Monday 15 June 2015

WWE Money in the Bank 2015 review

With several years of action-packed shows to follow the sixth annual Money in the Bank show faced a tough job this year. It had a good frame of matches to work with in Cena v Owens II, the latest Ambrose v Rollins match and, of course, the Money in the Bank match itself, but it also had Ryback v Big Show and a pre-show which saw R-Truth defeat King Wade Bad News Barrett I. Was it any good? The answer, pleasantly, was a resounding yes.

The main card kicked off with a ten bell salute to 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes. His music played afterwards. The audience and some of the wrestlers clapped along. Vince was amongst those who joined in. Randy Orton was amongst those who did not.

That was followed by the typically great video package recapping the build to the highlighted matches. In this case that meant Ambrose v Rollins, Cena v Owens and the Money in the Bank match. The latter kicked off the show. Which surprised me. With there being only one Bank match, and it being guaranteed to be a highlight of the show, I would have thought it would be saved for closer to the top of the card. Then again there was also a ladder match going on last, so spacing them out did make sense.

Randy Orton and Neville both got loud cheers when they entered. Kane got half-hearted boos. Dolph Ziggler got a monster pop, which got even more monstrous when people noticed Lana was present to give him a good luck kiss. Kofi Kingston got huge boos when he skipped to the ring. Sheamus was booed too, but not as much (yeah, New Day has more heat than Shaymo). Roman Reigns, naturally out last, got a mostly positive reaction. The writing team have done a good job turning him around.

The lads.
The match started with everyone except Kofi pairing off and the New Dayer taking the chance to try and sneak up a ladder to grab the case. The rest of the field turned against him, throwing him out of the ring before slipping into a standard issue brawling segment. Sheamus came out of that on top after going wild with a ladder. He was phased out of the match a few minutes later to make way for an all too short exchange between Kofi and Neville, the highlight of which was Nev hitting a monkey flip only for Kingston to land upright and immediately start climbing a ladder.

Reigns put a stop to Neville v Kingston, power bombing Kingston onto a ladder and Neville onto Kofi. The crowd, it's worth noting, ate this up. Kane put a stop to Reigns' attempted briefcase grab with a choke slam before taking an RKO from 'The Viper'. Kofi returned to stop Orty climbing the ladder and took an RKO too. Neville then springboarded back into the ring, over Orton, and shot up the ladder. He was yanked off the ladder and took a mid-air RKO, easily the best of the three.

Sheamus reappeared to halt another Orton attempt. 'The Apex Predator' put up a fight before being thrown head first into a ladder and smashed with a Brogue kick. Ziggler cut Sheamus off at the top of the ladder to a big reaction from the crowd. They traded punches and lunges at the wildly swinging case before 'The Show Off' slipped around behind Sheamus and took him off the ladder with a Zig Zag. Neville popped up to hit Sheamus with a Red Arrow immediately afterwards. It didn't realy make sense as far as winning the match went but it did at least please the crowd.

After selling his own move for a bit (ala Rob Van Dam and the Five Star frog splash) Nev dragged himself up the ladder for a punch exchange with Ziggler. 'The New Sensation' got the best of that when he smacked Ziggler's head into the top of the ladder and sent him falling to the mat. Before he could grab the briefcase Kane wandered back into the ring and grabbed him for a choke slam. Ziggler made the save with a crisp super kick. Ziggler and Nev took hold of a ladder and tried to batter Kane with it but he knocked them to the ground and then baseball slid the ladder into the pair on the outside.

Kane wasn't alone in the ring for long. Reigns returned to smack him with a Superman punch then did his tope onto everyone at ringside. This was the cue for Big E and Xavier Woods to sprint to ringside and throw Kofi back into the ring. Selling like mad, Kofi crawled up the ladder as Woods and E smacked the mat (triggering a "New, Day sucks!" chant). Reigns shot into view from the right of the screen to hit the interfering heels with his running drop kick in a great spot.

We're all interested in Wyatt v Reigns, right?
In the ring Kofi kicked at Reignsa few times before getting plucked off the ladder and power bombed onto a gaggle of lads outside the ring. Orton appeared and tried an RKO (outta nowhere edition) only to be dropped with a spear. The path was clear for Reigns. He started climbing the ladder before the lights went out. When they came back on seconds later Bray Wyatt was in the ring. He shook the ladder, grabbed Reigns, and hit him with Sister Abigail before disappearing.

Sheamus pulled himself back into the ring and clambered up the ladder. Neville sprinted to the top to try and stop 'The Celtic Warrior'. He put up a good fight but couldn't combat a fearsome eye gouge from Shaymo. That sent him off the ladder, leaving Sheamus free to grab hold of the briefcase to become the new 'Mr Money in the Bank'.

