July 17th, my undead friend. The important date mentioned by CM Punk is finally upon us. Brace yourself for Money in the Bank, taking place tonight at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
Before we kick off with our preview, we would like to bring your attention to an atrocity.
Behold. The worst WWE PPV poster ever.
Apart from poor buy-rates for the WWE PPVs, 2011 is going to be remembered as the year ridden with ridiculously poorly designed posters for these shows as well. We thought we hit a new low with Capitol Punishment last month and and the earlier Over the Limit, but with this lusciously monstrous design for Money in the Bank, we seriously doubt the actual depth of the bottomless design hell of WWE's graphic department.
Big Show and the freaking leprechaun Hornswoggle reading a bedtime story on the fairy tale of Money in the Bank matches? Does anyone in their right mind seriously thought that this can sell the show?
Now, back on the show. Finally, after the two lackluster PPVs for the last two months, Money in the Bank is upon us tonight at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. While Money in the Bank is generally considered as a B' show as compared the traditional big four (Wrestlemania, Summerslam, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble), its unique position on the calendar and its particular gimmicks ensures its superiority over the other regular PPVs.
Sixteen WWE Superstars will complete in two ladder matches with one from each brand walking away with a briefcase containing an opportunity that has by now became a guaranteed WWE or World title reign. The biggest athlete of WWE take on the World's Strongest Man in a blow-off match. Orton and Christian move in the fourth installment of their feud. And more importantly, on a night where traditionally, the title matches take on the backseat to the gimmicky ladder matches, Cena takes on Punk in an epic encounter with cataclysmic ramifications.
We have complained incessantly about the state of WWE's business since the post-WrestleMania lull started. And now we finally have a potential epic angle in the making with CM Punk taking on Cena for the WWE Championship in his hometown of Chicago on the very last day (purportedly) of his current WWE contract. We have had an in-depth look into the amazing promo by Punk that started the feud, and we will touched on the angle later.
Meanwhile, Christian, continuing his unlucky streak, is still on the back of Orton in his persistent title chase as the feud shifts into its final gear as Round 4 of Orton vs. Christian continues. Money in the Bank matches, despite its gimmicky nature remained to be a spectacular treat. And with the involvement of Evan Bourne, Sin Cara, Kofi Kingston, Justin Gabriel, Rey Mysterio, and Daniel Bryan in the two matches for both Raw and SmackDown brand, rest assured that two promising matches are in store for the night.
With our prediction for Capitol Punishment last month, continuing our recent trend of scoring an almost perfect prediction, we scored a cool 6 out of 7. With the unpredictable nature of two eight-man matches and a main event that has many speculating a dozen of scenarios, can we continue our winning ways with Money in the Bank? Do remember that we successfully called out The Miz as the winner for last year's Money in the Bank.
Now on with the show.
WWE Champion John Cena vs. CM Punk
Now this is a match for the ages. It has been a while since we are this excited in a match involving Cena.
When the Nexus (the original, not the cheap knockoff) invaded Raw and tore Cena apart, followed by the dismissal and the subsequent triumphant return of Daniel Bryan (at last year's SummerSlam) , we were in for a series of interesting developments in 2010. However, after the penultimate chapter of Orton vs. Barrett with Cena refereeing the title match at last year's Suvivol Series, things have gone anywhere but South these days except for the pre-WrestleMania hype with the involvement of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and The Undertaker.
And now with the extremely well-booked angle with Punk and Cena, we are truly intrigued by what might happened tonight, purportedly the last day on the current existing WWE contact of Punk. In any other cases, whenever we meant "purportedly", we are pretty certain it's just another well-executed worked shoot angle. But not this one. For those who have followed our earlier coverage on Punk's stunning worked shoot on Raw (of which we accurately perceived as a worked shoot incidentally), several news-worthy development have occurred, other than the McMahon/Cena interaction, McMahon/Punk contract negotiations you have witnessed on Raw.
