a very highly anticipated show. So without any further ado, let's get this bitch started.
We start with a very well done video package highlighting the Punk/Cena feud over the last few weeks and Punk's threat to take the title with him as he leaves the company, set to the sound of an ominous ticking clock. We open live from Chicago with a very nicely sized crowd, the arena looks nearly sold out.
Smackdown Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Daniel Bryan vs. Kane vs. Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Wade Barrett vs. Sin Cara vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater
Good idea to open the show with one of the MITB matches so you can have a good amount of time pass between the two matches so as not to burn out the crowd. This is the first ladder match for 6 out of the 8 guys here, most notably Sin Cara (aka the former Mistico). Oh my lord...Justin Gabriel comes out with some new music that sounds like a bad 90s boy band. Never fear, Heath Slater has equally atrocious new music. Good lord where do the WWE find these terrible bands to produce their theme songs? The bell rings and it's a total clusterfuck of chaos of course because there's eight guys in the ring. Kane clears the ring and goes for a ladder, but Daniel Bryan dropkicks it into him. Slater and Gabriel double dropkick the ladder into Bryan and fight over who's going to hit the ring. Slater sets up the ladder and boos reign down on him. I think that might be what they call "X-Pac heat". Gabriel tries climbing the ladder, but Bryan dropkicks him off it. Kane just goes off from here, tossing everyone around the ring like rag dolls and tossing ladders around everywhere. Cara (who's sporting traditional all-white Mistico colors) knocks Kane out while Daniel Bryan hits a crazy tope suicida on Barrett. Not to be outdone, here comes Gabriel with a somersault plancha! Slater hits a twisting pescado over the top next and then Cara flies off the top with a cross-body into Sheamus. Holy SHIT, that could have just been the craziest 20 seconds of a match I've ever seen in my entire life. Seriously, that was absolutely insane. Cara delivers the C4 suplex (Spanish Fly) off the top rope on Bryan and the crowd is giving all of these guys a standing ovation already. Cara goes for a ladder but Sheamus takes his head off with the Brogue Kick. A ladder gets set up between the ring and commentary table, and Sheamus powerbombs Cara right through the ladder! Crazy spot and the crowd goes ballistic for Sheamus as this crowd is practically frothing from the mouth it's so hot already. Medical personnel come out to escort Cara to the back on a stretcher, similar to what happened to Edge in the MITB match at Wrestlemania 23. Smart booking move there to take Cara out without having him look bad. Rhodes and Bryan, bitter rivals, team up to take on Kane momentarily before turning on each other. The former Corre members team up as well on Bryan and Rhodes tries to sneak up the ladder behind their backs, but get's caught. Bryan tries the same trick and pays for it as well. Slater and Gabriel climb up the ladder and trade blows before Rhodes knocks them both off and delivers the Cross Rhodes to Slater. Barrett yanks Cody down, so Rhodes gives him a Cross Rhodes as well. Sheamus finally puts Cody down with a Roderick Strong-like backbreaker. Sheamus lifts Bryan up on his shoulders and Kane clotheslines him from the top rope with a crazy Doomsday Device! Kane chokeslams Rhodes with one hand and then catches Gabriel off the top rope with another chokeslam. He sets a ladder up between the bottom rungs of the ladder in the middle of the ring and the corner turnbuckle as Bryan climbs up next to Kane on the ladder as a huge "Daniel Bryan!" chant breaks out. Bryan manages to take Kane out so he and Slater climb to the top and Slater takes him down with a sickening neckbreaker from the top of the ladder! This is just one absolutely insane spot after another, and I'm loving it. Sheamus and Barrett manage to propel Slater on top of the ladder from the corner and they launch Slater a good 15 feet in mid-air to the outside onto