Welcome to The Nerd Hub, where we love our squared circles, turnbuckles, Beast Incarnates and the WWE. This week, we run down the best, worst and totally awful moments from Money in the Bank. With all apologies to Degeneration X, let’s “break it down” from the XL Center in Hartford.
HEADLINE NEWS: THE BEAST IN THE BANK
Andrade, Ali and Finn Balor gave us the carnage, but ultimately The Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar snagged the briefcase. As usual, Lesnar let everyone else do the work. Meanwhile, he gets the glory of winning the Money in the Bank men’s ladder match.
You knew WWE would re-introduce Lesnar into the mix ahead of his appearance at Super Showdown in June. However, he chose to return in the main event rather than get immediate payback on Seth Rollins. WWE set it up by having Sami Zayn taken out earlier in the show. Then, Braun Strowman, everyone’s suspect, got barred from the arena.
Furthermore, the WWE’s ultimate heel picked the best possible moment. Scrappy underdog Ali maneuvered his way to the top of the ladder. He did the dirty work to get there, too. He dumped Baron Corbin over the top rope after Randy Orton RKO’d Drew McIntyre to take both out. Then, Lesnar came out. And did Lesnar things.
WWE got us again. They worked so hard to showcase all of the young talent in the match. They had Andrade sunset flip powerbomb Finn Balor off the top of a ladder on to a “ladder bridge.” Even my spine hurt seeing it. Andrade also hit a Spanish Fly on Ali. The Intercontinental Champion Balor also ate a Deep Six from Corbin and a suplex from McIntyre on a ladder. In addition, Ricochet took punishment with a side suplex off the announce table.
Yet, they brought out their veteran part-timer to eat up the glory and the title opportunity. I give Vince McMahon credit for some unpredictability. However, Vince ultimately flipped the bird to fans once again with this booking.
GOOD: BAYLEY CASHES IN FOR GOLD
The Hugger now reigns as your new SmackDown Women’s Champion.
That’s right. Bayley opened the show with a victory in the women’s ladder match. Then, our ultimate babyface rushed to aid Becky Lynch against an ambush from Lacey Evans and Charlotte Flair. Bayley dodged a bull rush from The Queen, who took herself out in the turnbuckle. Then, the fans urged The Hugger to cash in her briefcase. She obliged and hit Flair with a top rope elbow to win the gold.
As a result, we got the end of Becky 2 Belts and two title reigns in one night. Meanwhile, Flair technically got her ninth title reign in the process. She dethroned Lynch with a Big Boot to collect her shortest title reign yet.
However, Lynch still came out looking strong with the loss. She had to wrestle both of her title matches consecutively. The dreaded numbers game of matches finally caught up with the champ champ.
Furthermore, the biggest winners may wind up becoming the fans. If booked right, we could see months of good content between Charlotte and Bayley. However, Bayley edged out the Beast as the biggest winner on Sunday.
BAD: LARS TAKES OUT LUCHA HOUSE PARTY
For starters, no one believed the Lucha House Party came out to wrestle. Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado serve as cannon fodder or clowns these days. That’s who they are. That’s all WWE apparently trusts them to do.
Therefore, Lars Sullivan coming out to destroy said luchadors came to the shock and amazement of nobody. That’s who he is. That’s what WWE trusts him to do.
Yet, WWE made a misstep in putting Lars out there at all. His past comments enraged fans to the point WWE had to fine him and set up sensitivity training. Some fans never want to see Lars again. I’m not sure everyone feels that way. However, I think most would agree that his involvement with this show wasn’t necessary.
Furthermore, this accomplished nothing. We just witnessed The Viking Warriors kick Lucha House Party butt recently on RAW. Lars doing the same adds no more credibility or heat to his act.
GOOD: ROLLINS BURNS IT DOWN WITH STYLES
I ate a bit of crow here with my predictions column. I thought for sure WWE would leave us wanting more for a continued feud. That’s why I figured The Beast would intervene between Seth Rollins and AJ Styles.
Instead, WWE treated us with the instant classic everyone hoped. Two of the best in the ring clashed. We got big blows struck from each side. The Beastslayer and The Phenomenal One kept us on the edge of our seats with near falls. Ultimately, Rollins hit a combination of the revolution knee, superkick and stomp to retain.
Expectations for this match settled somewhere between “sky high” and “through the roof.” They delivered every bit on the hype.
Unfortunately, Rollins and Styles looks like a one-off for now. Both men gave each other the appropriate respect after the match. Since Lesnar took the briefcase, you know it’s a matter of time before he comes for revenge.
