Unlike many “themed” PPV’s, the WWE can get away with Money In The Bank.
With the prizes on offer for the winners of the two MITB matches, there doesn’t need to be the build up there should be for, say, a feud to be worthy of a Hell In A Cell match. The motivation for all those entered into the matches is clear to see. A guaranteed Title opportunity of their choosing.
Of course MITB can’t be just about those two matches and the card looked decent on paper, albeit with some matches not many would be looking forward to especially. Would this latest “cross brand” PPV deliver the goods?
We got out of the gates with the continuation (and as it turned out, the end) of the feud between Daniel Bryan and Big Cass. You could take the choice of opponent for Bryan’s first singles feud since his return one of two ways; either we were saving the “money” matches for bigger PPV’s and allowing a little of Bryan’s undoubted brilliance rub-off on a lesser light OR it was another subtle dig at Bryan and the fans who supported him when the WWE didn’t really want them to. After all, can you imagine many other genuine headliners returning after so long out and having their first singles feud against Cass…at two consecutive PPV’s? Whilst I was impressed with some of Cass’ mic work during this feud, the fact remained that he was limited as a singles wrestler. That he was in there with Bryan meant that that didn’t really matter. Bryan is one of those who can, as the cliché goes, get a good match out of a broom and he proved it here. It perhaps went a little long, but with Bryan being SO good and SO over it was a good start to the card.
Whilst Sami Zayn is a few hundred notches above Cass in the star and ability stakes he seemed an odd choice to star in a feud against Bobby Lashley. It didn’t help that the build-up was dreadful (we don’t need to rake over it again here) and that this was essentially a squash match that went on too long. You’d almost thing Lashley was being ”punished” for the way he previously left the WWE. But they wouldn’t be that petty would they…?
Seth Rollins’ run of superb matches continued in his Intercontinental Title defence against Elias. Although his character has got over huge, up until tonight Elias hadn’t really shown, or perhaps more pertinently not been given the opportunity to show, that he could really go in the ring. He certainly proved a point here. Of course part of that was due to the brilliance of Rollins, who effectively portrayed the threat from his opponent and had to become increasingly desperate to escape with a win. But don’t just put it down to the champ. The challenger showed that he belonged at this level too.
The deluge of “firsts” for the WWE’s Women’s Revolution is fine in that the “historic” nature of “first time” matches such as last year’s MITB can carry expectations and make the matches memorable in their own right. The problem comes second time around when the “novelty” has gone. If there were worries that this year’s MITB Women’s match (actually the third after last year’s re-run) would suffer as a result, there was ultimately no need to panic. Packed full of talent, with minimal “filler” the match shone and was a worthy addition to the MITB canon. Every participant, as should happen automatically in these kind of matches, had their moments in the spotlight and the execution of the match was spot on. Better “spots” and storylines than last year’s were expertly woven. Some will take exception to the ultimate winner of the match, but as we would see later this was arguably due to the WWE painting themselves into a corner with the Raw Women’s Title match. And hopefully although distinct crowd favourite Becky Lynch didn’t win here, the obstacles on the journey will only make her eventual title victory all the more sweet.
Regardless of your opinions on Roman Reigns, a FIFTEEN minute match against Jinder Mahal in front of what was likely to be a, shall we say, rambunctious crowd was never going to be a good idea. It’s easy for me to criticise “fans” who pay hundreds of dollars to throw a beach ball around during a match, but sometimes the WWE really doesn’t help themselves. Or maybe, by this point, Vince is trolling the fans. I’ve heard dafter theories. The match wasn’t awful, but it had no chance given the totally predictable atmosphere.
Or perhaps it was a way to make the presence of Carmella as Smackdown Women’s Champion more palatable. Of course she’s an easy target, but in her defence she has a great character and her performance here against the challenger Asuka was her best in the ring yet. There was little heat, as fans simply didn’t see Carmella as a legitimate threat to her opponent and don’t want to see Asuka on the defensive for large portions of a match. I wasn’t a fan of the James Ellsworth return either.
The 378th PPV collision between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura was a Last Man Standing match, which in theory at least meant that this long running feud would finally come to an end. Although with the non-finishes we’d previously seen this was by no means a given. At least they did end the feud with the best match of the series. It had the usual LMS rules problems, with the downtime and the need to deliver killer blows more often to initiate the ten count, but the last third or so was especially good and had a fantastic ending sequence. Many will still lament that none of their WWE matches lived up to their famous New Japan clashes, but this was still a very good match indeed.
The biggest non MITB match on the card was Ronda Rousey’s shot at Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax. Given Rousey’s inexperience and Jax’s inconsistency I did not have high hopes for this one at all but I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised by the match. That the match managed to protect both competitors and still be full of entertaining and exciting action was a sterling effort, even if the booking of it so soon into Rousey’s career meant that we got the interference finish courtesy of MITB winner Alexa Bliss. Again, some fans were not happy with Bliss then cashing in on Jax and lifting the title she’d only lost at WrestleMania but if they were going that route (and clearly, putting the belt on Rousey was not a necessity at this time) I’d argue Bliss was by far the best candidate for the win. It certainly added another memorable moment to her career.
All that was left was the Men’s Money In the Bank match. One of the most star-packed matches in the gimmick’s history it sacrificed a little of the cohesion that the women’s match had to ramp up the insane and crazy spots instead. Even with some surprise winners in the past, it was perhaps only the lack of seriously credible winners of this one. Whilst cases could be made for others, it was only really Braun Strowman who stood out as the likely winner. Still it was a fantastic effort that ended a good show on a great note.
The Kickoff match between The Bludgeon Brothers and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson is included as an extra. It’s a fairly good little match, albeit one that doesn’t warrant more than one viewing.
Other Raw & Smackdown extras are included as well, including a Contract signing segment, a Fatal 4 Way Match from Raw and Ronda Rousey confronting Alexa Bliss the night after the event.
With two exciting Money In The Bank matches, and entertaining back up from the Intercontinental, Raw Women’s and WWE Championship matches, MITB was a rewarding night of action. With, for me, only the Lashley/Zayn match failing to deliver something (even Carmella/Asuka wasn’t bad) there is little to complain about here.
Format reviewed: DVD
Photos courtesy of Fetch and WWE.
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of Money In The Bank 2018, which is out on DVD Monday 6 August. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here