September 4, 2011
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

WWE: Capitol Punishment
June 19, 2011
Washington, DC
Verizon Center

The current WWE champs were as follows:
WWE Champion: John Cena (5/1/2011)
WWE U.S. Champion: Kofi Kingston (5/1/2011)
World Heavyweight Champion: Randy Orton (5/6/2011)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Wade Barrett (3/25/2011)
WWE Unified Tag Team Champions: David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty (5/23/2011)
WWE Divas Champion: Brie Bella (4/11/2011)

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T.

WWE U.S. Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero)
Champ enters first. Headlocks and headscissors to start. Kingston loads up for the TROUBLE IN PARADISE, but Ziggler sees it coming and delivers the Famouser to slow him down. Kofi gets a few surprise nearfalls and blocks the inverted powerslam for two. Ziggler avoids a corner splash and drops Kingston with a German suplex for a nearfall. SLEEPER HOLD, but Kingston drops to the mat for a jawbreaker. Works every time. HERE COMES KINGSTON! The S.O.S. misses, but a flying bodypress on a doubled over Ziggler gets 1-2-NO! Boom Drop sets up another TROUBLE IN PARADISE, but Ziggler ducks and takes the S.O.S. instead for 1-2-NO! Rollup sequence which ends up with Ziggler grabbing a handful of tights for two. Kingston channels the spirit of Low-Ki as he flips out of a rollup and double stomps Ziggler. Hmm, I believe Low-Ki would not approve of how stiff that landed. However, that gets two. Kingston shoves off a superplex and delivers a Flying Bodypress for 1-2-NO! Ziggler counters another S.O.S. and grabs the SLEEPER HOLD! Kofi runs Ziggler off into the corner to get the break. Kingston misses TROUBLE IN PARADISE, Ziggler can’t deliver on the ZIG ZAG. As Kofi leans on the middle rope, Vickie digs her claws into his eyeballs. Ziggler grabs the SLEEPER HOLD again this time on the mat. Where you going, Kingston? I know. You’re going to Unconsciousville, USA. Population: 1. (11:05) There’s also Tap City, which I hear is a thriving neighboring community. Pretty much paint-by-numbers stuff. Oh by the way, Dolph Ziggler is your *NEW* WWE U.S. champ. **½

In the back, R-Truth shows up out of a limo with the WWE title on his shoulder. He’s going to a party. You should go with him, Josh Mathews! FO SHIZZLE~! R-Truth walks by Eve. He extends to her an invitation to the pants party. The party with the pants. Eve turns him down. Instead, TROOF wants to dedicate tonight’s win to all the Little Jimmys and Jennys (dang, that line is over!) out there.

Over to what I’m assuming is the pants party since I can only see them from the chest up, let’s visit with the Miz and Todd Grisham. Miz complains how being held down since he lost the WWE title. The only thing Alex Riley was good at was carrying his Haliburton briefcase. There is a fine line between luck and “awesome” and he will show us what that means tonight. Please do, because I have no idea *what* that means and he’s the Miz and he’s awesome.

The Miz vs. Alex Riley
Well, this was bound to happen eventually. Did Miz just call Riley a “bad” boy in the pre-match trash talk? Listen for it. Alex Riley is IMPOSSIBLE to calm down to start. Miz finally catches Riley with a big boot and keeps it going. Miz teases Riley playing keep-away with his own body as he moves back from Riley’s punches. Once Riley gets to his feet, Miz kicks him down and delivers the DDT. Riley fights back again, but runs shoulder-first into the post. With Riley draped on the apron, Miz delivers the high knee. That gets two. Riley fires back. This time Miz grabs a quick sleeper hold to try and choke him out. Once more, Riley comes back. Leg swinging Scorpion Death Drop gets two. Miz hits the corner clothesline and drops a flying double sledge for another nearfall. He sets up Riley in the tree of woe and charges, but Riley sits up and Miz gets crotched on the ringpost! HERE COMES RILEY~! The AA Spinebuster gets two. Miz yanks Riley out to the floor, but leans through the ropes and takes a big boot to the face. They brawl over to the announce table and Cole gets grabbed by Riley for the biggest reaction of the match. Cole gets pulled over the announce table, but Miz saves the day. Miz tries to use his briefcase, but the ref takes it away and Riley delivers on the IMPALER. Cover, 1-2-3! (10:13) Bad finish not so much because Riley won, but it just wasn’t *there* yet. Slow, dull match with some mediocre comebacks. Since this “big” win, it’s been nothing but downhill for Riley as he has jobbed and won by DQ since then. *½

