Sunday, August 12, 2012

TNA Hardcore Justice 2012

TNA Hardcore Justice 2012
August 12th, 2012
Impact Wrestling Zone, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time

Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's live TNA PPV coverage with your always humble host, yours truly. We're a month removed from one of the better TNA PPVs in recent memory and the crowning of a new, somewhat unlikely World champion in Austin Aries and everything from now until October is all about the build for Bound for Glory. With the new Aces and 8's faction running roughshod over the roster and Hardcore Justice's reputation for gimmick matches we can surely expect an interesting show tonight. So sit back, keep your finger near that refresh button, and enjoy the play-by-play and analysis.

Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz

Chavo Guerrero/Hernandez vs. Kid Kash/Gunner
Nice choice for the opener. I like the pairing of Gunner and Kash too, give 'em a Briscoes-lite gimmick and they could be quite entertaining. The heels jump the faces before the bell can even ring and we're not three seconds into the match before Chavo is pulling out the Three Amigoes on Kash and looking for the frog splash. Gunner trips him up though and the heels trade quick tags, working Chavo over in their corner. Crowd is vocally behind Chavo from the start here and the heels are doing good work of getting heat. The heels take their time to build heat with Chavo in their corner, trading tags and grinding him into the mat with submissions. Chavo busts out an Electric Chair on Gunner and nearly is able to get the tag but Kash cuts him off again before he can. Chavo leaps onto the top rope from a slingshot attempt, backflips out of the corner, and clotheslines Kash in a neat moment which finally gives him enough time to get the hot tag to Super Mex. Mex cleans house on the heels and then delivers a sick Dominator to Kash for a two count. He clotheslines Gunner out of the ring and then wipes him out on the floor with a huge suicide dive. Chavo actually manages to tag Hernandez while he's soaring in mid air though, and he climbs to the top rope and leaps off to finish Kash off with the Frog Splash for the victory at 9:32. Mostly formula stuff but that's all it really needed to be, Chavo and Hernandez both looked good and the crowd was hot all the way through, solid opener. **3/4

Bound For Glory Series Falls Count Anywhere Match
Rob Van Dam vs. Pope D'Angelo Dinero vs. Magnus vs. Mr. Anderson

Pope gets jumped by Aces & Eight's backstage during his I guess he's not competing tonight. This is one of three four-way (or three way now I guess) matches for 20 BFG Series points tonight. RVD does his usual showboating to start and Magnus sends him face-first into the steel steps out of the ring for his cockiness. Magnus is only able to fire off a clothesline before RVD returns to the ring to try and monkey flip one man onto the other. RVD gets sent off the apron into the steel guardrail while trying to set up Anderson for his leg-drop spot and all three men are brawling on the floor now. Anderson grabs a chair to DDT Magnus on it but gets shoved back-first onto it instead. Anderson gives Magnus a gourdbuster up the ramp onto the guardrail and RVD comes running up to set Anderson up on the guard rail and dive off the ramp with his signature legdrop in a sick spot. These guys are going hard early. Magnus tries a sharpshooter on the ramp on RVD but Anderson breaks it up and all three men find their way back into the ring again. All three men tease going for the Tower of Doom spot but Anderson sends Magnus out of the ring and winds up eating the Frog Splash instead for a two count (cool to finally see someone block the Tower of Doom spot). Magnus grabs RVD and suplexes him nastily onto the rampway then kindly asks for a "fucking chair" from a fan. Of course bringing a chair into a fight with RVD is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and he spin-kicks the chair right back into his face to pick up the somewhat surprising pin and 20 points at 9:06. I'm a bit surprised this didn't get more time to develop, but I guess that explains why they were so quick to start going for the spots in this one. Magnus didn't look out of place at all with two relative main eventers, which has to be seen as a success. Fun stuff. ***

Backstage JB informs us that Aces and Eights are nowhere to be found, those dastardly villains. Madison Rayne joins him to insure us that Miss Tessmacher doesn't stand a chance tonight.

