So after my little brother-in-law Aphiwe got us excited once again and tuned into pro-wrestling, a crew of my friends and wife’s family watched WrestleMania this past April. What about pro wrestling got a bunch of grown men who haven’t watched in decades excited again? That story can be found here. As Jay and I tweeted, Aphiwe stood three inches from the TV impersonating every entrance, every finishing move, and being tormented by John Cena’s epic loss to The Rock. At the end of the night, our stomachs hurt from laughing so hard, Aphiwe had enjoyed an evening of wrestling, and all of us had enjoyed re-entering the silly world of pro wrestling.
We all went on with our lives, having wrestling matches with Aphiwe sporadically, telling him we’d defeat him for his replica WWE Championship belt, and talking about that time his hero, John Cena, lost to The Rock. But then, one day, curious what that pale Irish fellow who had won the belt in 30 seconds or what that John Cena fellow was up to, I clicked over to WWE.com to get some quick updates. And, remembering the fun of that night back in April, I wanted to do it all over again.
I realized that the next pay-per-view was a newer one featuring one of the most high-flying, action-packed, chaotic specialty matches in pro-wrestling: THE MONEY IN THE BANK MATCH! The premise is simple: hanging high above the ring in a briefcase is a contract guaranteeing a shot at one of the top championship belts in WWE, to be redeemed whenever and wherever the winner desires.
Once I realized that this year’s pay-per-view included TWO Money-in-the-Bank ladder matches, and thinking ahead to everyone’s busy schedule come fall and winter, I casually dropped the idea to Aphiwe (of course he was on board) and then to my father-in-law and best friends… who immediately pepped up at the prospect of another night of pizza, laughs, hype, extreme stunts, and wild soap operatic drama. This time, in my Wolfpac Recap (a wrestling recap done by a former fan who loved the nWo Wolfpac and doesn’t really know much about who each wrestler is or the story lines), I’m going to let you know about our epic evening watching the 2012 WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view extravaganza, complete with a non-fan’s telling of each match’s background and what adventures took place.
**Disclaimer: I don’t have much knowledge about wrestling. Other than my experience following pro-wrestling from 1998-2000 and what my 12-year-old brother-in-law Aphiwe tells me, my only other knowledge comes from 5 minute stints of looking things up on Wikipedia, reading The Masked Man’s columns on Grantland.com, and skimming WWE.com summaries.**
Epico & Primo vs. The Prime-Time Players
Background: Aphiwe loves the current champions, R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. I do too because they come out to join the announcers booth with awesome suits on and their belts. Apparently the Prime-Time Players, with their hype man who seemingly has my dream job, have a shot at the belts at some point. But tonight, they have to fight Epico & Primo. WWE appears to be all about African-American vs. Latino tag-team matches.
Pre-Match Hype: The current champs are in the house! The hype man is in the house! Let’s do this.
Match Recap/Results: Some large men do some impressive moves and the roll-up to finish the match seems to leave both teams thinking they won. I was confused.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a World Championship Contract
Background: This match features EIGHT wrestlers, surely more than EIGHT ladders, and one contract to give them a shot at the World Heavyweight Title whenever, wherever they want it. We have the current United States Champion. We have the current Intercontinental Champion. A huge looking guy. And a Rey Mysterio wanna-be. I wish it was actually Rey Mysterio. I freakin’ loved that guy. Here’s what I’ve managed to gather about each of the eight competitors.
- Damien Sandow: “The Intellectual Savior to the Unwashed Masses” and “The Enlightened One”. He’s relatively new to WWE, arrogant, and untested.
- Christian: Fairly older wrestler. He was one part of the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs tag-team, extreme, high-flying duo cleverly named “Edge & Christian.” He’s the current Intercontinental Champion. He’s experienced with high-flying, extreme matches. I like him because he’s, well, the only wrestler who has been around since I was watching.
- Tensai: Apparently he’s a new wrestler since WrestleMania. Apparently he has already beaten John Cena AND CM Punk, the two biggest names in the game?!?!?!? He’s big. He’s tattooed. He’s scary looking. Get this giant-looking fella outta here! Sounds like he needs some humbling… from some ladders to his tattooed face!
