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Money in the Bank (2015) Review
Money in the Bank is one of the more exciting pay per view events and matches. It is also one I am pretty ambivalent about. 2015 marks the ten year anniversary of money in the bank. In that time, a lot of good has come out of it, and a lot of bad has come out of it. The good news is the match has earned a whole lot of wild and exciting ladder matches, winning money in the bank has jettisoned deserving talent like Edge, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan to main event status. On top of that, guys like Edge, Rob Van Dam and most recently Seth Rollins have all made their cash ins pretty memorable.
The bad news is after a decade, the match has become a tad diluted. When a whole bunch of guys have a spot-fest with ladders, they would have to go out of their way to NOT be entertaining. But when eight random guys who usually have no feuds scramble, these matches tend to lack drama. I watched a bunch of the Money in the Bank events back to back on the WWE Network, and although they were exciting, the matches blurred together in my mind after a while.
The unfortunate part of so many new champions is that a lot of the guys do not always deserve it. Jack Swagger or Miz, anyone? The booking team even dropped the ball in giving the duke to guys who did deserve it. Alberto Del Rio certainly deserved to be World Champion, but his cash in basically hijacked the red hot Punk vs. Cena feud (Of course, HHH burying Punk did not help). Speaking of CM Punk, his 2008 win was a pretty exciting moment, but he won the World Heavyweight Championship before anyone really knew what to do with him (likely do to the fact that Jeff Hardy was supposed to win, but was on suspension). It took a second Money in the Bank cash in before the booking team cooked up a really good angle between him and Jeff Hardy. And let's not forget Dolph Ziggler - someone who truly deserved to be World Champion, scored a victory over John Cena in a pretty intense match, won the belt on Raw, lost it shortly after and has been a mid-carder ever since.
Speaking of cash-ins, while Seth Rollins's cash-in at Wrestlemana was a pretty memorable moment that sealed his deal as a true main eventer, Rollins was the first guy to do something special with Money in the Bank in a loooooooong time. It has been the same schtick for the last few years: The champion has a grueling match, Mr. Money in the Bank comes out and robs the guy of his championship in a squash match. Yeah, it is a classic heel tactic, and it gives the former and new champion a built in feud. But how many times are they going to go to that well? (It also recently occurred to me that because of this angle, most money in the Bank winners have been heels.)
Another problem is that so many World Championships have changed hands in squash matches. So many deserving wrestlers have won their first world title in micro-matches. Could you imagine how different Steve Austin's legacy would be if his first world title win were a squash match against Psycho Sid on an episode of Shotgun Saturday Night? In ten years, only TWO people have had actual matches out of their money in the bank wins - John Cena and Rob Van Dam.
Oh well, now that the company has ONE Money in the Bank match instead of two, most of these issues will be resolved (or at least they will be less problematic). With one match instead of two, people can focus on making that match more special. We will see one cash in a year instead of two. (Or how about when it first became its own show in 2010 when there were THREE - the same year we got Miz and Jack Swagger!)
Before any matches, the show began with a somber and respectful 10 bell salute for Dusty Rhodes.
Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns vs. Neville vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston - Money in the bank ladder match
After what I said in my Wrestlemania review, some readers might think I don't like these kinds of matches.That simply is not true - as a matter of fact, I really liked that Wrestlemania ladder match. After a decade of these types of matches, they just aren't AS thrilling as they used to be - still good, I just don't get thrilled the way I did for stuff like the original tag team TLC matches. This match reminded me of the good and bad of these matches. Instead of a truly wild seven man scrap, it seems like most of these matches are spent with half the competitors pretending to be incapacitated while two of the guys take turns having a one-on-one match. The good part was that there were some spectacular spots. Roman Reigns just jumped over the top rope without using them for leverage. Roman powerbomed Kofi Kingston onto a ladder (not the last time we saw something like that this evening) - and then he powerbomed Neville onto Kofi who was still on the ladder. Neville used Randy Orton as leverage to climb the ladder.
The ending was unfortunately kind of a shaggy dog affair. Just as it looked like Reigns was going to grab the contract, Bray Wyatt interfered and cost him the match. I was thinking about how interesting this would have been if Bray used this chance to steal the contract. It would have been absurd, but it would have been something different! Then again, that would have also doublebacked to the other problem - Bray Wyatt is not really ready for the world title.
So who took away the briefcase? Sheamus. This is another good news, bad news situation. On one hand, with a heel holding the case, it looks like we're gonna get the same old schtick - champion has a grueling match, Sheamus swoops in. (Then again, I also thought for sure Roman Reigns was a lock to win this so I could be wrong.) On the other hand, the company is in need of a second heel. Lesnar is only part time, Kevin Owens is being groomed, and nobody really seems to know what to do with Wyatt. So Sheamus may be a welcome entry to that position. We have seen him in the top heel spot, but he is fresher than Randy Orton, Kane or the Big Show.
Paige vs. Nikki Bella - Divas Title Match
Not much happened in this match. Paige looked hot. The ending happened when Nikki tried to pull Twin Magic, but the ref figured out the ruse. After restarting the match, Nikki hit the rack buster. This was a mediocre filler match - par for a divas match. But the ending at least had a modicum of creativity which made it marginally more memorable than the typical divas affair (but that is still hardly praise).
