WWE Money in the Bank
June 17 2018
We’re in Chicago, Illinois. Hosts are an assortment of RAW and Smackdown types.
WWE have gone back to duel branded PPV’s and have extended the PPV times to four hours. Quite why they think the latter is good idea is anyone’s guess. Nobody will ever get ‘screwed for time’ but if you can’t do a show in three hours you have no business being a promoter in my opinion.
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
Bryan gets an enormous reaction. Chicago has always been fond.
Bryan has had to do the ‘big man match’ a lot in WWE such is the Land of the Giants. His success has helped to alter recruitment policy. However nobody told Vince McMahon who continues to get these monster hard-on’s for the Big Men. Braun learned his way on the main roster, Big Cass could arguably do the same. He was heavily reliant on being the hot tag in a team and then he was injured for ages. We’ve not really seen what he’s capable of yet. At the moment he’s either getting bad advice or he’s just lacking in experience. In my experience anyone that goes to a bearhug sucks. The crowd are hugely pro-Bryan. The noise when he gets close to winning is enormous. If WWE was a Chicago based promotion Bryan would be champ. In all fairness to Cass the match has an ok pace and escalates quite nicely. Bryan being the one who has to force the issue. The match is probably too long for Cass’ capabilities, which is the horror of the four hour PPV made real.
You know what feud I’d like to see? Hideo Itami coming after Dan Bryan for stealing his shit. That’s a feud. This ends up being Cass running out of moves to hit and Bryan taking him down with a heel hook for the win. Hopefully this is now over. Cass didn’t look awful here but Bryan is on a completely different level.
Final Rating: **3/4
Video Control takes us backstage where Kevin Owens has a bin bag full of pancakes and a load of imported maple syrup. Why are the New Day happy with the gift of a literally bin bag of pancakes?
Anyway Big Kev wants the rest of New Day to take out Braun Strowman. Owens commits a faux pas by saying the New Day’s breakfast cereal sucks.
Sami Zayn vs. Bobby Lashley
Sami has been busting his ass trying to make this lame feud entertaining.
Across from him is Lashley, a guy with limited personality as a face. Which one do you think Chicago will support? Sami does a good job of being irritating and getting overpowered. It’s the old Shawn Michaels approach to making a bigger less talented man look good. Unfortunately for Lashley everyone can see through that in 2018. Lashley ends up winning in a relative squash. Weeks of build for this?
Final Rating: *3/4
Walk With Elias
Oh, so this is why it’s over four hours, so Elias can come out here after two matches and play a tune. Elias runs some cheap heat, which allows Chi-Town to chant “we are scumbags”.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Elias
This feels like total filler even though Seth is arguably the most consistent performer in WWE this year. The storyline here, as explained in heavy-handed fashion by Michael Cole, is that Seth has a bad neck from a guitar assault and Rollins takes a big bump on the apron to begin the selling process. This is followed by an extended control period from Elias, which is not in any way interesting. This is another match that doesn’t need a lot of time but the four hours plus allows it. Seth’s offence in this is sheer idiocy. Tope, blockbuster. He keeps landing on his own neck. Whether the story is simply that Rollins won’t amend his offence based on an injury or that he’s stubborn (shoot stubborn) is open for debate. Seth gets ambitious and decides to sell his knee too. At least the injuries give Elias an opening and it feels somewhat logical. Then Seth stops selling and it’s “adrenaline”. Such a cop out excuse. I end up conflicted as Elias’ rampage around ringside is hugely entertaining and the match feels good but it’s tonally awful. Seth does a decent job of selling in the final stretch, eventually winning with a cheeky roll up. If they’d thought about this match it could have been a banger. Rollins’ injury story was a mixed bag.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Women’s Money in the Bank
Sasha Banks vs. Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Ember Moon vs. Lana
Carmella only just cashed in from last year. They made an absolute mess of last year’s match with James Ellsworth pulling the contract down on Carmella’s behalf. You only get to do the first one once! Becky, Charlotte and Natalya were all in that match. Everyone else is in their first Money in the Bank match.
The field for this shows how strong the Women’s division is at the moment. NXT is paying off. Only Lana is actively bad and that’s mainly due to inexperience. It interests me that this match is taking place before Jax/Rousey. Alexa gets the biggest pop but Charlotte, the women’s ace, comes out last.
The early emphasis is on Becky and Ember who both look strong. Perhaps predictably Sasha takes the first sickening spot; being crossbodied onto the ladder. It’s a horrible back bump to take.
