This year's Money in the Bank will mark the 19th time that a WWE pay per view emanates from the Windy City. In all, three WrestleManias have come from Chicago, as well as a SummerSlam, a Survivor Series, the Wrestling Classic, and a dozen secondary PPVs. The scorching-hot Chicago crowds have proven capable of taking a B-show and giving it a decidedly paramount feeling, whether a certain tatted-up native son was in the building or not. In fact, said wrestler's lack of attendance would never stop his friends and neighbors from chanting his name, especially during undesirable matches.
With Money in the Bank rolling into Chicago on June 17, let's take a look back at the better half of WWE's pay per view output from America's third biggest media market.
10. Extreme Rules 2015
WWE found it somewhat difficult to follow up a hot WrestleMania 31, gradually losing creative momentum through the remainder of the year, save for a very good SummerSlam, and this mostly good, yet-oddly lethargic Extreme Rules. Perhaps the somewhat subdued feeling during the show can be traced to the final pair of matches, in which the designated heroes were unpopular Roman Reigns and 13-year-standby Randy Orton.
Yet it's still an enjoyable card, with Reigns and Big Show's Last Man Standing match demonstrating the potential of "The Big Dog" (sup Ross?) in anarchic weapons-based scuffles, even if the crowd was determined to hate his guts. The Orton/Seth Rollins WWE Championship cage match lacked true main event heat, but was still a fine first PPV defence for the new titlist. Another gem was New Day's Tag Team title victory over Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, packing a ton of action into under 10 minutes.
9. No Mercy 2007
Strange but true: there were only three official WWE Championship changes in all of 2007, and all three took place at this show: Randy Orton being given John Cena's abdicated belt, then Triple H winning it from Orton in an impromptu opener, before Orton regained it in a Last Man Standing match at night's ending. Call it hotshotting if you will, but at least the main event delivered.
Certainly there were low points to the night, like the Batista/Great Khali Punjabi Prison match, and the CM Punk/Big Daddy V 90 second marathon for the ECW title. The two HHH/Orton bouts were boosted by a good Rey Mysterio/Finlay match, as well as a six-man tag that pitted Mr Kennedy, Lance Cade, and Trevor Murdoch against Jeff Hardy, Paul London, and Brian Kendrick, making No Mercy a pretty solid event.
8. Backlash 2001
The streak of A+ pay per views firmly ended at three. Royal Rumble, No Way Out, and WrestleMania 17 all proved to be pantheon-level events (particularly WrestleMania), and Backlash just couldn't keep that gravy train rolling at top speed. While not a bad show by any means, it couldn't quite match the prior greatness.
The best match of the evening may well have been an eight-minute Hardcore title bout in which Raven, of all people, played a supercharged, fired-up babyface against Rhyno, and the crowd ate it up to an insane degree. Really, it needs to be seen to be believed. The Chris Benoit/Kurt Angle "Ultimate Submission" match lost the fans at junctures, but still provided some quality wrestling to a show that could use some. The Steve Austin/Triple H vs. Brothers of Destruction "All or Nothing" title match was a pretty good match, but kind of a downer ending to an average show.
7. Payback 2014
An excellent WrestleMania and a great Extreme Rules did what Michael Cole would call "building momentum" into a mostly-enjoyable summer of WWE action. Chicago's Payback pay per view kept the ball rolling, providing a mostly-decent card that was built around its big matches.
The highlight of the night was definitely The Shield's clean sweep in a six-man elimination No Holds Barred match against Evolution, which seemed to position the babyface trio as a force to be reckoned with. That was, until Seth Rollins turned heel the following night in a shocking moment. The match also marked Batista's final bout to date. Elsewhere, John Cena and Bray Wyatt's Last Man Standing match proved to be eventful, while Sheamus and Cesaro's US Championship bout was the sort of hard-hitting slugfest you'd expect out of two expert bruisers.
6. SummerSlam 1994
This was the only Chicago-based WWE pay per view that was not held in the Rosemont Horizon/Allstate Arena - instead, the 1994 SummerSlam emanated from the brand new United Center, which had only opened within weeks of SummerSlam. And what a way to christen the new building by booking the Undertaker against the fake Undertaker in a match that may have been slower than a snail's attempt at a cartwheel.