Naturally Jerry Lawler and Maggle Cole reacted to this as though it was the most sickening thing ever, even though Sheamus hadn't done anything wrong. Lawler even went so far as to say that Sheamus has taken the WWE championship out of Reigns' hands. It's comments like that that cause some people to give Reigns such a tough time.

Backstage Paige talked to Renee Young about being disappointed that no other Divas had offered support to help her bring down the Bella twins "empire". She said she'd win the belt to bring about change in the Divas division. Basically the feud is about Nikki and Paige both wanting change in the Divas division but not being able to agree on the form that change should take. They're basically Magneto and Professor X.

While the match didn't reach the heights of Banks versus Lynch it was better than the average Divas match. The pair broke out super kicks, spinebusters and an Alabama slam before Paige locked in the STF (the significance of which seemed to be completely lost on the crowd and the commentary team). They used their signature moves to good effect too: Nikki escaped a PTO and went for the Rack Attack, only for Paige to wiggle free and hit the Ram-Paige for a convincing near fall.

The Bella twins: masters of heel shenanigans.
Nikki would cheat to win. Brie and Nikki switched places (Brie had probably been hiding under the since the lights went out for Wyatt) and Brie went for a small package. Paige reversed it and got a three count, being announced as the winner and new champion. Brie grabbed the referee and revealed that she wasn't Nikki, proving this was the case by pulling padding from her bra (an amusing touch). Instead of disqualifying Nikki for outside interference the ref simply watched as Nikki ran back into the ring and blasted Paige with a Rack Attack then counted the three for her.

Before the Intercontinental title match The Miz came out to talk about how he'd transcended Ohio (the state the show was being held in) and deserved a title shot. The promo wasn't bad but Miz did a horrible job of linking his two points. The match was better. 'The Big Guy' immediately ploughed through Big Show with a spinebuster and the meathook clothesline before clotheslining him out of the ring. There he was distracted by Miz sitting at commentary, allowing Show to jump him when he got back into the ring and gain the advantage.

Ryback gradually worked up steam with a Fujiwara armbar and a suplex before Miz slid into the ring and jabbed at both guys with some weak punches and swaggered backstage. So Ryback's first title defence ever ended in a DQ in favour of Big Show. This was a disappointment. The match had been far better than I'd expected until Miz involved himself. Presumably they'll get to give us a more conclusion in a triple threat match at Battleground.

Looks like he's learned not to take this on his elbows...
John Cena versus Kevin Owens was preceded by a nice video package showing some of the many highlights of the interactions between the pair over the last few weeks. The match was good too, perhaps a smidge better than their rightly praised first encounter from Elimination Chamber. Sadly, it had the wrong result. Cena went over with the third AA of the match. While Owens got to survive the STF, an electric chair drop, two AAs (the first of which Cena did a solid job of selling by arguing with the referee), a snap sunset bomb and hit Cena with the cannonball, a super kick, the package piledriver (safety edition), the double jump moonsault, a second rope fisherman buster, and Cena's own shoulder tackles, belly-to-back and Five Knuckle Shuffle the fact that he lost was still saddening. A win could have done so much to elevate him and make him look like a dominant and unstoppable force. He didn't look weak in defeat but a win would have been far more beneficial both for this feud and in the long term.

After the match Cena gave Owens an off-mic pep talk, handed him the championship belt and offered a handshake. Owens accepted before kicking Cena in the stomach. Cena fell to the mat and rolled out of the ring (because he doesn't know how to make sequences like this look natural) and Owens followed him out to hit an apron bomb. He walked backstage laughing like Cesar Romero's Joker a the announers talked in Serious Voices™ about how Owens had gone too far. It currently looks like this rivalry will run through SummerSlam.

After a Total Divas ad Renee Young informed us Cena was being tended to by the medical team (something tells me he'll be fine). She then introduced Dean Ambrose, still in possession of Seth Rollins' WWE championship belt. Ambrose did a nice job of reminding us of his year-long problems with The Authority and explaining why he's keeping hold of the title belt. It didn't make me believe he'd leave the show a winner but it was a good bit of character work.

After a touching Dusty Rhodes tribute video Big E and Xavier Woods clapped down to the ring for a pre-match promo. They said Kofi had had the Money in the Bank match stole from him then talked about an Ohioan sports team that I've never heard of being cheaters. They ended by clapping and trying to start a "New, Day rocks!" chant. They fans chanted sucks instead causing Xavier to snap. Big E calmed him down.