Kane! Sheamus cleans house, sets a ladder up on the top turnbuckle and launches Gabriel onto it before giving him the Brogue Kick. Sheamus nearly grabs the briefcase at the top of the ladder but Kane chokeslams him off the ladder onto the other ladder propped up in the corner! Gabriel hits Kane with a 450 splash from another ladder but he gets back up so Rhodes hits his sick leaping knee off the ladder onto him and Barrett gives Kane the WasteLand. Barrett delivers a pumphandle slam to Rhodes, but he fights back and sends him out of the ring as Bryan tries climbing the ladder now. Rhodes and Bryan fight to the top where Bryan locks a guillotine choke on Rhodes before sending him off the ladder as Barrett tries to steal the briefcase. He tries for the Waste Land on Bryan at the top of the ladder, but he fights it off with sick elbows and kicks Barrett off. Bryan climbs to the top....and PULLS THE FUCKING BRIEFCASE DOWN! BRYAN WINS! Massive pop for that one from this smark-heavy audience, I mean massive as Bryan is nearly in tears. Oh, official match time is 24:33. This was the craziest damned car-crash spotfest ladder match I think I've ever seen, I mean this was comparable to the original infamous trilogy of TLC matches ten years ago. I can't even do this match justice, and I'm already drained completely after this match. How can anything follow that? Bryan's win was incredibly shocking and hugely emotional, and that crowd popped for it like he was Shawn Michaels or something. The best ladder match in a long, long time and likely a serious contender for Match of the Year. ****¾
Backstage we see Vince McMahon arrive to the arena in a limo.
WWE Divas Title Match
Kelly Kelly © vs. Brie Bella
Good choice to follow up that last match, give the fans a chance to catch their breath. Kelly quickly sends Brie to the floor and then jumps off the apron on both of the twins. Pardon me if I don't pay the most attention to this match, but I'm still recovering from the opener. This is the usual forgettable action you expect from the Diva's division, but it does atleast look like Kelly and Brie are putting forth some effort. Kelly finishes Brie off with a variation of the old Rocker Dropper at 4:59. Not awful and both women looked like they were putting forth some actual effort, so I won't be too harsh on them. **
Promo for Summerslam set to a Cee-Lo song.
Big Show vs. Mark Henry
This is being labeled the "Battle of the Behomoths", which is a nice way of saying it's likely to suck. This whole feud started when Big Show, enraged by being hit by a car from Alberto Del Rio, attacked Henry for no reason on Smackdown. This lit a fire under his Henry's ass as I guess it's time for Henry's annual failed main event push attempt. Slugfest to start with both men and the action quickly spills to the floor. Both men tease slamming the other through the Spanish announcer's table to no avail and Henry dropkicks the steps into Show's leg. Back in the ring Henry dominates with big boots. He applies a half Boston crab but Show gets to the ropes. Show is selling the knee very well again (he's really a great seller despite his average workrate) and he shockingly hits a flying shoulder block off the second rope. Henry answers by giving him the World's Strongest Slam, but Show kicks out, so he gives him another one and a pair of running splashes to get the win at 5:59. After the match Henry wraps a chair around Big Show's leg and then hits the biggest damn top-rope Vader Bomb I've ever seen as Show screams like his leg is broken as they have to stretcher him out. Much better than expected as a match, and Show's selling was top-notch again. A solid win for Henry if they're serious about giving him another shot in the main event picture. **
Backstage Vince McMahon is speaking with John Laurinaitis when Josh Matthews walks up and asks McMahon if he re-signed CM Punk. McMahon says no and calls Punk the biggest ingrate he's ever met, as he claims to have offered him the most lucrative contract ever and Punk still shot him down. Before any feeble-minded people start getting crazy ideas, this is clearly all a part of the angle.
