WWE Money in the Bank 2017
June 18 2017
We’re in St Louis, Missouri. Hosts are Tom Phillips, his airline erection, JBL and Byron Saxton.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Carmella vs. Natalya
Some solid advice from one of the fans; “Climb Faster”. Carmella has a distinct advantage as she’s got James Ellsworth at ringside. She is the only one with help. The match is billed as a ‘historic first ever’ women’s MITB match. Which would mean a lot more if the belt they’re looking for a shot at was so unestablished. It didn’t exist at the start of last year. Part of what makes the Money in the Bank concept so important is that it virtually guarantees you a world title. Which is tough to attain in the business.
The structuring is always going to be tough because none of these women have been in anything like this before. The result is a lot of awkwardness, nasty looking bumps and overselling. Oh and glacially slow climbing. The do pander to the fans with traditional ladder spots, which somehow feel fresh because it’s women that are taking them. There are some gutsy bumps in there. Nobody phones the bumps in. Tamina and Carmella don’t take good bumps but they don’t phone them in. The match has definite car crash appeal. Charlotte and Becky are the stand-outs. Both in terms of the bumps they take and the spots they execute. The finish is so bad it’s untrue. James Ellsworth climbs the ladder and drops the briefcase down to Carmella. What? How must Carmella feel about that? It screams ‘we don’t trust you to climb up a ladder’. Worse still is this historic first ever women’s MITB match was won by a man. You couldn’t make this up. Do WWE not realise that goes against everything the Women’s Revolution was about?
Final Rating: **1/4
Video Control takes us backstage where Lana is interviewed regarding her title shot. Which makes the last match a laughing stock (which is already was) as Lana has virtually no wrestling experience and already has a title shot.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Usos (c) vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E)
Kofi takes a sickening bump to the floor in the early going, which showcases his uncanny ability to take a beating. If you can make other people look good, you’ll always have a spot. New Day, as a gimmick, is a wee bit played out, although that’s not reflected in their crowd reactions. Giving them time off between the big RAW run and this SmackDown one was probably wise. I personally would have gone with Breezango and done something else with New Day. They’ve hit on something with the Fashion Police and when you get lucky like that, you run with it. This match is spirted, although not overly spotty. The Usos are deliberate about working Kofi’s leg to give the match focus but the tags keep everything fresh. It’s a pity Big E can’t catch Jey for the Big Ending and has to jack him back up. It’s an unfortunate botch on what would have been a killer spot. The pace gets suitably wild as the match progresses with lots of cool false finishes. The Usos survive all the finishers but then take the count-out loss to retain the belts. Stick a finish on this and it would have been over four flakes.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Video Control takes us backstage where Bob Orton Jr is talking to Sgt Slaughter.
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Naomi (c) vs. Lana
Lana’s new gimmick is that she thinks she’s a dancer. Naomi actually is. Lana also thinks she’s a wrestler. Naomi actually is. Lana transitioning into wrestling is something that was always likely to happen, as WWE tend to only have people in their company with the capacity to blow off feuds in the ring. Lana is severely lacking in experience. Spending a few months training is no substitute for experience. To her credit Lana doesn’t expose herself too much. Her mid-match conversations are blindingly obvious and her timing and execution are patchy but considering her lack of experience it’s not a disaster. The positive is that Lana looks calm and doesn’t rush. The agent that put the match together has done a solid job of not exposing the newcomer.
Carmella shows up to watch leaving both competitors distracted. Lana gets caught and submitted because of it. Naomi retains. Carmella doesn’t cash in, aware that Naomi isn’t as beaten down as she’d like. The match left a lot to be desired but could have been far, far worse. Lana, at times, looked completely out of her depth.
Final Rating: *1/4
Video Control gives us some Fashion Police gold. Including references to Miami Vice, Paul E Dangerously, Michael Jackson and Collisseum Home Video. We cut back to ringside…”those are two weird guys” says JBL.
From there we get the debut of Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis. The latter has deserved this shot, working tirelessly since WWE released her to become relevant on the independent scene. Her ROH run was solid, her New Japan stuff was good and the Bennett’s also worked for TNA recently. Mike Bennett is an ok worker but he’s nothing exceptional and the fact he’s changed his name to “Kanellis” says it all about who WWE was really interested in. They’re both heels because they’re in love. I give it six months. JBL’s “he took her name…huh” reaction is marvellous work. He guarantee you he buries Mike Bennett every time he’s out here.
Video Control takes us back to ringside where St Louis legends are introduced; Greg Gagne (“legend” is a stretch), Larry Hennig, Baron von Raschke (who almost gives himself the Iron Claw, the absolute legend), Sgt Slaughter, Bob Orton Jr and Ric Flair. Harley Race would have been here but he broke his leg.
Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Randy Orton
Jinder is a throwback to WWE’s monster foreign heels of the 80s and 90s. Where someone, like Yokozuna, could just stroll into the main events from nowhere and win the title. Even though Orton is from St Louis it would make no sense to switch the belt back after one month. If anything it’s a chance to build Jinder up as a credible champion for someone else to de-throne.