- Sin Cara: I don’t know what his name means once it’s translated, but my guess is… “I want to be like Rey Mysterio when I grow up.” If he proves himself in being able to fly from large heights, doing multiple flips, landing on multiple wrestlers, then I’m all about this little guy.
- Santino Marella: Apparently he’s the ultimate underdog who fans love and always comes up short. He does this move with his hand that turns into a snake and strikes people. It’s like Mankind’s Mr. Socko except it’s a snake-like sock. It’s hilarious. He’s funny. Was definitely rooting for him.
- Tyson Kidd: former jobber who everyone is shocked is in this match. Seems to be a good wrestler who fans love. Blah blah blah.
- Dolph Ziggler: Blonde pretty boy looking-fellow who has had a “relationship” with Eddie Guerrero’s widow, is called “The Show Off,” and is the hands-down favorite to win. Unless he gives me something to root for early in this match and does some awesome stuff, then I’m going to be rooting for an underdog. And by underdog, I mean the high-flying masked fellow or the only guy I’ve heard of whose name also happens to be the name of my faith. That’s a win-win for Christian and a high hill to climb for Mr. My-Name-Sounds-Like-A-Rocky-Balboa-Opponent favorite in this match.
- Cody Rhodes: I’m betting he’s related to Dusty Rhodes, who was never my favorite in WCW, but gives him some points given his relation to a wrestler I actually know. He lost the Intercontinental Championship to Big Show at this year’s WrestleMania. Apparently he’s another one of the higher-card wrestlers in this match. I wasn’t rooting for him at WrestleMania because I wanted to see my old WCW friend, The Giant, to win. Mr. Rhodes’ chances for my rooting interest here are as low.
Pre-Match Hype: This match actually started out the evening! The show starting out with a bang… all eight wrestlers got to the ring and things got out of hand QUICKLY!
Match Recap/Results: OH. MY. MOMMY! Tensai was a monster, destroying everything in his path. The match lasted half an hour and every bit of was breathtaking. It was what a good gimmick match was, doing everything you could do to someone else with at least one ladder involved. There were power moves, high-flying moves, and at least 7 occasions where even the wrestling skeptic in the room (thinking “Is this even going to be entertaining at all?”) winced and said, “That had to actually hurt!” The show stealers in this match were Sin Cara and his high-flying hijinks, Tensai’s raw power just dominating people, and Santino Marella’s award for being the most entertaining and fun wrestler of the entire evening, getting people with his green sock and almost winning the match before it was revealed that he and his own viper-version of Mr. Socko are afraid of heights. Hilarity ensued. Tensai power bombed Sin Cara through a ladder. Tensai chunked Dolph Ziggler like a beanie baby, but only to have Ziggler, the favorite to win, claim the briefcase in the end.
There was a Divas 6-woman tag-team match, but we didn’t really watch much of it. Instead, Aphiwe (having lost his WWE replica belt to Jayzor earlier in the evening) defeated me in a BRUTAL #1 contenders match.
Ryback v. Curt Hawkins & Tyler Reks
Background: Here’s all you need to know about this storyline, which is absolutely hilarious to me. Ryback is a new wrestler to the WWE who has just been dominating smaller-named wrestlers for weeks, mostly in 2-on-1 handicap matches where he still melees them. Absolutely dominates them. Exhibit A…
For those of you who watched wrestling back in the day when I did, he’s basically the reincarnation of Goldberg, the WCW wrestler who came on the scene out of nowhere, started a winning streak by wrestling at every show and just destroying everyone along his way to being a main eventer who eventually held two championship belts and had to be defeated by Kevin Nash after Scott Hall returned with a taser. It was a fun storyline and one that lasted for most of my wrestling fandom. Ryback is the exact same. Hoping they turn this into a storyline where he goes after Goldberg’s record… and hopefully goes up against a returning Goldberg at some point.
Match Recap/Results: Ryback wins. It wasn’t even close. Utter domination. The fans love to chant “Goooooooldberg!” during these matches. It’s awesome.
