Allstate Arena –Rosemont, IL – July 17, 2011
Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Booker T are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Smackdown Money in the Bank Ladder Match – Cody Rhodes vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Heath Slater vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Kane vs. Sheamus vs. Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett
This is the first time for Bryan, Slater, Gabriel, Sheamus, Cara, and Barrett. It’s the second time for Rhodes and the fifth time for Kane (with one win). This is quite the international Money in the Bank, with a competitor from South Africa, Ireland, Mexico, and England in the fray. Kane clears the ring early on and tries to bring in a ladder but Bryan thwarts him. Gabriel and Slater both work together and fight each other, as they are former WWE Tag Team Championship partners. Sheamus takes his chance to clear the ring, but then Kane comes back in and asserts his dominance. The action is coming way too fast for me to keep up with on PBP. Not that anyone reads the PBP anyway. Bryan takes Barrett out with a dive and Gabriel does the same to Kane. Slater hits Rhodes with a dive, and then Cara wipes out Sheamus. Cara takes Bryan up to the top rope for a one-man Spanish Fly. Barrett takes Cara out to the floor and then sets up a ladder between the announce table and the ring apron. He tries a clothesline but Cara ducks and Barrett hits nothing but post. Back in the ring Sheamus drills Cara with a Brogue Kick, and then hits the infamous powerbomb off the apron and on top of the ladder! The crowd loved that and Cara is hurt. Kane and Sheamus battle over a ladder and Kane wins that fight. Cara is stretchered out as the fight continues. Barrett, Gabriel, and Slater work together on Bryan, which is a nice bit of NXT/Nexus symmetry. That doesn’t last too long before Gabriel and Slater are pulling Barrett off the ladder and beating him down. Gabriel and Slater fight on top of the ladder until Rhodes pushes them over. Rhodes then hits the Roll of the Dice on Slater but he can’t make it up before Sheamus cuts him off. Sheamus hits Rhodes with the Irish Curse. Kane and Sheamus work together to hit Bryan with a Doomsday Device! That’s awesome. Kane starts dishing out Chokeslams for everyone and climbs the ladder. Bryan thwarts him and hits a DDT. Slater and Bryan battle on the ladder and Slater takes him down with a neckbreaker. Barrett and Sheamus briefly work together to take Slater out, and then Sheamus starts throwing Brogue Kicks everywhere. Sheamus tries climbing the ladder but Kane pulls him down with a Chokeslam onto a ladder! Rhodes, Barrett, and Bryan gang up on Kane. Barrett hits Wasteland and Gabriel follows with a 450 Splash! Now Barrett is a house afire, getting rid of Gabriel and hitting Rhodes with a pumphandle slam. Rhodes recovers and clotheslines Barrett to the floor. Up on top of the ladder Bryan traps Rhodes in a guillotine choke. Barrett tries to sneak in from behind and grab the case but Bryan thwarts him. Bryan knocks Rhodes and Barrett down to the mat and is able to pull down the briefcase for the win at 24:25. That was smartly booked and creatively wrestled by all eight men. Bryan going over was a huge surprise at the time but he certainly deserved it and has since made the most of it in the ensuing months.
MATCH #2: Divas Championship Match – Kelly Kelly vs. Brie Bella
Kelly has been the Champion since 6.20.11, and this is her first defense. She is accompanied by Eve Torres and Brie is accompanied by Nikki Bella. Kelly, who can still barely run the ropes, somehow manages to take first control. She hits a giant swing without injuring anyone. Kelly goes f or a maneuver on the ring apron but Brie sees it coming and dumps Kelly chest-first on the floor. Now Brie is firmly in control and she wears Kelly down. Kelly makes the comeback with a neckbreaker. Kelly attacks Brie with her basic moves. She hits the bulldog (sort of). Brie comes back with a Knee-D-T. Moments later Kelly hits Brie with the K2 to get to the pin at 4:48. That was as exciting as it sounds.