TV Title Match
© vs. Kazarian
Fingers crossed for a title change here. Kaz stalls to start and gets tossed back into the ring for it. Backdrop from Devon and he sends Kaz out of the ring for a refreshing beverage to the skull. Devon sends Kaz into the steps and back in the ring Kaz wants to shake his hand, but Devon will have none of that. Finally Kaz gets a finger to the eyes and is able to mount some offense. Kaz hits a sick leg lariat and starts to get a bit cocky, so Devon sets him straight with knife edge chops. Devon hits a flying shoulder-block for a two count and then hits a nasty running neckbreaker out of the corner. Crucifix pin gets Kaz his own near fall and he tries for the Fade to Black, but Devon blocks it and hits the spinebuster to retain at 8:33. One of the better TV title matches in recent memory thanks to Kaz's involvement, and I'll give Devon credit for holding his own here tonight, but man, at the end of the day, I still can't take Devon Dudley seriously as a singles champ. **1/4

TNA Knockouts Title Match
Miss Tessmacher
© vs. Madison Rayne
Earl Hebner is our ref of course, lets see if Rayne's wiley womanly antics can persuade him to give her favor tonight. Brooke takes Rayne into the corner but has to break. Madison stalls for a moment and then works over Tessmacher in the corner with her boot. Butterfly suplex from Rayne gets her a two count. Tessmacher comes off the top with a haggard looking elbow drop but Rayne gets the ropebreak. Tessmacher doesn't see the ropebreak though and argues with Earl, which gives Rayne enough time to roll her up from behind and steal the pin and title with her hands on the ropes for leverage at 5:30. Could have seen that finish coming a mile away and I really have no idea what they're trying to do with the KO division anymore. The match itself started off decent but Tessmacher was a bit awkward and sloppy and it hurt things. *3/4

Backstage JB is with Bully Ray, whose pissed off about Aces and Eights apparently putting out the hit on him. He shows off some cards they left on his truck that morning and then promises to pick up 20 points in a few minutes by putting someone through a table, and then he'll be going on to become the TNA World champion at Bound For Glory.

Bound For Glory Series Tables Match
Bully Ray vs. James Storm vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Robbie E

Hmm, one of these things is not like the other. Crowd is very hot to start and there are tables set up all around the ring. Robbie E gets in Ray's face to start and gets the taste slapped out of his mouth. Moments later Ray works over Storm and actually convinces Robbie E to bring a table into the ring in a sign of teamwork before nailing him on the apron as soon as he does in a funny bit. Storm and Hardy try to suplex Ray through a table but E moves it (mostly) out of the way to save the match. E actually works Hardy over a bit and sets him up on a table but Storm grabs him on the top rope. Hardy meets them there and they do the Tower of Doom spot as Ray moves the table out of the way again. Hardy gives E a sitout gourdbuster and then sets him up on a table outside the ring. Robbie T comes down the ramp to intervene so Hardy flies off the top rope and wipes him out with a plancha. This gives E time to recover though and set Hardy up on the table outside the ring. He tries for an elbow drop off the top rope but Hardy moves at the last second and Robbie crashes through the table instead, which means the match continues. Back in the ring Bully slams Storm face-first into a table in the corner and sets up for a move, but here comes Aces and Eights. Storm hits the Last Call superkick on Ray and Aces and Eights give Storm the Thumbs Up as if to signify this was all a plan under Storm's order. Hardy jumps Storm from behind while he's distracted and sets a table up and then nails the Whisper in the Wind. Hardy hits the Twist of Fate but Aces and Eights distracts him again and Storm hits the Last Call only for Ray to send Storm out of the ring, sneak inside and powerbomb Hardy through a table to pick up the win and 20 points at 13:46. Ray immediately high-tails out of there as soon as the bell rings. Another entertaining BFG series match, E actually fit nicely into the scheme of things providing some comedy and they were able to work the Aces and Eights storyline into the story of the match without hindering any of the action, can't ask for much more than that. ***

Backstage Austin Aries explains again that his World title victory was not a fluke and that he will not need a rematch, hence why he waived his rematch clause for tonight's title match. Oh boy, that doesn't bode well for Austin does it?