Things like Punk calling out a fan in the WWE tour in Adelaide, telling him that he has a vagina and is a homo. And here's the video taken by a fan in the front row.
With regard to Punk's perceived homophobic slur, GLAAD (that's Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for you) has issued a stern statement on the issue, and WWE responded by reaffirming that Punk will indeed be legitimately leaving WWE after the Money in the Bank PPV and that fact is "not part of a storyline."
Will Punk indeed stay on WWE? That is our true concern on the angle. Punk himself has interestingly pointed out the fact that the last Cena got "fired", it lasted like for seven days. Will this be the downfall of SuperCena?
More interestingly, the much-talked-about angle has more emotional depth with a tinge of realism within. Punk pointing out to Cena the fact that Cena himself has became this WWE marquee figure that he has started out trying to beat as an underdog is an intriguing point. And with Punk as the genuine underdog in his hometown, of which he is dearly beloved even despite his best efforts to heel on the audience earlier, are we witnessing a true rise of Punk against the odds?
Adding more fume to the flame, we have also been recently reminded by WWE.com of CM Punk's humble beginning in WWE as Cena's mobster lackey in Cena's (generally lame but grand nonetheless) entrance at WrestleMania 22 in his hometown of Chicago, incidentally where tonight's event will be held. Hell, they even have a picture to prove that.
With Punk voicing out long-ignored concerns over WWE's traditionally tyrannic ways, he has unwittingly (or perhaps by well-gauged design) fitted into the role of an unique babyface, while Cena continue to face extreme hostility from the adult male audiences, placing him into the role of a heel. Will we witness a history-in-the-making event tonight?
Predicted Winner: CM Punk
On a night where title matches usually take a backseat to the two eponymous ladder matches, we can assured you this match is the reason to buy the PPV. Not that the two ladder matches sucked particularly hard, but the build-up for this angle is just masterful and unprecedented in the history of WWE. This is not Rob Van Dam cashing out his Money in the Bank opportunity at then-reigning champion Cena at ECW One Night Stand II at the Hammerstein Ballroom. And as mentioned earlier, this is not exactly Punk's departure angle at ROH before arriving in WWE. The scale is simply much more higher here at WWE. And with the added element that tonight is the night where two WWE Superstar will be rewarded the Money in the Bank opportunity, will Vince be utilizing them as a failsafe measure toward the potential situation where Punk leaves WWE with the title? In addition, Colt Cabana, the former WWE trainee and prominent ROH wrestler who was repeatedly called out by Punk in his promos, has confirmed that he will be at the event. Just what might happen tonight?
Much speculated by online fans, there have numerous theories on how the angle will be resolved. Some intriguing, some less so but more possible. Among the most likely scenario that most have talked about, would be that WWE once again chicken out by letting Cena win clean and Punk gets the annoying "nanananana" bye bye song treatment (which isn't likely given tonight's venue being Chicago). That would be much alike to how Cena played it straight at the aforementioned Orton vs. Barrett at last year's Suvivol Series. But with such intense focus and SummerSlam in the horizon, we truly suspect that WWE has a master swerve right ahead. Apart from that sure-as-hell disappointing scenario, let's have a rundown on the more intriguing and likely scenarios:
Scenario 2: Another safer scenario where Cena still wins clean but got a vicious beatdown by Punk. Then Alberto Del Rio, the winner of MITB cashes in his opportunity and becomes the new WWE Champion, setting up the SummerSlam main event.
Yeah, pretty predictable and boring if you ask me.
Scenario 3: Cena wins. Furthering the ongoing Miz/Riley feud, Alex Riley (the surprise winner of MITB in this case) tries to cash in on Cena but all he gets is a major beatdown from The Miz after officially handing over the briefcase to the referee. Thereby, Riley becomes the first-ever MITB winner to fail in cashing out the opportunity. More funny promos from The Miz to sell the angle since he did successfully cashed out on Orton last year.
