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Money in the Bank started off slow and reached a low point mid-way through the card with a disastrous Roman Reigns match. However, a very strong final hour ended up boosting Money in the Bank and turning it into an overall quality show. The main event and the WWE Championship match where both excellent, and I think moving forward WWE has some interesting angles they could pursue; such as who will be the next WWE Championship contender, how Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey will interact, and what RAW will look like with Braun Strowman holding the Money in the Bank contract.
Men's Money in the Bank Match: ****1/4
This was a very fun match. All the guys in it worked really hard; with my MVP award going to Kofi Kingston, who was all over the place taking crazy bumps. Since WWE's cameras zoomed in very close at the end; for all we know Kofi was shrugged off by Strowman at the end of the match and fell into oblivion. Owens also took a hell of a bump through a table to the outside off the supertall ladder that we also never got a great camera shot of. At their best, Money in the Bank matches are creative car accidents with action happening every moment, and this was every bit of that.
Strowman winning makes sense, since he has been pushed a lot over the last couple of years and he was the star of the match. WWE has really succeeded in putting him in a position to succeed and also just coming up with creative stuff for him to do. The visual of him running through the ladder down the ramp was a fantastic example of that. I wrote on Friday that Strowman doesn't really need the briefcase in order to make the jump to world champion; and maybe it would be better off on a sneaky heel. However, it might be fun having it on a monster who could destroy anybody on the roster. That is actually an interesting change of pace for the Money in the Bank contract.
AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura: ****
This match started slow and it took them a little while; but they built nicely towards the finish and by the end the crowd was really into it. The crowd needed some time to get invested in the match; and both guys did a good job building the match up to a peak. They did a good job incorporating storyline things, like AJ just nailing Nakamura with the low blow when Nakamura asked for more. They teased the near falls with AJ hitting the Styles Clash off the stairs that got over, and the finish was strong with AJ pulling out the spectacular to finally put Nakamura down for the count.
The result was a very good title defense for Styles, who continues to be an excellent babyface champion; one that comes across as universally likable and honest. Nakamura looks like he is going to fall out of the title picture without getting a world title run. Some people may think that is a disappointment; but I think he really refined his character over the last few months and he had an excellent challenge for the world title tonight. Moving forward, he can continue as a heel and will hopefully get some interesting programs.
Nia Jax vs Ronda Rousey: **
Rousey is a fascinating performer to watch; because of her lack of experience combined with her enormous star power. Tonight she just did the basics; selling a lot and hitting a few moves on her comeback. If anyone else on the roster did that fans would be super bored. However, since it is so interesting to see her working in WWE and having a legitimate match; any rudimentary wrestling action performed feels like a bigger accomplishment. This was a boring match on paper; but the crowd popping for Rousey when she made her comeback shows that she only really has to do the basics to get over (at least for now). She sold a lot, and for someone with her level of experience she did a really good job.
Bliss cashing in and winning the title was somewhat surprising; I figured Stephanie McMahon would be returning to screw Ronda, but Bliss sets up another opponent for Rousey to work with and takes her down a different path; one that will likely be better than working with Stephanie. I'm not overly impressed with Bliss; frankly I find her quite boring; but the crowd popped huge for her when she won MITB and even bigger when she won the title; so she is clearly a star.
Women's Money in the Bank Match: ***1/2
No one did anything crazy in the match, which was probably for the best. This was about as average of a MITB match as you will see, with a lot of ladder spots and everyone being teased as a winner. I thought it got a little awkward when a lot of women were in the ring together and they were trying to execute a planned spot; but other than that the match was pretty good and the crowd really liked it; popping for all of the performers when they came close to winning. Bliss' title run on RAW was a big success, so it doesn't surprise me she was picked to win the match; and given her character as a sneaky heel, it makes sense for her to hold the briefcase.
Roman Reigns vs Jinder Mahal: *
This SUCKED. I don't know who put this match together; but who would ever think that ten minutes of Jinder Mahal beating up Roman Reigns would entertain the audience, in Chicago of all places? The match was incredibly basic, and the crowd just walked all over it, chanting for everything except the match. This was as bad as it could have possibly been, and was way too long. One of the worst matches you will see in WWE this year. The camera shot that had Reigns doing his clotheslines in the corner and the crowd doing the wave in the background told you all you needed to know about this one.
I get that some fans think that when the crowd starts chanting for random stuff and they take out the beach balls it is annoying; but those fans paid for a ticket and can say/do whatever they want. It is up to WWE to provide them with an entertaining product that will get them interested in what is happening in the ring. Reigns vs Mahal is not something that is going to get the job done, and anyone with a brain could have predicted that in advance.
