Title: Money in the Bank 2011

Format: DVD

Studio: WWE Home Video

Review by: Bill Jones

Money in the Bank was a second-tier World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-view, potentially on its way out, after diluting the awesomeness of the titular match with a yearly pay-per-view treatment, which had proved underwhelming in recent years. But then along came CM Punk, on the end of his contract with the company and the show taking place in his hometown, and with that as the setup, the WWE put on its best PPV in years.

Less than three weeks before the event, after proclaiming he was leaving the company and taking the title with him, CM Punk cut a promo at the top of the ramp on Monday Night Raw, a promo that shook up the wrestling world with an edgy delivery the company has been lacking in recent years. CM Punk reiterated his intent to leave the company with the belt, but proceeded to bash his employer, talking about Vince McMahon’s yes-men — along with comments directed toward McMahon’s daughter and son-in-law — suggesting the business would be better off after the wrestling promoter is dead.

And it’s not that everyone agreed with Punk (the fans that heard it were the ones who were already watching the show Punk was claiming to hate); it’s that CM Punk brought out an honesty that’s been lacking, a promo that wasn’t (in all likelihood) entirely scripted. And in those few minutes at the top of the stage, along with WWE’s decision to handle it as though it was not intended, Punk made himself a superstar after five long years of working the undercard in WWE.

The crowd in Chicago was absolutely electric leading up to and through the big main event pitting CM Punk vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship. I had the pleasure of sitting second row at the event, and the atmosphere was bigger than that of WrestleMania — in fact, I spoke with several others at the event who also attended Mania and said they were much more excited about this event. The hype could have absolutely killed any chance for the main event to live up to it, but that’s exactly what it did.

At Money in the Bank 2011, we got a match that proved A) CM Punk deserves every bit of the attention he has received, and B) whether we old-school wrestling fans like to admit it or not, yes, John Cena CAN wrestle. By in large, it had everything — a big match vibe, great wrestling and Vince McMahon pulling out all the stops to stop CM Punk, but failing miserably in the process, giving fans everything they wanted.

That said, it would have been easy for Money in the Bank 2011 to have succeeded as a one-match card, but almost everything else delivered as well. The other championship bout between Randy Orton and Christian delivered a great match, despite its finish, and Orton did a lot to cater to the crowd in his attempts at breaking the table at the end. Big Show and Mark Henry also had a hell of a bout.

And that’s even before considering the Raw and Smackdown Money in the Bank matches, both of which were filled with their faults, but had plenty of big spots and at least one very surprising finish. Speaking of stars being made on the spot, the old-school crowd that came out in support of Punk was also won over by Sheamus, who may have broken out again after his vicious power bomb of Sin Cara.

All in all, Money in the Bank was a fantastic show from start to finish, and the DVD does a great job of capturing the event. If anything, it lacks a bit in the department of capturing the vibe of the live crowd, and I was surprised to hear how down the announcers were on Punk in the midst of the biggest push of his career. And of course the bonus on the disc is more or less useless. It’s also a shame plans for a Blu-ray version were scrapped, now that the PPVs are broadcast in HD. But Money in the Bank 2011 is one of the best PPVs in years, and one of the few I’ve wanted to watch repeatedly, so the DVD is a must-buy for wrestling fans.

For more info, wwe.com

Pads & Panels received a copy of the DVD courtesy of the studio for review purposes.