World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio
Background: So Sheamus is a pale Irishman, a.k.a. The Great White Hope. Fans seem to love him. He won this year’s Royal Rumble and defeated Daniel Bryan in record time to win the World Heavyweight Championship at the beginning of this year’s WrestleMania. AJ had distracted Bryan (see the main event preview). He’s had the title ever since. Alberto Del Rio seems to be a charming enough, villainous character who drives nice cars and has a bizarre little manager guy that’s kind of creepy. King Joffrey-esque, if you ask me. Apparently Del Rio slammed Sheamus in the hood of a car a couple weeks ago. This Del Rio just seems to have an excellent work ethic and goes after what he wants. Seems like he’s misunderstood and not actually a villain. Rooting for the title to switch hands here. When are we as Americans going to stop being prejudiced towards Anglo-European immigrants and accept our more diverse brethren into this melting pot that is America?
Pre-Match Hype: After Ziggler won the contract to face the World Heavyweight Champion at any time in the next year, the question was raised whether he’d redeem the contract TONIGHT! I was hoping he would…
Match Recap/Results: And well, Ziggler tried to. It was a pretty decent, technical match. Sheamus pulled out the victory in the end. Ricardo the manager then attacked him. Del Rio attacked Sheamus. Fella got to keep his title, but at what cost. This Del Rio fellow loves driving nice cars and just hurting this poor Irishman whose accent sometimes turns into a Jamaican-ish accent. Oh well… Sheamus the good guy wins. Yay yay… BUT WAIT! THEN OUT RAN ZIGGLER WITH HIS BRIEFCASE CONTRACT! HE WANTED THE SHOT AT SHEAMUS NOW! Del Rio tried to stop him, but that didn’t work. But while Ziggler tried to convince the ref, Sheamus rose from the ashes like an Irish, pale phoenix and just gave the super boot to Ziggler’s face, then allowed the fans to love on him as the still heavyweight champion of the world!
Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a WWE Championship Contract (only former WWE Champions can compete)
Background: This match will likely be the final one of the night, unless the winner decides to immediately redeem his contract and challenge the winner of the Punk/Bryan championship match. This match has all the big guns in it – Chris Jericho aka Y2J aka mid-level superstar back in my WCW-watching days; Big Show formerly known as The Giant; Kane formerly known as spawn of Satan and/or Undertaker’s brother and had his mask off once, but now it’s back on; and 10-time World Champion, hero to all the kiddos, Aphiwe’s personal hero, and man who has done more Make-a-Wish visits than any other… JOHN CENA! After rooting hard against Cena at WrestleMania, I’ve told Aphiwe I’m jumping on board and rooting for Cena, the true American hero, jorts-wearing, middle-class American champion, JOHN CENA!!!! Some experts have guessed that Punk may lose to Bryan AND then enter this match. That would be awesome. I’d love to see some surprise, last-minute add-ons to this match. But, unless one of my old favorites returns, I’m rooting for Cena with Aphiwe. I even bought him an action-figure for him to wrestle around with during the match. Records appear as if each of these men have had a rivalry with at least two of the others in 2012. Blood is boiling. Ladders will be flying. What’s not to love?
Pre-Match Hype: We actually had some fun pre-match hype here. Early in the evening, The Miz returned to WWE, away on hiatus filming a sequel to the John Cena blockbuster hit, The Marine. I’m not kidding. WWE Studios has been making sequels, and The Miz, also known as Mike from that one season of The Real World, is in the next one. But he’s back, and as former WWE Champion, he’s entering into the MAIN EVENT! So we got another “superstar” ready to party. Jay was ecstatic, ready to root against John Cena. Aphiwe called that rubbish and said Cena would take care of him.
Match Recap/Results: By this point in the night, we’d already had several wrestling matches of our own. We’d eaten way too much pizza. We’d seen a classically great technical match from CM Punk and Daniel Bryan (See below.) So we were ready for superstars to just duke it out with ladders. And that’s what we saw. With one of our friends (joining us later in the evening who knew nothing about wrestling) being shocked at Chris Jericho, Kane, and The Big Show still being around and still going strong, the 5-man match began. The Big Show DOMINATED early, being a giant (or being THE GIANT), breaking ladders, breaking people, usually at the same time. Eventually, John Cena said enough was enough and gave the Big Show an Attitude Adjustment power slam through the Spanish announcing table, a sign of any great main event.