I like that Becky vs. Charlotte is something that might happen. They’ve been friends for a long time and Becky’s only shot at the spotlight, or so it seems, is fighting her more famous friends. The match isn’t without issues. Anything with Lana is clunky. Anything with Natalya looks very pre-planned. You can see where the future of the division is with Ember and Becky. The latter trying to climb a ladder while Ember and Naomi fight over it is the first ‘whoa’ moment. Based on their interactions Naomi vs. Ember would be one hell of a match up. They’re both creative. Becky’s determination in this is awesome. It shows how much she wants what everyone else knows she deserves.
Alexa brings a lot of personality to the match, as does Lana in her defence. I do love that Becky has this won until Charlotte shows up to stop her. It’s the story of their entire relationship in WWE going back to NXT. Becky again has it won but Alexa is late stopping her. This results in Becky, the crowd favourite, taking a spill and Alexa pulling the contract down. To be fair, it’s better if a heel has it. Unfortunately Alexa has already held both women’s titles and run through an assortment of storylines.
Match was very exciting, although limited in terms of terrifying bumps, which is not a bad thing. They built the match around excitement and a wide open field plus ongoing issues between participants. I enjoyed this.
Final Rating: ****
Video Control takes us backstage where Kurt Angle and Paige have an agonisingly cringey discussion, which is interrupted by Baron Corbin and his new trim. Paige zings him about being a failure in the ring.
Jinder Mahal vs. Roman Reigns
I don’t skip matches, generally, but I’m sorely tempted to give this one the fast-forward treatment. Does anyone, anywhere want to see this? But especially fucking Chicago? The whole bout feels like it fell out of an early 90s midcard. Two big dudes clubbering. The crowd immediately chant “CM Punk” and just shit all over it. The only good thing about this match is Sunil Singh making a miracle recovery and attacking Roman before scampering back to his wheelchair. Otherwise it’s just a stream of urine staining the hallowed squared circle. Jinder Mahal is actually regressing and in on his way to all-time shittiest wrestler territory. The only thing he can do competently is a chinlock. So he does, for ages. The crowd end up amusing themselves while they sit around doing nothing. After a few minutes it becomes apparent the crowd will never come around and they should just go home. I actually like Roman Reigns but pairing him with Jinder, in a vague hopes of actually getting someone to pop him, is unbelievable. Stop being so stubborn and just turn him heel already.
Again the show is stolen by Sunil Singh, this time getting caught interfering and having to take abuse from the Big Dog. Roman then spears Jinder and wins and thank fuck this is over. Just an awful, awful match that had no redeeming value whatsoever. Sunil Singh was the best worker in this.
Final Rating: -*
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Carmella (c) vs. Asuka
Well, Carmella had a good run. Logically this should either be a squash or feature a lot of Carmella time wasting.
Carmella does a lot of hiding in the ropes and goofing around to disguise the fact that she’s completely out of her depth. She goes to get counted out and Asuka batters her with a running knee off the apron. The one thing Carmella does well, aside from garner heat, is to take bumps. That one looked sick. The match then switches gears with Carmella taking over and running through a bunch of rest holds. That is not what we need. Whoever was agent on this match got it horribly wrong. Asuka takes a sick bump off the apron but still takes over only for…
Whatever the fuck this is to happen. Oh no, it’s Ellsworth
Mella takes advantage and kicks Asuka to win. This was a disaster of epic proportions. Carmella is awful. Ellsworth had his fifteen minutes. The Women’s revolution takes two steps forward and however many back you rate this piece of shit match.
Final Rating: DUD
Last Man Standing
AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This feud has been rumbling on since WrestleMania and this feels like the final contest. Unless it ends with a double knock out but they’ve already done that once. The Chicago crowd is in insufferable form here chanting “both these guys”. Pick a side chaps. Worst chant ever. The choice of Last Man Standing does very little for me as it interrupts the flow of the match and makes it even less thrilling than the dog egg they laid at ‘Mania. Just as the match is getting good we have to stop while the ref counts up to five and urgh. The match works best when they don’t bother teasing a count that’s blatantly not going to finish and instead just leather each other. They have a decent brawl out in the crowd where they potato each other the amusement of the locals.
