OK, here we are. After being prodded I realise that this was…a show, a show of epic proportions and I really should write it up. I mean…my God. This show.
Keeping in mind its over three days later now, I watched this thing in an internet cafe worrying about how I would find my friends in a strange city afterwards, and the only “notes” I have go on go something like “holy jesus f*cking sh*t god mother jesus f*cking sh*t”. So I’m sketchy, and watching the show in such strange circumstances makes it hard to recall everything properly, but nevertheless, I soldier on.
Straight up, I loved the set, it looked massively cool. Also, the Punk/Cena promo video that opened this up, “Do I have everybody’s attention now?”, that was just the GREATEST SH*T EVER. Too bad they only made this as the go-home video because it really, REALLY should have been played on Raw. But man it was awesome.
The Smackdown Money in the Bank f*cking ROCKED. An awesome, awesome match. The first markout of the night was Sin Cara coming out in Mistico white. Everyone’s entrances looked pretty cool with the set actually. Anyway, like I said, awesome. I dont know where to start with this match. Well, maybe from the start. I liked the initial big man battle between Kane, Barrett and Sheamus. The first cool ass ladder spot was Justin Gabes HOPPING with the ladder across the ring. Shades of Kofi. I loved the period at the start where they didnt even use ladders, they just had all the flippy guys doing flips as the highspots, and it worked in the middle of a ladder match. The consecutive dive sequence of Slater, Gabes, Bryan and Cara RULED. And then, just as Sin Cara was going all awesome on everyone…he DIED. Literally died. That powerbomb was f*cking brutal, it killed me. Jesus Christ. I enjoyed the little Corre sequence, because you just knew those two werent going to let Barrett go anywhere, and they didnt. Gabes’ 450 was just CRAZY, he was SO DAMN WOBBLY on the ladder and somehow he just nailed that sh*t in such a small space. Gabes ROCKS. If you dont know, now you know. Bryan freaking died off the Doomsday Device, epic bump. And then Sheamus DIED off the ladder Chokeslam, Jesus. And man oh man was the finish great. Bryan, who had already been throwing everything at everyone trying to win and who the crowd was going nuts for, in the end with the guillotine on Cody on top of the ladder with Barrett behind him, then giving the ELBOWS to Barrett to finally kicking him off and DANIEL BRYAN F*CKING WINS MITB. Crowd went insane, I marked out in my chair, sh*t was AWESOME.
Bryan Danielson, 5’6″, indy darling, a future World Champion in WWE. Doesnt that just blow your mind. Even more when you tie it in with the main event. Totally unexpected result, and what a great one. If I worry, I’ll worry tomorrow.
I actually thought most of Kelly vs Brie was better than their usual fare. Kelly’s bump on the outside was cool, as was the wacky sub Brie had on. Nikki was also awesome on the outside this whole match and afterwards. Finish was kind of abrupt though, but overall acceptable fare. And anyway, “She doesnt even eat! How can you not beat her?!” made this all totally worth it. The Bellas earned their bread today.
I’ve seen this Mark Henry video a thousand times in the last month, but man is it ever awesome. I cant explain how happy I am that we get Mark Henry: Baddest Motherf*cker Alive, here, in 2011, on Smackdown. Speaking of which, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way Henry walks in or out and THREATENS THE LIFE of any fan who tries to touch him. Glorious, old-school badassery. And I actually enjoyed the hell out of this match. They worked at a crazy pace and took all sort of big ass bumps for each other, since they both had to be the worker. MARK HENRY WITH A DROPKICK. BIG SHOW DIVING OFF THE ROPES. This is no ordinary match people. And then the kickout (which worked as the WSS is an inordinately protected move) so Henry just goes nuts on him and splashes him to death for the clean pin. This was exactly what I wanted it to be. And then Henry going all asshole afterwards with the Pillmanising, which looked nasty coming off the second rope, awesome. Big Show is the most awesome seller who never gets credit for being an awesome seller. As far as I’m concerned they should just continue the cycle of Show selling, cutting promos, then coming back as a monster on a tear of revenge indefinitely. He’s great at it. But I am so in love with Mark Henry.
