Monday, June 15, 2015

It's a Shameful Thing: Money in the Bank 2015 Review

The battle continues
Photo Credit:
In the TH Style, of course. This show certainly is worth watching on replay on the WWE Network. Just skip the IC Title match.

  • Bray Wyatt returned to prevent Roman Reigns from winning Money in the Bank. Sheamus took the opportunity, climbed the ladder, knocked off Neville, and grabbed the briefcase.
  • After a failed Twin Magic and a Dusty Finish, Nikki Bella retained the Divas Championship with a stiff forearm and a Rack Attack over Paige.
  • Big Show defeated Ryback by disqualification after Miz attacked him. Ryback still is the Intercontinental Champion.
  • John Cena defeated Kevin Owens with the springboard stunner into the Attitude Adjustment.
  • The Prime Time Players won the WWE Tag Team Championships when Titus O'Neil pinned Xavier Woods with a sitout spinebuster.
  • Seth Rollins retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after falling simultaneously from the ladder in possession of the belt. The jolt of the mat dislodged Ambrose's grip from the title.

General Observations:
  • Dusty Rhodes got the ten bell salute and his theme song to play to start the show. I usually don't cover the pre-show on these gimmicks, but the tribute vignette that played after the R-Truth/Wade Barrett match went right to Renee Young who was a blubbering mess. She still got through her thing she had to say and was okay after the next segment. She's a true professional, guys. No sarcasm.
  • Vince McMahon doing the stanky leg during the theme song? Get all the fuck outta here. OF all his greatest hits of infamy, signing Rhodes in the late '80s and making him do a minstrel gimmick was one of the dirt worst things he's ever done, and that's saying something. Fuck Vince McMahon.
  • Lana accompanied Dolph Ziggler to the ring, and WASN'T selling the ankle? No way she's getting booked in this territory again.
  • Everyone started the match beating on everyone else, which allowed Kofi Kingston to set up a ladder and sneak up unnoticed. The rest did notice it eventually and ganged up on him, but it was such a clever spot. I would have marked if Kingston had won it right there.
  • Ziggler climbed the ladder unabated, but Sheamus rushed in a caught him, leading to some funky attempted DDT by Ziggler. They fucked up, but they improvised it into something else. Not the first time they went and improvised after an unexpected happening...
  • If the idea was to try and get the fans behind Roman Reigns, the worst thing to let him do would have been to have him interrupt Neville and Kingston doing things on the ladder. And hey, if that ain't exactly what the agent of thi smatch had him do...
  • Really though, I would pay serious money to see Neville and Kingston in a ladder match.
  • Neville leaping over Randy Orton onto the ladder ahead of him was sweet. Orton sweeping his heel out from under him and RKOing him off the ladder was OH SHIT.
  • Ziggler's headbutts looked vicious without context, but on top of the ladder? He needs to add those to his regular arsenal. But the Zig Zag from the top of the ladder actually made it look like it hurt for once.
  • Kane hit the sliding dropkick on the ladder to Ziggler and Neville on the floor, and the first thing that popped into my head was "Oh man, he's been watching EVOLVE matches in advance of the new rumored deal."
  • New Day came out FINALLY to help out Kingston, but the best thing they could have done was eat that sliding dropkick from Reigns.
  • HOLY SHIT ROMAN REIGNS. HOLY SHIT. HOLY SHIT (translation: I can't believe he powerbombed Kingston out of the ring onto everyone on the outside.)
  • Bray Wyatt shoving Reigns off the ladder and Sister Abigail's Kissing him out of the match would have been surprising if you didn't read Reddit.
  • I don't hate Sheamus winning the match. He was Reigns before Reigns was Reigns, pushed to the top without being ready, evolving into an elite worker in a short time, and having real, WWE-desired size. He'll make a fine Champion eventually. But having him win without any substantial build is baffling to me. I'll take it though.
  • Watching Nikki Bella do jumping jacks after an early pieface on Paige soothed my nerves, because babyface Bella was just not doing it for me. Work that heel shtick, baybay.
