Monday 15 July 2013

Money in the Bank 2013 review

If every pay-per-view worked as well as Money in the Bank 2013 wrestling fans would have little to complain about. I'm not even talking about match quality with statement, although it never fell below good throughout the entire show. No, I'm talking about putting on a show that's not only satisfying but draws fans in, makes the best use of available talent possible, and builds towards the future. Using those criteria there hasn't been a better wrestling broadcast (in North America at least, I don't see enough of the Japanese product to comment) all year.

The show also illustrated how a good cried van enhance a wrestling show. John Cena's WWE title defence against Mark Henry benefited greatly from the audience having belief in 'The World Strongest Man's' character. Had they seem him as yet another disposable challenger in the spot just to help Cena kill time the match wouldn't have received the reaction it did and would have been poorer for it.

Similarly the all bad guys ladder match wouldn't have been the success it was without such a crowd. Philadelphia proved its worth as a wrestling city at Money in the Bank.

Following a proficient but instantly forgettable pre-show match in which The Shield successfully defended their tag team championship against Jimmy and Jey Uso the show proper kicked off with the World Heavyweight championship MITB match. It was the smartest choice for the opener but it meant the action peaked early: for my money it was the best thing on the card.

After a promo-heavy selection of ring introductions (which saw (heard?) Damien Sandow, Dean Ambrose and Zeb Colter receive cheers) the match kicked off. Having only fifteen minutes, a slight time for such an important match with a large number of wrestlers, a brisk pace was set. Early highlights saw Cesaro gordbuster Rhodes onto a ladder, Barrett boot Ambrose in the face through ladder steps, and Fandango chucked into one ladder before getting suplexed onto another by Sandow.

The Real American team took over when Swagger yanked Barrett off of a ladder into a Swiss Death uppercut from Cesaro. Cody Rhodes made his presence known seconds later when he pulled 'The Swiss Superman' from a ladder and Shellshocked him onto another ladder. The commentary team didn't reference the nicked move. They didn't even reference Kinnikuman.

From that moment on Cody was booked as the star of the match. The fans, appreciating 'The Moustachioed One's' efforts and sensing he was going to be the man of the match, broke into chants of "Cody" and "Cody's moustache".

It wasn't quite his time at that moment. The Real Americans and Ambrose returned for a memorable sequence. Ambrose stuck a ladder on his shoulders and started spinning around into his opponents. Cesaro and Swagger put a stop to that when they each grabbed an end and lifted the Shield member off the ground. Ambrose skinned the cat onto the top of the ladder, which seed the crowd, before he was dumped down to ringside.

Remaining united Cesaro clambered onto Swaggalag's shoulders and was walked into the centre of the ring. It was an impressive sight but they'd have had a better chance at winning had Cesaro simply climbed a ladder while Swagger stood guard. As it was Cody made his return to the match, drop kicking Swagger in the gut.

Fandango and Barrett (who'd been my pick to win but ended up playing a bit part) both got a Cross Rhodes when they tried to eliminate Cody. A big ladder (the sort Jeff Hardy used to use in these matches all the time) was climbed by 'The Son of a Son of a Plumber', but he was stopped near the top by Dean Ambrose. Rhodes made short work of him but then had to contend with the other 'Hounds if Justice' arriving in the ring. They gave Cody a kicking before the Usos rocked up to make the save. I liked that. It reminded us that The Shield are still a faction, something we've had little evidence of on recent pay-per-views. It also set Rhodes up for a big comeback, further enhancing his standing as the babyface of the match.

Cesaro and Swagger joined the Usos and The Shield brawling at ringside. While this essentially happened to create a crash mat for Ambrose, whom Rhodes tipped off the gigantoladder still set up in the ring, it provided a nice picture of where WWE could take their tag team division if they wanted to. Right now that's the best place for The Real Americans.

With Ambrose having wiped out a sizeable chunk of competitors in his tumble and Fandango and Barrett having been wiped out by The Shield it seemed as though Rhodes had a clear run at the briefcase. Fans cheered their approval as he climbed a ladder and then booed loudly when Damien Sandow appeared in the ring, tipped Cody to the mat, and claimed the ladder for himself.

It was a brilliant finishing sequence, the greatest example if WWE building for the future on the whole show. Sandow's smart guy character was enhanced as he waited for the best moment to strike, Rhodes was presented as a courageous guy who earned the victory and had it cruelly snatched away, and The Rhodes Scholars got the split they deserved to have. For the second show in a row WWE successfully turned a wrestler babyface by presenting them as a fighter. It was great to see.

