I am personally fascinated by WWE’s decision to have their Money in the Bank PPV event happen at the same time as the Game of Thrones series finale. Can you picture Vince McMahon sputtering at whoever told him they were airing head to head? And that this weird premium cable swords show was a bigger deal? The rage he must have felt when he found out that a couple of little twerps at HBO were making their fans complain more than he made his fans complain? I feel like that would explain a few of the decisions that got made in this event.
Not a title match, actually
Listen, I could have sworn that Daniel Bryan & Rowan vs the Usos was supposed to be a title match. I’m pretty sure they said it was going to be. What do I know though? Apparently nothing, because it was not a title match. It was just a tag team rematch on the preshow of a PPV, and the only tag match on the card. The Usos won, giving them a clear path to the title shot I thought this was going to be.
Has WWE considered unifying the tag team titles and having them be defended on both brands like the Women’s Tag Team Championship? Could be something to think about. The match itself was fine, and as a non-title preshow match, fine was probably as good as it was allowed to be.
Damn, I don’t even like climbing a stepstool
WWE is clearly still figuring out what they want to do with these hardcore stipulation matches in the women’s division. Do they want women to be able to get as gnarly in a ladder match as men do? Especially when they’re on the same card? Clearly, the answer is no, they don’t. Still, this was a very good opener, with a solid structure and some very fun spots (Nikki Cross using a ladder as a weapon, Naomi ducking out of the way of two ladders by dropping into a split, Ember Moon’s awesome eclipse off a ladder.) Sonya Deville bodily carrying Mandy Rose up the ladder was one of my favorite moments of the night, and now has me on board with team Fire and Desire.
When Bayley finally won after a whole ladder match of doing what she does best (suffering), it felt well-deserved and satisfying.
Does anyone else feel like they’re being trolled?
Rey Mysterio beat Samoa Joe for the United States Championship in less than two minutes. The way these guys are being booked on PPVs is starting to feel cruel. Cruel to me, personally. They had an exciting match on Raw just three weeks ago. They tore it up in a threeway with AJ Styles the week before that. Samoa Joe and Rey Mysterio are without a doubt two of the best active wrestlers in the world.
Samoa Joe immediately attacked Mysterio and brought him back to the ring for a beating, so this story is clearly far from over. Is this some kind of tease and denial thing that’s supposed to make us want the real match more? Are they saving it for a main event spot on something? What is the logic? I want answers!
It’s possible that I don’t actually understand what the rules of a cage match are. Are there disqualifications? Are there rope breaks? Do you have to climb out or can you win by just walking out the door? Or are you allowed to walk out the door but you can only win by climbing over the top? Who knows? I don’t. WWE might not know either. There seemed to be some confusion on the commentary team about the whole rope break thing.
Anyways, let’s review: Miz vs Shane McMahon in a steel cage had a lot of Shane McMahon wrestling. You hate to see it. I spent most of the match wishing I didn’t have to watch it and could just make some pasta instead. At least the finish of Shane McMahon falling out of his shirt onto the floor was very, very, very funny. Maybe the funniest thing all night.
WHERE IS SAMI ZAYN
NOT IN THE MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH, THAT’S WHERE. Everyone’s favorite handsome ginger ska fan was found hanging upside down backstage and whisked off to the hospital. Triple H assumed Braun Strowman, who showed up screaming “WHERE’S SAMI ZAYN,” was at fault, but Strowman maintained his innocence. Sami Zayn was one of the factors I was most looking forward to last night, so as happy as I was to get a video clip to use whenever I want to demand “WHERE’S SAMI ZAYN,” I wasn’t hoping to have to use it so early.
This is an all cruising zone
Ariya Daivari drove a Mercedes-Benz convertible to the ring wearing white skinny jeans, a gold chain, and a white on white paisley vest. He then wrestled Tony Nese for the Cruiserweight Championship in white skinny jeans and a gold chain. It ruled. Wrestling in skinny jeans and a gold chain rules. Nese and Daivari are both solid workers and total hunks, so this was a pleasure to watch. Tony Nese retained with a running knee.
The tradwife can wrestle
It pains me more than I can say, but Lacey Evans did a fine job in her match against Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship. Her entrance (shooting fake cash out of gold money guns) at the crowd and her gear (camo sequins) were both the perfect level of obnoxious for a heel to be, and her in-ring performance was right on the money.
I really enjoyed this match. Becky Lynch obviously can take a lot of the credit for how entertaining it was, but I can’t lie to all of you and say Evans had nothing to do with it. At one point, she pulled a hankie out of her wrestling trunks, dabbed at the sweat on her face and armpits, and then stuffed it into Lynch’s mouth. It was gross in that same visceral way that a wrestler putting someone else’s gum in their mouth is gross, but told a completely different story.
My only complaint here was a kind of weird moment where Lynch’s shoulders were down and the ref didn’t start a count? I don’t know if it was a mistake or what but there were a few weird ref calls last night, and I wonder if it will be brought up on TV this week. Becky Lynch tapped out Lacey Evans with a disarm-her, still Becky Two Belts. Until…
Who could have seen this coming?
Right after defeating Lacey Evans, Becky Lynch had to defend the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair. I know I say this every time, but Charlotte Flair as a giddy, blood-thirsty heel is one of my favorite things to see. This wasn’t their best match by any stretch of the imagination, but who cares? Their chemistry is fabulous. Watching Flair opt for strike exchanges and submissions over feats of athleticism, just bristling with magnificent meanness, you wonder why anyone would cast her as the good guy. With Becky Lynch as the perfect underdog—tenacious and brave and scrappy? I don’t blame WWE for wanting to put them together over and over again.