  • Divas booking on the main roster is amphoteric and weak, but man, Paige and Bella really dedicated themselves to working distinct roles. Bella working taunts and Paige bumping really hard (both on the electric chair to the barricade and the big tackle to the apron) helped create a classic atmosphere.
  • Of course, it didn't help with the commentary spouting misogynist bullshit. Jerry Lawler as Paige was drilling Bella with a knee said "Well, all women hate each other," and steam shot out of my ears. I can't imagine what the female fans were thinking.
  • The best spot in the entire match happened when Paige caught the kick from Bella from behind and whipped her over into the STF, which I'd like to imagine was a troll on Bella for her boyfriend's shitty application of the hold. SHOTS FIRED.
  • Paige rolled up Brie Bella after "Twin Magic" (Brie even tore out the stuffing in her chest, which, holy shit), and the ref restarted the match to give the world a Divas Dusty Finish. I guess that's what Paige meant when she said she was doing this for Rhodes before the match.
  • Miz came out doing the boilerplate "Heel on his hometown to get heat" thing, but as he always seems to do, he spat hot fire both with content and tonal manipulation. People like to shit on him as being the worst WrestleMania main eventer of all time or at least one of the worst. Fuck that, dude was talented enough to be in his spot. He was just done dirty by The Rock's big return and setup for the next two years.
  • When Ryback hit the Meathook and teased Shellshocked, I legitimately thought he was going to squash Big Show in like 20 seconds. Show's lost a lot of cache over the years, but that would have been a hell of a way to put the Big Guy over.
  • I appreciate Ryback adding some submission stuff to his game, but that was the roughest looking cross armbreaker I've ever seen. Honestly, some guys just don't need a submission hold. Ryback's one of them.
  • Big Show knocked Ryback out of the ring with his big punch, and Miz crept over to get him some Ryback. Show just looked at him cross, and he scurried back to his seat.
  • Okay, I thought WWE was going to do the big, early-days WWF fuck you countout finish, and no, Miz attacked to do the even lazier DQ finish. Do that shit on RAW, assholes.
  • The best "Boo/Yay" volley of the night came when Kevin Owens and John Cena took turns raising their respective title belts. I'll let you figure out on your own which one got the boo and which one got the yay.
  • I'm still amazed at how hard Owens takes it to Cena on a regular basis. Win or lose, Cena has given him his physical credibility.
  • "Kevin Owens has had nose problems before, back even to NXT." CJ Parker shed a single tear at that call.
  • Owens being the guy who worked trope subversion of Cena's big moves against him was such a glove fit for his character. He nearly did the shoulder tackle x2 - duck the punch - Proto Bomb - Five Knuckle Shuffle almost as well as Cena usually does it.
  • Cena's revenge on the Five Knuckle Shuffle though was the best I've seen him do that in years.
  • Owens landed the senton atomico with his back FLUSH to Cena's knees. I don't know if he really felt that, but it looked the part.
  • Cena going incredulous at the ref after the electric chair drop and then bullying the ref after the kickout of the Attitude Adjustment was the biggest tell that he's the heel in this feud than anything else. Heels bitch to the refs and are shocked when their moves don't work.
  • Cena countered the pop-up powerbomb with the cleanest rana he'd ever hit and probably will ever hit again. It was even better than Owens keeping with the legacy of his former Mount Rushmore stablemates and nailing Cena with the superkick.
  • TWO ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENTS? Owens is over, man.
  • Owens and Cena trading bombs near the end of the match was the same layout as the Undertaker/Triple H WrestleMania XXVII match, only instead theirs came at the beginning. That's why this match was better than the other one: placement, timing, and earning the right to trade bombs.
  • The wobbling on the Yoshi Tonic actually added to the drama of the move. Sometimes, botches can be friendly.
  • "JOHN CENA GETS REDEMPTION." Really Michael Cole? Fuck you. Cena is a whining pissbaby and never should have gotten the rematch.
  • (But really, it was a terrific match and I'm glad it happened again, result regardless.)
  • Cena offered the hand, and I was afraid Owens would do the namby-pamby bullshit respect thing with pissbaby Cena, but he powerbombed him on the apron and YESSSSSSSS.