The other four proceeded to put most ladders on top of Big Show to keep that giant down. Then, Jericho, Kane, The Miz, and Cena took turns going for the briefcase with the contract to superstardom in it. Ironic, given all five of these guys are five of the biggest names in the game, but whatever. THIS IS ABOUT GLORY AND THIS IS JOHN CENA’S FIRST-EVER MONEY IN THE BANK MATCH! It led most of us to believe that he’d win to give the fans (well the half that aren’t soured on good-ol-boy-company-man-John-Cena) what they want. You know the drill… Big Show erupts from ladders, destroys people, gets a giant double ladder out because he probably is too heavy for the others, Chris Jericho almost gets the briefcase and actually hangs from it in mid-air before being thrown down. Big Show’s about to get the briefcase. Cena races up the ladder. Cena tries to break The Big Show’s chokeslam attempts by beating him in the head with the briefcase and THE HANDLE BREAKS! JOHN CENA IS HOLDING THE BRIEFCASE! HE WON… was he supposed to win like that? It was a bizarrely anti-climactic ending that Cena sold well as he celebrated with a few minutes left to go in the pay-per-view show. He won! Was he supposed to? Was Cena supposed to win like that? My guess: Cena was supposed to win, but not quite like that. Regardless, he’s the champion. It was a fun match and a fun night and not disappointing for us in the slightest… because of good family, good friends, good pizza, good wrestling in my living room, ultimate ladder match destruction, ridiculous hype… and this next match!
WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan w/ Special Referee AJ
Background: My intrigue for this match peaked as soon as I read this piece on Grantland about AJ being the most fascinating female in wrestling since Macho Man’s Miss Elizabeth. She’s been all over the place, beginning by distracting Bryan to lose his title to Sheamus at the beginning of WrestleMania and then kicking Bryan in the crotch. Since then, she’s kissed Kane, proposed to CM Punk, been proposed to by Bryan, and gone from pretending to leap from the ring onto tables to pushing Bryan AND Punk onto those tables. She’s kissed both men in the ring, one after another. She’s helped and hurt each one in various matches. It’s bizarre, because two of the most popular and technically skilled wrestlers in WWE today are competing for the top title, and the most fascinating storyline is this little spritely woman whose actions are mystifying and will surely impact the result of this match. Pro wrestling… what can ya do?!?
Pre-Match Hype: There was an interview with Daniel Bryan where he declared his undying love for AJ and his certainty that she would choose him. There was a hype video of this tragic love triangle and AJ’s kookiness and craziness. That video was shown at least 4 times. Then there was the pre-match interview with AJ, where she seemed as unstable as ever.
Match Recap/Results: With so much hype and so much ladder match, handicapped match, superstars-we-grew-up-with fun, this match was not so much for those of us who aren’t fans. We were mystified by how “two of the greatest WWE technical wrestlers” today fighting for the top championship belt was overshadowed by this AJ girl. Although the great article from Grantland explained how AJ has made females in wrestling fascinating for the first time since Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth, it was still bizarre. But this match was actually two great wrestlers clearly influenced by the great showmen like Randy Savage putting on a helluva show. The match (No disqualification, meaning everything is legal) involved singapore canes, old school chair shots, fighting inside and outside of the ring, and a breathless finish of CM Punk suplexing Bryan through a table from the top turnbuckle. Old school wrestling fun that was clearly just two of the best putting on a great, old-school wrestling match. AJ was “injured,” allowing the middle of the match to be free from her drama. After Punk barely won after one last comeback that no one thought was coming, he celebrated with his belt and fans, leaving AJ wondering if Bryan is truly her man. Who knows? I sure don’t and since I probably won’t be watching wrestling again until Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, or WrestleMania next year, I don’t know if I’ll ever know.