Monday Morning Backlash: WWE Money in the Bank, CM Punk, John Cena, Daniel Bryan and the Night for Smarks

Today is not the time for analysis or speculation. Now is not when we should be worrying about Raw, how long this will last, or whether the moment will be ruined. WWE extremely rarely… check that… Vince McMahon extremely rarely gives the smarks, the long-term, overly dedicated fans a night like this. Just enjoy it. Just celebrate it.

I can think of three nights that WWE specifically catered to this segment of their fans for entire shows. The first, the night most known for this, was Wrestlemania 20. Along with the obvious – Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero both winning the title – we got a ton out of Wrestlamania 20. Smarks for the return of Deadman Undertaker, Triple H jobbing, Shawn Michaels being amazing in a Wrestlemania main event, and the return of the Rock n Sock to take on Ric effing Flair and Evolution. It was a night for us, giving deserving talents their big push, returning classics to their best incarnations… even a rising star, John Cena, taking out a top guy in The Big Show and internet favorites Christian and Chris Jericho facing off. It was a hell of a night. In the end, Eddie and Benoit had tragic ends (even their pushes with the title were subpar), Flair has become a parody of himself, Foley left the company, Christian, Jericho and Show have all left for at least a time, Batista is gone, Rock is essentially gone, Shawn retired, Triple H and Undertaker might as well have, and even John Cena became a merchandising machine who pales in comparison to what everyone once thought he could be.

The other two times WWE really catered to the ‘net were the first two One Night Stands. The original was pure smark fan service, but the second, where that fan service was topped off by Rob Van Damn re-creating ECW and winning the WWE Title from smark enemy #1 John Cena was entirely for the segment of fans that make up the IWC. ECW, however, was horrible botched. RVD got busted for pot and ended up in TNA. Cena remained on top… and ECW was essentially revived in TNA without any of the heart or soul.

None of these nights were invalidated by what came after. Last, we got a night for smarks that comes along extremely rarely, several times a decade, if that. Daniel Bryan, the ROH darling who many consider the best pure wrestler in the world, who last year at this time was fired, who had a hot angle with both Michael Cole and the Miz ignored, just won Money in the Bank. No one who has done that and cashed it in has failed to be World Champion. Christian, the hard worker once exiled to TNA, and then ECW beat golden boy Randy Orton for the World Title, outsmarting him, getting a second reign to validate his 3-day long initial run. Alberto Del Rio, the extremely hard worker who has gotten over as a major heel and has great ring psychology, who should have won the title at Wrestlemania if not for a freak injury to Edge won Money in the Bank for Raw.

And CM Punk. Of course, CM Punk. He’s been so entertaining and so consistently excellent that it became almost an afterthought how wasted he was. Smarks got sick of whining about how he was under-utilized first on Smackdown, then on Raw, and how he’s the best announcer, interview and one of the best workers. They started poking holes – he’s injury prone, sloppy, pisses off the wrong people, too indy – and then they started finding others to put in front of him – HBK and Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton all in turn. Then Punk was leaving and everyone remembered, “Oh, right, he’s the best performer and his WWE career, while successful, never reached near the heights it should have. And it got better. He cut some of the most memorable promos ever. He said everything we all thought, confirmed all we suspected to be true. He talked of wrestling, then he talked us into the building, into buying a Pay Per View, buying a ticket, just like the old days we all miss so very much.

But WWE does that. They give us hope, and then they crush it. A great angle appears – Nexus, Daniel Bryan and Michael Cole, Daniel Bryan’s return and the Miz, CM Punk and New Nexus going after Randy Orton for Orton’s heel issues, Legacy and second generation stables, the debut of Nexus, and many, many more. Punk was leaving. He really, honestly had no chance at the Pay Per View. He’d face the golden boy, John Cena, put on a memorable performance and lose in heartbreaking fashion. Or he’d win, we’d celebrate, and someone would cash in Money in the Bank and really drive the stake in. But, for one night anyway, that’s not what WWE did.

CM Punk beat John Cena. He beat John Cena and Vince McMahon and Johnny Ace. When they threatened that last second cash-in, Punk again broke the expected, and jumped into the crowd, running off. He gave us our moment; he gave us our night.

Christian is World Champion. Alberto Del Rio finally seems poised to get the title as expected at Wrestlemania. Daniel Bryan is ready to leap into title contention and won Money in the Bank. And CM Punk, on his supposed last day in the company, beat John Cena, overshadowed an entire excellent show, and won the WWE Title as the top draw of a major show. Whatever comes on Raw, until then, enjoy.

Tags: , , , , , ,