In the back, Sgt. Slaughter salutes a President Obama lookalike. He makes a weird Mexican Obamacare joke when a bubbly Vickie Guerrero walks over and sings “Happy Father’s Day” to Barack. Marilyn Monroe, she got nothing on you. Finally, the Secret Service carry her off before the song is over. What a waste!

The Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio
Big Show sat on his car, so for payback: Del Rio hit Big Show with his car. Perfectly reasonable response. Anyways, Big Show is PISSED! No Ricardo this week. Big Show BUM RUSHES THE SHOW until Mark Henry comes to ringside out of nowhere and gives Show the WORLD’S STRONGEST SLAM through the announce table! If that wasn’t enough, Henry then slams Show’s injured knee down onto the debris! Show just makes it into the ring before he loses via forfeit. Okay, ring the bell. ADR kicks at the knee and then at the head a whole bunch. He covers, but Show presses him off. CHOKESLAM, but the knee gives out. Del Rio necksnaps Show off the top rope and goes for the CROSS ARMBREAKER, but Show flings him away. Forget the arm, ADR grabs a kneebar. Cole – “It’s a Cross Legbreaker!” Show reaches the ropes, but can’t stand on his own two large feet and the ref calls for the bell. (4:57) And the push for Alberto Del Rio continues. So does Mark Henry’s ascent to being the heel that he should have always been. *

A cameraman backstage calls R-Truth out on not being the WWE champ because the nameplate doesn’t say R-Truth. So how does R-Truth repay this man? He prepares him for the make out session of a lifetime. Be careful bro. Once you go black, you never go back. However once you go R-Truth, you just stop all together. You’re pretty much done making out forever.

WWE Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett vs. Ezekiel Jackson
On his way to the ring, Wade Barrett parties like its 1994 and he’s Lord Steven Regal by pointing out American problems. Why isn’t he doing more of this? I might actually care about Wade Barrett. Anyways, this is like the reverse Nation of Domination-Ahmed Johnson feud where Zeke breaks away from the stable instead of the stable being formed in order to break him. I say that because Zeke is clearly only a Pearl River Plunge away from actually being Ahmed Johnson. Jackson nearly gets the TORTURE RACK to start, but Barrett bails. Barrett comes back with a Black Hole Slam for two. Chinlock works and then so does a pumphandle slam. Barrett misses a big boot in the corner and Zeke makes his comeback. However, the WASTELAND gets 1-2-NO! A whole bunch of slams lead to the TORTURE RACK for the submission and a *NEW* IC champ. (6:28) He even wins the IC title on a PPV in June just like Ahmed! You know what else is ironic? Zeke loses the IC belt to Cody Rhodes on August 12,which is the same date that Johnson vacated the IC belt in 1996! Holy crap. Not a great match though. Lawler interviews Zeke afterwards. I can’t understand a word he says – JUST LIKE AHMED! ¾*

In the back, Santino Marella tries to show Barack Obama how to do the Cobra. Before it can happen, the Secret Service tackle him.