  • The Owens loss here is good for one reason; it removes the urge for WWE to attach an "undefeated streak" angle to him. He doesn't need it. He can build on his character in wins and losses. He's special. Special wrestlers don't need the crutch of the win-loss record.
  • The Dean Ambrose promo really hammered home some long term booking, even if it felt accidental with his path between Hell in the Cell and Elimination Chamber. His journey began at this pay-per-view last year when Seth Rollins screwed him out of the briefcase. His main event would be a culmination.
  • Big E: "Cheaters should never win, especially when they just came off probation!" Why isn't this guy the centerpiece of the fucking company? New Day rules, but even as much as it rules, it's still beneath E.
  • Xavier Woods nearly lost his shit at the crowd, and I look forward to the day when clap therapy just doesn't work.
  • New Day works so well together in concert offense. It's helped to elevate guys like Kingston, and in this match, Woods. It helped that Darren  Young is one of the best sympathetic faces-in-peril WWE has.
  • Now that Cesaro and Tyson Kidd are out of action and can't stomp people in the corner to the cadence of "NEW DAY SUCKS" chants, I'm glad that New Day has co-opted it for themselves. Big E slapping the belly on an abdominal stretch was a suitable replacement for holding the ropes for leverage as a heel technique.
  • Darren Young took the spear off the apron like a Champion. Dude is one of the best at working underneath in the company, and he pairs so well with Titus O'Neil's hot tags. They're really an awesome classic tag team with a modern trapping.
  • The Tag Team Championships aren't even the WWE World Heavyweight title, but still, a gay man holds a title in WWE. That's not insignificant.
  • Seth Rollins took the walk of doom and had everyone from the Authority give him some bit of business in his ear. The only one that seemed like it remotely mattered was Triple H's which hey, it's 2004 WWE all over again!
  • Again, Rollins and Ambrose hate each other. WHY ARE THEY LOCKING UP TO START, ESPECIALLY IN A LADDER MATCH?
  • Rollins leaping up on the ladder resting against the apron was a cool visual though.
  • The crowd finally woke up when Ambrose hit his signature standing elbow drop from the ladder. That move is impressive regularly, but off the ladder? Noice.
  • Of course, the commentary team mis-called it as a bionic elbow. No, I know a bionic elbow. That was no bionic elbow.
  • OH GOD THE CHAIR SHOT. I don't know the logistics of how stiff or not it looked, but the steel chair on the aluminum ladder made one gnarly sound.
  • "You're gonna climb with one leg?" over and over by Rollins to Ambrose was the best thing he'd done in the ring since getting himself in position for the manic WrestleMania RKO.
  • Ambrose and Rollins slapping each other while in the figure four was a great tribute to the old Rhodes/Ric Flair matches. Better than the Dusty Finish or just an attempt at a bionic elbow if you ask me.
  • Rollins countering the NIGEL by throwing a ladder at Ambrose was the best counter to that move yet, although I think countering it has become a bit spammy lately.
  • I want to see the figures on the fine Ambrose is getting from just careening the chair unprotected into Rollins' face.
  • Ambrose tripping up Rollins on the springboard to crotch him on the ropes was a stiff shot. The lariat that followed though? That was a nine out of ten on the Kobashi Scale.
  • Rollins set up the ladder bridge, but he was the one who went through it on a counter back body drop. I may have my problems with Rollins, but that doesn't mean I want to see him get Sin Cara'd.
  • Michael Cole after Ambrose lariated Rollins over the table: "THIS MATCH CONTINUES." Sorry Cole, this is pay-per-view. Even though some of them feel like glorified RAWs, you're not going crash to break here.
  • It always makes me cringe when someone does a move on the table and it doesn't break. Rollins looked like he got it worse on the Dirty Deeds on the table than he did when he got Sin Cara'd.
  • The ladder bridge got a lot of mileage, with Rollins slamming Ambrose into it sliding and headfirst. The running powerbomb into the barricade times two and the third into the ladder pile veered into "STOP IT HE'S ALREADY DEAD" territory.
  • And of course Ambrose got up from it, because Gabe Sapolsky signed that deal to sell with WWE for match agent rights.

