WWE Capitol Punishment is all over and it is time to recap and move on to Money In The Bank in just four weeks. Two titles changed hands, a few unexpected wins took place, and a lot of controversial finishes occurred.
All in all, Capitol Punishment may have not been the best pay-per-view of the year, but it certainly lives up to the controversy that makes Washington D.C. so infamous.
A lot of what took place tonight will be bricks that will build up toward what we see come SummerSlam in August, so let's take a look at 11 moments that are necessary for us to remember for the coming months.
Note: All photos courtesy of WWE.com unless otherwise specified.
Dolph Ziggler was a rising star on SmackDown, even gaining the World Heavyweight Championship a few months ago. He was then "fired" and moved over to RAW, where he underwent a change. For weeks, we heard about a "new look" for Ziggler, but it was just a change in his attitude slightly and a change in his hair.
Ultimately, it was the same old Dolph looking for the same old thing: championships.
Speaking of same old, Ziggler faced Kingston at Capitol Punishment; a man who Ziggler fought many times on television and pay-per-view. The only change for the two was the name and design on the title.
The two put on another decent match, which we have come to expect from both of them. In the end, Ziggler won a title match with a sleeper hold, which is a rare feat. I can't remember the last time that I saw that.
Afterwards, the commentary team of Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler and Booker T. looked confused, as if they weren't sure what the call would have been.
Before tonight, raise your hand if you knew that Alex Riley was from Washington D.C., because I thought he was just from Tampa, Florida.
Riley ended up winning over his former boss The Miz, for his first pay-per-view victory. The big question for Riley was whether or not it would have been his time to arrive and be noticed by the WWE Universe.
Riley impressed, but I don't think he has officially arrived. It may have been more of a fall from grace for The Miz, who has seemingly gone weeks since last hitting a Skull Crushing Finale on anyone.
Will Alex Riley keep rising or will The Miz keep on falling? It may be a scenario where, since it doesn't seem like this rivalry will just end now, both of them keep pushing one another up and keep each other in a place where both can stay relevant.
If not, The Miz may fall to CM Punk-esque levels of being buried.
Speaking of CM Punk, for just the second time since his last time holding a world championship, back at Hell in a Cell 2009, CM Punk was a winner at a pay-per-view. Both of those victories have come at the hands of Rey Mysterio, with the last one being a Hair Match at Extreme Rules 2010, nearly 14 months ago.
Punk and Mysterio put another great match together for a pay-per-view, making some wonder if Punk is back on the rise in an attempt to keep him with the company. It has been well-publicized that Punk's contract will be running out soon and this may be WWE's push to keep the very talented Punk on the roster.
There was also a lot made about Punk talking about doing "the most honest thing that the WWE Universe has ever seen" if he wins, which he did do. What does this mean for Punk? Is this his way of being written off?
Mark Henry has seen his career become more meaningful since becoming a heel on SmackDown. Henry was being built as stronger and more feared than most of the roster. That all seemed to go out the window when Big Show mauled Henry before their match could even take place on SmackDown this past Friday.
Henry left the ring on a stretcher that night, but was fine 48 hours later to attack Big Show. Show, who showed no signs of his storyline knee injury, would nurse the leg for the remainder of the night after the attack.
Henry's assault of Big Show would lead to a World's Strongest Slam through the Spanish announce table. You knew it would be through that table because any time that the Spanish announce team is featured at ringside on a pay-per-view, their table always seems to go.
As for the match itself, I was a little surprised to see the match even take place. I would have imagined that Big Show being unable to compete, and Del Rio not really have any influence in why that was happening, would save face for Big Show and give Del Rio a lot of heat.
It also did not make any sense to begin a 10-count for Big Show to get into the ring without the bell ringing to begin the match.
The match itself actually helped Del Rio in the long run by giving him a clean victory (or about as clean a victory as Del Rio is going to get) over a large man like Big Show. If this doesn't get Del Rio involved in world title talk for Money in the Bank or SummerSlam, then there's not much more hope that WWE's creative staff will get it.
As for Big Show, a nice interpromotional match with Mark Henry will keep the two busy until their respective brands work out their problems for the summer and the two can help get talent over this fall. I'm never a fan of putting two old guys against one another, but if it keeps both of them busy, it is fine.
