The SmarK Rant for WWE Money In The Bank 2011 Live from Chicago, IL Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Booker T. This showcase of taking a stand against corporate yes-men and selling out is brought to you by SKITTLES. Smackdown Money In The Bank: Sin Cara v. Wade Barrett v. Justin Gabriel v. Heath Slater v. Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus v. Cody Rhodes v. Kane That’s some impressive star power. Interesting that just a year ago, Sheamus had not yet begun his path of rage towards the World title and he was basically just a guy. Plus Daniel Bryan was a quiet, nerdy babyface. Sheamus and Barrett team up on Kane and get nowhere with that. We get a series of guys trying to get a ladder into the ring, ending with Gabriel making the first climb. Bryan dropkicks him off and Cody climbs, but Sheamus brings him down. Barrett pounds on Kane in the corner, but gets sent into a ladder, and Kane chucks it at people outside as well. The dives start flying as everyone does theirs. Back in, Sin Cara fights off Slater and Gabriel and hits Bryan with a Spanish Fly, but goes for a ladder and eats a boot from Wade Barrett. Back in, he also eats a Brogue Kick. Sheamus follows with a powerbomb off the apron and through the ladder, and that one puts Sin Cara on the shelf for a good few months. Who could have predicted that powerbombing someone onto a ladder would result in a serious injury? Kane and Sheamus slug it out in the ring while Cara gets loaded on a stretcher, but Cody and Bryan double-team Kane until he puts them down with a ladder. Everyone teams up on Kane for a beatdown, then on Barrett, but Bryan tries to climb in the chaos. The former Nexus/Corre guys organize themselves and Wade climbs for the case, but Slater & Gabriel turn on him as well and then race to the top themselves. Cody puts them down himself and fights with Barrett, winning that battle as well. Next up, Sheamus and Bryan, as Cole notes they’re both former US champions. I don’t remember Sheamus having that belt at all, but then I wasn’t really paying attention at that point anyway. Sheamus and Kane team up with a Doomsday Device on Bryan to get rid of him, and Kane chokeslams everything that moves. Bryan sneaks up the ladder again, but Kane brings him down while Bryan tries a triangle choke from the ladder. Bryan and Slater race for it and both go down, and now Barrett and Sheamus team up to bully people. Sheamus gets his turn by laying everyone out with Brogue Kicks and setting up a complex ladder contraption. It’s so weird watching Sheamus play heel, considering how naturally he fell into the smiling babyface role shortly after this. Sheamus takes out Gabriel and climbs, but Kane stops him and chokeslams him onto another ladder. That’s a sick spot, because there’s no give or protection on that. Everyone hits their finishers on Kane to slow him down, and then Barrett get his turn to hit everyone with his finisher. Cody gets rid of him and Bryan tries to sneak up the ladder yet again, and we get a three-way battle on top. Bryan hooks Cody with a guillotine choke on top to put him down, then elbows Barrett off the ladder, and grabs the briefcase at 24:21 to send the smarky crowd into a nerdgasm. No one saw that one coming. And no one saw the transformation that came over the next year coming, either. It was more than 30 minutes with entrances, and completely flew by, not feeling the least bit long. I really liked all the mini-stories with guys getting their solo time and Bryan’s constant sneaking up behind everyone on the ladder. Great opener, especially with the wide open field that made it impossible to guess who would win. ****1/4 Divas Title: Kelly Kelly v. Brie Bella Kelly takes out both twins to start, but does her (illegal) handstand choke on the apron and gets tossed to the floor. Back in, Brie takes over with a bodyscissors and gets two. She goes to a silly looking abdominal stretch on the mat, but Kelly escapes and she’s suddenly fired up. Like, literally one second she was laying on the mat looking bored and then the next she was MAD AS HELL and making her comeback. Kelly is not a good wrestler. Kelly with a neckbreaker for two. Bella does something to Kelly’s leg and gets two, but Kelly finishes with a fameasser at 4:49 to retain. And then they did this match 8 million more times over the course of the year. ½* Mark Henry v. Big Show Again, funny to think that Henry was seemingly just getting another monster push at this point, with people having little hope for it actually leading to anything. But this was basically where he caught fire, strangely enough. Show puts him down with a shoulderblock and Henry bails, so Show follows him out and clobbers him with a clothesline. Henry actually does a dropkick into the stairs, which hits Show’s knee, and Henry takes over in the ring. He boots Show down for two and goes to work on the knee with a half-crab, but Show makes the ropes. And in fact he goes up to the middle rope and hits a flying shoulderblock, but Henry escapes the chokeslam and hits the World’s Strongest Slam for two. Booker advises doing it again. That’s some insightful commentary there. And so Henry DOES IT and then splashes him into jello at 5:54. Wait, wait, wait…you mean that if you book this big monster to BEAT PEOPLE, in convincing