Following the match Sandow shouted "You're welcome" numerous times before ending the segment by saying that the best man won. In the ring Rhodes looked crushed. Great work from both men. I look forward to their encounter at SummerSlam.
Damien Sandow is 'Mr Money in the Bank'
In order to not burn the crowd out early a slower segment came next. Brad Maddox, who received a surprisingly positive reaction from the crowd, cut a promo about replacing Vickie Guerrero. He topped it off by introducing a video package that he said celebrated her entertaining past but actually just embarrassed her. Up in the skybox Ms Guerrero looked less than amused. I'd love it if this led to Vickie managing Ryback and then to Maddox v Ryback II but I think it's unlikely.

That painful segment ended when Miz's music hit. All I could think as he strutted his way to the ring was that he needs to drop the leather coat from his entrance. Do something new, Miz, you've had that thing for years now.

On the subject if Miz, how about this for a T-shirt idea: Miz's face and the words "I'm awesome" done out to emulate the famous les miserable poster? If WWE has to pay a rights fee so what? They can afford it.

The Intercontinental title match was perfectly satisfactory but wasn't especially memorable. Heyman got slung out early after a trick from Miz, leaving Curtis Axel to battle alone. He handled the former WWE champion well, putting him away with a kick to the face and a neck breaker.

Divas champion AJ Lee got cheer of approval when her music hit and she skipped to ringside alongside Big E Langston. Kaitlyn, the challenger and alleged face, didn't get half the response. Perhaps that was because she was accompanied by personality free zone Layla, who seems to have no skills beyond sucking enthusiasm from crowds. I don't really understand why she was there. Moral support? Kaitlyn's secret weapon against Big E? Either reason is laughable.

AJ worked the arm in the first half of the match. Kaitlyn made a comeback for a bit before the two took a rumble to the outside and the champ regained the advantage. AJ managed to lock in the Black Widow. Kaitlyn held out for a while but eventually had to submit. The match was slow to begin with and didn't really pick up as it should have when Kaitlyn tool the imitative but it was still a good effort. Mostly because AJ's such a popular character and underrated as a wrestler.
Shades of Cattle Mutilation from Ms Lee, there
Up in the skybox Kofi Kingston talked about Rhodes and Sandow. He probably had a point but I've no idea what it was. Big Show did better. He put over Curtis Axel as a smart wrestler and a riding star and emphasised that he won without Heyman's aid. 'The Wildcat' should should ask 'The World's Largest Athlete' for some promo tips.

Back at ringside the pyro extravaganza that is Chris Jericho's leather jacket told us it was time for 'Y2J's' battle with The Ryback. As 'Big Hungry' entered I noticed there were ambulances parked in the entranceway. That made me miss his short-lived ambulance lover gimmick from a month ago.

The way this match was booked was odd. I'd expected Ryback, who was announced at 291lbs, to hit the rock star with a blitzkrieg of offensive moves and smash his way to a quick victory that rebuilt him as a potential headliner. It wasn't to be. Instead the two were booked as equals with Jericho being presented as pretty much level pegging in terms of strength. Ryback only got the advantage when he hung 'The King of the World' up on the top rope.

I appreciate that Jericho was the veteran of the match but that card doesn't need to be played every time. It wouldn't hurt him to suffer a steamroll loss once in a while, especially to a guy like Ryback. He was far too resilient here.

That said we were excused one of Jericho's botch-heavy performances and got a smooth performance. It had the right result too. 'The Human Wrecking Ball' got his long awaited first PPV win of the year when he schoolboyed Jericho after avoiding a Lionsault.
Ryback should have looked this dominant far more during the match
A video piece on the WWE Performance Center was shown after that. The place looks impressive. Not that I'm an expert on gyms and TV production studios...

Match five was the World Heavyweight championship match, Dolph Ziggler challenging Alberto Del Rio. They were treated to a nice video package, starting the night after WrestleMania with ‘The Heel’s’ cash-in and taking in their match at Payback , Fiesta Del Rio and Ziggler inexplicably behaving like a mid-carder to strum a guitar and work under Sin Cara’s mask (hey, at least that finally created a purpose for Sin Cara!).

Ziggler entered to a rousing response from a crowd that seemed tailor made to appreciate his ‘Show Off’ gimmick. Years ago I remember reading an interview with Paul heyman in which he spoke about Rob Van Dam becoming a babyface in ECW. He did so by playing exactly the same character he always had, the audience just begun to appreciate how good he was and Heyman simply started booking him against heels. That’s the sort of approach I’d like to see WWE take with Ziggler. Have him continue to be a braggart and book him against bad guys. Changing that would change what has made fans like him in the first place.

