Vintage Vault “Pre-Viewing of Punk”: Wrestlemania XXIV

CM Punk vs. Carlito vs. John Morrison vs. Chris Jericho vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Shelton Benjamin in a Money in the Bank Ladder match

We are now at the granddaddy of them all with Wrestlemania XXIV and what has now become a regular tradition, we have the Money in the Bank ladder match as one of the feature matches on the card. After losing clean to Chavo Guerrero last month, it seemed like Punk was at a crossroads as he seemed to have maxed out his potential on ECW, but at the same time there clearly was no one to take his place as the top face of the brand. With Punk being part of this match for the second year in the row, it seemed like he was one of the heavy favorites to win especially after Jeff Hardy, who seemed like the odds on favorite to win, was taken out of the match. It now seemed like this was Punk’s to win, but nothing was ever certain with Punk especially with who else was in the match and after Punk came close to winning last year, you wondered if he would break through this year or once again just come close only to fall short.

On the 2/18 RAW, Jeff Hardy defeated Snitsky and Mr. Kennedy defeated Val Venis to qualify for the match, and on the 2/19 ECW Punk teamed with Ric Flair to defeat Elijah Burke and Shelton Benjamin in a tag match. On the 2/22 Smackdown, Benjamin defeated Jimmy Wang Yang to qualify and on the 2/25 RAW, Chris Jericho defeated Jeff to qualify and on the 2/26 ECW, Punk defeated Benjamin and Burke in a Triple Threat match to earn an ECW Championship match the next week. On the 3/3 RAW, Carlito defeated Cody Rhodes to qualify and on the 3/4 ECW, Chavo Guerrero defeated Punk to retain the title and on the 3/7 Smackdown, Punk teamed with Jesse and Festus to defeat Guerrero, John Morrison, and the Miz in a 6-man tag. On 3/8 at a house show, MVP defeated Jamie Noble to qualify and on the 3/10 RAW, Jericho defeated Jeff to win the Intercontinental Championship and it was then announced that Jeff had been suspended for 60 days due to a Wellness violation which took him out of the match, and on the 3/11 ECW Punk defeated Big Daddy V to qualify. On the 3/14 Smackdown, Morrison defeated Miz to qualify and on the 3/17 RAW, Punk defeated Carlito to build momentum and on the 3/18 ECW, Punk, Jesse, and Festus defeated Benjamin, Morrison, and Miz. On the 3/24 RAW, MVP and Carlito defeated Punk and Jericho in a tag match and on the 3/25 ECW, Benjamin defeated Carlito and on the 3/28 Smackdown, Punk defeated Morrison and Jericho defeated MVP. This was an interesting build as it seemed like most of the focus was on Jericho and MVP with the other guys popping up in random matches, but with Jeff gone it seemed like it was anyone’s to win at this point.