Scenario 4: Cena wins. But a reverse case of scenario 3 happens here. The Miz (winner of MITB in this case) tries cashing in but was thwarted in his attempt by Riley.
Scenario 5: Punk wins. Del Rio(still the winner of MITB in this case) becomes Vince's latest favorite son and cashes in to save the WWE title. More gloating ensues. Cena vs. Del Rio at SummerSlam for the title.
Yeah, still relatively boring. But a little better as we could be having Punk back in a renegade tweener role out for revenge at Del Rio.
Scenario 6: Triple H, antagonized by Punk over his earlier comments on him (a doofus), return the favors by interrupting the match, causing Punk a defeat. Punk re-signs with WWE for a revenge match at Triple H at SummerSlam.
Scenario 7: Now here's an alternate theory to the above one: The Rock, also infuriated by Punk's comments, show up to screw Punk.
Both the above scenarios are far the most colorful and slightly overbooked but nonetheless interesting ideas. Do note that these aren't exactly impossible as SummerSlam is down the line and they usually need some Superstar back-up for A'shows as such.
Scenario 8: WWE does a cross-promotion with ROH, having Colt Cabana in the ring for an interruption. Punk wins and brings the title to ROH. Cena gets "fired". Cena then fight back for a rematch clause to bring the WWE title back to WWE at SummerSlam.
Ridiculous? Not quite if you understand the history of WWE. WWE has earlier worked with independent promotions like ECW in their early years. And taking into account that the scenario could just worked without the involvement of ROH with Punk simply out of the picture, it is likely.
Now, here's our final decision... Punk wins. Cena gets "fired". The Chicago audience gets a "feel-good" moment, just like us here at The Daily Zombies. Now what? You want an ultimate hook for audiences for the upcoming RAW? How about a world without John Cena and CM Punk, and more importantly, the WWE Championship? The so-called WWE Universe would be dying for the fallout. I am not quite sure how WWE can pull this off but that's in my opinion, the best hook for any self-respecting wrestling fan out there to tune in Raw since Bret Hart's return. However, the actual execution of the fallout would be essential to the success being brought over to SummerSlam. With how the angle has turned out so far, despite our doubts with the WWE's writers, we would like to, for once, stayed optimistic and hope for the best. That said, I believed what will happened from here would be similar to what was mentioned earlier in Scenario 8.
In fact, this match had inadvertently increased our interests in the Raw Money in the Bank match since the winner of that match could be a tell-tale sign of what happen here.
World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. Christian
Orton vs. Christian, round 4. The series of encounters between Orton and Christian have been consistent with engaging in-ring story-telling abilities from both Superstars. With the fourth installment, the special stipulation (if Orton gets disqualified or if "if the referee makes a bad call", the title changes hand) adds a new level of story over the match. We are certain that this will no doubt be yet another great match-up between the two, but we strongly suspect this is not a blow-off match to the feud, which in turns is in detriment to the match.
Predicted Winner: Randy Orton
With the deck stacked against Orton, it is only right that Orton overcame them, being the against-all-odds babyface that he is. Christian will still have a shot at the World title, but probably with an added opponent Sheamus included in the mix.
Again, the winner of the Money in the Bank match comes into the picture of this one. It remained totally viable that Sheamus, upon winning the MITB, cashes in on Christian, who have won the match and became yet again, a short-lived champion in his second title reign, continuing his storyline of being screwed at every turn.
Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Rey Mysterio v. Alberto Del Rio v. Kofi Kingston v. Alex Riley v. R-Truth v. Miz v. Evan Bourne v. Jack Swagger.
While Money in the Bank matches are traditionally a showcase of stunts, those involved in this match-ups are mostly capable of pulling this one off. Just don't go expecting any Shelton Benjamin-style crazy spots.
Predicted Winners: Alberto Del Rio
We start this one off by eliminating those unlikely to win.
1) Rey Mysterio: Already an extremely well-established main eventer, Rey doesn't need such push.