Sadly ADR didn’t get much of a reaction when he entered. He did hear some boos when he got his in-ring introduction though. Ziggler got another roar of approval and an immediate “Let’s go Ziggler!” chant when the bell rung.

Ziggler controlled the early portion of the match before Del Rio ame back with a headlock to slow things down. Dolph missed a splash, allowing ADR to begin targeting the head as he did at Payback. Dolph begun a comeback with an athletic X Factor from the top rope. That led to a slugfest and then a neck breaker from the challenger. Dolph ducked ADR's corner enziguri and hit a Fameasser for a hot two count.

‘The Essence of Excellence’ jumped off the top but got struck with a drop kick for another two count. AJ, Dolph’s storyline girlfriend, chose that moment to cue up her music and skip out to the ring. Confused by her presence Dolph told her he had the match under control and scored a DDT on ADR to emphasise his point. That got him a two. Obviously he didn’t have the match as under control as he thought.

‘The Show Off’ climbed a turnbuckle but got caught before he could do anything. Del Rio got an inverted suplex for two then went for the cross arm breaker. Ziggler escaped only to be flapjacked then super kicked, scoring another two count for the champion.

ADR exposed his knee brace and went for another kick. Ziggler caught his foot as AJ clambered into the ring and hit Del Rio with her sparkly Divas butterfly belt. ADR won by disqualification and it was all AJ’s fault. ADR celebrated as Dolph screamed at AJ that he'd had the match won. AJ apologised and got booed and heard chants of "You screwed Ziggler!”

It was another well produced chapter in the saga of Ziggler's face turn and feud with Alberto Del Rio. It’s an obvious way to prolong the feud but that’s fine. It should lead to a split for AJ and Ziggy and a continuation of the WHC feud until SummerSlam.

After Lillian Garcia thanked the National Guard for all their hard work we got a video package of the Henry v Cena programme. Naturally they started with the retirement swerve. They dwelt on the comment about earning the title. That's smart as it put Henry and the belt over.

Mark Henry got a huge ovation when his music hit and he stomped out to the ring. When Cena entered he got nuclear heat. I suspect the reason for these reactions was not so much that Cena’s hated as that people wanted to see Henry, the veteran who’s worked hard to improve over the last two years, become the WWE champion.
Cena looking like he's going to break into a run, there
There were the standard duelling pro- and anti-Cena chants as the match started. Henry dominated early on with his standard array of power moves. Amazingly Cena actually sold during this period, which created some genuine drama and a sense that Henry may actually win. After Henners had roughed up Cena for a while, including dropping him on steel ring steps and lobbing his substantial weight across a Cena draped on the ropes, the “Sexual Chocolate” chants kicked in.

Cena got booed when he scored two punches and a drop kick, his first offence of the match. The crowd roared their approval and broke into a Henry chant when Henry dropped his foe with a simple clothesline.

Cena dodged a splash and stupidly went for a scoop slam. Unable to support his challenger’s weight he fell over, Henry landing on top of him. Cole, JBL and ‘King’ wittered away about how Cena had to be realising he couldn’t hit the AA, happily omitting the fact that he’s hit it on Henry, and larger opponents before.

Cena managed a comeback by launching himself at Henners and hitting a side suplex and five knuckle shuffle. To emphasis the point about the AA Cena failed his first attempt at the move. Moments later he went for it again... and hit it. The crowd went wild for it. Henry kicked out and Cena oversold shock. He looked less like someone had just kicked out of his finisher and more like he'd just witnessed mass genocide.

Cena decided that if the AA didn’t put his foe away then a cross body from the top rope definitely would. Henry caught him. Obviously. He then hit a World’s Strongest Slam for a two count. The crowd, presumably happy to see Cena on the receiving end of such a battering, chanted “One more time!”

Frustrated, Henry brought in chairs. As referee Scott Armstrong busied himself lobbing them back out of the ring Henry exposed a turnbuckle. It would prove to be his downfall. Cena shoved Henners into the exposed metal and locked in an STF. Henry managed to escape by grabbing the ropes (powering out would be been better as it would have established his incredible strength) and then shoved Cena into the ref, creating a gap for a cheeky low blow. Moments later we found out even Cena’s genitals don’t sell as the champion kicked out.

Henry went for the WSS again but Cena slipped out and locked in the STF for the tap out win.

It was a surprisingly good match that was made even better by its relatively short length and the enthusiasm of the crowd. Henry was helped to the back by Armstrong as 'The Champ' celebrated.