Elsewhere, Josh Mathews gets the pleasure (or displeasure) of interviewing CM Punk. He doesn’t care much for Washington DC because it’s clearly a corrupt place. Yeah – unlike Chicago. Punk agrees that he’s a politician because you have to be one in order to survive in WWE. He brings up Rey Mysterio and tells Josh that Rey is not your friend. He’s only here to get rich – just like everyone else. The only difference is that unlike Rey Mysterio, CM Punk will actually tell you that he is using you. He isn’t a fake or a façade. Punk feels he’s the most honest superstar in WWE and now he’s about to do the most honest thing the WWE Universe has ever seen. And boy, was he right.

CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio
I can’t think of two guys who have met more on PPV in some form or fashion in the past 30 shows than these two. Feeling out process to start and Rey quickly then goes for the 6-1-9. Punk ducks out and catches Mysterio’s seated senton off the apron and drops him chest-first on the barricade. Back in, Punk grounds Mysterio with a bow and arrow and later a body scissors. Rey fights out, but Punk stops him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Back to the body scissors. He escapes again and headscissors Punk into position for the 6-1-9, but Punk stops him with a clothesline. Ab stretch, but then Rey gets tripped up top into the tree of woe to rip at his knee. Rey kicks Punk back and headscissors him to the floor for an Asai Moonsault. Back in the ring, Mysterio delivers a guided missile attack for two. Springboard crossbody, but Punk rolls through for two. They duck each other’s kicks in an AWESOME sequence that ends with Rey delivering the Buzzsaw Kick after all for 1-2-NO! Rey gets caught up top again this time for a back superplex for two. Running knee connects, but then he misses a corner charges and runs his shoulder into the post. With Punk stuck in the corner, Mysterio swings around him for the 6-1-9, which sends him to the floor. Back inside, the flying splash from Mysterio hits knees for 1-2-NO! GO2SLEEP gets countered into a hurracanrana for 1-2-NO! Roundhouse Kick misses, but a second one does not! Cover, 1-2-NO! Again, Rey counters the GO2SLEEP and trips Punk into the 6-1-9! Punk ducks his finisher again, but this time Rey slides around into his arms and onto his shoulders! GO2SLEEP, Mysterio! Cover, 1-2-3! (15:01) Definitely the match of the night. Nothing like a good “I know you, you know me” story. ***½

World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. Christian
Christian has been doing everything conniving he can think of to PROVE he’s not a loser ex-world champion – that he deserves the gold way more than Orton. They have had two great matches this Spring – one on Smackdown, one at Over the Limit. Hopefully this one will not disappoint either. Champ enters first, which would make this interesting if this show wasn’t three months old. Back and forth punch and kick to start. Orton delivers a Thesz press to keep that going. Headlocks and shoulderblocks follow. Orton brushes away a missile dropkick, but then gets yanked to the floor and eats a baseball slide. Christian tries to fly out with a pescado, but Orton sidesteps. More ringside brawling as Orton tries for the draping DDT on the steps, but Christian breaks free and shoves Orton into the steps. Back inside, Christian drops Orton with a reverse neckbreaker for two. Orton fights out, but gets drilled with a spinebuster for two. Orton reverses a corner whip and starts pounding on Christian’s sternum. Clotheslines and the snap powerslam follows. Christian walks into a belly to belly suplex for two. Orton tries for the draping DDT, but Christian escapes and Big Bossman uppercuts Orton while he’s hanging on the second rope. They fight over a superplex on the apron and then decide that a superplex out of the corner is a much safer idea as Orton delivers the superplex into the ring. Cover by Orton, 1-2-NO! Yay-Boo slugfest. Christian tries for the KILLSWITCH, but Orton elbows out and hits the neckbreaker off the shoulders for 1-2-NO! They tease finishers setting up a chase, but then Orton delivers the draping DDT. He goes into CRAZY RKO MODE, but Christian counters with the reverse DDT for 1-2-NO! Just had a mental flashback to the great Sting v. DDP finish. Christian is thinking SPEAR, but Orton leapfrogs. He tries the RKO, but Christian shoves him off and connects with the SPEAR. Cover, 1-2-NO! Orton pops up with a dropkick, but then walks into the Sonjay Dutt corner pendulum kick. I *hate* that move. It’s way too contrived. Christian comes off the top as Orton charges. As Christian comes up behind Orton, he eats the RKO for the 1-2-3! (14:04) Christian’s left leg was under the bottom rope and he was granted another rematch at the Money in the Bank PPV. He complains to ref Mike Chioda about it until Orton shuts him up with a belt shot. Certainly the least of their summer series of matches, but this was in no way a bad match. Christian getting better and better at avoiding the RKO for longer periods of time with every match is a great story, which for me is what made the MITB encounter so intriguing. If he could outsmart Orton by angering him to the point where he does something stupid before Orton could deliver the RKO, then there’s a good chance he could finally regain the gold. ***¼

