Money In The Bank has become one of WWE’s better shows. A lousy ladder match is still an improvement on most things and even in the confusing storylines of WWE the briefcases add an element of enjoyable chaos. Will it be the show to help them break their recent run of mediocrity? I bloody hope so.
The Bludgeon Brothers (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) defeated Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Titles
Having steamrolled The Usos and The New Day, The Bludgeon Brothers are now picking on someone their own size as they go up against Gallows and Anderson. It was a formulaic match with Anderson taking his beating well to set up the Gallows’ hot tag. It’s easy to forget that The Good Brothers are a solid team and their run of offence was fun.
Sadly, that was to be all they’d get as they eventually fell to The Bludgeoning. For what it was, this was fine. It wouldn’t have been out-of-place on the mid-card of a standard SmackDown, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from the pre-show. Keep your expectations low, and you’ll enjoy it.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Daniel Bryan defeated Big Cass
The Daniel Bryan dream match tour continues as he goes up against Big Cass for the second PPV in a row. Sure, he tapped him out convincingly at Backlash, but Big Cass is tall and Daniel Bryan isn’t, so this makes perfect sense.
Of course, he worked his ass off, trying to make Cass look like a star. It’s what Bryan does even when it’s all bullshit. While I refuse to believe he’s not fed up of being the small guy, he still played that role to perfection. Taking big bumps and chopping away at the legs of the immobile tree across the ring from him. It makes me sad to see Daniel Bryan working an opener with a mediocre wrestler and yet it also makes me smile to watch him get the best showing possible out of that mediocrity.
At least we can take comfort in the fact that he won and in a way that made sense as Bryan worked the leg to set-up the submission victory. I enjoyed this more than I expected to, now, can he move onto something we all want to see?
Verdict: Three Stars
Bobby Lashley defeated Sami Zayn
Oh look, it’s another match in which one guy is smaller than the other. At least they’ve mixed it up by having Sami Zayn play the scheming underdog rather than the heroic one.
Bobby Lashley is a walking personality void. He walks down to the ring, and I zone out. I had to continually remind myself that one of my favourite wrestlers was in there with him and that I should maybe try to pay attention. Even Sami Zayn couldn’t make me give a damn. This was a squash with a story. Poor Sami.
Verdict: Two Stars
Seth Rollins defeated Elias to retain the Intercontinental Title
Seth Rollins is a good wrestler. However, it speaks to the quality of WWE in 2018 that people are billing his current run as something special. He’s putting on decent showings that would barely register in another company.
All of which is the perfect build for talking about this. It was another solid performance where Seth Rollins and slightly bigger Seth Rollins worked hard and put on a good show. They got over Seth’s injuries, and I like that they didn’t stick to focusing on only the neck, as Rollins also sold his knee. Too often wrestlers get so obsessed with selling one body-part that they forget about the rest of their body.
The sequence following Elias side-stepping a Rollins’ dive was close to fantastic as it brought a sense of urgency that is often missing in WWE. It forced Rollins to dive into his old heel bag of tricks as he grabbed the tights to sneak out with the belt. That was a cool story and allowed Elias to escape with his dignity intact even as he took the loss. If the whole thing had been worked with the urgency of the final minutes, maybe Rollins would be living up to his hype.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Alexa Bliss defeated Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Ember Moon, Naomi, Lana and Natalya to win the Money In The Bank
That’s how you do a ladder match. They focused on working at top speed and stuffing it with as many memorable spots as possible.
In that sense, Naomi was the star. Her athleticism was essential while the likes of Sasha Banks being willing to take insane bumps certainly didn’t hurt. Ember Moon, meanwhile, got more chances to get over in twenty minutes than she has in her entire time on the main roster. They went out with the intention of stealing the show and did everything in their power to ensure that happened.
All of which isn’t to say that it was perfect. Eight competitors were far too many, and there were long stretches where wrestlers vanished. Then there’s Lana who is so clearly not in the same league as everyone else. Her work and timing are clunky, and in there with people as smooth as Becky Lynch she stands out in all the wrong ways.
However, those are small issues in what was a damn fine showing. The men are going to have to go all out to top that.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
Roman Reigns defeated Jinder Mahal
There are not many matches (that don’t involve awful people) I can think of that are less enticing than Roman Reigns vs Jinder Mahal. YOSHI-HASHI vs Takashi Iizuka, maybe? Carmella vs Lana? The Kingdom vs anyone that isn’t Hiroshi Tanahashi?
I say that as someone who doesn’t hate Roman. I think he’s a good wrestler when he’s in there with someone who can help him a bit. Jinder Mahal is not a man who can help anyone. He’s a man who regularly mucks up his own finisher.
The fans agreed with me too as they quickly got down to chanting irrelevantly. Not that I blame them, it went for over fifteen minutes and a hundred of those minutes were Jinder Mahal sitting in a headlock.
Fingers crossed Vince McMahon enjoyed wanking over the big burly men. I can’t bear the thought of no-one getting any enjoyment out of this.
