Morgan in the Bank: SmackDown Welcomes New Champion Liv Morgan

Even a broken clock is right twice a year, and this is one of those times

WWE has long relied on Money in the Bank to solve their booking woes — if the title scene is stale, if a champ can’t get over no matter how many times they change his music, or if they need to protect multiple top guys with an opportunistic cash in. The briefcase can do it all, a free do-over card for whatever corner they’ve booked themselves into. This year, the middle school sized lunchbox did what it does best, allowing the company to launch a star in the course of three short hours.

Liv Morgan has had a rollercoaster ride on the main roster; debuting with the Riott Squad in 2017, having half a singles career when the group split, before again being paired with Ruby Riott for a lackluster tag run. Way back in January, she was my personal pick to win the women’s Royal Rumble, but we all remember how that one went down. Most recently, she teamed with Rhea Ripley for a hot moment, in a move that sold more fashion chains than a Hot Topic liquidation sale, before Ripley turned on her partner to become a part of Judgement Day. Liv then became friends with Alexa Bliss for about two weeks, teasing a potential new tag team.

While Bliss and Morgan had good chemistry as partners and opponents, the idea of another underutilized Liv tag team did absolutely nothing for me. Her team with Ripley, while popular enough, sadly wasn’t doing much for either woman, and I wasn’t super interested in seeing Morgan ride out another few months in a team that wasn’t going to go anywhere.

Morgan in the Bank

Lucky for me, WWE seems to be on the same page, as Liv Morgan’s performance at Money in the Bank turned her from an underappreciated gem to the undisputed star of the premium live event.

The women’s ladder match kicked off the show with something of a variety pack; we had some really excellent moments, and you could tell they intended for each woman to have her moment. Becky landed a leg drop on three women sprawled across a ladder, Alexa hit an excellent Molly-Go-Round to wipe out Evans and Asuka.

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To give credit to the Vegas crowd, they were very hot for the match, popping for whoever made it more than halfway up the ladder, which really helped the close calls. Yet, there were some spots that fell apart and chemistry wasn’t clicking the way it should have. The match seemed to end a beat too soon; Becky and Liv both ascending different ladders, as Big Time Becks tried to knock Morgan down. A boot on the rope bounced Liv back up, and she shoved Lynch aside to grab the contract, earning the second biggest pop of the night (she then outsold herself later on, but we’ll get to that).

This was a rare spot-on call from WWE — Morgan has the talent, both in ring and on the mic, to revolve frequently through the title scene. And yet, aside from a brief feud with Becky last fall, she’s struggled to be seen as a serious singles contender.

As I’ve pointed out time and again, this is a problem WWE deals with across the board, but it’s particularly noticeable in their womens division. Take Natalya, for example; long tenured vet, multiple time singles champ in her own right. And while I enjoyed her feud with Ronda Rousey way more than I ever expected to, there was never a serious thought that she might win the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Rousey was sure to retain — which she did, for all of 90 seconds.

The Cash-in

After Rousey was injured in her match with Natalya, Miss Money in the Bank seized the opportunity and cashed in to a thunderous applause. She escaped Ronda’s attempt at an ankle lock with a kick to her injured knee, rolling up the champ to score her very first singles title. She and the Rowdy One even shared a hug, before Rousey slouched back to her farm, and Liv took her place as the face of SmackDown’s women’s division.

I’m very pro big champ Liv; she joins Bayley and Alexa as the only women to cash in the same night they won the briefcase, an ambitious move that aligns with Morgan’s character. She’s played the constant underdog for so long, that the moment she earned the upper hand, she was ready to take advantage.

Liv Morgan Ronda Rousey
WWE

While seeing Liv hold the title on Saturday night felt almost too good to be true, by Monday, it seemed right at home alongside that pleather gear. She came out for a victory lap on Raw, only to be interrupted by Natalya, who wanted credit for softening up Rousey through weeks of absolutely eviscerating her on Twitter, and Carmella, who attempted to slam the Forbidden Door and send Liv back to SmackDown.

Both heels went after Morgan, who received a hand from Raw champ Bianca Belair, which lead to — you guessed it, player — a tag team match. Nothing to put in the scrapbook, but a solid effort from all four women; I’d enjoy seeing much more of Morgan and Belair together down the line.

It’s a bit surprising to see Carmella and Bianca continue their feud, but we could certainly do worse for SummerSlam. Similarly, I wouldn’t complain to see Nattie get another shot at the title against Liv this time around. For one, the jabs at Rousey were the most entertaining she’s been in years, and I’d love to see her attempt to pull off the body chains for a similar segment. For another, even if I still don’t believe she stands a chance to get the belt this time around either, Nattie’s probably the best opponent for Liv at the moment. The two have history, and they’ll put on a more than decent match together. If WWE plays their cards right (and as always, that’s a large if) we could be in for a significant title run from Morgan.

Liv has certainly earned the spotlight, working tirelessly in whatever she’s been given over the past five years, whether it’s a five minute pre-show match or a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it title feud. This is the exact kind of shake up the company needs; a fresh face who can help point them in a new direction.

Across the board, WWE’s women’s division tends to linger too close to the trenches, but recently the SmackDown roster has looked a bit bleak. Rousey, who appeals to me as much as a bowl of oatmeal I left on the counter before heading to work, hadn’t exactly captured hearts as champion. Prior to her, Charlotte had what felt like a never ending reign where she ended up accomplishing very little, aside from throwing the belt on the ground and making the internet super mad one time.

Morgan marks the first baby face champ since Belair last summer; another reason she seems to breathe life into a stale title scene. We’ll have to wait til Friday to see how SmackDown properly welcomes their new champion, but I’m looking forward to hearing that creepy giggle echo through Fort Worth.

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