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WWE Chief Operating Officer and special guest referee Triple H guaranteed that an Undisputed WWE Champion was indeed crowned at SummerSlam. Yet, much to the surprise of the sold-out crowd packed inside the STAPLES Center, neither CM Punk nor John Cena would raise the coveted prize high above their head at the end of the night.

After a series of near-falls in this competitive clash, The Second City Savior nailed The Cenation Commander-in-Chief with a second Go to Sleep to pick up the pinfall victory – even though Cena’s foot was on the bottom rope. Apparently not noticing that Cena had broken the hold by reaching the ropes, The Game made the three-count.

As Punk celebrated his contentious victory in one of the biggest matches in WWE history, Triple H’s longtime friend Kevin Nash – unseen in a WWE ring since the 2011 Royal Rumble Match – emerged from the crowd and leveled the tattooed Superstar with a ring-shaking Jackknife Powerbomb before making a hasty exit. Dazed, Punk was helpless as Alberto Del Rio seized his destiny by successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on the battle-weary Undisputed WWE Champion. After nailing a prone Punk with a devastating kick to the skull, Del Rio pinned his shoulders to the canvas to capture the title.

Del Rio wound up on the losing side of an explosive Six-Man Tag Team Match earlier in the night, but that defeat didn’t distract the moneyed Mexican from attaining the championship glory he has long felt destined for. Del Rio knew that following Nash’s assault, Punk would be unable to repel his cash-in attempt as he had done less than a month earlier at WWE Money in the Bank. With his well-timed enziguri, Del Rio not only sealed a WWE Championship victory, but used his Money in the Bank winnings to defeat the sole Superstar to parlay Money in the Bank victories into World Title wins two years in a row.

After weeks of escalating animosity between Cena and Punk – two Superstars who couldn’t possibly be more different from one another in terms of in-ring style and personal ideals – the simultaneous WWE Title holders gave it their all as they vied to become the first-ever Undisputed WWE Champion at The Biggest Event of the Summer. In the end, The Straight Edge Superstar put the Cenation leader to bed with a Go to Sleep, emerging victorious just three weeks after his controversial return to Raw with the WWE Title in hand shook the WWE Universe to its core. This victory would similarly generate buzz throughout the WWE Universe, but for once, Punk wasn’t the catalyst.

After both Cena and Punk voiced their disagreement with Triple H’s call, The Game’s Kliq cohort Nash – himself a former WWE Champion – charged the ring and made short work of The Second City Savior, leaving him vulnerable to The Mexican Aristocrat’s calculated Money in the Bank cash-in that made Del Rio the ninth “Mr. Money in the Bank” to use his guaranteed title opportunity – which for one calendar year can be redeemed at the time and place of the winner’s choosing – to win a World Championship.

Del Rio’s dubious but nevertheless legitimate WWE Championship triumph is the latest success in an incredible landmark year for The Mexican Aristocrat, whose previous accomplishments included winning a grueling 40-Man Royal Rumble Match in January and besting seven elite Superstars in a high-risk Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match in July. Following those two remarkable accomplishments, it was only a matter of time before the egotistical Superstar captured WWE’s richest and most illustrious prize. But few could have anticipated the method by which Del Rio’s destiny would be fulfilled.

Was Triple H aware that the monstrous “Big Sexy” was in attendance at the STAPLES Center? Which former WWE Champion will get a rematch against Del Rio: Cena or Punk? Was The Game truly calling this match down the middle? And what of Stephanie McMahon’s earlier confrontation with Punk earlier in the night? Regardless, the circumstances behind Del Rio’s shocking Money in the Bank-assisted win will have a massive impact on Monday Night Raw in the weeks ahead. But, to steal a line from Del Rio himself, “you already knew that.”

Debbie Wiseman Aug 15, 2011