fashion, he might actually get over? What strange hoodoo is this? Totally watchable big man match. **1/2 Henry Pillmanizes the ankle afterwards, because he’s AWESOME. Meanwhile, Vince McMahon admits that he didn’t actually re-sign CM Punk yet. Big Johnny silently waits in the background. RAW Money In The Bank match: Alberto Del Rio v. Kofi Kingston v. Jack Swagger v. Evan Bourne v. R-Truth v. Rey Mysterio v. Alex Riley v. The Miz Everyone grabs a ladder to defend themselves with, giving a funny payoff gag of R-Truth with a stepladder due to his fear of heights. Del Rio gets buried in ladders, and the future Awesome Truth has a stepladder duel in another cute spot. The future Air Boom teams up with a ladder for some damage, and the guys fight over a ladder that won’t even reach the briefcase! Finally Swagger smartens up and gets rid of the smaller one, and it’s dive time! Evan tops things off with a shooting star press off the big ladder on the floor for the final big trainwreck spot. Finally the big ladder gets into the ring and Bourne climbs first, but Miz cuts him off and they both go down via ADR. Miz blows out his knee on the landing and disappears. That didn’t look pleasant. Bourne and Rey climb over the bigger guys to race for the ladder, but Swagger gets rid of everyone. Riley tries to sneak up, but Truth puts them down and works on Rey in the corner with some silly ladder spots. This sets up Kofi coming off the horizontal ladder with a boomdrop, but Rey gets a 619 with the open ladder in a unique twist. They’re running about 50% with the spots in this one. We get a three-way battle on the ladder, as multiple ladders get set up and everyone is climbing their own. They all bat the briefcase around in a another cool visual, and then they start taking crazy bumps to the earth again. Kofi looks to be the lucky winner, but Swagger reappears and they both go down. This brings Miz out for his big return, with a big babyface reaction from the Chicagoans, but Rey cockblocks them and turns himself heel. Man, why do smark-heavy crowds hate Rey so much? He’s an awesome worker, what’s not to love? Rey tries for the case, but Del Rio follows and throws him onto another ladder after unmasking him. Rey of course loses his mojo and can’t recover, and Alberto easily claims the case at 15:49. This was a pretty obvious choice, because we were getting all the Del Rio we could handle whether we wanted it or not. This one felt a little flat compared to the Smackdown one because the winner wasn’t in doubt and a lot of the spots were pretty suspect, but it was still a pretty great match. ***3/4 Smackdown World title: Randy Orton v. Christian This was set up by Orton winning the belt from Christian, and then beating him over and over and over and over and over, but Christian gets ONE MORE MATCH because they need to stretch things out for a few more months. And the DQ rule is waived here. Christian tempts him with a chair to start, but Orton slugs him down and drops a knee. Christian fires back and tosses him, but misses a dive and gets sent into the stairs as a result. Back in, Christian escapes the draping DDT and hits an elbow off the middle for two to take over. They slug it out and Christian chokes away on the ropes and gets a Bossman punch from the floor for two. Orton comes back with a rollup for two, but Christian gets a spinebuster for two. Orton blocks the Killswitch and they tumble to the floor, but Christian recovers first and blocks a blind charge. Orton blocks a dropkick with a rollup for two, and hits his own dropkick for two. They fight on top and Christian puts him down for a flying headbutt, which gets two. Orton makes the comeback and they do a weird sequence where Orton whiffs on the RKO, and they try it again so that Christian can reverse to the Killswitch for two. Christian’s spear misses and Orton hits a body vice into a neckbreaker for two as the crowd starts to turn on him and get really into the near-falls. Orton gets the powerslam and draping DDT for two…but Christian backs off and spits on him. Orton gets pissed and pounds away, then punts Christian in the nuts for the DQ at 12:06, giving Christian the World title. This whole deal made Christian look like a punk and did nothing for him, because they wanted to keep stretching this “feud” over another PPV, but didn’t want to actually BEAT Orton, so you got this. Really, they’d have been better off just keeping the damn belt on Orton to make the eventual loss to Mark Henry mean something. Orton gives Christian an RKO on the table afterwards to get his heat back, and then on the way back to the dressing room Vince was screaming “SEND HIM BACK OUT THERE AND BREAK THE F------ TABLE!” into the ref’s earpieces, so Orton goes back and tries it again, and that table doggedly refuses to break. It was future endeavored the next day and recently showed up on Impact after the no-compete expired. ***1/2 WWE title: John Cena v. CM Punk Time to crank the volume, baby! The crowd atmosphere for this is unlike anything seen for years before or indeed since then. The intrigue was so off the charts here that it literally crashed my blog and many other wrestling websites, although as it turned out, it didn’t really translate into a record buyrate for the show. I was losing my mind while watching this live