Match of the Night: John Cena vs. Kevin Owens - How can two guys follow up an unfuckwithable first match in their series, go forward with a lot of those same spots, and arguably equal the first segment? Watch Cena and Owens and see with your eyes rather than with written word. They were allowed to be their avatars and revel in their roles, and they were allowed to turn the volume all the way up to ear-splitting, glass-shattering levels. Owens was great here, obviously, but this match may have been Cena's best individual performance since his ultimate carry-job of The Rock at WrestleMania XXIX, and yet this match came against a great opponent instead of a bloated movie star.

The match began with a lot of the same beats, which was fine in a way since they were so meaty and satisfying. The opening volley came out and said it right away; Owens was on Cena's level with how hard the former came at the latter. All the trolling brought the build of the match into the forefront. If the match had been merely a remix of the the Elimination Chamber match, it would have rated highly. It was an all-time match, and it was filled with meaty spots that had staying power. But what was added at the end is what elevated the contest onto an equal plane. They worked the Triple H/Undertaker match from WrestleMania XXVII in reverse, and the big bombs being traded actually made sense at the end instead of at the beginning of the match. That's what happens when the two wrestlers in the match actually know what the fuck is going on.

And everything worked in their favor. Cena hit his sloppy hurricanrana cleanly for once, and it was a perfect roll-through segue into Owens Mount Rushmore-ing him with a superkick. The super fisherman's buster was hit with even more force in this match than in the last one. Even the sloppy looking Yoshi Tonic attempt by Cena on Owens worked in their favor. They were throwing bombs at each other, and it should have followed that they were rattled and worse for wear. And the visual was incredible to follow. Asking two guys to give a fantastic match once is enough, but asking them to do it again and having them deliver? That's special.

Overall Thoughts: I hesitate to call Money in the Bank a bad show; it had a lot more interesting and worthwhile things going on. Even in the questionable decisions, I saw logic. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose going on for that long felt like a slog at best, but they needed to have their epic match that established Rollins as Triple-H-Lite before his inevitable showdown with Brock Lesnar. I would have lopped like ten minutes off it and totally changed the first five or so minutes of the match to be more Memphis and less Great Britain, but I could see where McMahon and the boys were going here.

Sheamus winning Money in the Bank was out of leftfield even by WWE's standards. Money in the Bank isn't necessarily a place where a narrative has to come to roost, although in the most famous post-Mania version, Alberto del Rio totally had a narrative going into his win from the time he got his number one contendership leapfrogged by CM Punk. But Sheamus had been left dangling in the breeze. He's the most random winner since Jack Swagger at the last Mania match. But he's also Roman Reigns before Reigns was Reigns. He was pushed too hard to the top, developed into a signature worker, and has the requisite bigness WWE seems to love. If a plan comes out for him, he could shine, but I fear he also might get the midcarder-with-a-briefcase treatment of getting jobbed mercilessly before cashing in. He's no Dolph Ziggler to be able to deflect that booking either.

I'm also not thrilled initially at the prospect of a Bray Wyatt/Roman Reigns feud, if only because Wyatt as a solo entity seems like a place where Shield guys go to die. Sure, Ambrose is a small sample size, but the feud beginning had the same sort of random blooming that the other guy's feud did. If rumors of a Shield and Wyatt Family double reunion are true, I could get behind that nostalgia trip. But it again feels random and out of the ordinary even for WWE.

But the John Cena/Kevin Owens match delivered up to the billing of their last match. WWE put an honest-to-God, well-booked and protected title on an openly gay wrestler in a marquee performance. The Divas Championship match hit on all the good notes it was supposed to. Paige especially bumped hard and really captured the heroic essence that has been missing in her out-of-ring character. She's been up and down since coming up to the main roster, but here, she shone.

All in all though, Money in the Bank wasn't a bad show inasmuch as it was a weird show. It's one that deserves a second look, some deeper analysis, and definite attention to the follow up, even if WWE has not earned the faith to assume it won't fuck up the follow up. But a lot of the potential intrigue for the Japanese Network Special outside of Owens/Finn Bálor match has dried up unless something big happens on RAW tonight. I'm at a loss for words on prediction for once, but even if some of the booking consequences might be lethargic, it's not necessarily a bad thing.