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If the Money in the Bank ppv had a theme, other than the MITB match themselves, it was that of sacrifice. On three separate occasions tonight, the WWE had a performer who was getting way over with the crowd as a babyface, but instead of promoting their victory, they cut their chances off by sacrificing their popularity in hopes of getting more heat on a heel character. I feel like this is a very bad idea, because it is so much harder to get a face over then it is a heel. However, that didn't prevent the WWE from hitting up the trifecta tonight.
The first offense took place in the opening match, the MITB match for the WHC contract. Most fans considered this to be a pretty wide open match, with the winner having to emerge during the match to make sense. Cody Rhodes, after wallowing in mediocrity for a couple years, began to become THE guy in the match. The crowd was all over Rhodes and suddenly it looked like the WWE was going to have a new top-level babyface, one that had just turned 28 years old. Instead, the WWE pushed him aside and crowned Damien Sandow, a talented performer who is only 30. While I am not against Sandow's victory, it seemed strange that they choose to put another heel over a face.
The good news is that now that Sandow has turned on Rhodes, two young up-and-comers will now be allowed to wage a battle over something of dire importance. Rhodes flashed the ability to really get a crowd behind him and Sandow has proven himself to be a compelling heel. The match itself was also very good and unpredictable, so in the end I am ok with this one.
The next two decisions I found less defensible. Over the course of their rivalry, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio have shown to have great in-ring chemistry. At Money in the Bank, they were on their way to having one of the top wrestling matches of the year, as a great back and forth match was taking place, with the crowd behind every move and every near fall.
But then, AJ Lee came out. Any fan could tell what was coming next: AJ Lee was going to cost Ziggler the World Heavyweight Championship. And that was exactly what happened. Even though Ziggler was way over with the crowd, even though ADR has been somewhat of a lame duck champion, and even though they were having a great wrestling match, the WWE still sacrificed Ziggler's potential babyface moment to get more heat on his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend AJ. For the second time that night, a huge babyface victory was forfeited in order to get more heat on a heel.
The largest disappointment was yet to come, as it was thrusted into the main event spot. Few would argue against the fact that Daniel Bryan is ready to become a huge main event superstar, and that he was the obvious choice to win the MITB. And boy, did Bryan deliver in Philadelphia. Bryan was cleaning house, disposing of all the former world champions to the largest ovations of the night. But when it came time for Bryan to be crowned "Mr. Money in the Bank", the WWE had Curtis Axel come out and take out Bryan. This random attack was explained moments later by the obvious turn from Paul Heyman on CM Punk. For an incredible third time that night, the WWE sacrificed a great babyface victory in order to get more heat on a heel character.
Now, Daniel Bryan is by no means done as a potential WWE Champion. He will still be over, maybe more than ever, and it is entirely possible that Daniel Bryan is the next opponent for John Cena. But what the WWE did tonight was rob the fans of a great moment. The WWE fans wanted to see Bryan win the MITB tonight, just like they wanted to see Dolph Ziggler win the WHC, however, the WWE denied us that moment tonight. Maybe it will happen down the road, but then again, maybe it won't be as special as it could have been tonight.
The one babyface to walk away successful tonight was WWE Champion John Cena. While a lot of fans were rooting for Mark Henry to finally reach the top of the moment, it was pretty predictable as to what would happen. Henry dominated most of the match, and if anyone is believable in dominating an opponent, it is Mark Henry. But in sticking with the formula, the WWE did its typical "Cena overcomes the odds" finish, one that has become so monotonous that it has driven fans to leave wrestling all together.
If there is one thing I can say about this wholeheartedly predictable match it is that Mark Henry deserves better. This could have been his last match ever, and it is almost certainly his last world title shot. Having a man who abused his opponent for 90% and outweighed him by about 175lbs tap out? The least they could do is have him kick out of a couple of AA's or something.
The rest of the show was filled out with simple matches, none of which had very surprising endings. During the pre-show, Rollins and Reigns defeated the Usos, although their fight during the WHC MITB suggests that they are not done feuding. AJ finally finished off Kaitlyn for good, putting an end to a feud that highlighted the strengths of AJ and the weakness of her opponent.
The Miz continued his run in trying to become the worst face in WWE history, this time getting a man the crowd worshiped ejected from ring-side. Axel retained cleanly in his match, and it appears he will be feuding with either CM Punk or Daniel Bryan for Summerslam. Ryback was literally carried to his best match since debuting in the WWE, as Chris Jericho deserves a medal for his work with that lug.
Overall, I think the match quality for MITB was pretty solid. However, I didn't care for a lot of the results, especially with the constant importance of putting heels over faces (Cena is apparently exempt from this rule). I do think that Randy Orton holding the briefcase is an alright move, as it could set him up for his much needed heel turn. The bad thing about this show, is that after it I don't think the WWE got any more interesting, which is a bad sign coming off of a ppv whose sole purpose is to make the future interesting.