X-Division Title Match
Zema Ion
© vs. Kenny King
This is exactly the kind of fresh match up between two talented young guys that the X-Division made it's name off of and is exactly what I wanted to see out of this division going forward, kudos TNA. It's also nice to see the X-Division title not relegated to the opening slot like it usually is. Both men lock up and King takes advantage of a wristlock. Both men trade some nifty counters on the mat before Ion gets sent to the floor with a haymaker. Ion blocks King's first moonsault attempt but King winds up hitting it off the apron anyways. Ion sends King back to the floor and it's his turn to fly now as he hits a big tope and then nails a neckbreaker back inside the ring. Ion hits a big DDT for a two count but then misses a moonsault from the second rope. King hits a spinkick then delivers a sick cradle exploder suplex into the corner! Ion bails to the floor for a reather but King wipes him out with a corkscrew tope on the floor moments later. Springboard neckbreaker from King back inside and King evades a kick from Ion before putting him deep into a single leg Boston crab. Ion breaks it up and then flips King backwards and face-first into his own knee in a unique move I've seen him use a few times. King fires back with a rolling spinkick and another cradle that nearly gets him a two count. King gets caught by Ion out of the corner and just drops him face first onto the mat to pick up the win and retain the title at 11:09. Easily Zema's best singles match in TNA so far and another great outing from King, this was excellent stuff while it lasted and it left me wanting to see more out of what these two could do together in the future. Good old fashioned X-Division fun. ***1/4

Backstage JB is with Samoa Joe, who of course lets us know he's going to win the ladder match and the 20 points in the BFG series next. They should really add something different to these backstage segments sometimes because they're a bit formulaic and cookie-cutter. Even a change of scenery for the interviews would be nice to see. Minor quibble though.

Bound For Glory Series Ladder Match
AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe

As if this four-way wasn't already going to be awesome, they went and added a ladder into the mix to spice things up. I can dig it. Daniels is the first to be sent out of the ring as Joe hits running elbows on Angle and AJ in opposite corners. Joe and Daniels brawl outside on the floor and AJ wipes them out with a soaring tope. AJ gets absolutely nailed with a ladder by Daniels in the corner moments later and I crack up as a fan heckles Daniels by screaming "Daniels you suck! You haven't won a match in two months!". Daniels makes the mistake of charging into the corner on Joe and winds up getting an STO onto the ladder for it. He briefly attempts to climb the ladder but AJ breaks it up. Daniels tries to climb the ladder but Joe power-bombs him off of it into the corner! He turns around right into a belly-to-belly suplex from Angle though and a huge "USA!" chant breaks out. AJ just rockets a ladder right into Angle's face and somewhere Joey Mercury is cringing. AJ hits Joe with the pele kick and then unloads on Daniels in the corner with big punches. Outside the ring Joe delivers a belly to belly to Angle but eats an ace cutter on the floor from Daniels. Back in the ring AJ, Joe, and Daniels do some of their signature three-way spots before Daniels gets belly-to-belly suplexed into the corner. Joe tries for the Muscle Buster on AJ but Kurt sneaks up behind him and hits a German suplex on Joe while AJ is still on Joe's shoulders! Daniels gets put into the ankle lock briefly but Daniels breaks it off only to eat a springboard forearm from AJ. Styles climbs the ladder and nearly grabs the clipboard but Daniels dumps him out to the floor like a sack of potatoes instead. Daniels tries the same thing but Joe knocks the ladder out from under him and he and Angle decide to have a suplex-off on Daniels, delivering different variations of German and t-bone suplexes one after another in an awesome spot. Daniels gets stuck in between the rungs of one of the ladders that Kurt climbs while Joe climbs a ladder right next to him, but here comes AJ like freaking Superman springboarding onto the top of the ladders and grabbing the clipboard for the sneaky win at 16:22. Just the kind of awesome wrestling match you'd expect with these four in a ring at the same time, they didn't really work many ladder spots into things but it was fine because they worked so much nifty stuff into such a short amount of time that there was never a dull moment to be had here. I'd still like to see these four wrestle in a non-gimmick match with a good 20-30 minutes though. ***3/4

Backstage JB asks Bobby Roode a question posted on Twitter--"Are you afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Wait, no, that's not right. "Are you afraid of Austin Aries?", yeah, that sounds better. Roode makes a promise to walk into Bound For Glory the World Heavyweight champion.