Keith Stone – the official spokesman for Keystone Light – makes an entrance with the Bella twins. They take up some ringside seats.

Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne
These two had a little rivalry going on, but nothing too interesting. Swagger outwrestles Bourne to start. Bourne delivers a cool headscissors and flips around, but Swagger gets his hands on him again and drops Bourne with a gutbuster. Swagger works the ribs and hits the Pump Splash for two. Another Pump Splash, but Bourne gets his feet up to block. Bourne hits the flying double knee drop and the Buzzsaw kick gets two. Big boot by Swagger scores a nearfall. Flying DDT by Bourne gets 1-2-NO! Series of kicks from Bourne sets up AIR BOURNE, but Swagger moves and Bourne lands on his feet. GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB, but Bourne counters. Swagger grabs the ANKLELOCK. That’s countered by Bourne to a victory roll for 1-2-3! (7:18) Cole calls this an upset regardless of the fact that Bourne had pinned Swagger twice in the past three weeks on Raw. Nothing special. Just felt like an extended Raw match. *

Our Barack Obama impersonator comes out and addresses the crowd. He says when he tells his cabinet that he’s working on the national budget on Monday nights, he’s actually watching Monday Night Raw. That explains a lot. He also explains that he is not the anonymous Raw GM and wishes the best for John Cena and R-Truth. The crowd pretty much boos them both. He says more things that a stereotypical black man would say. As he starts to leave, Booker T hops up and forgets to take off his headset. Oops. Booker and Obama meet in the ring where they exchange SPINAROONIES. In Obama’s case, the BARACKOROONIE. He does it just like a MUSLIM TERRORIST FIST BUMPIN’ SOCIALIST KENYAN would. Just kidding.

WWE Champion John Cena vs. R-Truth
R-Truth claims that the WWE is conspiring against him – and it’s driven him pretty much mad. He’s been harassing fans he calls Little Jimmys and Little Jennys and took Cena’s WWE title last week on Raw. He’s similar to Punk in that he feels everything isn’t on the up and up in WWE, but the major difference is that Truth victimizes himself instead of making things happen by using his brain. In his hands, a mic just becomes annoying. Cena handles Truth fairly easily to begin. He goes for the AA early, but Truth slips out and hits a sitout front suplex for two. Tons of R-Truth offense follows. Cena escapes a body scissors into the STF, but Truth finds the ropes. Back to Truth until he misses a legdrop. HERE COMES CENA! Shoulderblocks, Protobomb, Five Knuckle Shuffle, but the Attitude Adjustment gets countered to Truth or Consequences. Cover, 1-2-NO! Corner charge misses and Truth gets stuck in the STF. Oh, but he finds the ropes. SCISSORS KICK connects for 1-2-NO! Cena rolls through a flying bodypress and lifts up Truth for the AA, but he slips out again and drops Cena with TRUTH HURTS! Cover, 1-2-NO! Not knowing what to do now, Truth heads out to the floor and take a Little Jimmy’s John Cena hat and collector cup. After Truth takes a sip, he hands the kid his cup back and then gets soda thrown in his face. You can’t hit him back, Truth! The kid’s wearing glasses! HEENANISMS~! With Truth all covered in soda and befuddled, Cena tosses Truth back inside and delivers the AA for 1-2-3. (14:46) There are some guys that come along that you just don’t care about. R-Truth is one of those people for me. In my opinion, Truth should be nowhere near a PPV main event – much less the WWE title. This felt more like a Raw main event than anything else. When you have John Cena in the main event and he is never really in any danger of losing on a show that you pay to see, then you have a problem. Afterwards, Cena celebrates with the Little Jimmy and then poses with the military guys on hand with the WWE title. *½