What really irks me is that this match is basically no holds barred and they just wrestle a normal match. It’s no different from every other match they’ve done. Only it has a stop/start vibe that you can’t escape from. And it drags. Until they take it out of the ring and make it more violent, playing to the nature of the stipulations. I do dig the Kinshasa where Nakamura runs across the announce tables but it only exists so AJ can slide off the table and onto his feet. The biggest shock here is Nakamura deciding to sell his knee, something a thousand Tanahashi dragon screws couldn’t do. Exposed turnbuckle pads are his kryptonite. No wonder he was in a stable with Yano. Nakamura begging off feels totally weird. He looks like Gollum. Nakamura tries an assortment of evil stuff, including the nefarious low blow but AJ, like a good babyface, is back to his feet. The murder move is the Style Clash off the ring steps. This is the kind of thing they should have been thinking about from the start. They had to build to it I guess but the early stuff in this felt like filler. AJ kills Nakamura with a Phenomenal Forearm through the table and Shinsuke stays down. AJ retains. Feud has to be over, surely? This got good towards the end but struggled to get there.
Final Rating: ***3/4
I’ve clearly been watching too much Japanese wrestling as I totally expect a new challenger to come out and confront AJ Styles after the match. It does not happen.
RAW Women’s Championship
Nia Jax (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
They had a turn Nia heel overnight to ensure the correct dynamic here.
I dig them doing a Tale of the Tape but if Ronda is 135lbs a lot of wrestlers are being billed as too heavy. Bring in legit weigh-ins! Ronda looked fantastic at ‘Mania but this is a different kind of challenge. The worry is that Ronda could just end up looking like ‘another guy’ here. I like that they start things by showing Nia’s power and size advantage. They also do a good job of making the whole thing feel legitimate. With Rousey using her MMA skills and goes after the arm. Ronda takes some terrific bumps for her level of experience. The stumble out of the ring is great, the swinging slam into the rail is even better. Unlike Carmella dominating Asuka, which was stupid, they have a size and power difference to exploit. Ronda has clearly done some homework. This is evident when she borrows the hanging armbar from Minoru Suzuki. Ronda also shows elements of sports entertainment, like a high crossbody off the top, which make the crowd excited. But she also makes it feel like it’s part of her natural progression into wrestling. She also includes a judo throw, showing her move set will be a unique hybrid style. Ronda has it won but Alexa Bliss runs in with the briefcase for the DQ. A shame as this was going all kinds of great and felt like it was heading to a logical conclusion.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Alexa cashes in!
RAW Women’s Championship
Nia Jax (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
She makes a point of getting rid of Rousey first before hitting the Sparkle Splash! Alexa is the new champ! I bet Ronda will not be pleased. All this was really well booked, a marked contrast to Smackdown’s women’s division. Alexa is the wrestler that’s what WWE want Carmella to be.
Final Rating: NR
Men’s Money in the Bank Match
Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Rusev vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Roode vs. The Miz vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kofi Kingston
Braun is a clear favourite here. His star is burning brighter than everyone else. There was a little intrigue over which New Day member would be in the match. It ends up being Kofi Kingston because he does crazy stuff. There are a lack of flippy guys in here so he’s a logical choice. Speaking of logic; everyone teams up eliminate Braun and they bury him under a mass of ladders.
While the women’s match made sense throughout this one struggles with guys getting distracted with ‘eliminating’ people because it worked with Braun at the start. As with the women’s match people go missing for long periods. Selling in a match like this is always extremely tricky. I’d be in favour of them pairing off outside the ring and brawling to allow focus on the in-ring but not at the detriment of logic. These multi-man matches are so hard to plan out though.
The Braun issue comes up again and again they attempt to eliminate him but this time Owens pays the price, hurled off the top of that ladder. Braun blaming him for orchestrating the attacks on his person. Braun running through a ladder lariat is extraordinary. I’ve never seen anything like it. The trouble with establishing Braun as such a monster favourite is when he is taken out, by Balor dropkicking him over the rail, it feels false. Apart from the murder of Owens the bumps are relatively tame, a lot of guys tumble into the ropes. Obviously taking a bump on a ladder sucks but it’s not often spectacular like a splintering table. Braun ends up shrugging everyone else off and pulling the case down. I’m hoping he calls his shot.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Money in the Bank was bloated, overlong and had a lot of useless filler. Taking the PPV’s out to four hours is incredibly dumb. It doesn’t make any logical sense at all. The only good thing about it is the boys get paid more in bonuses for making shows like this. That’s about it. You could argue the fans are getting their money’s worth by seeing a show that’s an hour longer but I’d rather have an all killer, no filler three hour show instead. For me you ditch Lashley/Zayn (sorry Sami), Reigns/Mahal and probably Bryan/Cass and shorten up Carmella/Asuka to get to the point…and probably put it on the pre-show. That leaves you:
Seth/Elias, Women’s MitB, AJ/Nakamura, Jax/Rousey and Men’s Money in the Bank. Five matches. Give them time to breathe (which they did anyway) and you’re done in under three hours and it’s a great fucking show.