TNA World Title Match
Austin Aries
© vs. Bobby Roode
Win or lose tonight Aries has had about as good of a one month run as champ so far as anyone I can remember and it's really elevated him to a whole other level. The fact that he beat Roode clean in the rematch on Impact helped alot, but kind of makes the outcome of tonight's match a bit predictable. Aries almost immediately is able to put Roode into the Last Chancery but Roode is able to escape, though he's suitably pissed now. Back inside Aries hits a dropkick in the corner and teases going for the brainbuster, but again Roode escapes to the floor to stall. Aries wipes him out with a pescado and Roode again tries to escape so he just gives him another pescado on the opposite side of the ring. Back inside he dropkicks the back of Roode's head from the corner. Roode falls out to the floor and Aries meets him with a big double axe handle. He brings him back into the ring with a suplex from the apron and gets a two count off a kneedrop. Roode counters by lifting Aries onto his shoulders and then driving his chest down into his knee in a sick gutbuster. Roode wraps his legs around Aries in a legscissors and the crowd tries to rally behind the young champ by chanting his name. Aries gets set up in the tree of woe but he manages to counter out of it with a unique stunner variation. Aries sends Roode out of the ring and hits a huge double axe handle off the top that sends Roode into a chair in the corner where Aries quickly dropkicks the everloving fuck out of his face. Ouch. Back in the ring Aries has the Last Chancery but Roode rakes Austin's eyes to break it up. Aries locks him into his own crossface instead, but Roode counters that into his own crossface. Aries is able to break that up and both men trade chops on their feet. Roode fires off the spinebuster and nearly regains the belt, but Aries kicks out. Aries blocks a superplex attempt with a sick Mongolian chop and then tries for the 450 Splash, but Roode gets the knees up. Roode goes for the spear but winds up taking out the ref instead of Austin. Roode spears Aries now as a new ref runs down but he takes too long to hit the ring and Roode only gets a two count. Aries blocks a Fisherman's buster and sets up for the brainbuster, but Roode knocks him into the second ref, knocking THAT ref out too. Aries nails Roode in the head and then hits the brainbuster just as Brian Hebner regains consciousness but Roode still kicks out at two! Damn I thought Aries might escape right there. Roode crotches Aries on another 450 attempt and then superplexes him off the top and both men wind up in a cradle with both of their shoulders down and both refs make a double-count, and we have ourselves a controversial draw of sorts it seems. Earl Hebner comes down to the ring to try and clear things up and grabs the title out of Roode's hand, and he decides instead to re-start the match! Aries goes for the tope while Roode is arguing with the refs outside the ring but Roode is still holding the title belt and he smashes Aries with it in mid-air, knocking him out. Roode puts his lifeless body into the ring...but Aries still kicks out at two! Aries turns Roode around and rolls him up and manages to sneak away with the pin to retain at 26:18! Okay I take everything back about what I said about this being predictable. TNA planted a red herring with the no rematch clause to make you think Roode would cheat him out of the title here and screw the good guy out of the title, but instead they went the other way and had Aries retain, and retain cleanly albeit after a bit of hijinx. The match itself was the usual stellar encounter these two have every time they wrestle each other, but the added drama and element of story added another layer onto this great match. Another winner from these two. ****

We close out the show with a stunned Bobby Roode storming off while Austin Aries celebrates in the ring.

Bottom Line: Another good show in a string of them from TNA lately, they've really been on a roll as of late and even a relative B-show like this wound up being worth my money with solid undercard matches abound, a fun ladder match and X-title match, and another killer main event that not only delivered the goods, but managed to surprise me in the best way possible, really can't say enough good things about the direction TNA has taken lately and this PPV is a shining example of that. Nothing extraordinary but lots of good stuff and a killer main event so an easy Thumbs Up tonight.

