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Money in the Bank marked WWE’s second attempt at producing a major show in the empty-arena era. WrestleMania had mixed results (Night 1 was good, Night 2 was bad) and I felt similarly about this show. On one hand you had a really good title match, and an entertaining DDT-style match as the main event attraction. On the other hand, there was a pretty bad match on the undercard, and a very puzzling Universal Championship match that highlighted some of the negative aspects of WWE’s creative output during this empty-arena period.
The show was also very short, which was the right call given the circumstances. Nobody wants to see four hours of empty-arena wrestling. The undercard was pretty abbreviated, there were only three matches on it, not counting the preshow. I think that is actually a good thing, I never felt like the show was dragging despite the limitations WWE had to work with.
Money in the Bank Matches
I’m not going to try to rate these since they were two matches happening at once, but overall I thought the matches were entertaining. Obviously, nobody should have been expecting a serious, straight-forward match, and the match was likely much more entertaining than having two seperate, basic MITB matches without any audience.
At certain points I did think the creativity went a little too far. I didn’t need to see all the cameos, which were often really awkwardly done (especially Stephanie McMahon’s appearance, which came off like Dana Brooke was having a fever dream). It also felt like at times all of the performers were concerned with anything but capturing the briefcase, as they paused on each floor for comedy spots, which clashed with the whole idea that all these men and women were willing to do ANYTHING to capture the briefcase.
As for the winners, Asuka has by far the most momentum out of any of the women in this match and has been one of the few bright spots for WWE on the empty-arena shows. We did just see a long program between Becky Lynch and Asuka, but the fact is there are not that many women on RAW that could be a credible challenger for Lynch. It is a shame that Shayna Baszler doesn’t appear to have caught on with WWE management, as she did next to nothing in this match after losing at WrestleMania to Lynch.
On the Men’s side, Otis won the match on a fluke, which I think cheapons what should be a really serious thing to win. The finish would make sense if AJ Styles and Otis were to feud over the contract, but Styles is on RAW and Otis is on SmackDown. They could get around that of course by just putting either guy on the other show, but it felt like a cheap finish. I like Otis, he has a ton charisma and an organic push forward would be great, but this isn’t the way I would do it.
Seth Rollins vs Drew McIntyre: ***¾
This is probably the best match WWE has had since going to the empty-arena format. The match was hard-hitting, physical and went the exact correct amount of time. Rollins’ character on RAW has morphed into a really boring persona, but the guy has always been a great in-ring performer and he is capable of having really good matches with any opponent if given the opportunity. If this match was in front of a live crowd it really would have been excellent, but even so it is going to be one of the stronger WWE matches of 2020.
One thing WWE has to fix is the periods of incredible silence that occasionally pop up. A key one was after the ring announcer announced both McIntyre and Rollins, which was followed by a period of complete and utter silence. It felt unbecoming for the world champion and number one contender to be met with that kind of reaction. If they are not going to put the wrestlers at ringside to make some noise, the announcers at least need to be talking so that we don’t have moments of that kind of silence on the shows.
Bray Wyatt vs Braun Strowman: *½
With the empty-arena shows, WWE is going to try and do all sorts of new and different things to make the shows enjoyable without the live audiences. That being said, there are mistakes that can be made following that path. The Universal Championship match incorporating the puppets from the Firefly Funhouse, is just so goofy and nonsensical, it hurts the value of the world title.
I know people like the puppets, and I think the Firefly Funhouse segments are funny and creative, but if you expect fans to take the world title seriously, I don’t think it is a great idea to have that kind of comedy in a title match. This is particularly challenging because the entire MITB show is based around the idea that getting a world title shot is of ultra-importance, and then on this same show, the guys in the title match are doing comedy.
I thought that the work was better than I expected. They wrestled at a pretty quick pace, didn’t go too long before getting to the finish, and Wyatt worked really hard to look like a credible opponent against Strowman, before the sheep mask appeared. The finish was an attempt to be creative, and in the current situation there are not any real wrong answers, but that isn’t the style of storytelling I would choose if I am trying to get people to really value the Universal Championship.
Bayley vs Tamina: *
I thought that Bayley worked really hard here. I’m not a huge fan of her heel character, but from that point of view, I think this was the best work she had done as a heel since she turned and won the title. The issue with the match came from a Tamina, who is a babyface that doesn’t seem to have any support and didn’t feel credible as a challenger. On top of that, WWE booked the finish so that she looked like the dumbest babyface in the world, which led to a super sloppy outside cradle from Bayley to retain.
New Day vs The Forgotten Sons vs Lucha House Party vs Miz and Morrison: **¾
I liked that this match included some new and different tag teams with The Forgotten Sons, and Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado representing Lucha House Party. WWE has some good tag teams, but unfortunately the division suffers from a lack of diversity. There was some really good stuff in this match, cool moves and a lot of near falls, but there were also some obvious botches, and some clear editing that went on during the match that hurt its potential. The last thing the tag titles need is another title change, so it was good New Day retained.
Bobby Lashley vs R-Truth: *
This was effective as a basic squash match, and Truth is always entertaining. WWE should be building Lashley up because they really need credible heel challengers on the RAW side to face McIntyre.