MATCH #3: Big Show vs. Mark Henry
The match starts right away as the two behemoths take it to each other. Show takes Henry out with a shoulderblock to the floor, and he follows him out to deliver a clothesline. He shoves Henry into the steel ring steps and Henry takes an impressive bump. Henry then actually dropkicks the steel steps back into Show’s knee. Back in the ring Henry goes after the injured knee, keeping Show on the mat. Henry locks on a half crab. He then squashes Show in the corner. When he tries it again Show gets his boot up. Show then goes to the second rope and hits a huge shoulderblock, but he lands badly on his knee. He signals for the Chokeslam but Henry blocks it and picks Show up and hits the World’s Strongest Slam! It only gets two. Henry picks him up and hits another one, and then squashes Show with two big splashes to get the pin at 5:58. That was a solid power match and I love how Henry went over super-clean. This would kick off the best run of Henry’s career.
After the match Henry continues the assault, using a steel chair to Pillmanize Show’s ankle. That would put Show on the shelf for several months.
MATCH #4: Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. Alex Riley vs. Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio vs. R-Truth
This is the first time for Del Rio, Riley, Mysterio, and Truth. It’s the third time for Bourne, the second time for Swagger (with one win), the fourth time for Kingston, and the second time for Miz (with one win). Del Rio is rolling without Ricardo Rodriguez tonight. Everyone grabs a ladder on their way into the ring. Del Rio is the first target and everyone goes after him, sending him to the floor and burying him in ladders. The ring clears except for Truth and Miz, and they have a ladder fight. Swagger breaks it up with his own ladder. Kingston and Bourne both fight each other and work together in an impressive display. Riley gets aerial by wiping out Swagger and Miz with a dive to the floor. Truth follows with one of his own to take out all three. Kingston and Mysterio follow with simultaneous dives to wipe out everyone. Bourne then one-ups them by going to the top of a very tall ladder and hitting Air Bourne! He tries to climb the ladder back in the ring and grab the case but Miz stops him. Del Rio makes his way back in and pushes the ladder over. Miz takes a pretty horrendous bump off that and appears to have injured his knee. Officials take him to the back. Del Rio tries to climb up but Truth pulls him down. Then they both climb up and Mysterio and Bourne climb over the top of them, and are able to hit simultaneous hurricanranas when both men try to pull them up. Swagger goes to climb but Kingston slingshots over him and lands on the ladder. Unfortunately for Kingston, Swagger traps him in the Ankle Lock. Riley tries to take the opportunity but Swagger stops him and Truth pushes them both over. The action continues at a rapid pace – Del Rio misses a charge and takes a bump to the floor, and Mysterio starts throwing 619’s all over the place. A couple of ladders get set up and everyone climbs up and tries to grab the case. It’s quite a cluster up there. People start getting picked off and Kingston ends up alone there and Swagger quickly makes his way up there and they take a hellacious fall. Miz makes is way back out to a huge pop and tires to get the case but Mysterio knocks him down to a chorus of boos. Mysterio goes up and Del Rio joins him and pulls off his mask! Del Rio climbs up and is able to pull the briefcase down and earn himself a title shot at 15:51. That wasn’t quite as good as the Smackdown version, but in a shorter amount of time they packed in a ton of cool spots and I liked the finish.
MATCH #5: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Randy Orton vs. Christian
Orton has been the Champion since 5.6.11 and this is his fourth defense. If Orton gets disqualified he loses the title. Christian immediately goes to the floor and grabs a chair, taunting Orton to hit him with it. Orton doesn’t take the bait and instead starts punching and kicking away at the challenger. Christian comes back and dumps Orton to the floor, but misses a house show dive and crashes to the floor. Orton whips Christian into the steps. Back in the ring Christian comes back and hits a diving European Uppercut off the second rope for two. Christian continues the assault, keeping Orton on the mat. Orton comes back with a schoolboy rollup for two. Christian cuts him right off with a spinebuster for a near-fall. He goes for the Killswitch but Orton slips out of it and clotheslines Christian to the floor. Back in the ring Orton almost hits the RKO but Christian avoids it. Christian goes for a dropkick off the second rope but Orton catches him and gets a jackknife cradle for two. Orton hits a Thesz Press and then tries the Orton DDT but Christian counters it. Christian goes for a turnaround cross body block off the second rope but Orton hits a dropkick. On the apron Christian is able to snap Orton’s neck off the top rope. Christian goes up top and hits the diving headbutt for two. Orton fires back with a couple of clotheslines but Christian cuts him off with the Killswitch but it only gets two! Christian sets up for the Spear but Orton leapfrogs him. Orton hits the elevated neckbreaker but it only gets two. He follows with the snap powerslam and then hits the Orton DDT. Orton is ready for the RKO but Christian starts to beg off. Christian spits in Orton’s face and Orton is angry. Orton this a blatant low blow for the disqualification and Christian is the new Champion at 12:18! The finish makes Christian look like a pussy, but at least he outsmarted Orton and ended up the Champion. As usual between these two the match was excellent and would have rated higher with a better finish.