Score: 8.0/10

Thursday, August 2, 2012

WWE Money in the Bank 2012

WWE Money in the Bank 2012
July 15th, 2012
US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Attendance: 10,800

I know, I know, I'm weeks late on this review but you'll have to forgive me as my life has become increasingly busy and occupied with work and a social life. Wrestling shows have started to pile up on my DVR, so I've got to knock this one out and get moving because I can't let you fine readers down, now can I? Hard to believe it was just one year ago we were all in a buzz about Punk's promos and excited about the product and a year later it feels like we're back to business as usual with another fucking Cena vs. Big Show feud of all things, because we haven't seen that thoroughly dead horse beaten to shit before, right? Luckily we have guys like Punk and Bryan to save the shows and tonight's show being Money in the Bank we have the added benefit of gimmick matches, so this should be pretty fun regardless of the general malaise the WWE product has filled me with as of late.

Your pre-show hosts are Matt Striker and my main man Scott Stanford

Kofi Kingston/R-Truth vs. Hunico/Camacho

This...isn't a tag title match for whatever reason. Truth takes Camacho down with some Austin like fists after he insults Little Jimmy and then slaps him the face. Kofi tags in with a springboard splash and then fires off a big hurricanrana on the big man. Truth tags back in for a leg-drop and Hunico manages to tag in and gain the upper hand. Camacho tags back in for a sleeper but Truth breaks it up with a leg lariat and tags in Kofi, who springboards in with a clothesline. Boom Drop from Kofi on Camacho but he blocks the Trouble in Paradise. The heels work over Kofi with some dirty antics and Camacho plants Kingston with a huge back suplex and a legdrop for a two count. Camacho rolls through an armbar attempt and slams Kofi to the mat. Kofi responds with a leaping hurricanrana off the top rope. and tags Truth in. Powerslam from Truth and a big DDT but Hunico eats the Trouble in Paradise and Camacho gets finished off with another big DDT at 8:22. Decent tag match for the pre-show, they threw in a few nice bits towards the end and for a free match you can't complain. **1/4

Your real hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T

SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Dolph Ziggler vs. Christian vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Santino Marella vs. Sin Cara vs. Tensai vs. Tyson Kidd

Quite the odd bunch of participants here in this match and you can tell they have no idea what they're doing booking wise with most of these guys. Everyone tries attacking Tensai to start to little affect. He grabs a ladder and sets it up in the corner and quickly introduces Tyson Kidd's face to it with a catapult in the corner. Kidd and Christian team up to take Tensai out with ladders but Christian quickly turns on Kidd afterwards. Christian, Santino, and Kidd all try to scale the ladder but Sandow tosses them all off. Ziggler knocks Sandow off and then tosses Cody into the ladder. Cody eats a 'rana from Sin Cara out of nowhere, and Cara then kicks Ziggler in the corner and hits a really awkward DDT you could argue was botched. He tries for a splash on Rhodes on a ladder but Christian tosses him off and goes for the splash himself only for Rhodes to move out of the way at the last second. Rhodes hits Sandow with the Disaster Kick out of nowhere but eats a springboard missile dropkick from Kidd. Tensai returns to the ring and powerbombs Santino before attempting a powerbomb on KIdd that he counters into a 'rana out of the ring. Sandow tries to climb the ladder but Cara stops him briefly. Sandow succeeds but Christian climbs right over him and almost grabs the briefcase. Sandow sets up a ladder and tries a running powerslam onto it, but Christian counters into a reverse DDT at the last moment. Sandow blocks a spear attempt at first with a knee but Christian eventually spears him into the ladder in the corner. Dolph, Cody, and Christian try climbing the ladder but all get thrown off by Tensai eventually. Tensai nearly climbs to the top despite the efforts of Kidd and Cara, but Christian knocks him off with another ladder and he and Santino slam it over the big man again. Santino tries climbing the ladder but he's somewhat afraid of heights of course. Sandow climbs to meet him but eats the Cobra and Rhodes dropkicks Santino off the ladder from the top rope. Rhodes tries to climb to the top but Vickie Guerrero decides to come in to distract him long enough for Ziggler to just nail Rhodes with the Zig Zag from off the ladder. Ziggler nearly grabs the case but Christian stops him and then Kidd decides to be a maniac and uses one ladder to leap into mid air and powerbomb Ziggler onto his face off the top of the ladder. A bit sloppy but cool nevertheless. Christian nails Sandow with a ladder and takes him to the floor with the Cactus clothesline. Tensai sets up a ladder in between the ring and announce table and then powerbombs the everloving fuck out of Sin Cara onto the ladder. Tensai tosses Ziggler over the table but eats the disaster kick from Rhodes. Rhodes and Kidd climb the ladder back in the ring and Rhodes gives Kidd a gourdbuster off the top of the ladder! And then Rhodes gets speared by Christian from one ladder off of another! Christian nearly captures the briefcase but Ziggler tosses him off like a madman and grabs the briefcase for the win at 18:23! I'm so happy they actually gave Ziggler the win here and are seemingly going to finally give him that main event push he's been busting his ass and killing himself for. The match itself was pretty ho-hum to start but picked up towards the finish and they worked some nice spots into it. In the grand scheme of ladder matches this is but a mere blip on the radar, but it had it's enjoyable moments for sure. ***1/2