Lesnar and Rollins may happen as soon as June 7 at Super Showdown in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
BAD: CONTROVERSIAL U.S. TITLE CHANGE
Rey Mysterio became a grand slam champion with WWE by defeating Samoa Joe for the United States Championship.
And we’re complaining about it?
Well, the devil’s in the details. Mysterio clearly failed to pin Joe’s shoulders to the mat, but he still got the three count. This marked the second consecutive pay-per-view we got a fishy pin for the win. Everyone remembers the Becky Lynch-Ronda Rousey ending.
Furthermore, this marked the second straight pay-per-view these guys worked an abbreviated match. Joe defeated Mysterio in just over a minute at WrestleMania. Their Money in the Bank match lasted only a bit longer. Mysterio appeared to injure Joe’s nose with a seated senton. Joe gave Mysterio a post-match beatdown. Yet, it’s hard to look too tough when you just got embarrassed.
When you consider the forgettable reigns of Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, R-Truth and Joe, the United States belt lacks any prestige right now. The momentum Joe had immediately came to a skidding halt with back-to-back losses to Mysterio. The questionable finish lacks any sort of accomplishment for Rey, too.
GOOD: KOFI KOS THE PRIZEFIGHTER
Kofi Kingston continues to thrive as the best booked Superstar in the WWE since February. He kept his career-redefining roll going with a victory over Kevin Owens to retain the WWE Championship.
KO targeted Kingston’s back early and often. Owens repeatedly locked in the Boston Crab to try to ground the high-flying champion. He capitalized on what looked like a painful blow to Kingston when he collided with a camera man outside the ring with a frog splash from the apron.
However, Kofi tapped into his resilient, underdog heroics yet again. Though KO hit a Stunner, Kingston fell out of the ring. Then, Owens tried to finish him off with a top-rope senton. However, Kingston got the knees up and finished with Trouble in Paradise for the 1-2-3.
This match served as yet another classic in a run of them for Kingston as of late. He’s accomplishing things in the ring we’ve never seen from him previously. That’s saying something for an 11-year WWE veteran.
Furthermore, this match also helps KO. The result feeds in to his anger and desperation to become a champion once again.
BAD: CONFUSING TAG TEAM BOOKING
WWE booked its tag team match on the Money in the Bank Kickoff Show like The Usos remain on SmackDown.
They got moved to RAW during the Superstar Shake-Up. I understand the world of the “Wild Card” rule allows Superstars to appear on both brands. However, you would think WWE would want to feed feuds between talent on the same brands. That’s why the result on Sunday appeared to work at cross purposes to logic.
Jimmy and Jey scored a non-title victory over the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions Daniel Bryan and Rowan. You read that correctly. A NON-TITLE MATCH that includes champions on a pay-per-view show.
The Usos took out Rowan with a stereo suicide dive before hitting Bryan with a double splash for the win. That’s right. The best way to make the SmackDown Tag champs look imposing is to book them to lose in their first outing.
Don’t get me wrong. In the ring, Rowan got established further as a beast. Bryan got protected well from injury. The Usos look like threats to win belts on both brands.
Yet, I still fail to see how this makes sense on the creative side going forward.
GOOD: BECKY RETAINS RAW BELT
WWE got everything related to the women’s division right at Money in the Bank.
In addition to Bayley getting over big, Becky Lynch remained RAW Women’s Champion. However, Lacey Evans also won big. She made her first pay-per-view singles match a strong effort. This sets her up as a capable title contender to Lynch on RAW going forward.
For starters, Evans built heat from the moment she strutted to the ring. She tossed out dollar bills with her face on them. Yet, Lynch took control early and often in the ring. The Man punished The Lady of WWE in an opening salvo.
However, Evans weathered the storm. Then, she went to work on Lynch’s left arm. Lacey stomped away at it before hitting a springboard elbow drop. Her own arrogance soon became her downfall, though. She retrieved a hankie from her gear, mopped sweat off her brow and taunted Lynch.
The Man retaliated with a few dropkicks and a Bexploder before some brawling outside the ring. Then, Lynch countered a rollup attempt by locking in the Dis-Arm-Her for the submission.
In summation, the current star sizzled in continuing her reign. Meanwhile, a future star proved she could hang tough in a big spot on a big show.
BAD: SHANE BEATS MIZ AGAIN
What did The A-Lister do to tick off the booking Gods? Miz teased another giant superplex. This time, he nearly hit one off the top of the cage. Unfortunately, Shane McMahon slipped out of his jersey to fall to the mat outside the ring.