Putting aside that poor excuse of a main event, the 1994 SummerSlam boasts many actual positives, including the Steel Cage WWE Championship match that pitted Bret Hart against brother Owen (five stars, says Meltzer). Elsewhere, Diesel and Razor Ramon had an enjoyable match for the IC gold, while Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano made the most of abbreviated circumstances in their damn good Women's title match. If you can ignore the worst comedic output of Leslie Nielsen's career (prior to 2001: A Space Travesty), you'll find this show to be worth your time.
5. Judgment Day 2009
The Attitude Era B-PPV names were being driven out, and the final Judgment Day would join the 2000, 2002, and 2005 editions of the show as the best of the namesake. Other than a dull John Cena/Big Show match, everything else rates somewhere from pretty good to quite excellent, which is pretty good for a throwaway card.
The best action on the show goes to either Edge and Jeff Hardy's show-ending World Heavyweight title bout, or Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho's Intercontinental title match (admittedly the weakest of their 2009 trilogy, but yet still an awesome showing). The event is also notable for a highly-athletic John Morrison/Shelton Benjamin match, a well-executed WWE title match between Randy Orton and Batista (with a bad finish), and CM Punk putting over Umaga in the opener in his hometown. If only he'd cashed in his MITB briefcase *that* night...
4. WrestleMania 22
WrestleMania XX was about acknowledging yesterday while embracing tomorrow. WrestleMania 21 was the dawn of a new era with glitz and panache. WrestleMania 22 revelled more in violent excess, repurposing the fraught stylings of the Attitude Era on a night that was hard to find an accurate pulse of. Don't get me wrong - WrestleMania 22 was one of the better 'Manias, but man was it an odd duck at times.
From Mickie James', uh, suggestive grabbing of Trish Stratus, to Mick Foley and Edge being fed to the fire, to Vince McMahon taking a one-sided beating like few before him, WrestleMania 22 was more prone to reap the spoils of turbulent spectacle than stand on ceremony. There were great matches (Edge/Foley, Triple H/John Cena) and memorable moments (Rey Mysterio's first World title win), but the manic madness stands out more.
3. Payback 2013
The beginning of an incredible three pay per view run that only escalated with a fantastic Money in the Bank (finally giving Philadelphia a great WWE PPV) and one of the best SummerSlams ever. Payback marked the all-too-soon return from injury for CM Punk, who had been hoping to rest his body until August, but when pressed in, he mightily delivered in his return bout against Chris Jericho.
Payback's strength is that there were no weak matches, and so much of the card feels quite ancient five years later. Curtis Axel was treated like a big deal, winning the IC title in a quality Triple Threat over Wade Barrett and The Miz. Ryback delivered in the main event, going tooth and nail with John Cena in an enjoyable Three Stages of Hell WWE Championship match. The show marked the beginning of AJ Lee's monster reign as Divas champion when she defeated Kaitlyn, both of whom are quite missed.
2. Extreme Rules 2012
There has been quite a list of instances in which the WrestleMania follow-up pay per view puts the "grandest stage" to shame: Backlash 1999, 2000, and 2009, Extreme Rules 2011, Payback 2016 (the latter pair almost by default). While it's not fair to say that WrestleMania XXVIII was a bad show, it also underachieved in some ways. That's where Extreme Rules 2012 comes in, to pick up the dropped ball.
After the questionable decision to have Daniel Bryan lose to Sheamus in 18 seconds at 'Mania, the two were given a well-worked 2-Out-Of-3 Falls match to show their wares in. CM Punk and Chris Jericho blew their heated feud off with a "Chicago Street Fight" that was in the neighborhood of their 'Mania match. And although Brock Lesnar and John Cena's epic main event had a less-desirable ending than Rock's win at WrestleMania, the match had much more in the way of bone-crunching fun.
1. Money In The Bank 2011
Call me cynical, but I don't see any way that the 2018 show in the same building is going to match or surpass one of the greatest WWE events of all time, never mind the location. You know the build-up: hometown hero CM Punk drops some painful truth about the WWE machine, turning heads in the "is this a shoot?" way, and his WWE Championship match with John Cena becomes the most anticipated match in a long, long time.
After two excellent ladder matches that had their share of memorable spots (Rey Mysterio being unmasked, Sin Cara getting put through a ladder), and Christian's underhanded World title win over a psychotic Randy Orton (the fourth best match of a stacked night), the stage is set for Punk and Cena to make history. The heat was off the charts, the action and tempo matched "the music", and the closing scenes got the heart pumping. It was pro wrestling at its best, making believers of even the jaded.