Now, the Raw Money in the Bank was the one match I was distracted for, so I didnt feel like I had a grasp on all the spots in the same way, but nevertheless this was another completely fun match. I liked the way Alberto brought the ladder straight in, coming off Raw, so everyone else brought their own ladder and they immediately went after Alberto, also coming off Raw. Plus it was something different to open with. The crazy early dive sequence, ending in Rey & Kofi topes and Bourne’s Jeff Hardy-style SSP was awesome. I bought Miz selling his knee only because it was his right knee, and in any case he was selling huge, mad props for that. Plus I loved the idea of him being carted out as well, because with that plus Sin Cara you’re selling the extent of the danger and showing that casualties pile up. Rey and Bourne’s stereo ranas was a great spot. Kofi doing the Shelton Spiderman leap warmed the cockles of my heart. I loved Kofi in this match, but I suppose I love him in all matches. I liked the ladder Boom Drop, as well as Bourne’s ladder SSP mimicking Gabes from earlier. But possibly my favourite spot the entire match was Alberto doing his huge RUNNING TOPE OF FAILURE to the outside and SPLATTING. I laughed forever. Truth doing the see-saw into Swagger’s face just scared me, thinking of Joey Mercury breaking his face. Cool spot with everyone up top grasping for the swinging case. Kofi landing right on Swagger’s FACE was awful. Miz’s limping Flair comeback was cool and the crowd totally loved it, which was funny. And after all that, we get Alberto and Rey and a RUDO MASK FINISH. Shades of Jericho! But seriously, what a genius move. Even all the ladders toppling accidentally didnt matter, because to me those kind of accidents just sell how dangerous and precarious it all is and make it all the more realistic. And the right man won. I preferred the SD MITB, but that isnt a knock in any way, awesome work all round.
Orton vs Christian, well I was looking forward to them finally blowing this off, and then…this happened. But first off, the match was pretty great. I liked the chair thing they did at the start for the lulz, although I like it less knowing the finish. But these guys cant have a bad match, this was another good one and they threw in even more counters that I marked for. I enjoyed the DDT attempt into the Sunset Flip attempt into Orton’s dropkick. I loved busting out cool stuff like the spinebuster and Orton’s cool ass dropping neckbreaker. Also the Orton Leapfrog to counter the Spear. The kickout out of the Killswitch (another very protected move) was another great piece of “Christian just cannot beat this man.”
But the finish…f*ck off. Honestly. I dont give a sh*t about Christian winning the title anymore, and ESPECIALLY not with this kind of bullsh*t. Its just lame as hell. Orton is obviously the stupidest f*cking babyface on the planet. Its Edge hitting the banned Spear like a moron all over again. If there’s one thing more offensive than an Asshole Babyface, its a Stupid Babyface. And like the World Title really needed something to make it look worse. Like Smackdown doesnt have enough problems without this bullsh*t. Now you have a completely undeserving midcard champion (because that worked out so well for Miz) and all you get out of it is ANOTHER MONTH of Orton and Christian. This feud sucks. The matches in between are good, although they havent been the same since Christian turned, but this feud sucks and its way past its use-by date. Smackdown has been Groundhog Day for 3 months now. Blow this off and go the f*ck away. I completely hated this finish and it took me out of what was a fun match.
On the plus side, the aftermath of Orton going psycho was great. The RKO on the table, and he walks away and it appears that the crowd chanting “ONE MORE TIME” makes him go back and do it again, which makes them go absolutely mental and somehow Orton ends up leaving super over as a babyface after being booed by smarks the entire match. That part was a total win.
OK, I just watched Cena vs Punk again.
There are no words.
I literally dont even know what to say. I aint even busting out my natural capslock and swearwords for this, because that kind of thing wouldnt come close to expressing what this was.
What an incredible crowd. The last time we had a crowd with this level of emotion, of this size, was, well I was going to say WM22 for the symbolism, but in reality its probably the Edge vs Cena TLC in Toronto. Dont underestimate how molten that one was. But the point is for one night only we were all back in 2006, and it was freaking glorious. There is just something about Cena and smarks and stars aligning that creates something that nobody else can touch.
I almost dont even want to talk about details of the match here, this was so much more than just mechanics that it seems almost trite. There were so, so many little things that happened here I want to name them all. This was incredible work. Cena ducking the early head kick. The “YOU CANT WRESTLE!” “Me?” “NO!” “Him?” “YEAH!” part was hilarious. Cena doing something wacky like getting in the guard and transitioning to a Fujiwara armbar, of all things. The early BOO/YAY FU and GTS attempts. Punk’s wicked knee drop on the apron. Cena injuring his knee which, real or not, actually helped the match immeasurably with his uncharacteristically subtle selling and the way it kept scaring the announcers.