So, Shane O’Mac technically defeated Miz in the steel cage match. This marks Shane’s second consecutive win over Miz at a pay-per-view on a technicality. He won at WrestleMania by having his arm land on top of Miz after he was superplexed off a lighting rig.
The McMahons fired another middle finger at the fans on this one. Miz needed to win at WrestleMania to end the feud. Instead, we get a McMahon victorious over one of the best talents in the company two pay-per-views in a row. It defies all logic.
Therefore, we will likely get a continuation of this beef going to Super Showdown on June 7. However, a victory there by The Miz likely will not get as quite as big of a reaction as a victory at Money in the Bank.
Miz deserves so much better.
GOOD: BIG DOG EMBARRASSES ELIAS
I give credit when it’s due. I let WWE know when I think what they book is crap. So, it’s only fair to say they did a fantastic job with Roman Reigns against Elias.
The booking totally made sense. It stayed true to who they both are as characters. Furthermore, it sets up Reigns for bigger and better things. Meanwhile, it allowed The Drifter to stay relevant with main eventers, even if he’s only putting them over.
Elias thought he got the drop on Roman Reigns. He bashed him in the back with his guitar during The Big Dog’s entrance. Then, our songster settled in to give us a performance.
Unfortunately for Elias, Reigns got up from the ambush. And he was ticked off.
As Elias made his way up the ramp, he ate a big Superman Punch. Then, Reigns took the action back to the ring. The bell rang and The Drifter got his bell rung. The Big Dog hit a ferocious spear to end the match in seconds.
WWE gave us everything we needed from this interaction and ended it quickly. This worked just as well as any of the big title matches.
BAD: CRUISERWEIGHT MOMENTUM KILLER
WWE picked a weird time to move a Cruiserweight Championship match off a kickoff show.
During his reign, Buddy Murphy turned in a wealth of tremendous matches, but got the pre-show treatment. Ironically, he got promoted to SmackDown after he lost to Tony Nese at WrestleMania. Of course, we’ve yet to see Murphy since the Superstar Shake-Up announcement.
Meanwhile, Nese and Daivari put on a solid showing, but hardly one that highlighted the strengths of those involved. Daivari lacks the fast-paced, high-risk offense of other Cruiserweights and that didn’t allow Nese to show off as “The Premier Athlete.”
As a result, the crowd offered little support for these guys. Nese retained on the strength of a running knee in the corner. However, he got off to a slow start in his title reign in a match that silenced the crowd after it started hyped from the women’s ladder match.
Unfortunately, this might banish the Cruiserweight title matches back to pre-show status going forward.
GOOD: WOMEN’S DIVISION SHOWCASED
Bayley’s road to the SmackDown Women’s Championship started in the show opener. She thwarted an attempt by Sonya Deville to pull off a Fireman’s Carry of Mandy Rose to the briefcase. Despite the tremendous strength Deville showcased, Bayley met them at the top of the ladder. Then, The Hugger shoved them off and grabbed her title opportunity.
This match served as a blast for fans to start the show and showcased all of the women involved. Dana Brooke impressed throughout and had a memorable spot, dangling with the case in her hands unsupported by a ladder. Meanwhile, Nikki Cross dominated with a ladder as her weapon in the opening moments. In addition, Naomi hit a split-legged moonsault to Bayley on a ladder.
However, the highlights didn’t stop there. Natalya cleaned house once by knocking Cross, Brooke and Bayley off the ladder to the mat. The Queen of Hearts then got an Eclipse from Ember Moon for her efforts. However, Moon quickly ate an underhook facebuster. Also, past ladder match winner Carmella unloaded some offense on Rose when it looked like God’s Greatest Creation might claim the case.
Hopefully, this springs us into more women’s division content on RAW and SmackDown going forward. The talent pool runs deeper than just Lynch, Flair and Evans, who have been the only consistent women’s division presence since WrestleMania. Perhaps WWE held off on women’s matches with Lynch holding both belts.
Now, they have no excuse. The women’s division reached an epic milestone in 2018 with the first all-women’s pay-per-view show, Evolution. However, WWE has not made that sort of investment in women’s content in 2019.
Here’s hoping WWE figures out less women’s content isn’t the path to better ratings.
Overall, WWE scored more hits than misses. I’d give them a solid B+ for a show that I expected may not deliver as well as it did. They threw in some curveballs. They re-inserted The Beast ahead of Super Showdown. Though a few things failed, mostly Money in the Bank served as an enjoyable show.