Well, the WWE finally did it. After spending years trying to recreate the magic of the late-90s Attitude Era, Vince and Co. put together a near-perfect, compelling and unpredictable event. Last night’s Money In The Bank pay-per-view was easily one of the best WWE events of the last 10 years and probably in the top five non-WrestleMania events of all time. And we have one match to thank for it: CM Punk vs. John Cena.
The build-up to the match was off the charts: CM Punk’s contract was supposedly up at the end of the night and he wanted to take Cena’s belt with him when he left. In the weeks leading up to the match, Punk showed why he was the best heel in the business and put on some of the best promos we’ve ever seen. But those of us that have had to bear with the crappy PG-rated WWE product over the last few years were all skeptical about the chances of the company cashing in on all of the hype. I half-expected Super Cena to put on his Hulk Hogan 2K11 and make most fans over the age of 18 realize that WWE wrestling just wasn’t for us anymore.
But thank the high heavens that didn’t happen. Instead, Punk and Cena put on a 35-minute classic that ranks as Punk’s best in the WWE and Cena’s second-best match ever right behind his hour-long epic with Shawn Michaels. They did all of this in front of an absolutely rabid Chicago crowd. And they weren’t just “rabid for a WWE event” rabid; they were “the Cubs finally won the World Series thanks to a Michael Jordan home run that hit Rod Blagojevich in the face” rabid. The Windy City fans deserve a ton of credit for the atmosphere of the match.
Though the match was phenomenal, the post-match angle is going to have everyone talking just as much. Many expected Del Rio to come to the ring to cash in his Money In The Bank briefcase to challenge Punk after his win and take the belt, but – in what was a major swerve that popped the crowd – Punk ran away through the Chicago crowd with the belt and left the event in a cliffhanger that will hopefully create a big rating for tonight’s RAW.
I’m still not sure if Punk’s contract is up as it’s possible he’ll show up tonight and lose the belt to Del Rio before taking his actual break, or if the whole thing is a big angle and Punk never actually ended his contract, meaning he’ll be champion for a while. I’d imagine that he’s at least considering sticking around because he really has the potential to be the next Stone Cold Steve Austin based on the amount of heat he’s gained from this angle and the 5-star match he and Cena put on.
As for the rest of the card? Two stellar ladder matches and an intense Randy Orton/Christian showdown made for an all-around unforgettable card. Hell, even Mark Henry and The Big Show put on a decent bout. I don’t want to jump the gun or be a prisoner of the moment, but the WWE may finally be well on its way to reclaiming its old glory. If you didn’t see Money In The Bank, you have to catch the download or get the DVD when it drops in a few weeks.