Monday 15 August 2011

Destiny Fulfilled

Yes, Alberto Del Rio is now the one, true undisputed WWE champion having cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase last night at SummerSlam, moments after CM Punk had defeated John Cena in the main event of SummerSlam 2011.

Good show? Absolutely. It wasn’t quite as action packed as Money in the Bank a month earlier, but then it was never going to be. Money in the Bank hosted two thrilling ladder matches which would shape the future of WWE’s world title scene (well... scenes). It also had the massively anticipated John Cena v CM Punk match in Punk’s home town. It was a show with a big time feel that SummerSlam couldn’t quite match.

Don’t get me wrong, SummerSlam was a thoroughly enjoyable show. Beth Phoenix v Kelly Kelly was kept short and sweet. Sheamus performed a near miracle and had an enjoyable tussle with Mark Henry. Daniel Bryan helped Wade Barrett have the best match of his career. We were given an enjoyable six man opener that got the crowd fired up early on. And we had another excellent entry into the Christian v Orton feud... complete with a surprise appearance form Edge!

‘The Rated R Superstar’ cut a believable (if predictable) promo before the match in which he essentially told Christian he needed to be a man and face Orton fairly. That ‘Captain Charisma’ did, in a first class match. The two men got a lot of time, let the match built naturally and entered top notch performances. As far as I’m concerned it was the match of the night.

The only downside coming out of that bout is that ‘The Viper’ is once again the World Heavyweight champion. We’ve now had four successive pay-per-view matches between the two men and a multitude of television bouts. They work well together and have produced an epic feud but I have no interest in seeing them face one another again. But it’s going to happen, because as the former champion Christian will get a rematch. We could see that on SmackDown in the next few weeks, but I have a feeling WWE is hoping to squeeze one last bit of PPV mileage out of the two at Night of Champions next month. It won’t be a bad match, but it won’t be a match the world has to see either. I’d have preferred Christian retaining and moving into a feud with Sheamus, but I suppose that will have to wait.

The WWE title “unification” match was not a patch on its Money in the Bank counterpart. The crowd were slightly less lively, the pace was a little on the sluggish side, and Cena proved incapable of carrying himself like a true main event performer two pay-per-views in a row. It wasn’t a bad match, it was just fated to be caught in the shadow of a match that was something special.
As an aside I'd like to state that as Punk never lost or vacated the WWE championship, and nobody stripped him of it. He had the stronger and more reasonable claim to being the true champion. The unification aspect of the show was surplass to requirements: WWE either shouldn't have bothered with the idea at all or kept Punk off TV long enough to allow the idea of two champions to mean something upon his return. A process that should have played out over two or three months was rushed through in eight days. Survivor Series would've been a better event for the unification angle, and that would've had the added bonus of The Rock's presence: he would've made a far more logical (and enjoyable) guest referee than Triple H. But I digress...
Following the aforementioned sluggish WWE title match business, as Jim Ross would have said had he been allowed on commentary, picked up. Triple H counted down John Cena’s shoulders despite the fact that his foot was under the ropes (which should have broken the count and caused the contest to continue). The location of Super Cena’s foot was irrelevant: Triple H, oblivious to the incorrect call he’d just made despite the screeching of the announce team, ruled Punk the winner and handed him the belt. As Punk celebrated ‘The Game’ nonchalantly swaggered up the aisle and Cena (mysteriously) disappeared from view.

What happened next was one of the most genuinely shocking moments in wrestling all year: ‘Big Sexy’ Kevin Nash hobbled through the crowd, jumped the guard rail and flattened ‘The Straight Edge Superhero’ with a Jackknife power bomb. My immediate reaction? “Why, Nash? Why?”

The fun and games didn’t end there. As Triple H returned to ringside sporting a look of bemusement Alberto Del Rio sprinted to ringside with a referee and cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. A enziguri is all it took to put Punk down for the three count and allow Del Rio to finally fulfil his destiny.

This was a great end to the show. Del Rio cashing in had always been a fairly safe bet, but the return of Nash was completely unexpected. The crucial point is that multiple questions are raised and could lead the various RAW storylines in several directions. Fans can’t be sure what’s going to happen next, which means they’ll tune in to RAW to get some answers. This is how wrestling should always be booked.

Was Kevin Nash acting alone or was he paid off by Del Rio? Was Triple H really as unaware of Nash’s presence in LA as he made out? What was Stephanie doing in John Cena’s dressing room? What will Punk’s reaction be a member of the Clique (if you’re reading this and don’t know what the Clique is, google it) essentially costing him the WWE title? All these questions, and more, will be answered on RAW.

Before I finish I’ll tell you how I think this could play out. Annoyed about Punk’s comments on the June 26th RAW Stephanie tried to convince Triple H to screw Punk out of the title, but ‘The Game’, refused (probably because of his recent promotion and his new babyface attitude). So Steph called in Nash, who can legitimately be portrayed as a friend of the family, to take care of business for her: he was in the Staples Center as a backup in case Punk managed to beat Cena fair and square. Was Del Rio in on it with the two of them? Possibly, though Steph could count on an opportunisitic heel to cash in in such a situation without giving them any forewarning so it’s not guaranteed. That leaves the question of what Steph was doing in Cena’s dressing room (spare your jokes, I’ve toyed with writing them all). My best guess is that she was offering Cena some sort of deal which he turned down because it contradicts his ‘Hustle, Loyalty, Respect’ lifestyle.

Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong. This could take a different direction and launch a Cena heel turn: he disappeared very quickly after he was pinned, almost as if he knew an angry Nash was on his way. It could equally be used as a way of launching Punk v Triple H by revealing that ‘The Cerebral Assassin’ knew about Nash’s involvement all along. That’s what’s good about the angle, there are so many possibilities.

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