Seth Rollins vs Elias: ***
This was the best singles match I have ever seen Elias in. He isn't very innovative with his moveset and sticks to the basics, but the match was put together in a way to maximize that. Obviously working with a guy the quality of Rollins will help him look better as well. I don't really care for his pre-match concerts but it sounds like I'm the only one, so if it gets the crowd interested in him it's working. I'm not sure if the finish was done so that they can have another match; or if it was just a way to mix it up when it comes to Rollins' successful title defenses.
Carmella vs Asuka: *1/4
Carmella works hard and does all sorts of things to get heat; but it really hasn't translated into any interest from the fans. WWE has done a number on Asuka since ending her streak. Even before the finish; it was obvious that Asuka had been watered down as she was getting beat down by Carmella. Giving Carmella that much offense made Asuka just look every other babyface on the roster; and she no longer feels special.Bringing back Ellsworth gave her an excuse to lose the match, but it wasn't like things were going great for her leading up to the screwjob finish.
Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass: **3/4
Pretty basic match; Cass really is a limited worker by Bryan worked hard to make something of this. To be honest, this would have been a pretty bad match but the crowd saved it by being lively and got behind Bryan when he was on offense. I don't know what was going on with Cass's spray tan but it was pretty distracting.
Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa: ****1/4
Ciampa vs Gargano is probably the most well-designed feud WWE has constructed in years. NXT fans are generally hardcore wrestling fans, who historically like to cheer heels, especially if they are very good at their job and have charisma. Ciampa certainly has all of that, and yet the storyline is so strong and Gargano such a likable babyface that Ciampa gets amazing heat from the audience, heat that you almost never see in today's wrestling. I don't know if they are going to have another match; but these two have combined for one of the best series of matches WWE has ever had.
The street fight was pretty good; sometimes I think in street fights it feels like the guys are just going spot-to-spot using various items, and at times you felt like that here, but the big spots were spectacular enough that it didn't negatively effect the match. I really liked the psychology in the match; but I thought the finish kind of ruined it. The story was that Gargano had snapped and had gone too far in trying to hurt Ciampa; but Ciampa winning the match just proved that Gargano didn't snap at all; he should have been MORE violent. I guess that does set the stage for another, more violent match; which I'm a-okay with.
Lars Sullivan vs Aleister Black: ***1/2
Given this was Sullivan's first real main-event match, I thought he did very well given his level of experience. Black has shown the ability to get the best out of less-experienced opponents in NXT, a skill that will certainly help him on the main roster. Sullivan has a lot of physical tools and has some cool moves for a guy that is still learning the business. I'm fine with him doing the job because they did so in a way where his aura was protected. You can beat monsters from time to time; as long as you protect them with the finish they will still maintain their beastly image.
Ricochet vs Velveteen Dream: ***3/4
This was a very good match; but I didn't think it was as good as a lot of people on social media are saying. I think if I've never seen a Ricochet match I would be blown away, but what he did against Dream was fairly standard for him on a big show. Dream has a ton of potential; he has a real character and charisma that you can't really teach, and he has the physical potential to be a very good worker. He isn't quite there in the ring yet; and sometimes he gets a little too ambitious in his moves; but in a year or two I think he's going to be awesome. Given his age and experience; he is probably the most exciting prospect in WWE. Ricochet is one of the best performers in the world; he's way too good to be in "developmental."
This was a really good match; and from a technical standpoint it was easily the top match of the weekend. This was a 20-minute bout of just really well-executed offense and everyone shining. Lorcan is an excellent wrestler, and it is a shame we haven't seen him more frequently on TakeOver shows because the man delivers. Burch is a solid veteran that does everything well. Strong and O'Reilly are two of the best workers in the industry and have been for years. When you just want to see a clinic where everything is done well; check out this match.
Shayna Baszler vs Nikki Cross:**1/2
The women were put in a tough spot following the tag team match and the Ricochet/Dream match. There was no way they were going to be as technically perfect as the tag team match or as athletic as the Ricochet/Dream match, so they were in a hole from the get-go. That being said I thought they did a solid job getting the crowd into the match and didn't make any mistakes. The announcing I thought was very good in trying to sell the idea that Cross was unstable and that allowed her to kind of no-sell degrees of Baszler's dominating character. The smile was kind of weird at the end though.
Sami Zayn vs Bobby Lashley: **
Nothing was really happening in this match. The match got off on the wrong foot when the crowd cheered for Zayn and then the announcers tried to sell the idea that Zayn was the heel in the match. Lashley got no reaction and didn't show any charisma during the match. There were not really any blown spots so it wasn't like the match was a trainwreck, but the crowd was quiet and didn't care about the finish. I think the really bad segments leading up to this match basically doomed this one from the get-go. Hopefully it ended tonight.