Punk and Jericho get a good pop from the crowd while MVP, Benjamin, Morrison, Carlito, and Kennedy had solid heat as heels, and after being the opener last year we go back to this match being in the second slot much like in 2005 and 2006. Everyone quickly goes outside aside from MVP to start the match as they go for ladders with Benjamin being sent into the post, and Morrison slides a ladder into the ring only for MVP to hit a big boot which knocks him off the apron to the floor. Carlito bridges a bigger ladder between the apron and barricade as Punk gets on the apron and MVP knocks him to the floor with the ladder, and Kennedy slides back into the ring only for MVP to jab him in the ribs with the ladder and he slams it down onto his back. Benjamin and Carlito get on the apron only for MVP to knock both men to the floor with the ladder as Jericho brings another ladder into the ring, and they joust with the ladders with Jericho hitting MVP in the face with his and he tosses it onto him. Morrison slides into the ring and grabs the other ladder as he tosses it at Jericho’s ladder which goes back into his face, and Morrison grabs his ladder and goes up top as he hits a moonsault onto everyone on the floor in a big spot. Kennedy brings another ladder into the ring and stomps Jericho to the outside as he sets the ladder up and climbs it, but Jericho nails him and pounds on him as he trips him up and looks for the Walls of Jericho only to slingshot him onto the ladder. Kennedy climbs up as Jericho follows him up only for Kennedy to knock him to the floor as he reaches for the briefcase, and Morrison goes up top and walks the top rope with another ladder as he sends his ladder into Jericho and lands on the ladder with Kennedy. They trade blows as Benjamin sets the other ladder up and climbs it as the three men trade blows, and Kennedy slams Morrison’s head into the top of the ladder as Benjamin climbs back up and hits a sunset flip powerbomb on Kennedy off the ladder who hits a superplex on Morrison in a great spot. Benjamin climbs up the ladder again and Carlito tries to tip it over though Benjamin lands on the top rope, and he sends the ladder into Carlito and attempts a springboard onto the ladder only for the ladder and Benjamin to collapse to the mat with the ladder breaking apart. Punk sets up another ladder and climbs it as Kennedy pounds on him and brings him back down, and Punk gets a shot in and clotheslines Kennedy over the top to the floor before climbing up again only for Benjamin to pull him back down. He pounds on Punk and gets a kick in as he rams him into the buckle and he climbs up himself, and Punk pulls Benjamin off the ladder and onto his shoulders as he hits the Go 2 Sleep on Benjamin and climbs up again with Carlito climbing up the other side. Kennedy nails Punk and hoists him onto his shoulders as he hits the Plunge onto the broken ladder, and MVP slides back into the ring and knocks Carlito off the ladder before stomping on Kennedy only for Carlito avoid a running boot with MVP crotching himself on the top rope. Carlito grabs another ladder and jabs MVP in the knee with it before climbing up the ladder only for Benjamin to pull him back down, and he kicks at Carlito and gets a knee in as Carlito catches a kick attempt only for Benjamin to hit a dragon whip kick. Benjamin climbs up and touches the briefcase only for Kennedy and Carlito to tip the ladder over as Benjamin falls off the top through the bridged ladder in a great spot, and Carlito and Kennedy try to climb up together while Jericho climbs up the other side and the three men reach for the briefcase only for MVP to tip the ladder over and send all three men to the mat. Morrison gets in the ring and tosses another ladder at MVP before setting the first ladder up and climbing up, and Jericho follows him and pounds on him as he hooks the Walls of Jericho on Morrison on top of the ladder in another great visual. Kennedy sets up another ladder as Jericho releases the hold and knocks Morrison to the mat while Kennedy climbs up, and they trade blows with Punk and Carlito hitting stereo springboards onto the ladders and they all trade blows with Kennedy hitting the Mic Check on Punk off the ladder. Jericho knocks Carlito off the ladder though he lands on his feet and climbs up the other side as he hits a Backstabber on Jericho off the ladder, and MVP slides back into the ring and gets a sly grin as he resets the ladder and climbs up as he reaches for the briefcase. Just then, Matt Hardy comes out of the crowd to a huge pop and gets in the ring as he climbs the ladder and pounds on MVP, and he hits the Twist of Fate on MVP off the ladder and leaves the ring as he heads back through the crowd. Morrison grabs the ladder as Carlito nails him only for Morrison to hit him with the ladder and Punk dropkicks the ladder back in Morrison’s face, and Jericho rolls back into the ring and grabs another ladder as he jabs it into Punk’s ribs and then he jabs it into MVP which sends him to the outside. Punk avoids a charge as Jericho gets his ladder stuck between the rungs of the other ladder and Carlito pounds on him, and Jericho shoves Carlito away and hits a flapjack onto the stuck ladder which causes the first ladder to stand upright and Morrison tries to climb up it. Carlito and Jericho tip the ladder over and Morrison gets crotched on the top rope with Punk getting hit by the ladder as well, and Jericho hits Carlito twice with the stuck ladder and he gets it free before setting it up and he climbs up. Carlito climbs up the other side and spits his apple in Jericho’s face which knocks him off the ladder and Kennedy sends Jericho to the outside, and Carlito reaches for the briefcase only for Kennedy to tip the ladder over and Carlito lands on the other ladder in the corner. Kennedy reaches for the briefcase as Punk brings another ladder into the ring and jabs it into Kennedy which knocks him to the mat in a callback to last year, and Punk grabs the ladder only for Jericho to hit the Codebreaker as he sends the ladder right into Punk’s face. Jericho climbs up the ladder with Punk going up the other side and Jericho pounds and kicks at him, and Punk battles back and reaches for the briefcase only for Jericho to pound on him and they both reach for the briefcase as Jericho hits Punk in the face with it. Punk slides down the ladder though he grabs Jericho’s leg and trips him up as he hangs him up in the ladder before climbing up and he unhooks the briefcase to win the match.

The match itself was great as all seven men worked hard and put on a really fun match as it wasn’t quite up to the first one and even last year, but it was slightly better than the 2006 version. I always thought it was weird that they never replaced Jeff after he got suspended and made it an even 8, but it worked out in the end as these seven men made up for it and put on a fantastic match. There were some really good spots throughout the match and I thought Carlito, Kennedy, Morrison, and Benjamin all looked really good even though you knew they had the least chances of winning with Benjamin getting the big spot of the night going through the ladder. MVP and Jericho also looked pretty good here as the other big moment was Matt making his surprise return and costing MVP the match so you knew that feud would continue, and Jericho really played the veteran role well throughout the match and kept things flowing well. As for Punk, it seemed like he really did the least in the match as he wasn’t much of a focus with everyone else getting more shine than him, but in the end he was the right choice to win as he was ready to take the next step and he got a huge pop from the crowd when he won. Punk gets the win and is now Mr. Money in the Bank as the question now is will he just go back after the ECW Title, or will he move on from ECW and go after either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship?

Final Grade: ****1/4