With fans back in an arena setting for the first time in ages for a WWE PPV, Money In The Bank was off to a winner before it had even started. But could the action live up to the atmosphere?
As ever with “gimmick” PPV’s there is a sense that it’s those gimmick matches that make or break the show, even with the promise of Roman Reigns vs Edge in the main event. We kicked off with the Women’s MITB match and in the early going it struggled to get any real momentum as more than ever it seemed like a contrived set of spots with no real flow. Of course that is generally what MITB matches are but if Natalya had been inserted into this match to hold things together it was a ploy that didn’t work. Still, once the bigger spots got going and we’d got past Alexa Bliss’ voodoo it wasn’t too bad . Liv Morgan was the clear crowd favourite in terms of a winner so naturally she didn’t get the nod. (To be fair, with what they had planned for the winner, she wasn’t really the right choice). We built to the climactic end where everyone was up the ladder trying to win when Nikki ASH climbed over them all to pick up the briefcase. Decent enough in the end but far from being a classic of it’s kind.
The men’s match was a lot better. The early going was carnage, with bodies flying everywhere and if it was no less of a “contrived” match than the women’s they hid it better and it had a flow to it. There were some smaller little angles and stuff within it that added to things and Kevin Owens in particular was bumping around. McIntyre had a good run of big moves in the middle and Ricochet was as innovative as ever. Of course fans were firmly behind one man, and that man actually won it. The pop for Big E’s win certainly showed he was the right choice. This was one of the better MITB matches in the cannon and gave the crowd what they wanted. Sometimes wrestling can be that simple.
The main event was the Reigns/Edge match for the Universal Championship. It was one hell of an effort even if it did go on a tad too long. Roman has been the highlight of Smackdown (and indeed the whole of WWE) since his return and Edge has seamlessly slotted back in as a (part-time) headliner who can be guaranteed to deliver in the big matches. As such this was a gripping back and forth encounter which really did keep you guessing. In the end though the Tribal Chief prevailed once again, even if it needed distraction from Seth Rollins amidst run-in’s from the Uso’s and Mysterio’s. Of course post-match was the real killer, as John Cena returned to go face to face with Reigns. The pop was immense. And although the two didn’t really do anything, the atmosphere alone made it.
The undercard was a generally entertaining mix of matches too. The RAW Tag team Title match between AJ Styles & Omos and The Viking Raiders was a good solid tag that did what it had to do. Styles made the Vikings looks great, Omos came in and looked like a great big man and whilst it sounds like formula, it was well done. The WWE Championship Match between Lashley and Kofi Kingston didn’t go down well with others, but as a way of pushing a dominant champion it was very effective to me. Moaning that it was only done to set up Lashley for Goldberg is perhaps a forlorn lament in 2021.
I am perhaps in the minority when it comes to the Rhea Ripley push / feud with Charlotte. Beyond last year’s Mania it hadn’t really delivered in the ring but they certainly pulled something out of the bag here. It wasn’t an all-time classic or anything but it was a good, solid, hard-hitting match that really drew the crowd into it as it progressed.
Overall, MITB was a very good WWE show. There was nothing that really dragged and everything, even if only by dint of every match being either a title match or a MITB match, seemed to have a purpose and a point. Well worth a watch.
8 out of 10