WWE Capitol Punishment: Rapid Reaction for the June Pay-Per-View Event
The inaugural Capitol Punishment pay-per-view event has come and gone. Join me for a look back at every body slam, every dropkick, every title change, ever Keith Stone... wait, what?
The show featured the ascension of several young stars and the continued dominance of the company's champions. There will undoubtedly be strong, opinionated debate regarding the outcomes of the matches and the booking decisions throughout.
This is Rapid Reaction for the June 2011 pay-per-view extravaganza.
Dolph Ziggler Defeated Kofi Kingston to Win the United States Championship
This was a very solid match to kick things off at Capitol Punishment. Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston have been on a career treadmill for the last year. They have squared off against one another so many times that they could probably craft a quality match in their sleep. They know each other extremely well, and it shows when they do battle in the squared circle.
The conclusion of the match clearly confused the live audience. Those watching at home, at the very least, had three announcers trying to explain the story. In Washington, fans were left with what could only be deemed a confusing and abrupt finish.
Despite this finish, the match proved to be a solid affair that got the crowd excited for what was to come. While both men should probably move up the card at this point, it is hard to argue with the results of their long and storied series of excellent matches.
Alex Riley Defeated the Miz
The most surprising babyface turn in all of sports-entertainment continued on Sunday night. In a shocking turn of events, Alex Riley continued his dominance over The Miz with a decisive victory following an impaler DDT. While the initial crowd reaction may not have matched that which has met Riley in recent weeks, the pop following the NXT Season 2 contestant's win more than served as evidence that Riley's push was warranted.
The match itself was far better than what most had hoped for. Riley did not appear out of place in the same ring as a former WWE Champion and handled all that was asked of him admirably. Riley continues to show a fire that many developmental talents have not been able to properly portray after making it to Raw or Smackdown. Miz held the match together well; much better than this writer and several fans believed he could. Michael Cole's interference was fitting, if mildly annoying.
While it remains to be seen what the immediate future holds for Riley, it appears as though a star may have been born at Capitol Punishment.
Alberto Del Rio Defeated the Big Show
Arguably the worst "match" on the show, Alberto Del Rio versus The Big Show was the very definition of "angle before match."
While much has been made in the last three-to-four weeks on Raw regarding the storyline between Big Show and Alberto Del Rio, their showdown at Capitol Punishment proved to be little more than an excuse to get the Mexican superstar on the show rather than have him miss a second pay-per-view event in a row.
Mark Henry's involvement early on was a nice nod to this past Friday's Smackdown but, at the same time, makes this writer scared for Smackdown fans who may now have to sit through a cross-branded rivalry between Show and Henry, something no one wants to see.
Del Rio continued to look like a star destined to succeed at a main event level, with a championship strapped around his waist.
Ezekiel Jackson Defeated Wade Barrett to Win the Intercontinental Championship
Thank God this feud is over.
While the Intercontinental Championship match between Wade Barrett and Ezekiel Jackson at Over the Limit was better than many expected, the match at Capitol Punishment was a slow, apathetic contest which saw Jackson finally (hopefully) put an end to his program with Barrett.
As hot as Wade Barrett was one year ago, he has almost completely fallen off the radar. He did not appear to have his heart in the match and as a result, the match was rather boring. What the performance means for any sort of push Wade may receive on Smackdown is another question.
Jackson was his normal, terrible self. He is a huge man and a physical specimen. But he simply cannot wrestle, and giving him a championship that has long been associated with wrestling is a bad decision. Unless he can step up his in-ring work with the likes of Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, and other mid-card Smackdown heels, then Jackson's reign as champion may end up being a major disappointment in the eyes of his employer as well as tarnish the championship's history.
CM Punk Pinned Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk at Capitol Punishment proved two things: Rey continues to be the most under-appreciated wrestler in the world, and CM Punk is far too valuable for WWE to let get away.
