Judge Paul Pritchard's candy ass had had the Smackdown laid upon it so many times it's pretty Raw.
Our review of WWE: Money In The Bank 2010, published September 23rd, 2010, is also available.
"Do I have everyone's attention now?"
Just a month or two before WWE: Money In The Bank 2011, wrestling fans had little reason to believe the PPV would offer anything particularly innovative or exciting, but then CM Punk changed everything when he delivered a promo that shocked fans around the world, as he tore into the company. Punk slated the McMahon family, ripped into the company's poster boy, John Cena, and gave voice to the frustrations the fans have been feeling for years. With Punk refusing to sign a new contract with the WWE, and thus threatening to leave the company with the title belt around his waist should he defeat Cena in the main event, Money In The Bank suddenly became essential viewing for fans of pro wrestling. Would the WWE give the fans what they wanted, or would "Superman" John Cena retain the gold?
Well, before the main event there were five other matches on the card, beginning with:
• Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Heath Slater vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane in the Smackdown "Money in the Bank" Ladder Match
This matchup has a good mix of up-and-comers with more seasoned wrestlers (not to mention a genuine superstar in Kane), and combines high-flyers and brawlers to good effect. Sin Cara takes one hell of a hit thanks to Sheamus and a ladder, while the three ex-members of the Nexus enjoy a Mexican standoff. As is typical in a match consisting of so many participants, everyone gets their moment in the spotlight—meaning that everyone gets plenty of time to rest and recuperate—and it's just as well, too, as there are one or two spectacular moments (including the finale) that ensure this opener gets the crowd going, without threatening to overshadow the main event.
• Kelly Kelly vs. Brie Bella in a match for the Diva's Championship
I don't mean to be disrespectful, but here comes the Diva's match to sap the momentum the opener had built. Look, we all know the WWE puts looks way above talent when it comes to the Divas, but that doesn't mean PPVs should have to suffer them. This division was once pretty decent, but not anymore. For what it's worth, the match is actually decent. Oh, who am I kidding? It sucks. So bad, in fact, that the commentary team of Booker T, Michael Cole, and Jerry "The King Lawler" often seem to be discussing anything but the in-ring action. An uninterested audience should be a signal to the WWE that they need to push real talent or kill the division off.
• Mark Henry vs. Big Show
Having made Mark Henry relevant for the first time in a long time, and built up a good feud along the way, this clash of the mid-card titans has much potential as the "World's Strongest Man" takes on the "World's Largest Athlete." Despite some impressive shows of strength, the matchup disappoints due to only one shift in momentum and a short length. In fact, the best part of the match is a post-match attack where Henry loses it.
• Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne vs. R-Truth vs. Alex Riley vs. The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio in the Raw "Money in the Bank" Ladder Match
From the outset this match raises two points: Firstly that the Raw brand really does outstrip Smackdown in terms of star appeal, and secondly that, since he lost the title to John Cena, The Miz has been massively mishandled by the WWE. The guy is the best all-rounder in the company outside of CM Punk, and yet he's become Alex Riley's whipping boy. Really? His entrance gets the biggest pop by far, yet seems to be completely out of the title picture and is fast become a jobber. Still—personal grievances aside—the match is excellent. The opening, which sees everyone pound on Del Rio, gives the crowd a good laugh as everyone seems determined to keep the cocky heel from achieving his destiny. The matchup maintains a great pace, and constantly sees the momentum shift from athlete to athlete. Highlights are plentiful, with Jack Swagger's fall from the top of the ladder, and Del Rio's unmasking of Mysterio being at the top of the list.
• Randy Orton vs. Christian in a match for the World Heavyweight Championship
This match is seemingly just the latest encounter in this ongoing feud, and comes after Christian's heel turn. The match also carries one important stipulation: If Orton is disqualified Christian wins the belt. Both wrestlers are popular with the fans, but as is common in the WWE, the heel gets the better fan reaction. Christian makes a fine heel, and starts the match desperate to provoke Orton into getting himself disqualified. There's a nice ebb and flow to this encounter, which delivers a brilliant finale as Orton goes feral causing the fans to go wild.
• John Cena vs. CM Punk in a match for the WWE Championship
Ladies and gentlemen, this is it. The main event, the very reason everyone tuned in to watch this PPV, delivers in spades. The crowd is, to a man, behind Punk, and kudos to the fans with the "If Cena Wins We Riot!" banners. Sure this is Punk's hometown, but the support he has goes way beyond that. This is an audience wanting, nay demanding, a change of direction in the WWE. The reaction to Cena is shocking. Not even the kids want him to win, despite what the commentary crew might try and make you believe. Now, I'm no Cena fan, but I'll say this: he gives his all and is just as worthy of praise as Punk is in delivering the match of the year (so far at least). The buildup to the match saw fans speculate the outcome endlessly, and Michael Cole is quick to bring up the Montreal Screwjob, as many predicted Punk would end up suffering a similar fate to Brett Hart. As it is, over the course of the match every permutation you could think of is hinted at, culminating in the finest close to a match in years.
Finally, the WWE has woken from its slumber. WWE: Money In The Bank 2011 sees the WWE at the precipice of a new era. The fallout from the main event has already seen big changes with Triple H succeeding Vince McMahon, and talk of the company entering a new Attitude Era. How far the WWE actually takes this is still to be seen, but for the first time since the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Mankind, the product feels fresh, vibrant, and, like Mark Henry, relevant again.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is top notch, as is the 5.1 soundtrack. The sole extra on the DVD is a post-match interview with Daniel Bryan.
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