An angry Orton destroys the new World Heavyweight Champion after the bell, hitting an RO on the Spanish Announce Table. He leaves but then comes back and hits another one for fun.
MATCH #6: WWE Championship Match – John Cena vs. CM Punk
The fans have been chanting Punk’s name all night as it is. The video package for this match is awesome, and the crowd reaction before Punk’s music even hits gives me goose bumps. Cena has been the Champion since 5.1.11, and this is his fourth defense. They start with some chain wrestling and the crowd is molten for everything, cheering wildly for Punk and mercilessly booing Cena. Punk and Cena trade control back and forth in the early going, trying to establish dominance. Cena hits a fisherman suplex for two. He goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Punk slips out and hits a DDT for a two-count. Punk goes to work now and he takes the fight to the floor, where he works on Cena’s surgically repaired neck. Back in the ring Punk charges into the corner but Cena moves and Punk crashes into the ring post. Cena goes for the STF but Punk avoids it and hits a clothesline. Every time Cena tries to fight back Punk is able to cut him off. Just as I say that, Cena is able to suplex Punk from the apron to the floor. That’s a great spot. Back in the ring Cena covers for two. Cena works Punk over with a variety of moves (he has more than five) but can’t put Punk away. He locks on an abdominal stretch and Punk breaks it with a hiptoss. Cena perseveres and hits the Protoplex, but when he goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle Punk kicks him square in the head. Punk knocks Cena to the floor and follows him out with a dive. Back in the ring Punk goes for the springboard forearm but Cena avoids it. This time Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Punk lands on his feet (sort of) and sweeps the legs for two. Punk goes for the Go 2 Sleep but Cena slips out and hits a gutwrench suplex for two. Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Punk counters it and hits the running knee twice and then the bulldog. Punk hits the springboard flying forearm and Cena kicks out at two! Cena comes back and locks on the STF and Punk has to reach the ropes. Punk lands a knockout kick to the head and it gets two. He goes up top for a cross body block but Cena rolls through and tries the Attitude Adjustment but Punk counters to the Go 2 Sleep, which Cena counters to the STF! That was awesome. Punk reverses to the Anaconda Vise! Cena powers up and hits the Attitude Adjustment but Punk kicks out at two! The crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief on that one. Cena goes up top and tries the Cena Slice but Punk catches him (sort of) with a powerbomb for two. Punk goes for Go 2 Sleep again but Cena slips out and snaps Punk’s neck off the top rope. Cena goes up top and this time hits the Cena Slice but it only gets two! He hits another Attitude Adjustment but Punk kicks out! Cena goes for a Super Attitude Adjustment but Punk escapes and hits a super hurricanrana. Punk hits Go 2 Sleep, sending Cena to the floor. He retrieves Cena as Mr. McMahon and John Laurinaitis make their way out. The distraction allows Cena to put on the STF. McMahon tells Laurinaitis to go signal for the bell, but Cena doesn’t want it that way and clobbers Laurinaitis before anything can happen. Cena briefly gets in McMahon’s face, and when he gets back in the ring he runs right into a Go 2 Sleep! Punk wins at 33:43! The pop from the crowd is spine tingling. Sure this match wasn’t technically perfect, but some matches can overcome minor flaws by sheer force of awesomeness in storytelling and crowd reaction and this match had that almost as much as any other match in history, so to rate this anything less than five stars would feel wrong.
McMahon is furious and calls for Alberto Del Rio to come out and cash in his briefcase but Punk clocks him before the referee can even ring the bell. Punk then blows McMahon a kiss before making his way through the crowd to the thunderous cheers of his hometown fans. They pretty much ended up blowing it but on this night, WWE got it perfect.