No matter how many times Punk and Mysterio square off, they continue to put together high-quality matches that are capable of, or often do, steal the show. Capitol Punishment was no different. While somewhat slower than their past matches, these two former World Heavyweight Champions were still able to create a sense of excitement based on a few well-performed near-falls as well the normal exchange of teased finishers.
Punk's win over Rey could very well be an indication that he has signed a new contract with the company. It could also mean that the company is looking to build Punk up, only to knock him down upon his exit from the company sometime this summer. Either way, this match with Mysterio proved that Punk will not be any less passionate about his craft, whether he leaves or not.
World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton Defeated Christian
Another quality match in the series between Randy Orton and Christian.
The story of the Capitol Punishment match was different than the previous two in that Christian was now a full-fledged heel and conducted himself as such. The two also played up Orton's very real concussion from earlier this week, incorporating it into the match and giving "the Viper" a reason to be slower and to come closer to defeat than he had before.
The inconclusive finish, which saw Orton pin Christian with the challenger's foot under the rope, will only help to fuel the rivalry and keep the most interesting story in all of sports-entertainment going. All three matches between Orton and Christian have been very good-to-great, and anything that allows the two to continue having the type of matches that they are can only be a good thing.
It got the Bella Twins on my television but...
Evan Bourne Defeated Jack Swagger
In an unadvertised match, Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger continued their string of very solid matches at Capitol Punishment.
Swagger cockily controlled Bourne for most of the match before Evan was able to score a fluke roll-up. As of this writing, it remains to be seen what WWE has in store for either of these men. Last year, both were heavily pushed, with Swagger reigning as World Champion from April until June and Bourne scoring several high-profile victories, including one over Chris Jericho at the Fatal Four-Way pay-per-view.
Since then, neither has done much. Swagger has been treated as an afterthought outside of his role in the Lawler-Cole feud, and Bourne has done nothing productive since returning from injury. This could either serve as a re-launching point for these two Superstars, or it could simply be an example of time needing to be filled and two stars on standby to do just that.
Impersonators are stupid. We do not want to see them on our televisions. Get the real thing or focus more on your own talent.
WWE Champion John Cena Defeated R-Truth
John Cena defeated R-Truth to retain the WWE Championship at Capitol Punishment. And before we go any further, let us be real, for a second. There are undoubtedly fans across the internet complaining about Cena's victory; about how "Super Cena" defeated Truth and how now, all the work that Ron Killings put in over the last month is for nothing. The real "truth" is that R-Truth was never going to beat Cena to become WWE Champion on his first try. And it has absolutely nothing to do with John Cena.
In 2004, John Bradshaw Layfield was in very much the same predicament as R-Truth is today. He was a hot, new, fresh main event villain who had spent the previous year sinking in the mid-card. Then, at Judgment Day 2004, JBL had his first WWE Championship match, an instantly memorable and bloody bout with then-champion Eddie Guerrero. JBL did not leave with the gold but left enough of an impression that he was awarded with the title one at the next Smackdown-exclusive pay-per-view event.
Capitol Punishment was the test-run for R-Truth, to see if the former NWA Champion could perform at a high level in his first pay-per-view main event. From the opening video package to the backstage segments, there was no denying the fact that R-Truth was the most visible star on the show. If Vince McMahon and company had planned on dropping Truth from the main event after losing to Cena, he surely would not have been as featured on the broadcast as he was.
The match itself was solid. Truth was allowed to look like a star and dominated the majority of the contest. The finish, whether this writer was a fan of it or not, played well into the crowd interaction Truth had been engaged in over the last month and served as an entertaining way to conclude the contest. Cena was left standing tall at the end of the night but never did it truly feel as if Truth had been killed off.
I look forward to the next development in the rivalry because, for the first time since JBL, WWE has created a main event heel that is so different from every other character on the roster that fans cannot help but be excited and entertained by his sudden rise. Here's hoping, in the next month or two, that Truth can prove all the "Lil' Jimmies" wrong and capture his first WWE Championship.
Until then, fans, just relax and let the program unfold.