RAW Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz vs. R-Truth vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne
I suspect the placing of this second MITB match so early in the show may just lead to a cash-in attempt later tonight. Riley and gets a nice pop. Everyone grabs a ladder on their way to the ring. Everybody gangs up on Del Rio at the opening bell and everyone starts tossing ladders around all over the place. Del Rio and Mysterio get ladders thrown on them on the outside. Kofi and Bourne struggle over a ladder and Mysterio uses it as a launching pad to take Swagger to the floor with a hurricanrana. Everyone fights to the outside again and Kofi dives onto them from the top. Bourne one-ups him by coming off the top with a Shooting Star Press to wipe out everyone. Miz and Bourne get knocked off the top of the ladder by Del Rio and Miz starts screaming in pain, grabbing his knee. Del Rio and Truth scale the ladder and Mysterio and Bourne just climb right over them to the top before hitting a pair of beautiful simultaneous hurricanrans on both men off the ladder! Kofi springboards and leaps right over Swagger's head onto the ladder in a nifty spot, but Swagger pulls him down with the ankle lock. Swagger and Riley fight at the top until Truth knocks the ladder over and they go flying. Kofi uses a ladder set up in the corner almost like a trampoline to get more hangtime on the Boom Drop in another creative spot. Del Rio gets launched by Riley through the ropes and ladder like he was giving a tope to the Invisible Man as Truth uses a ladder on the apron to climb up back into the ring. Mysterio and Riley battle at the top of the ladder as Del Rio gives Truth an anziguri, and there must be four different ladders set up in the middle of the ring at this point asevery single man tries to grab the briefcase at the top of the ladders now. Del Rio is the first one sent off, face-first into a ladder. Bourne gets pushed over and flies onto the thinly padded ringside mats. Everyone else gets shoved off and Kingston is the last man standing and almost pulls down the briefcase, but Swagger sprints up the ladder to stop him and both men fold underneath a ladder with an absolutely sickening spot. Suddenly the Miz comes limping out to the ring, climbs with one leg up the ladder, but Mysterio takes him out with a sunset flip powerbomb off the ladder! Interesting to note that the crowd popped big for Miz's return, and booed Rey pretty heavily when he tried to stop him. He fights Miz off at the top but Del Rio meets him at the top and both men trade blows. Del Rio suddenly rips Mysterio's mask off! Mysterio crumbles to the mat, hiding his face as Del Rio falls over with his ladder because of the momentum in a slight botch of what clearly was supposed to be the finish, so a pissed off Del Rio sets up the ladder again and climbs it to pull down the briefcase and win at 15:54. Despite the shaky ending this was still another really fun MITB match that while definitely not on the same level as the opener, still delivered your standard high-spot ladder match goodness with a few creative spots thrown in to boot as well. ***¾
Backstage Josh Matthews asks Alberto Del Rio how he feels to have won the Money in the Bank briefcase. Del Rio says it doesn't matter because he already won a triple threat number one contender's match for the World title on RAW a few weeks back, but that tonight he just proved again how good he is.
World Heavyweight Title Match
Randy Orton © vs. Christian
Ah, the feud that never ends. Unlike other hyper-booked feuds in the past though this one actually has delivered a good-to-great match every time out. The big stipulation here is that the title can change hands on a disqualification. Pretty big pop for the heel Christian, which I guess you can just chalk up to the smark-heavy crowd. Cole actually sounds like a decent play-by-play man here going over the title histories and resumes of both men involved. Christian tries to bring a chair into the ring to start but Orton snatches it from him as Christian is already trying to get Orton DQed. Orton starts firing away forearms on Christian and gives him a big back-drop. The action spills to the floor and Orton sends Christian into the stairs. Back inside a second rope elbow smash gets Christian a near fall. They trade blows and Orton nearly wins with a roll-up, but Christian responds with a big spinebuster. Orton fights off the Killswitch and Orton takes Christian out to the floor with the Cactus clothesline. Christian escapes a quick RKO attempt and tries a missile dropkick, but Orton catches him with a jacknife cover for two. Christian counters out of the second-rope DDT attempt and tries for his leaping cross-body off the second rope, but is met with a dropkick by Orton. A beautiful diving headbutt from the top rope gets Christian another close near fall and this match is starting to find a nice groove by this point. They tease trying their