By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Money in the Bank Hits
Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship: A strong match that clicked even without fans in attendance. It was nice to see a clean finish to a title match involving two top wrestlers. The post match handshake was compelling in terms of what happens next. There’s no reason to expect a Rollins babyface turn, and McIntyre doesn’t have any obvious opponents who have been built up as logical next contenders, so I assume the handshake is leading to something.
Kofi Kingston and Big E vs. The Miz and John Morrison vs. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik vs. Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler in a four-way for the Smackdown Tag Titles: A really good main card opener. The Lucha House Party duo had one of their better performances in recent memory even though they ended up taking the loss. And it was a logical move to have them drop the match, as it kept Miz and Morrison and The Forgotten Sons untarnished so the company can work their way back to New Day defending against those heel teams.
Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro: This was one of the better Kickoff Show matches in recent memory. I like the way the broadcast team was quick to point out that Cesaro and Sheamus are friends and former tag team partners. With that in mind, I’m surprised that Sheamus didn’t show up and attack Hardy after the match. That said, they can obviously heat up their feud on Smackdown. It’s still sad to see Cesaro cast in the “good hand” role when he has so much to offer. This company is wasting the career of a guy who is capable of so much more.
WWE Money in the Bank Misses
Money in the Bank matches: I appreciate the way WWE gave the show a hook by turning MITB into even more of a spectacle than usual by holding it at WWE Headquarters. Unfortunately, the end result just didn’t work for me. I like the characters who made the cameos, but there was zero creativity when it came to setting up those cameos. Brother Love emerged from a bathroom stall complete with the sound of a flushing toilet to give Vince McMahon his fix of toilet humor. Paul Heyman was shown on the verge of pigging out in the catering area, you know, because he’s overweight. John Laurinaits was there to say People Power so that he could take a pie to the face. The rough looking Doink just popped his head up from behind a chair and did nothing else. Yawn.
Stephanie McMahon popping up to inform Dana Brooke that she didn’t actually win the match and then ordering her to clean up the room was the usual McMahon character muscle flexing, which was trumped only by her father barking at AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan, who then sheepishly pushed in a couple of chairs before leaving his office. I miss the days when the wrestlers were badass rebels, not subservient pushovers who live in fear of the same boss that Steve Austin used to beat up on a near weekly basis. And don’t even get me started on the fact that we’ve seen one man buried alive and two men thrown over the side a building on the last two pay-per-view events. I realize these are strange times without the fans present. I also accept that there is a group of fans who will eat up the sports entertainment silliness. I just believe that group is outnumbered by fans who are looking for a more creative product that doesn’t rely on the same old cameos, tired gags, and other wonky sports entertainment comedy.
At the very least, I was hopeful that the silliness would end once the wrestlers got to the roof of the building and we’d see more of a traditional MITB match unfold. Instead, Asuka won the women’s match quickly (why did she fight with King Corbin?), and the men didn’t do anything of note unless you want to count Rey Mysterio and Aleister Black being thrown over the side of a building to their their apparent deaths, which was so meaningful that Michael Cole didn’t even acknowledge these apparent murders when he chimed in at the end of the match. Believe it or not, I really wanted to like this MITB approach because it was a creative idea to hold the match at WWE Headquarters. It’s just a shame that the creativity ended with the original concept.
Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt for the WWE Universal Championship: This was exactly what it appeared to be – a step to Strowman facing The Fiend. While I initially enjoyed WWE playing on the history of Strowman and Wyatt, the truth is that there just isn’t much to their storyline history. I get the idea of Strowman putting on the black sheep mask and beating Wyatt at his own game, but it did more to make Wyatt’s character look gullible and unintelligent than it did to make Strowman seem clever. I’m still not sold on Strowman as the babyface champion. So while I had zero hope of it happening, the idea of Strowman and Wyatt reuniting as heels was actually more compelling to me than Strowman staying the course.
Bayley vs. Tamina for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A soft Miss. The predictability of Bayley retaining the championship worked against the match, as there was no reason to think that Tamina would actually win the title with a Bayley vs. Sasha Banks feud on the horizon. Bayley delivers consistently in the ring. Unfortunately, her character and the bulk of the Smackdown women’s division feel ice cold.
Bobby Lashley vs. R-Truth: A soft Miss for a Raw match that took place on a pay-per-view. It will be interesting to see if Lashley replacing MVP in the match means they are working together, perhaps with MVP taking on a managerial role that was teased due to his alliance with Brendan Vink and Shane Thorne. WWE’s booking of Lashley has left him in a bad place, but hopefully his more serious approach minus Lana in recent weeks leads to him playing more of a meaningful role.