because literally anything could happen with the angle and it was the one time where someone was going to become a new star no matter what. And to his credit, Cena stoically ignores the boos, and doesn’t try to act like the goofy babyface. They work off a headlock to start and Cena dodges a high kick while the crowd chants “You can’t wrestle”. Punk stops to clarify who they’re talking about, and luckily it’s Cena. They trade armbars and Cena goes back to the headlock, but Punk comes back with a hiptoss before going to his own. They criss-cross and trade finisher attempts, and both guys back off, as the ultra-confident Cena is playing it a bit shaken here. Punk stomps him in the corner, but Cena fires back with a bulldog for two and goes to a facelock, again visibly showing nerves. Fake ones, not real ones. Clothesline gets two. Cena goes back to the headlock, but Punk escapes with the suplex for two. Cena slugs away in the corner and gets the fisherman’s suplex for two, but Punk reverses the FU into a DDT for two. Punk with a headscissors on the mat as the tension starts ramping up, and Punk dumps him and stops for a high five from former jobber Scotty Goldman. Kneedrop on the apron gets two. Punk misses a charge and Cena makes his first try for the STF, but Punk fights him off and gets a clothesline for two. Punk botches a bodypress and gets two as the female portion of the crowd starts chanting for Cena, and Cena bails to the apron and then suplexes Punk to the floor from there. Back in, that gets two. Cena starts to get more confident, dropping an elbow for two, and he uses a Dreamer Driver for two. Booker notes that Cena is winning the crowd over “like Rocky in Russia”, which is a pretty obscure reference these days. Like, how many of the Twitter crowd would have even SEEN the Rocky movies? Cena goes to an abdominal stretch, but Punk escapes and we get the double clothesline and you know s--- is going to go down now. Cena makes the official comeback, but Punk rolls him up off the powerbomb for two. The running knee misses and Cena completes his FIVE MOVES OF DOOM leadup, but Punk kicks him in the face to show that indeed he can see him. Cena bails and Punk hits him with a suicide dive. Back in, Punk misses a crossbody and Cena is really determined to hit that five knuckle shuffle. Punk escapes the FU (not quite sticking the landing, which is something people harp on for some reason) and puts Cena down with a series of kicks for two. Cena counters out of the GTS with a gutwrench for two. Punk escapes the FU and hits a pair of knees into the bulldog, but he goes up for the flying clothesline instead of covering and only gets two. Punk throws kicks, but Cena takes him down into the STF and now the crowd is getting worried. Punk makes the ropes for a giant sigh of relief from 14,000 people. Punk clobbers him with a high kick for two, and goes up for the crossbody again, but Cena catches him and tries the FU, which Punk reverses to the GTS, which Cena reverses into the STF. Punk can’t make the ropes and I was freaking out at this point. Punk, however, fights out and into the Anaconda Vice and the crowd is losing it. Cena powers out and into the FU , for two. Punk reverses another FU attempt and tries the GTS, but Cena makes the ropes and puts him down. Cena to the top with the flying legdrop, for two. Nice touch as Cena stops to psych himself up and regroup, showing vulnerability you never see otherwise. Another FU gets two. They fight on the top as Cena wants an FU, but Punk reverses to a rana and follows with the running knee into the GTS. Cena was too close to the ropes, however, and falls out of the ring, and that seems to be the “out” for them to book a screwjob finish. However, Punk puts him back in as Vince and BIG JOHNNY head down to watch, and Punk walks into an STF as a result. Vince wants the bell rung, but Cena breaks the hold because he doesn’t want to win that way. Back in, GTS, and Punk is the champion at 32:53. The crowd loses their f------ minds as the Summer of Punk begins. ADR tries to cash in at Vince’s behest (which is what everyone thought would happen), but Punk fights him off and leaves with the title. I still love this match because it was a BIG FIGHT with actual stakes, and much like the Aries-Roode match it was a match where both guys went in with momentum and neither guy could conceivably lose. Cena acted like an actual human being for once and Punk showed fire that he lost sometime around Royal Rumble of this year and never really got back again yet. Any match where I’m compelled to crank the volume on the TV because I’m still so pumped to watch it can’t be anything but *****. The Pulse I don’t know if this is a contender for “greatest of all-time” status because the Punk stuff ended up being such a crashing failure afterwards, plus really the Del Rio win was of little consequence in the grand scheme of things and the MITB matches themselves were pretty forgettable, but this is easily, EASILY, the best PPV of 2011 and absolutely one of the best of the entire decade. And hey, it kickstarted the pushes of Mark Henry and Daniel Bryan, plus elevated Punk to the main event for good, so it’s got some major cred on the historical side of things. Plus there’s a shitload of awesome matches and nothing bad. Highest recommendation.