Actually, on that, I’m going to interrupt myself to say that I actually thought the announcers did a hell of a job calling this. Me. In 2011. I find it impossible to enjoy commentary in 2011, but I thought they did the best job they possibly could. Missed calls aside, they really called this properly. Booker and King, in particular, are good in the sense that they seem to legitimately react to what they’re watching. There were so many times I heard lines that added to what I was watching. Like Booker saying he didnt think Punk could win, but then he kicked out of the FU and suddenly he’s like “..I cant call it.” Or King saying Cena must have been knocked out from the knee and knocked back in a second later. Or Cole starting to worry every time he saw Cena check his knee, which in particular I thought was great, because it wasnt the classic oversell, but rather a realistic kind of “Oh bugger, I think this guy is really hurt.” Even at the finish all we got was Cole’s “Oh my God.” They were all kind of stunned by Punk winning, they didnt know what they could possibly say. It wasnt a perfect job, its still 2011, but by current standards I was pleasantly surprised with how they called this.
Anyway, the match. God this thing built so well, I feel ridiculous at this point, like I’m almost just typing out play-by-play, because like I said there was so much awesome detail work in here. That CRAZY suplex to the outside. The BOO/YAY strike battle into the ABDOMINAL STRETCH, which I laughed so hard at. But the point at which Cena went into his comeback sequence and Punk broke it up, I think that was the momsnt when it dawned on people, or me at least, that this was something extraordinary. The Five Moves arent countered every day, and again it reminded one so strongly of HHH and WM22. The follow up with the big ass “Chicago!” tope was awesome. Then he landed on his feet out of the FU and got a nearfall off a LEG SWEEP. Nearfalls off nothing moves warm my soul. Then those crazy knees, the second of which f*cking DRILLED CENA DEAD, before he FINALLY hit the springboard clothesline. So he’s making his comeback and then suddenly BAM STF!
But man oh man, it was the final 10 minutes of this that tipped it over the edge. The incredible Cena crossbody-roll through into the FU into the GTS into the STF sequence was freaking NUTS. Cena dragging him back into the middle killed me, but then Punk visibly mans up and goes “I am NOT TAPPING MOTHERF*CKER” and BAM ANACONDA VICE! Then Cena uses STRENGTH and hits the FU, BAM, KICKOUT. Punk using the Big Dave Breaks Cena’s Neck Top Rope Bomb, then the leg drop, then the second FU, BAM, KICKOUT. Cena goes for the Super FU in desperation, but ELBOWS and then the giant Frankensteiner ruled. And then FINALLY the GTS but only to the ribs and Punk scrambles wildly to catch Cena and misses. So we get Vince and Ace and the Screwjob tease we’re all dreading but BAM! John Cena dont work that way bitches. Thats such a perfect Cena moment right there. So in the end we get the clean(ish) finish that he wanted, and there you go.
It was exhausting listing all that stuff, but that doesnt even explain half of it. It doesnt explain how I felt watching it. It didnt feel like “just” a great match, like any other match, it really felt like something incredibly special and way beyond what we normally get to see. The match itself came across as this gigantic, epic struggle between these two men to see who was better, who would win out. This was the most incredible sell job of the WWE Title in quite some time. It was a struggle to win, it was an achievement to win, and it mattered who won.
With everything that happened from the video package onwards, you could feel the depth of emotion coming off Punk, off Cena, off the crowd, off the announcers, off yourself as it happened. And really, when it came down to it, these two guys just put on masterful performances. Punk has been on the most amazing roll of his life and this was by miles his best and most career-defining piece of work. Cena played his part as the perfect foil for both Punk and the crowd beautifully and was also just a super, super worker. Cena f*cking eats, sleeps and breathes for this kind of crowd, and there’s never been anybody even close to his level at this.
They just did everything right. Every single thing, it was amazing. They even had Vince order Alberto out like we all assumed and they said “Haha, nope!” and got out of it. Punk runs out through his crowd. CM Punk pinned John Cena and walked out of the company with the WWE Title. That literally just happened. Its the Summer of Punk Revisited. It is literally happening.
For one night only, well for a month maybe but especially for one night, we got the quintessential smarks dream played out in WWE. Its just incredible when you stop and think about it. After all the times we complain, all the times we’re maligned, after all the times “our guys” have been “buried” and so forth, all the times its “Vince hates the internet”. Yet, here we are. CM Punk, the small indy geek who couldnt work, who always had heat, who made a home “in the doghouse”. It was enough when he actually won multiple world titles, but now he’s here recreating a Ring of Honor angle on Raw, saying things like “New Japan” and “John Laurinaitis” and cutting message board promos on TV. His character is “smark hero”. And after all that, they had an incredible match in front of his dream hometown smark crowd and Punk beat Cena clean and ran away with the WWE Title.
Its amazing how everything aligned here; the perfect timing both with his contract and the Money in the Bank background, the perfect hardcore build up, the perfect character with the perfect opponent, a perfect crowd and environment, and we ended up with a perfect match with the perfect ending. And thats no exaggeration. What a perfect piece of professional wrestling this was.