Backstage Sheamus talks a bit about one of Del Rio's favorite topics, cars, before threatening to leave Del Rio and Ricardo lying with some rusty drive shafts.

The Miz makes his return (I legitimately did not realize he was gone) and the crowd actually gives him a "Miz is Awesome" chant. Miz is sick of being overlooked, as usual, so he's inserting himself into the RAW Money in the Bank Ladder match. Well that should add some levity to things. Miz came off great here with the crowd even finishing his catch phrases for him, weird.

Flashback to Mick Foley winning the WWF title on RAW in 1999. Classic stuff that I'll never tire of seeing, keep the Attitude Era nostalgia coming WWE, enough of that 80s shit.

World Heavyweight Title Match
© vs. Alberto Del Rio
The match they kept trying to hold off because no one wanted to see it. Sounds promising already. Cole recounts a bit about Del Rio ripping an original Action Comics #1 in half at Comic-Con a few weeks back and as someone whose recently rediscovered their love for all things DC and Marvel related, I take offense to that. Lock up to start followed quickly by a round of brute fisticuffs. Del Rio tries for an early armbar but Sheamus blocks it. Sheamus suplexes Del Rio into the ring and hits a shoulder block off the top. He allows himself to be distracted by Ricardo though and Del Rio knocks him to the floor with a dropkick. Back inside Del Rio goes to work on the Irishman's arm. Sheamus hits a swinging neckbreaker after a vicious headbutt from Del Rio. Del Rio continues the head butt action and goes for the armbar, but Sheamus avoids it. Sheamus tries for his slingshot shoulder block but Del Rio turns it into an armbreaker in mid-air. Sheamus returns fire with a big knee and powerslam for a two count. Sheamus hits the ten clubbing forearms spot and then follows up with the Irish Curse backbreaker for a close two count. Sheamus misses the Brogue Kick and Del Rio hits a big lung-blower for a two count.; Sheamus avoids an enziguri kick and hits Del Rio with the White Noise. Sheamus finishes Del Rio off with the Brogue Kick to retain at 14:22. Maybe a little bit better than you'd think, but still very bland from two guys who just have totally different styles in the ring. There were some good bits and pieces but nothing was ever able to be strung together particularly well. **1/2

After the match Del Rio and Ricardo beat down Sheamus and out comes Dolph Ziggler ready to cash in! He gets into an argument with Del Rio first though and eats a Brogue Kick but even though he handed the case to the ref this isn't a match and Sheamus just walks off. Phew, was scared Ziggler might be the first to lose his shot there for a second.

Earlier today Josh Matthews asks Daniel Bryan about AJ and he reiterates that they're soul mates.

Epico/Primo vs. Darren Young/Titus O'Neill
I appreciate the effort to make the tag division seem more important, but man we need some fresh match ups. Primo and Titus start off and Young quickly tags in but eats a 'rana from Primo. Epico tags in and 'ranas him again out of the ring, where Primo wipes him out with a tope. Epico sends Titus outside with Young and wipes them all out with a somersault tope. Titus grabs Epico and sends him back-first into the steel post. Titus stretches him out over the post some more and the crowd is so dead right now. Titus does some dancing but Rosa's dancing efforts are much more appreciated by the crowd. Primo tags in and hits a springboard...tomahawk chop?" That was weird. He follows with a springboard corkscrew moonsault and tries another springoard but Young blocks with a Codebreaker. Primo rolls him up anyways for the win at 7:27. Not terrible but also not very good, this was exactly what it felt like---filler. *3/4