Ryback vs. The Big Show - Intercontinental Championship
After winning the Intercontinental Title only two weeks ago, Ryback's reign was under threat from the Big... (Snicker) Sorry, I really tried to write that sentence with a straight face. I like Paul Wight and all - he can put on a decent match when he has the right opponent, and I commend him for being a team player who will put guys over. However, he zigzags between face and heel so often that the booking team has made it hard for fans to feel any way about him. He also jobs enough in big match situations that there is little suspense any time he goes up against anyone important.
So this match was looking to be a typical hoss match - nothing special, just a chance to make Ryback look like a credible champion. Bad news started when the Miz came to the ring. I feel like I could say that sentence out of context without fear of reprisal. So Miz was on commentary while Big Show and Ryback had their match. Big Show picked a fight with Miz, and Miz attacked Show - causing a disqualification. Yeah, this match was never going to be a five star classic, but Miz's interference robbed it of whatever spark it may have had.
Kevin Owens vs. John Cena
After these two tour down the house at Elimination Chamber, expectations for this match were justifiably high. There is not much to say about this match. They seemed to do a similar match last time - but spiced things up enough that it felt like a unique match. To Cena's credit, he had some ridiculous spots - He reversed a powerbomb into a hurricanrana and actually pulled off a Canadian Destroyer (No joke: I blurted out holy [expletive deleted] at that). Owens was no slouch either - he pulled a similar top rope suplex from the last match, and a wicked spinning powerbomb that needs to be seen to be believed. I felt a little less suspense this time, probably because it was their second match, but this was still a classic. Owens-Cena I and II may have to be watched back-to-back to determine which match was superior with the benefit of hindsight, but either way this match was off-the-hook good. Cena did win. However, Owens played the sore loser heel, proving just because you lose does not mean you always look bad.
Prime Time Players vs. The New Day - Tag Team Championships
Over the spring, the matches between Cesaro/Kidd and the New basically reinvigorated the stagnant tag team titles. While the Elimination Chamber tag match was not exactly a mat classic, it was at least unique. Sadly, that momentum came to a grinding halt. This match was watchable but nothing special. The basic story of this match was that Kofi Kingston was hurt from the money in the bank ladder. From the story perspective, it meant Xavier Woods and Big E were on their own. From the match perspective, it meant that the New Day was missing their most talented member. The New Day may not have pulled their usually trickery, but they replaced it with nothing special. Besides, when the Prime Time Players won the tag titles, overcoming the New Day's chicanery would have made their victory a little sweeter. Yeah, the Prime Time Players won the tag titles. Moving on...
In between matches was a very classy tribute to the recently departed Dusty Rhodes.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins - Ladder Match for WWE Championship
Ambrose and Rollins were already red hot going into Elimination Chamber, and when Rollins kept his championship through another tainted victory, that was basically like pouring gasoline onto the fire in the minds of the fans. The two had built up a classic feud. Rollins has been running with the ball of being an obnoxious heel who hijacked his championship and only held onto it through devious acts. Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose has been a renegade hero with just enough of a dangerous side to be an anti-hero who is hungry for the championship. But when these two get into the ring, they make the story count.
I will admit this match started out kind of slowly. Rollins spent a while working an injured leg. Unfortunately, the crowd was out of it during the first portion of this match. To their credit, Ambrose and Rollins were keeping the match going, but the crowd barely woke up during some of the exciting ladder bumps. I guess the crowd was a little out of it because this beginning portion was not what they expected from a ladder match.But all that soon changed as they got more than their money's worth.
After a little bit of working on leg work, Ambrose vs. Rollins turned into the most uniquely brutal match since Cena vs. Lesnar three years ago. There was a lot of brawling, in the ring, out of the ring, and in the crowd, but these guys sold it. They weren't just sloppily trading punches. This match looked like a fight - and these two looked like they were trying to hurt each other. In addition to the ladder, other plunder - such as chairs, stairs and the Spanish announce table - came into the fray. These guys pulled off the rare feat of playing exhausted and STILL keeping the brutal match going - as if saying "I don't care if I'm tired, I'm still going to hurt you." There was a wicked segment where Rollins powerbombed Ambrose into each side of the barricade before powerbombing him onto a ladder and then burying him under the plunder. This looked so gruesome I legitimately wondered if Ambrose was okay. The conclusion was a true nail-biter where both men seemed to have the championship claimed from the ladder, but when the dust settled, Rollins was still on top.
I genuinely wondered what could have topped Cena vs. Owens, and this has done it. Ambrose and Rollins put on an absolute clinic that earned those "This is awesome" chants from the crowd. Even though scoring a clean victory may go against Rollins's gimmick as a perennial cheater, it still works as he only won it by the skin of his teeth. It almost makes him more contemptible by showing that this guy who seemed like a sneak and a dirty player can get it done - making whoever beats him that much more of a hero.
In conclusion, Money in the Bank 2015 was... pretty split. With an even number of matches dividing the matches is pretty easy. Owens-Cena II, the Money in the Bank match and Ambrose-Rollins were all excellent. The filler matches - Show vs. Ryback, the divas match and Prime Time Players vs. New Day - all felt like Raw matches. However, three excellent matches is more than can be said for some shows so this is worth checking out for those matches.
Match of the Night?
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