Final Thoughts: Now if you disagree with the 643 words below or just don’t feel like reading it, skip ahead down to the summary at the bottom.

Seeing that final image of Cena hanging with the National Guard and saluting could be the end of a PPV era. Let me explain. For many years, we had seen John Cena overcoming the odds and looking great at the end of a show. Very rarely did he lose and even when he did, it wasn’t quite as meaningful or as interesting as it was at the Money in the Bank PPV in July. The only other time I can remember him losing like at MITB was when he was pinned by Rob Van Dam in June 2006 at One Night Stand II. While a cool moment for ECW fans and I’m sure to a modest fraction of the WWE fanbase, not a long lasting moment that really changed anything – more due to Cena still being relatively new than because of RVD’s laissez-faire attitude to life.

But back to MITB, Punk wasn’t your usual contender like an Orton or a Triple H that kept everything *feeling* the same and giving WWE that staleness it had endured for years. Punk was the first character to come along in forever that connected with fans in quite a big way for the first time in YEARS and managed to bring John Cena up out of the boring funk that he had been stuck in and was able to make him interesting – to everyone – by forcing him to become a vulnerable character. Cena started to become someone who wasn’t just spouting off cornball insults and generic catchphrases anymore. He wasn’t just WWE’s biggest human advertisement selling t-shirts, wrist bands, baseball caps, and an ideal anymore. He finally became a real person by expressing real attitudes and real feelings and real opinions. I got the feeling that Cena was finally being honest – with you and himself. Anytime a person shares their true feelings on what’s real about themselves (or at least in the case of Cena’s character), they instantly become vulnerable. Because of CM Punk and maybe even a little bit of the Rock’s contribution as well, Super Cena just might be declared dead – at least in the minds of many WWE fans. What resulted in Cena’s vulnerability was one of the greatest matches of the modern era. Kryptonite is what made Superman vulnerable, but so does Cena – in the form of CM Punk.

Everything about WWE had a different feel leading up to the next PPV. The angles were exciting and they didn’t feel like they were one big long tease that would just end up fizzling out and not meaning anything after a few weeks. I actually felt like they might deliver on what they were selling to us, which was also what I happened to want to watch. The anticipation in the build to MITB was off-the-charts and helped make WWE truly interesting – for me – for the first time since the genesis of the Invasion angle in 2001. I say all of that to say this. Maybe it’s too soon to make a statement like this, but I recommend this PPV because I feel it is historically significant. At least for now anyways, Capitol Punishment marked the end of a stale ten-year period for me as a fan. Not to say there were no good angles or matches because that’s just silly. The company never seemed to have it all together and running correctly on all cylinders. Something always seemed to be a little off whether it was the undercard, the midcard, or the main event. Now I don’t know how long WWE can continue this stream of interesting television that they have been producing for the past twelve weeks or so, but it’s really all up to them and at least for a little while I haven’t felt like I could miss a single Monday Night Raw or a PPV.

The PPV is decent in some places like Punk-Mysterio and Orton-Christian, but its not a show filled with MOTYCs or anything that completely carries the show to the point you need to go out and buy it from strictly a wrestling standpoint. Historically, I give Capitol Punishment a thumbs up. Strictly wrestling-wise, I’d just give this show a mild thumbs in the middle.

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