Tag titles equal... millions of dollars!
This was a basic tag match which benefited greatly from the heat of New Day. Darren Young was isolated by the champs from the start. He made a single tag out to Titus then got wiped out by Big E's spear off the apron. That was a mistake from Big E: it left Xavier alone with Titus. He took a Sky High and was pinned within seconds. I'm disappointed New Day lost the tag gold because all three have been doing some of the best work of their careers in the group. It's nice to see the PTPs get a long overdue tag title win though.

The main event was preceded by a kick-off segment. They discussed the Money in the Bank match, the tag title match and Owens v Cena and made some main event predictions before throwing to a recap of Wyatt costing Reigns the briefcase. It was filler of the highest order.

More enjoyable filler followed in the form of Rollins being confronted by The Authority. Kane and J&J sniggered about how S-Roll was all alone. Stephanie piled on the pressure by talking about how the future of the company wrested on his shoulders. Triple H reminded him that going it alone in a ladder match was what Seth had wanted then barked at him to "show them" that he could do it. This version of the Triple H character, the guy who gives pep talks to his heel chosen few, is great.

The never-ending feud.
This was another enjoyable entry in the Ambrose-Rollins series. With over half an hour to play with they started out slow and built up to their more dramatic spots. They also took the unusual, but welcome, decision to have Rollins targeting Ambrose's legs. You don't get that in ladder matches despite it being a logical story to tell.

Rollins kicked his gameplan off when he crushed Ambrose's leg in a ladder. From there he smacked it with a chair and applied a ring post figure four before stomping away back in the ring and slapping on a traditional figure four. Ambrose punched his way free but would soon be hung up in a tree of woe with Rollins taking a chair to his knees.

Ambrose would return to his feet within a few minutes to lob a chair at Rollins' head and clothesline him off the top rope. Ambrose took a spill out of the ring, avoided a ladder that was chucked at his head, then got back into the ring to hit his rebound lariat (countered with an enziguri on the first attempt but hit on the second). He went for Dirty Deeds but Rollins escaped and ran into the crowd, triggering a brief chase-brawl sequence.

When they got back to ringside Rollins set up a ladder and took a back drop from the ring on to it. It was a nasty fall and something that shouldn't really be necessary. It was a good addition to the match though, and will make a fine addition to future Rollins highlight packages.

They brawled some more. Ambrose hit a Dirty Deeds on the Spanish announce table. Rollins grabbed a monitor an bashed Ambrose in the leg with it as he was close to the title belt. Ambrose got Pedigreed. Rollins got pulled from the ladder and thrown out of the ring but grabbed 'The Lunatic Fringe' before he could make it up the ladder. He then hit the running power bomb into the ladder and the barricade before hitting a slightly more traditional power bomb onto a pile of chairs. After dropping a ladder and some more chairs on top of Ambrose 'The Future' rolled back into the ring and clambered up a ladder.

Ambrose got back into the ring and pulled himself up the ladder. Both got their hands on the title and struggled back and forth. They fell and the belt came with them. When they hit the mat it was Rollins who had possession of the strap. His music hit and Cole referenced a football rule to explain why he'd retained.

Rollins wins lol.
Triple H came out to celebrate with his top guy as Ambrose sat in the ring looking sad. Jojo wandered out and asked him if there was anything he wanted to say. Rollins said he told us so and that nobody could hang with him. And on that note the show went off the air.

I was impressed with Money in the Bank. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is what it means for the future. We know that Reigns' inevitable world title win has been postponed again thanks to a new issue he has with Bray Wyatt. It's tough to imagine Money in the Bank holder Sheamus interacting with WWE champion Seth Rollins, which likely means he'll be the man to feud with Reigns once Reigns is champion.

The main attractions were the WWE title match, the Money in the Bank match, and the Cena v Owens rematch. All got plenty of time to tell satisfying stories and packed a bunch of stuff in. Of the less important matches only Big Show v Ryback (and R-Truth v Barrett if you want to include it as an official part of the card, which I don't) felt disappointing. The tag title match was saved by New Day's heat and the Prime Time Players getting the tag title victory they should have had a couple of years ago. Nikki v Paige was a good match and although it had a screwy finish it did at least make sense. It didn't quite hit the heights of Elimination Chamber, but I suspect that's mostly because expectations weren't as high for EC. Overall this was another very good show from WWE.


Results summary:
Sheamus won Money in the Bank
Nikki Bella defeated Paige to retain the Divas championship
Big Show defeated Ryback by disqualification
John Cena defeated Kevin Owens
The Prime Time Players defeated New Day to win the tag team championship
Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose to retain the WWE championship

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