finishers again and Orton tries for his usual comeback sequence, but Christian hits him with the Killswitch! Orton kicks out as the last possible moment however to Christian and the crowd's disbelief. Orton leap-frogs over Christian as he tries for the spear and then delivers his awesome signature gutwrench into a neckbreaker move. Orton teases the punt, but hits Christian with the second-rope DDT instead. Orton starts to do his Viper routine when Christian spits right in his face! That incenses Orton as he goes crazy with closed fists and then just nails Christian right in the nuts right in front of the ref, who calls for the bell to DQ Randy and give Christian his second World Heavyweight title at 12:20! After the match Orton goes on an angry rampage, giving Christian an RKO on the Spanish announcer's table (which doesn't break). He teases leaving but decides to return, make goofy faces like he's a mental patient, and give another RKO to Christian on the table that still won't break. Orton smashes his own head into the table as well just to put over that this guy is batshit crazy if you couldn't tell. Crowd popped big for Christian's title win, and I'm glad he's getting another reign with the title, even under auspicious circumstances. This was their usual excellent little match with all kinds of great counter sequences, but the icing on the cake was the well-booked finish which made Christian come off perfectly as the conniving, cowardly heel and puts Orton over even more as a badass (not to mention a nutcase). ***½
Skittles commercial, followed by another Summerslam promo. When we return to ringside a loud CM Punk chant has started up again for the 9000th time tonight. The fans have basically been intermittently chanting for Punk since the show started. We get another very well done video package highlighting Punk's incredible series of promos leading up to this match. To be perfectly honest, I'd consider both of the promos that Punk cut to be among the best that the WWE has ever seen. Those were up there in Piper/Rock territory.
WWE Title Match
John Cena © vs. CM Punk
Here we go, the match that everyone has been waiting for and the culmination of one of the best angles that the WWE creative team has come up with in many years. There are literally thousands upon thousands of people chanting for Punk as the roof practically flies off the building. Punk even works in the "Clobberin' Time!" line on his way to the ring as he's sporting a nifty new custom shirt proclaiming him the "Best in the World". We literally wait probably a good 5 minutes here as the crowd just continues to give Punk an insane standing ovation, the likes of which you just simply do not see anymore in this day and age in the wrestling business. Cena gets massive heat too as you'd expect, the likes of which he probably hasn't seen since One Night Stand 2006, and that was in a much smaller venue. For once Cole is again actually doing a decent job as PBP man to put over how big and important of a match this is. The crowd chants "You can't wrestle!" at Cena early as he fights off a quick Anaconda Vice attempt and applies a side headlock. Both men tease hitting their finisher's on the other man early but both escape. A bulldog gets Cena only a one count and he goes right back to the headlock with a front chancery. Cena hits a powerslam and gets another quick near fall. Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment, but Punk counters into a beautiful DDT. He wraps his legs around Cena's neck with a vicegrip. He tosses Cena to the floor and slaps a few fans hands at ringside. Punk hits a big knee drop off the top onto Cena on the ring apron as the crowd starts a loud "Colt Cabana!" chant (seriously Vince, fans have been chanting for Cabana all week on WWE TV, I hope you take notice of that). Back in the ring Cena moves out of Punk's way and Punk flies shoulder-first into the corner post. Punk applies a chinlock as dueling chants start up as many of the women and children in the crowd begin chanting for Cena against the massive army of smarks that make up most of the audience tonight. Punk hits a cross-body off the top on Cena and they fight to the apron, where Cena manages to suplex him over the top rope and to the floor in a fun spot. Back in the ring Cena hits a snap suplex and elbow drop for another near fall. Cena teases the AA again but settles for a big powerslam variation instead. The crowd does the cheer/boo with every punch thing for a bit until Cena applies an abdominal stretch of all things to Punk until Punk counters with a hip-toss and they clothesline each other at the same time. Both men trade close roll-ups and Cena hits his pumphandle slam and tries for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Punk kicks him in the face as he tries it and sends Cena to the floor, where Punk then wipes him out again with a huge tope suicida! Have I mentioned the crowd is red-hot? Blazing hot. We're in the molten magma stage