It was the question everyone was asking. Will he or won’t he? That’s what I was hoping to find out by watching WWE’s latest pay-per-view offering, Money in the Bank, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Sports here in Britain.
The show began with the Smackdown Money in the Bank match, featuring Sin Cara, Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, Heath Slater, Daniel Bryan and Kane.
I think the best way to describe this match would be excellent. It was filled with great moments, great performances and big bumps from all eight men.
The early credit went to Sin Cara as he showed just what he can do by taking everyone down with some fast-paced moves. Unfortunately he then got the results of his drug test and was power bombed on a ladder by Sheamus.
From there the great action continued aplenty. Everyone made good use of the ladders, pulling off some great moves, especially Gabriel’s 450 splash on Kane. Then, after Daniel Bryan fought off the challenge of his rival Cody Rhodes and his former Nexus buddy Wade Barrett he scaled the ladder and grabbed the case for his own.
The look on Bryan’s face afterwards said anything, but if there was anything I could change about this match it would be Booker T. His name’s Daniel Bryan. Not Dee-Bryan.
The ladies were up next as Brie Bella, accompanied by her sister Nikki, challenged Kelly Kelly, accompanied by Eve Torres, for the Divas title.
Well, I guess the fans needed something to bring them back down after the opening match. It was okay, but when you saw Kelly botching the head scissors take down early on it was obvious what kind of match this was going to be.
Thankfully it didn’t last too long as Kelly took the pin after taking Brie down with what looked like a rocker dropper.
Then it was on to the battle of the big men as Mark Henry took on the Big Show.
Everyone knew what kind of match this was going to be. It was basically two big guys beating down on each other. Show did his bit at the beginning before Henry took control, working over Show’s previously injured knee.
And that was about it. Show made a brief comeback only to be finished off by a second world’s strongest slam and two big splashes for the winning pin.
But that wasn’t the end of Henry’s work though as he took a steel chair from ringside, put it around Show’s leg and came down on it from the ropes at full force, and for the second time in the evening someone was carted away from the ring.
Now I’m going to say something that I never thought I’d say. Mark Henry looked quite good here.
The Raw Money in the Bank match followed, featuring Alberto Del Rio (I’m sure Jeremy Clarkson would approve of the Lambo), Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Evan Bourne, R-Truth, Alex Riley, The Miz & Rey Mysterio.
This proved to be just as good as it’s Smackdown counterpart. Each man grabbed a ladder as they came down to the ring, and when the match started they all attacked Del Rio with their weapons of choice.
When they had tons of great action and great drama, with plenty of high flying moves, particularly from the likes of Bourne and Kingston, and the Miz being taken out of action with a knee injury, although he did return towards the end of the match.
But perhaps the most entertaining moment was when everyone climbed various ladders and reached for the case, engaging in a seven way brawl on the top of the ladders, with the combatants falling one by one.
In the end it went down to two men, Mysterio and Del Rio, and as they fought over the case at the top of the ladder Del Rio countered Mysterio’s attempts by ripping off his mask, and after Mysterio crashed off the ladder covering his face Del Rio scaled the heights again to grab the briefcase as his own.
The Smackdown main event saw Christian challenging Randy Orton for the World title, with the stipulation that if Orton was disqualified Christian would win the title.
Once again these two put on another great encounter. Christian brought a chair into the equation early on in an attempt to goad Orton, but the viper was having none of it.
When the action began it proved to be an evenly matched affair, with neither man able to build any sort of momentum. But things took a dramatic turn when Christian took Orton down with the killswitch, only for Orton to kick out of the ensuing pin.
Orton would soon take control, taking Christian down with his DDT and his awesome looking delayed neck breaker. But as he prepared to take Christian out with the RKO Christian crawled out of the way, and as Orton approached him Christian spat in his face.
It was then that the green eyed monster took control, and seconds later a low kick was enough to give Christian the disqualification win, and, because of the stipulations, the title win.
Needless to say that Orton was none too happy with the situation, and the red mist descended as he attacked Christian, taking him down with two RKOs on the Spanish announcer’s table. Christian certainly didn’t look like a title winner by the time the proceedings came to an end.
The Raw main event saw C.M. Punk challenging John Cena for the WWE title.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few weeks you should all know what this is about. This was meant to be Punk’s last match before his contract ran out, and if Vince McMahon warned Cena that if he lost the title he’d get fired.
This may well go down as one of the greatest matches in WWE history, or at least of the 21st century. For over thirty minutes Punk and Cena put on a dramatic exhibition.
It was everything a big title match should be, filled with tons of drama and great action, backed up by one of the best storylines they’ve come out with in years. It was one of those matches you just couldn’t take your eyes off, and you just had to sit back and enjoy the ride.
We saw it all. Cena defending the title with every fibre of his being, and Punk determined to win the title on his final night with the company so he could stick it to Vince McMahon.
There were numerous pin and submission attempts, and as the match went on Cena became even more and more frustrated at his inability to put his challenger away.
Even more drama was added to the mix when McMahon and John Laurinitis came down to the ring, and when Cena put Punk in the STF McMahon ordered Laurinitis to go and get the bell rung. But Cena broke off his hold and clobbered the former Mr. Ace before he could get to the time keeper, saying that he didn’t want it to end that way.
This led to Cena’s downfall. After confronting McMahon he returned to the ring, only for Punk to take him out with the GTS. A pin and a three count later and we had a new WWE Champion.
But as the Punk and his hometown crowd celebrated his triumph McMahon grabbed one of the headsets and ordered Alberto Del Rio to the ring so he could cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. It never happened because Punk took him down with a single kick to the head before jumping the guardrail and celebrating his win with his hometown fans.
In conclusion - a week after TNA put on their best show of the year WWE went even further and put on an even better show.
Although the Divas title match failed to deliver overall Money in the Bank was an excellent show. The two ladder matches were great, the battle of the big men was entertaining, Christian’s title win began a series of dramatic events that ended with Punk beating Cena in what for me is the match of the year so far.
A special mention must also go to the Chicago fans. Boy were they vocal, and their attitude in the main event reminded me of when Rob Van Dam challenged Cena for the title at the second One Night Stand show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. Sadly we didn’t see the locals return Cena’s tee shirt after he threw it into the crowd this time around.
So in all the 2011 edition of Money in the Bank gets the big thumbs up, and if this doesn’t get any show of the year nominations in any of the big polls I’ll go to Dave Meltzer’s house and fart in his kitchen.