Orton starts fast and puts a beating on Jinder and his stupid hair. It helps that the crowd is very pro-Randy because they deliver the same poor quality of wrestling that plagued the first match. So it’s rubbish but at least it’s heated. That counts for a lot. Jinder works the leg over and often when wrestlers do the ‘leg match’ I find myself waiting for them to give up on it and get into the meat of the match. This is a rarity but I actually feel bad for Orton in this match. His timing is exquisite at times and Jinder looks totally inadequate next to him. Randy has to wait around for Jinder to catch up and it’s this massive internal struggle of wanting to look good but not being able to. Orton seems to take it as a challenge. I can see the gears clicking around; ‘what if I have a legitimately good match with Jinder Mahal?’ He’s already counting the number handshakes he’ll get from assorted legends. And Greg Gagne. The Bollywood Boyz save Jinder’s title so Mike Chioda kicks them out.
Predictably the Singh brothers target Randy’s Dad. Bob delivering some sensational facials in response. Randy takes exception and murders the Singh boys, much like he did at Backlash. Randy Orton must hate tables. The viciousness of his table spots seem completely uncalled for. The RKO through the table is utter madness. Randy tabled himself. He’s an idiot. Randy struggles back into the ring and eats the Cobra Clutch Slam for the loss. That’s exactly how the first match went down. It makes Randy look like an idiot. Orton worked extremely hard in this match to make it passable. Jinder is not a good professional wrestler. They’ve been a bit sneaky by putting this in the midcard. 1. It means they can get away with a down finish. 2. It means whoever wins MITB cannot challenge tonight.
Final Rating: **1/2
The Fashion Police vs. Their Mystery Assailants
“It’s the crime of the century” deadpans JBL, clearly unimpressed with the nerdy angle he’s having to commentate on. The mystery assailants are the Ascension. That goes over like a fart in a library. It’s a shame for Breezango, who have been exceptional of late. The Ascension are not a team anyone cares about; from fans to bookers and the match exists as a ‘piss break’. Fandango wins with a roll up. Hopefully they don’t blow what they’ve gained with the Fashion Police as the angle has been pure gold.
Final Rating: *
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin
This is a fine collection of talent. I’d be happy with any of them getting WWE title runs…apart from Baron Corbin, who’s not at that level just yet. Also Dolph Ziggler because he’s awful. Corbin jumps Nakamura before the match leaving him down on the ramp. Positioning this in the main event slot increases expectations and forces the boys to attempt ludicrous spots to steal the show. It all comes down to timing as things need to look organic. One spot in particular stands out where Owens to readying himself to dive to the floor but Sami throws him onto a pre-set up ladder in the ring. The set up involved Kevin opening the ladder but being stopped in the midst of the set up and the boys being dived onto were all distracted by brawling with each other. As long as this stuff makes sense I have no problem with it.
It’s when spots are deliberately set up and it doesn’t make sense to place a ladder somewhere and then leave it that I get annoyed. The Dudley Boyz did a lot of that in their classic ladder matches. Something I specifically like about this match is that everyone tries to climb and tries to win. This, in turn, leads to spots. Rather than spots occurring because it’s a ladder match and ladder matches have crazy spots. Like Sami and Ziggler making it to the top of the ladder and Zayn hitting a sunset flip bomb off the top. Or AJ hitting the Phenomenal Forearm to prevent Sami from climbing to the top. The only guy who sets stuff up is Baron Corbin and that’s because he’s an asshole. He figures if he hurts someone they’ll become a non-factor. This has the added bonus of leaving something set up for someone more talented to use. Corbin is aiming to climb for the briefcase when Nakamura makes a dramatic return. I’d forgotten he was in the match to be honest.
Nakamura cleaning house makes him look like a genuine star and him missing the first half of the match plays in to the ‘Baron wants to hurt people’ angle. Nakamura and AJ Styles coming face to face gets a huge reaction. A lot of New Japan fans in St Louis! WWE has a ready-made main event in AJ-Nakamura. It’s so easy. New Japan did all the legwork! AJ Styles is the MVP of the match. He takes the sickest bumps and spends the most time in the ring, in the spotlight.
Baron Corbin shoves over the ladder with Nakamura and AJ on and then struggles to unlock the briefcase for ages before successfully doing so and gaining his Money in the Bank title shot opportunity.
Final Rating: ****1/4
I’ll give WWE credit. The main event was extremely well planned and everything made sense all the way through. You rarely ever get multi-man ladder matches that stick to logic. There’s normally at least half a dozen moments that feel forced. All good here. The undercard was mostly bad, although New Day vs. Usos was really good. My biggest complaint stems from the finishes. I don’t think I liked a single finish on the entire show. Even Naomi-Lana, which should have been clean as a whistle, had a distraction finish. It was a night of unexpectable finishes, starting with the biggest offender of all; a women’s ladder match where a man won. That’s Vince Russo territory lads. I am displeased. Especially with it being a historic first ever women’s MITB match up.