WWE Title No DQ Match
CM Punk
© vs. Daniel Bryan
With our hottest special guest referee in awhile, AJ. Odds this is anything less than awesome? Slim. Bryan tries to work over Punk's fingers to start (I love stuff like that) but Punk is primed and ready to go. Both men unload strikes on eachother and the action quickly spills to the floor where  Bryan sends Punk into the barricade. Back inside Bryan lays in some kicks and Punk responds with knees. Punk misses a legdrop from the top and eats more kicks. Once again they hit the floor and Punk sends Bryan into the steel barricade near the ramp. On his way back in Bryan sends Punk right into AJ, sending her flying. While Punk checks on her Bryan attacks Punk, tosses him into the steel steps...and then goes to check on AJ. That's devilishly dickish. Bryan just keeps delivering the kicks and then hits a nasty running knee off the apron before suplexing Punk onto the steel steps. Punk back drops Bryan into the time keeper's section and then springboards off one guardrails and clotheslines Bryan off of another. Crowd chants for tables, so Punk pulls one out. Bryan slams him though and then grabs a kendo stick. He slams it on Punk a few times and back in the ring they go into a nifty counter sequence in the corner with the end result being Punk springboarding right into a big kendo stick shot from Bryan. Bryan wails away on Punk for what seems like a good minute but only gets a two count from it. Bryan lays in more vicious kicks and hits a snap suplex on the champ. He tries for the diving headbutt from the top but Punk moves at the last moment. Punk fires back with a reverse neckbreaker and then hits the high Muay Thai knee in the corner. Punk follows with a powerslam for two. Both men tease going for their finishers with Bryan countering Punk's GTS for a hot near fall. Bryan just knocks Punk's lights out with one sick kick in response. Bryan puts Punk into the Mexican Surfboard but Punk manages to escape and grab the kendo stick and nail the hell out of Bryan with it for two. Both men scale the top rope and Bryan superplexes Punk just in time for AJ to return from the back...and skip...and grab a steel chair from under the ring. She places it in the middle of the ring between Punk and Bryan like a cruel mistress for the first one to grab it. Bryan does and waffles Punk with it several times for a two count. Bryan gets in AJ's face and gets rolled up himself. Bryan continues to kick the crap out of Punk in the corner but the champ responds by firing off a big clothesline. Punk takes his turn to waffle Bryan with the chair a few times and then sets it up in-between the turnbuckle. AJ blocks Punk from using it though and in the ruckus winds up getting dropkicked into the chair. Punk kicks Bryan and then slams him with the steel chair underneath him before missing the Macho Man elbow drop and slamming his arm into the chair! Bryan takes advantage by applying the Yes! Lock, even using the Kendo stick for leverage. Punk manages to escape the hold and drop Bryan's head on the turnbuckle before hitting him with the GTS. Punk takes too long to cover him though and only gets a two count. Punk grabs the table he pulled out earlier from outside and sets it up in the ring. Punk lays Bryan over the table and then signals for the elbow drop again, but Bryan gets off the table and nails him with forearms on the turnbuckle. Bryan gets crotched on the top and Punk lays in some vicious elbows before giving him a huge back superplex off the top through the table for the win at 27:45! Well that was one hell of a finish to another damn fine match in this feud, they managed to fit in all of their usual great stuff while embellishing on it all with the No DQ stip by introducing different weapons and gimmicks perfectly into the mix. The whole thing built up and we got the pay-off with the finish, 'tis a thing of beauty. ****

Ryback vs. Curt Hawkings/Tyler Reks
Seems like they're throwing a Ryback squash on every PPV now. Ryback launches Hawkins but he runs off and tags Reks in, who manages to clothesline the big man. Hawkins and Reks continue to trade tags in their corner, working over Ryback with double team moves and actually having a bit of success with it. Ryback manages to powerslam Hawkins and then just knocks Reks down with several shoulders. He powerbombs Hawkins twice while a mild "Goldberg" chant starts up. Ryback finishes Reks off with the Shell Shock at 4:20. This seemed like an experiment to see how the crowd would react to Ryback actually selling some moves for a few minutes. He did, and no one gave a shit.*