Can someone restart the Honk-A-Meter?
There is a new Intercontinental Champion in Ezekiel Jackson, who used his clotheslines, power slams and torture rack to deliver some gold. Barrett came out prior to the match to cut a promo, instead of coming out to his entrance music like most people. I think that the people in charge on entrance themes must have a vendetta against Wade Barrett because he has had what seems like a dozen different themes in the past year.
As for Zeke, it finally gives the big man a title to rest his talent on. Jackson was the final ECW champion recognized by WWE, but the brand was closed right after Ezekiel won the title. Now, Jackson can finally defend a championship belt and, with a lack of top faces on SmackDown, could vault himself into some world title murmurs.
Christian and Randy Orton did not put on a terrible match, but the task of trying to live up to their match at Over the Limit is a daunting one to be modest. This one wasn't a Match of the Year candidate, but it told a pretty decent story.
Even though I was certain that Christian would miss out on the world title yet again, the match really did prove why Christian belongs in the conversation still. That argument doesn't even include the conclusion to this match, which we will get to later.
There was way too much time left on the pay-per-view and all that remained was the WWE Championship match. Either R-Truth and Cena would have an all-time great or there were some more matches to see. I was wrong. We didn't see matches, we saw a "special bonus attraction."
Apparently, the word "match" wasn't allowed to be spoken in this regard as Jack Swagger and Evan Bourne continued a minor feud that has meant mostly nothing so far. The ma—... uhm... "special bonus attraction" was better than I expected it to be, especially when Bourne won it without hitting Air Bourne.
I can't recall many matches where that has happened, which means that they are considering the build of Bourne without his finisher being his crutch.
The only thing that angered me was the "special bonus attraction" thing... and the Keith Stone advertisement for Keystone Light. Was that necessary, especially when it literally did not impact the night whatsoever?
The thing that excited me most about the night was that I knew the stupid segments, being delivered like the daydreams of commentators, were ending. Instead, we had to deal with multiple sightings of a fake Barack Obama. It even led to the fake president coming out and addressing the crowd.
This was not a terrible thing, until Booker T. stopped the man and wanted "President Obama" to do a Spinaroonie with him.
The guy did, of course, and his was even worse than Evan Bourne's from last Monday on RAW. All in all, the patriotic theme and having it in Washington D.C. was fine, but the constant political ties made it just cheesy.
The "Little Jimmys" of the world are sleeping soundly tonight because one of their own stood up to R-Truth. In a match that was better than I expected, R-Truth seemed close to victory before he took a random break and stole a John Cena hat and drink from a young fan.
The fan splashed the clear liquid, likely water (we hope) onto R-Truth. The damaging shot of the liquid was enough to get Cena to do an Attitude Adjustment and retain his title.
Cena has won matches in pretty lame ways and this one was certainly up there. It wasn't like R-Truth ate a finisher from someone and got pinned. It was just some water and Cena had to throw R-Truth into the ring and hit the finishing move with ease.
I'll have to keep in mind how damaging water can be. Should I ever have a problem, I can whip out a squirt gun and my troubles will be over.
This event was filled with questionable calls by referees. If this was a UFC event or something non-scripted, referees across the board would be chewed out for this performance.
The Ziggler/Kingston match ended with a weird lull as we all tried to figure out if the referee would give the belt to Dolph or if he was calling some bogus reversal. Yes, Dolph did put his foot on the ropes, which should call for a rope break, but the call never happened and life goes on, especially when I don't think the use of the rope was scripted for the ending.
The ending for Orton/Christian, however, was actually controversial. At first, I thought that Christian's foot caused a rope break that never was and that it was accidentally in that spot. Commentators did not talk about it at first and it even took Christian a minute to argue about it.
In the end, it isn't a "judgment call," but rather a lazy way to keep Christian in the title hunt still and keep him out of the Money in the Bank ladder matches for next month.
Michael Cole also had a point about the water poured on R-Truth. If that was a regular fan, the fan is escorted. Instead, it plays into the story being told. If the little kid was an actual superstar or Diva, his actions would be enough for a DQ and an R-Truth victory without the title changing hands.
Don't be surprised to see the referee work in any of these three matches this week that lead to rematches down the line.