2) Kofi Kingston: Has since been perpetually stuck on the midcard since feuding with heel Orton ages ago. Don't see how things can change for him here given the way he has been handled lately.
3) Evan Bourne: Now thankfully, here's one we don't have to explain. Unfortunately for the talented up-and-coming Superstar, though.
4) Jack Swagger: Speaking of unfortunate, Swagger might be the epitome of premature push leading to sharp downfall. Having won the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania XXVI, Swagger subsequently successfully cashed in on SmackDown two days later. However, he was besieged with a largely forgettable title run and lost the title in three months. Has since never ever been close to the reach of a World title. Don't see how it would be any different for this otherwise potential Superstar.
With that out of the way, here are the more likely candidates:
1)Alex Riley: With the intensive push behind Riley lately, he might just win the match and become the first ever MITB winner to fail to cash in.
2) R-Truth: While Truth has indeed been pushed lately, his angle has recently taken a backseat to Punk and Cena's all-dominating storyline. While still likely to win, his chances of winning is lesser than Riley and The Miz's.
3) Miz: He has won it before and this type of win suits his character. But it remain to be seen if he can cash out this time given how SummerSlam approaches next month and fans would not be expecting yet another rematch of Cena vs. Miz, a feud which stank by the way.
So, as a result, no matter how Punk vs. Cena turned out, Del Rio remained as the most likely candidate to win the MITB match, given his hot push and the much-circulated rumor of a Cena vs. Del Rio at SummerSlam. The only point of argument against this decision would be the fact it is by far the most obvious result.
SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Kane v. Sin Cara v. Daniel Bryan v. Wade Barrett v. Cody Rhodes v. Heath Slater v. Justin Gabriel v. Sheamus.
While Raw's Money in the Bank is likely to be within the ranks of functional to good, we tend to opine that SmackDown's, despite being of a lesser caliber due to the thin depth of the SmackDown roster, might just be the finer MITB match tonight. With Bryans, Cara, Gabriel, Rhodes, and Sheamus, we have faith that these Superstars have a higher possibility of delivering more than an even-steven match-up.
Predicted Winners: Cody Rhodes
We initially thought of throwing out the same elimination process like the one we did for Raw's MITB above, but given how unlikely most of the candidates are in this one, we can skip the futile exercise.
Interestingly, we have Sheamus in the very same position as Del Rio in the Raw match, since both are the obvious choice for kicking or continuing the respective world title feuds for their brands. However, we go for a wilder guess with this one for Cody Rhodes. He is no doubt a rising star, and with a briefcase by his side, it is likely that we can see a rehash of the Orton's Legacy implosion feud right here on SmackDown.
Big Show vs. Mark Henry
While the build-up to this big man feud is surprisingly exciting, anytime Mark Henry step into the ring for an actual match-up, all momentum stopped dead in the tracks. At best, this might just be a better big man match than the usual fare WWE enjoys in at throwing at us.
Predicted Winners: Mark Henry
Despite my misgiving at Henry's in-ring capabilities, the reason behind the interesting build-up between the two Superstars is in fact Henry's newly developed trash-talking bully role. He has shined considerably in this new role, and with this new found heel heat behind him, we doubt WWE is stopping Henry's momentum, especially given the dire straits situation over at SmackDown with its incredibly thin roster depth.
Divas Champion Kelly Kelly vs. Brie Bella
Here's a most bathroom break classic in the making.
Predicted Winners: Kelly Kelly
Heh, why the hell not? It's not like there's other potential contenders for now in the Divas title musical chair game.
Without a doubt, this is the most exciting wrestling PPV show since WrestleMania XXVII. In a way, the ramification behind the main event is of an even more intriguing level than even WrestleMania. Additionally, we have some of the most interesting match-ups with two MITB ladder matches, as well as another installment from the Orton vs. Christian series, which have till now been excellent. This is quite possibly of the better PPVs of the year. And if you are still not excited by the fallout of Cena vs. Punk, you should not be watching professional wrestling anyway.
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