Layla/Kaitlyn/Tamina vs. Beth Phoenix/Natalya/Eve Torres
Say it with me kids: F-I-L-L-E-R MATCH!  Layla does a nice crossbody on Beth and misses a kick It's not long before all six women are in the ring, hair-pulling. Seriously. And they wonder why nobody gives half a shit about the divas? Layla finishes Beth off with a neckbreaker amongst the ruckus at 3:23. I hate paying to watch matches like this on PPV. 1/4*

RAW Money in the Bank Ladder Match
John Cena vs. Chris Jericho vs. Alberto Del Rio  vs. Big Show vs. Kane vs. The Miz

On paper this might be the least interesting looking ladder match in wrestling history. Usual total brawl to start with all five men outside the ring, meanwhile the Miz tries to sneak up the ladder but Cena quickly nixes that plan. Show grabs a ladder and just tosses it at Jericho. Kane and Jericho grab ladders but Show just knocks them into them. Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Show, and Miz follows with the DDT on the big man. Kane boots him out of the ring and Cena finishes off the assembly line of destruction by giving Show the Attitude Adjustment through the Spanish announcer's table! Everyone piles five or six ladders on top of Show afterwards just for good measure until Jericho comes in to break up the party and indulge in the crowd's love for him momentarily. Jericho counters a rollup from Miz into the Walls of Jericho. Miz escapes the hold but Jericho gives him a snap suplex. Miz tries climbing the ladder as we have huge dueling Cena chants again but Jericho sends him off into another ladder and makes the climb himself only for John Cena to hop up and knock him off. HUGE DDT from Miz on Cena, and he nearly nabs the case but Kane knocks him down by tossing a ladder casually at him. Kane tries to chokeslam Miz and Jericho but instead gets suplexed by both of them onto another ladder. Cena hits some shoulder tackles and then hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle on both men on a ladder before handing out another AA to Kane. Jericho tries scaling the ladder but Show finally returns and then just rips the ladder apart and sandwiches Jericho in between them. Damn. Show lays in big body shots on Cena and then slams him into a ladder in the corner Show goes underneath the ring and pulls out a special gold ladder that is huge and fortified to hold Show's massive weight. I always wonder who makes these ladders for the WWE, they have to be custom ordered. The ladder weighs a ton so it takes Show a minute to actually set it up in the ring but when he does he nearly climbs right to the top and grabs the case, but Kane meets him on the other side of the ladder Show knocks Kane off but Cena takes his place and meets the giant at the top, but he too is sent off with a headbutt. Finally Jericho takes him down with a steel chair shot to the spine. Several of them in fact. Jericho and Cena climb the ladder now and battle at the top, where Jericho hops onto Cena's back and applies a sleeper hold. Jericho won't let go of that sleeper but Cena powers up and climbs to the top with him. Finally Jericho sends Cena off the ladder with the sleeper but Miz scurries right up the other side and those two begin grappling over the briefcase, with Jericho hanging onto only the case at one point. Show knocks both Miz and Jericho off the ladder but Cena hightails it up the other side and uses the brief case as a weapon to blast Show with before unhoooking it for his first Money in the Bank win at 20:03. These guys really worked hard to make this one good as they must have known some of them weren't exactly the best candidates for a ladder match. They seemed to really hold back in this one but it actually didn't hurt the match because it felt like it was bringing the match back to it's roots---to be about the suspense and build of the climb as opposed to just having several huge spotfests. This worked surprisingly well. ***1/2

Bottom Line: There was no way they were going to live up to last year's show but they gave a valiant effort with this show I thought, Giving Ziggler the ball to run is a good choice and I can't wait to see this kid start making real money. While both ladder matches were a bit underwhelming in the grand scope of ladder matches the WWE has had over the years, they were unique and fun. Luckily we have two stalwarts of an era passed in CM Punk and Daniel Bryan to come along and drop their usual awe-inspiring four-star match. Overall the positives outweighed the negatives on this show, but they can only lean on the shoulders of guys like Punk and Bryan for so long. Overall Thumbs Up for MITB 2012

Rating: 7.5/10