Verdict: One Star
Carmella defeated Asuka to retain the SmackDown Women’s Title
Asuka should have kicked Carmella so hard that she flew back to developmental. She makes Jinder Mahal look like Kenta Kobashi.
I didn’t expect Asuka to win. Putting the title on the stupidly good wrestler isn’t WWE’s style. The only intrigue was whether she could drag to Carmella to something decent. Spoiler: she couldn’t.
Instead, they had a dull back and forth outing. If you thought Emma vs Asuka was ridiculous, this somehow lapped it in stupidity. Then, as if they hadn’t undermined the fucking badass who destroyed everyone for well over a year enough already, she was so distracted by the appearance of a twat in a mask that she was pinned by a crappy looking superkick.
I can’t even be bothered getting angry. This is the kind of shite I’ve come to expect from WWE.
Verdict: A Quarter Star
AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in a Last Man Standing match to retain the WWE Title
I’d forgotten that Nakamura and Styles were wrestling on this show. How had I forgotten that? I should never stop caring about Styles vs Nakamura.
The problem is that Last Man Standing matches are boring for those of us who don’t love counting. It’s a stipulation that leads to stop-start action, and that is always going to be a problem.
It was a problem that not even wrestlers as talented as AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura could overcome. The start of this match was slow as Nakamura took control and they ambled from spot to spot while the ref counted. It wasn’t awful, but it was lulling me gently to sleep.
Thankfully, they eventually woke up. Nakamura going for the low blow seemed to be the moment as the brief Styles comeback brought the aggression out of Nak. Suddenly, the idea that his strikes could knock AJ out felt like more than commentator drivel.
From there, they had a good little fight with Shinsuke coming up with inventive ways to try to keep Styles down. AJ, meanwhile, showed off all his babyface fire. Fighting from underneath and leaping at any opportunity he was presented with. Nakamura kneeing an exposed turnbuckle proved to the turning point as it gave AJ a target to focus on.
The finish perhaps went a step too far. I’d have ended it after the Styles Clash to the floor as it felt like a more unique visual than the Forearm through the table. However, WWE doesn’t rate the move, so I guess it’s not a surprise.
Overall, this was a better Last Stand Man Standing match that most and it still couldn’t overcome the flaws of the stipulation. Maybe it’s one WWE should stay away from in the future.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Nia Jax defeated Ronda Rousey by Disqualification to retain the Raw Women’s Title
Stop fucking smiling! Jesus Christ, someone needs to punch Rousey in the face before she walks through the curtain to piss her off.
I’m not even going to bother talking about how atrocious the storyline for this one was. Turning anti-bully spokeswomen Nia Jax into a bully a month later was horrendous even by WWE’s standards.
Instead, I’m going to take the time to praise Ronda Rousey. This was proof that she is taking this wrestling shit seriously. No-one who is in it for a quick payday takes the bumps that she did. Rousey let Nia throw her around the ring like a ragdoll.
And look, she’s not a perfect wrestler. When she went on the attack, it was a bit sloppy, and you can tell she’s still having to think about what she’s doing. However, this was her second official match and her first singles. You’d be insane to expect perfection.
You also can’t praise Ronda without taking a second to throw some of it in Nia’s direction. I’ve no doubt that she, like most of the women in the locker room, has issues with Rousey coming in and going straight to the top. Despite that, she worked hard to make Ronda look good, letting her take her to the ground and show some dominance.
I don’t even have an issue with the screwy finish. It’s too early for Rousey to win the belt and yet it keeps her strong at the same time. Well-played all-around.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Alexa Bliss defeated Nia Jax to win the Raw Women’s Title
Said screwy finish came around when Alexa Bliss hit the ring, beat both women down and cashed in her newly earned Money In the Bank contract. There’s not much to say about this except that I have no problem with it. Bliss is great.
Braun Strowman defeated Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Rusev, Kofi Kingston, Finn Balor, The Miz and Bobby Roode to win Money In The Bank
Do you know what is really boring? Braun Strowman’s Michael Myers act. I’m fed up with the commentator’s faux shock when he comes back from the latest obstacle placed in his path. We all know he’s invincible. He’s survived being crushed for fuck sake.
I said that the men were going to have a hard time following the women and I turned out to be right. It lacked the frantic pace that match had as there was too much Strowman and not enough people bouncing around the place.
Not to say that it didn’t have its moments. KO’s bump was spectacular while Kofi Kingston is always a delight in these multi-man scrambles. I’m also firmly of the opinion that Joe is the guy who should be getting the Strowman push. He never lets this company down.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to grab me. I felt like the women were going out there and giving everything they had to their match. The men never gave me that feeling. On a card with one MITB, it might have been enough. When it was competing with what it came before it struggled.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
You know what, for a WWE show, this wasn’t that bad. The women’s MITB was the high point while Mahal vs Roman followed by Carmella vs Asuka was an excruciating low. However, there was enough here to keep me at least mildly entertained. WWE has put out a lot worse.