almost. Punk misses a springboard cross-body back in the ring and Cena tries for the Attitude Adjustment, but Punk sort-of lands on his feet (more like his ass) and sweeps Cena's legs out from under him. Cena counters a GTS attempt with a gutwrench powerbomb, but Punk kicks out. Punk hits a pair of stiff running knees on Cena and then plants him with a bulldog. He hits a springboard clothesline when Punk gets back up, but it's Cena's turn to kick out at the last second. Cena locks Punk into the STF, but Punk manages to struggle to the bottom rope for the break. Punk hits a stiff kick right to the back of Cena's head, but again Cena kicks out. Punk tries a double axe-handle and Cena tries for the AA, but Punk escapes THAT and tries for the GTS, but Cena grabs onto his leg before he can finish the move and applies the STF again. He drags Punk back into the center of the ring and Punk is so close to tapping now, until he counters out into the Anaconda Vice! Cena stands up though and delivers the Attitude Adjustment, but Punk again kicks out! Massive, massive, massive pop for all of these near-falls because they all seem like they could end the match and win it for Cena at any second. This building is so electric it could supply power to a small continent. Cena goes to the top rope for his leg drop but Punk catches him and sort-of counters with a powerbomb, but yet AGAIN Cena kicks out! Punk tries for the GTS, but Cena escapes it and hangs Punk up on the top rope. This time he hits the big leg drop off the top rope, but guess what happens? Yep, Punk kicks out, again. These nearfalls are nearly giving me a heart attack at this point. Cena hits another Attitude Adjustment, but yet again Punk kicks out! The man just won't stay down! Cena tries for a top rope AA, but Punk counters with huge elbows and a frankensteiner from the top (for a moment the crowd and myself thought he was going for the Pepsi Plunge, and we all almost shit ourselves). Punk hits Cena with the GTS, but it sends Cena right out of the ring unfortuantely. Punk tosses Cena back into the ring when both Vince McMahon and John Laurinatis walk down the aisle to watch the match. Cena locks on the STF and Vince starts calling for the time keeper to ring the bell (Montreal referenece? Groundbreaking!) but Cena doesn't want to win that way. He goes back into the ring and eats another GTS from Punk and Punk gets the pin and the title at 33:37. To put it simply, this was incredible. Both guys seriously busted their asses off to deliver an epic action-packed match for over 30 minutes and I think it's safe to say that this is the best damned singles match Cena has ever had and maybe the best match that CM Punk has had during his entire WWE career. Add in the amazing atmosphere, the great booking, and the finish that's about to follow, and this is another easy Match of the Year candidate and the kind of wrestling match that will be remembered for many, many years to come. *****
After the match Punk briefly celebrates with the title before McMahon comandeers the King's headset and calls for Alberto Del Rio to come out and cash his MITB contract in on Punk. Del Rio runs down to the ring, but Punk lays him out with a right hand. Punk hops the guard rail and runs into the crowd as everyone in the crowd goes ballistic and Punk leaves the WWE with it's biggest and most prestigious title. We go off the air with Punk celebrating with fans in the crowd as Vince looks on from the ring in disbelief.
You know, as "smart marks" and as wrestling fans we're unfortunately prone to over-analyze things and be overly negative and pessimistic too often, but if you didn't have goosebumps tonight watching the way that crowd reacted to the main event, then you seriously need to re-analyze why exactly you're a wrestling fan to begin with. I've been a wrestling fan for nearly fifteen years and I've seen more wrestling than most people would ever need or want to, so I think you can trust me somewhat when I tell you that moments and angles like these just don't come around too often, so enjoy it everyone. Savor it. Because at some point, we'll be let down again, it's inevitable in this industry. But it's the moments, angles, and matches like those that took place on tonight's show that remind me why I love this damned form of entertainment so much to begin with. Until next time, take care (spike your hair).
Bottom Line: This, ladies and gentlemen, is your show of the year so far and will be damn near impossible to top as the year goes on I believe. We have not one, but TWO serious match of the year candidates on this card (both were nearly five star affairs), along with a few other very good midcard matches and the atmosphere tonight was absolutely electric even from just watching the show from home on PPV. This is your show of the year so far folks, and an obvious and enthusiastic Thumbs Up.
*Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter September 12th, 2011 by Dave Meltzer