Lacey Evans snuck in and clocked Lynch with a Woman’s Right (still hate that name) while the ref wasn’t looking, allowing Flair enough time to get back in the ring, winning with a big boot to the face. It very visibly didn’t connect, but who cares? Flair and Evans commenced with a two on one post-match beatdown. Until…
Who could have seen this coming!?
A two on one post-match beatdown is always a good invitation for someone to come to the rescue, and that goes doubly for a newly heel champion and a babyface with a Money in the Bank contract. Bayley saved Becky Lynch, cashed in, and beat Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship with a single elbow drop. Yes, it’s predictable, but what’s so bad about predictable when you’re having a great time with it? I don’t need to be surprised every second of my life to have fun. (Plus it wrapped up all of the women’s matches before Game of Thrones started.)
Elias goes electric
In my card preview where I fantasy booked the WWE locker room unionizing for real, I also said I wanted Elias vs Roman Reigns to be a karaoke contest and not an actual match. Well, I was right in that there was more singing than wrestling? Elias smashed his guitar on Reigns’ head backstage and did one of his in-ring concerts before Reigns beat him very quickly with a spear. I like Elias better as part of a team, but his jacket was nice.
I’m convinced that the only way WWE could convince Game of Thrones superfan Seth Rollins to defend the Universal Championship during the series finale was by giving him his first singles match against AJ Styles since 2006. They put on a very exciting match full of all the cool stuff you can expect from two guys who are as good at moves as AJ Styles and Seth Rollins. They both worked very hard and sweat a lot. Seth Rollins earned his hard-won victory with a stomp.
AJ Styles is an incredible wrestler, and his coldness can make him a great obstacle for someone else to have to overcome, but I sometimes have a hard time buying him having any feelings of his own other than pride or cool disdain. This was great, but I’m often missing that hunger from AJ Styles. My favorite thing he did wasn’t any of the cool moves, it was the way he shrank under Seth Rollins’ ridiculously intense gaze (can anyone do absurd eye contact in wrestling like Rollins?) waiting for the Universal Champion to accept his offer of a handshake.
Why did this happen?
There was no six man tag match announced for the card, but Lucha House Party (the tag team of Kalisto, Gran Metallik and Lince Dorado) came to the ring for one. They got on the mic? For some reason? To talk about how fun Money in the Bank is? Just generally? As an event? And then (the recently-fined-and-sent-to-sensitivity-training-after-it-turned-out-he-is-both-a-bigot-and-a-forum-user) Lars Sullivan came to the ring to beat them all up. It was bad to experience. The second team never came out. The six man tag match never happened. Lars Sullivan just bled everywhere. Couldn’t we have gotten a Snickers commercial or something instead? That Dollar Tree one with Rusev and Lana is cute.
Kofimania vs KO Show
Kofi Kingston vs Kevin Owens for the WWE Championship was the opposite of Rollins/Styles. Owens and Kingston are both very warm, emotional performers, but sandwiched between all the cool moves of Rollins and Styles and the crazy ladder spots of the Money in the Bank ladder match? Not a great spot on the card for something so emotionally focused. The crowd also seemed weirdly hostile to Kofi Kingston? Cameras had to keep cutting away from fans booing him or giving him a thumbs down. It really messed with the story. Maybe Connecticut is a terrible place? (I’m just being polite; it’s definitely a terrible place.)
There was plenty to like in this bout: Kevin Owens yelling, Kofi Kingston persevering, good chemistry, lots of anger. It just didn’t all click into place. Like, why did Kevin Owens take off Kofi’s shoes towards the end? Do his sneakers give him power or something? Kingston still hit Owens with a trouble in paradise to win the match and retain his title wearing just socks. I don’t understand what the point of that was. This felt like a missed opportunity to me.
The thing is that ladder related violence is cool. It’s just cool. I love it.
In spite of Sami Zayn’s absence (cue Braun Strowman screaming WHERE’S SAMI ZAYN), the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match was, as they say in the scientific community, fucking rad. Dudes slamming into ladders? Fucking rad. Dudes smashing through tables? Fucking rad. Dudes throwing ladders onto each other? Fucking rad. Dudes smashing through ladders? Fucking rad.
Andrade hitting a springboard dropkick onto a ladder so it falls over and Randy Orton falls down? Fucking rad. Ali diving through a ladder onto the floor in a suicide dive? Fucking rad. Andrade ramming Finn Bálor with a ladder so he falls off a different ladder? How about Andrade sunset flipping Finn Bálor from the top of a ladder onto yet another ladder? Or Ali hitting a spanish fly on Andrade off of ladders while Michael Cole screamed WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE GUYS? You know what I’m going to say here. It’s all fucking rad. These aren’t even all the fucking rad things that happened in this match!
Ali showed so much heart and looked like such a star in this ring full of very accomplished performers. Watching him climb over Baron Corbin and getting his hands on the briefcase? After everything he’s been through this year? It was fucking rad. But you know what wasn’t fucking rad? Brock Lesnar showing up at the last minute and winning. That sucked. That felt terrible. But in kind of a great way? It’s supposed to feel terrible. I don’t know. He hit a camera crew with a ladder. That’s hilarious. The way he gloated at the top of the ladder with the briefcase he absolutely didn’t earn? It was funny. I was mad but it was funny. He looked so happy! Maybe Matt Riddle will come beat him up.
I do wish they had done my idea of everyone getting a real life employment contract with benefits and collective bargaining. Instead of that, Brock Lesnar won Money in the Bank even though he wasn’t in the match. People are probably more angry about this than they are about Game of Thrones, so really, Vince McMahon won. How do you feel? I’m conflicted.