After an ad for Dead Man Down (featuring Wade Barrett, fans!) we found Cole and co still enthusing about Cena's win as a man in an nWo T-shirt cavorted in the background. In the skybox Show said he’d thought Henners would win. Kofi said he'd thought Henry had the match won several times. Back at ringside 'King' was gazing sternly at his phone before he realised he was on camera. A video recap of the Wyatt Family’s attack on Kane was shown to remind us all that ‘The Big Red Machine’ wasn’t going to be appearing.

The returning Rob Van Dam was the first man introduced for the WWE championship Money in the Bank ladder match. He looked to be in better condition than he was in at the end of his TNA run in March. ‘Mr Monday Night’ soaked up the adulation and did his cute little thumb pose. The audience lapped that up.  
He's back! And he's as spot-heavy as ever!
Christian got a fairly indifferent reaction. Daniel Bryan didn't. The crowd went nuts for him. I think more people chanted "Yes!" than “RVD!” It was back to subdued reactions for Randy Orton (glacial pace) and Sheamus (mincing gait).

Obviously, the crowd went nuts for Punk too. He, Bryan, and RVD were clearly the stars of the match.

RVD was ganged up on and tossed to ringside as soon as the bell rung. The same thing happened to Sheamus. ‘The Viper’ and ‘Captain Charisma’ were then lobbed out, leaving Bryan and Punk to clash in the battle of the indy stars. They kicked and wrestled for a moment before ‘The Celtic Warrior’ returned with a ladder, finally bringing us into traditional ladder territory.

From there the pace slowed considerably and Sheamus was presented as the star of the match. Considering the responses RVD, Punk and Bryan had had it would have made more sense to cycle through them as the centrepieces of the match, keeping Orty, Shaymo and Christian in supporting roles.

Sheamus and Christian both proved unpopular when they neared the case. A Celtic Cross onto a ladder was teased but didn't materialise. At one point all six men ended up on ladders before tumbling to the mat. It shouldn’t have been the biggest spot of the match at that point, but it was.

‘The Great White’ was the first man to his feet. He walloped everyone in sight, desperate to evoke a reaction from the crowd. They were having none of it. Sheamus is far too close to a traditional babyface to gain the approval of such a smart mark-heavy crowd. He’s also boring, which doesn’t help.

‘The World’s Toughest Vegan’ stopped the Irishman claiming a case and then they traded blows atop the ladder, the audience screaming yes and no depending on who was throwing a punch. Sheamus did his ten punch spot to a loud chorus of “No! No! No!” Punk made the save to stop him getting the case, flattening Sheamus with a ladder before getting jumped by Orton.

Orton briefly took over as the leading man, followed by Christian. RVD quickly stopped Christian in his tracks and hit a splash from the top of a ladder. It wasn’t a Five Star Frog splash but Michael Cole called it as one anyway. Cole’s not one to let facts get in the way of mediocre, uninspired commentary.

Bryan brought the audience to life with a barrage of kicks to Sheamus and Van Dam, then drop kicked a ladder into Orton and his a suicide dive to Punk on the outside of the ring. It was the loudest they’d been since the introductions. ‘The Dazzler’ walloped everyone with ladders. Sheamus suffered a nasty fall to the outside, landing on a ladder which split in two.

Just as Bryan was about to win, to huge cheers, Curtis Axel ran in and smashed him with a chair and a neck breaker. As Axel sauntered towards the aisle he was scooped up into a GTS by CM Punk. Heyman came out and screamed at an unconscious Axel about not messing with Punk. The audience seemed pretty pleased with this.

Heyman got the audience chanting for Punk as ‘The Second City Saint’ hauled himself up the ladder. Climbing into the ring Heyman tossed a ladder onto Punk just as he closed in on the briefcase. One final blow left punk laying on the mat. Heyman stormed backstage as RVD rolled into the ring to climb the ladder. That was stopped by Orton, who shook the ladder and hit Van Dam with an RKO as he fell.

With everyone else taken out 'The Apex Predator’ unhooked the case to win. It was a mildly disappointing decision from WWE. They should've had some courage and had Bryan win, capitalising on their hottest act by giving him a match with Cena at SummerSlam. The match itself was good once it got going though.

And that was Money in the Bank 2013. Not a single duff match and plenty of preparation done for SummerSlam. We have the continuation of the Ziggler v Del Rio feud to look forward to, along with Paul Heyman, AJ Lee, and Damien Sandow’s reasoning for their actions. There's Cody Rhodes face push to begin too. They even teased us with a tag team division! Money in the Bank was a success on every possible level. It was the perfect lead in to SummerSlam. If that show’s not a success then something will have gone very wrong somewhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment