By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Pro Wrestling Boom Live returns today at 3CT/4ET. Jonny Fairplay and I will be taking your calls coming out of WWE Money in the Bank at PWAudio.net.
WWE Money in the Bank Hits
Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Championship: The creative work for this feud was an abomination. I had no clue who the babyface was until Ripley slapped hands with some fans during her ring entrance. I loved the way Flair flipped off the “We Want Becky” chanting crowd and really could have done without it being censored, especially considering that this company’s glory years featured Steve Austin giving the bird to everyone in sight. Ripley and Flair had bad creative and fan expectations for Becky Lynch working against them, but they took things into their own hands and produced one hell of a match that was suspenseful until the very end. Ripley lost the title, but hopefully she earned the confidence of the creative forces with her performance. Meanwhile, Flair reminded everyone just how awesome she can be when she’s on her game.
Roman Reigns vs. Edge for the WWE Universal Championship: A really good main event. The slow build was logical in terms of bringing the fans down following the MITB spot-fest, though it did feel like they accomplished that fairly quickly and could have picked up the pace sooner. Even so, the match just kept getting better as it went on. Unfortunately, the company telegraphed the Seth Rollins interference on Smackdown and then again in his post MITB ladder match interview. WWE has a bad habit of going overboard with their foreshadowing and making things way too easy to see coming. Meanwhile, the first ref bump was well executed, but it was absurd that it took so long for a second referee to come out. The post match return of John Cena was really well done and incredibly well received by the live crowd. It was a great way to close out a truly a memorable event. Somewhere out there, the “Cena Hates Freedom” sign guy from Smackdown is yelling at the sky.
Riddle vs. Ricochet vs. John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Big E, Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in the Men’s Money in the Bank ladder match: I went back and watched the full match again due to missing a portion of it live thanks to the Peacock streaming issues. The early portion of the match was actually a lot of fun with some big dives by multiple wrestlers, and a strong exchange between Big E and McIntyre. The interference of Jinder Mahal and his goons was telegraphed on Raw. The odds are slim that McIntyre will be booed while working with Mahal, but he has his work cut out for him in terms of keeping the feud entertaining enough that fan apathy won’t set it. Big E winning the match was a cool move and it will be interesting to see which championship he chooses to challenge for. Ricochet had a great night with some memorable acrobatic spots. Here’s hoping that his push will continue and it wasn’t all about building him up for this match.
AJ Styles and Omos vs. The Viking Raiders for the Raw Tag Titles: A pleasant surprise. Past Omos matches have been kept short, but the Viking Raiders actually got plenty of offense and some quality near falls. Most of it came at the expense of Styles, who continues to do a great job of carrying the load for his team. Unlike New Day, Erik and Ivar actually gained something in defeat in their loss to Styles and Omos. I continue to assume that the plan is for Styles and Omos to defend the tag titles against Randy Orton and Riddle at SummerSlam, assuming Orton returns by then.
Bobby Lashley vs. Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar beat Kingston in eight seconds, whereas Lashley dominated Kingston for the vast majority of seven-minute match. I’m not sure which is worse for Kingston, but I give the creative team a lot of credit for the way they have built up Lashley to be a strong and credible champion. I thought his reign was going to be brief and would conclude with a loss to Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania. Rather, Lashley just keeps winning title matches and it’s really going to mean something when someone finally beats him to win the championship. My guess is that Big E will end up being that guy at WrestleMania.
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso for the Smackdown Tag Titles: Jimmy Uso winning the tag titles less than two weeks after his latest DUI arrest sends a bad message. Putting that aside, this was a good Kickoff Show match. I would have stuck with the Mysterios as champions longer, but I’m assuming that there’s a story built around the Bloodline holding all the major belts on Smackdown.
Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki ASH vs. Asuka vs. Naomi vs. Zelina Vega vs. Liv Morgan vs. Natalya vs. Tamina in the Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match: A soft Hit. The hard work of the wrestlers put this in the Hit section, but it was the only MITB ladder match I can remember where I truly didn’t care about the outcome. The wrestlers didn’t get proper creative support and there were too many entrants who didn’t feel like realistic threats to win. The finish of the match was underwhelming. You had to know it was coming once they positioned the three ladders next to one another. ASH sneaking up and grabbing the title made everyone else look silly. I have really enjoyed Nikki Cross’s work over the years, but the superhero gimmick is my least favorite of her various personas. I am open to the possibility that it will grow on me and perhaps her winning is a sign that the creative forces are committed to getting her act over. Then again, we probably assumed something similar when Otis won the men’s MITB ladder match last year and they didn’t even follow through with him cashing in the contract. At this point, I can’t say that the idea of ASH cashing in on either champion excites me, but they have a full year to change that. More than anything, I hope that WWE creative got the message that the fans love Bliss, but most of those same fans seemed to be rolling their eyes at her “special powers” spots.
WWE Money in the Bank Misses
None: Well, obviously the Peacock streaming issues were annoying for those of us in the United States, but the actual show delivered in a big way. There were a few top notch matches and the big surprise of John Cena appearing at the end of the show was awesome. Of course, the return of an arena filled with enthusiastic fans was huge for WWE. The wrestlers fed off their energy and it feels like a treat to watch WWE shows outside the ThunderDome.