‘Money in the Bank’ is my least favorite WWE gimmick. It’s one that would benefit from a couple years off as now it’s become a storytelling crutch that rarely pays off. Sure, every so often we can get some creative ones like this year’s Wrestlemania, but too often it’s the same old uninspired angle played out from year to year. Will this year’s show brings a little something special?
We kick off with a 10-bell salute for Dusty Rhodes before ‘Common Man’ theme plays. I always consider it one of the catchier themes, but it was also one of the most fitting for any WWE superstar.
Money in the Bank: Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane vs. Roman Reigns vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus vs. Neville vs. Kane
No sense building to the match everyone paid to see I suppose.
I find it amazing how quickly WWE made Lana essentially worthless as the chick who gawks over Ziggler. I’ve given up hope of Kofi being anything above the tag team/US title/IC title level yet WWE writers expect us to buy in to him being a threat in these matches.
The Neville/Kofi showdown was a fun tease and now I’d really like to see Neville get a partner to battle New Day. We need someone with Tyson Kidd unfortunately on the shelf for a year with the neck injury. RKOs for everyone. Neville takes it from the ladder.
Sheamus and Ziggler have a long battle atop the ladder until Ziggler sends him crashing down. Neville hits the Red Arrow on Sheamus to ‘NXT’ chants. It’s wild that through a dedicated effort to showcase their future stars, WWE has finally been able to kill off the ‘ECW’ chants. Ziggler and Neville try to use the ladder against Kane and he takes them out.
Reigns hits the Superman punch and starts tossing bodies before hitting a tope. Xavier and Big E come out to guard Kofi’s back and help him set up a ladder. This would be so much more effective if they’d ever made Kofi a threat in these ladder matches. He’s been in about 30 and hasn’t won one. Roman climbs the ladder and Bray Wyatt emerges to toss him off the ladder and hit him with the Sister Abigail. Tune in to RAW for the explanation! Continually screwing Reigns out of the title seems like the smartest way to get the fans eventually to all rally around him and care when he does win the title.
With no one else in position to climb the ladder, Sheamus goes up to get the win, but Neville makes a last ditch attempt only to get thrown down allowing Sheamus to capture the briefcase and victory.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5. The MITB format never really switches. Two guys pair off, another two square off and there’s a few random ladder stunts. Of course that’s the problem with having a ladder match at Wrestlemania 31. It’s hard to make it feel special other than more insane high spots. I’m not real sure the point of Sheamus getting the briefcase since he doesn’t need the booking prop, but we’ll see how it plays out.
Renee Young interviews Paige. I’m still not sure if the Bellas are heels or faces from month to month. Paige rambles a bit about wanting to end the Bellas’ dominance and her failed efforts to get the other Divas to rally around her. So now Paige is going to do it by taking the Divas’ title and dedicates it to Dusty. Nikki has held the title for 203 days?!?! Of all the titles that could be hotshotted why is the Divas title the one that lets a title reign mean something?
Divas Title: Nikki Bella vs. Paige
This seems a better storyline for ‘Total Divas’ as it’s hard to see how the Bellas have terrorized the division. Lawler hopes to see a bionic elbow tonight. JBL rightly calls Paige out for turning on all her friends and appointing herself the moral leader of the divas’ locker room. JBL should never have that great a point about a face. ‘Let’s go Paige’ break out so if nothing else, the WWE has the right diva in the title match as the other challengers have failed to get much of a crowd response. The Divas watch on.
Paige may fast be on her way to being the face of the Divas division, but she’s going to have to work on not being so audible in calling spots as she’s done that on the last two shows. Brie tries to pull twin magic again after Nikki falls to the floor (why can’t Brie even put her hair down like Nikki?), but this time, Paige gets the rollup for the win. Brie quickly tells the ref she’s not Nikki even going as far as to show her crotch tattoo (kinda) and removing the padding from her bra. The ref restarts the match and Nikki hits The Rack Attack for the real win.
Rating: 2 out of 5. Now this is a real tribute to The Dream with The Dusty Finish. Have to think that’s a nod to longtime fans.
The Miz comes out for some cheap heat. I’m wondering if we’ve now finally reached the end of Miz’s usefulness.
Intercontinental Title: Ryback vs The Big Show
I’m not expecting the match of the night here. Nice of the crack WWE production team to show us that Ryback earned the Intercontinental championship by beating the new future champion Sheamus. This booking through and constant hyping of Twitter is silly considering they’ve got 271 hours of airtime to fill each week. Miz joins the commentators and Ryback does us all a favor by going after him and tossing him around the ring. Miz attacks Big Show and Ryback with a mic so we get a disqualification.
Rating: 2 out of 5. Trying to make Miz a bad-a$$ squaring off against Big Show and Ryback is ill-advised. Beating Sandow does not make Miz a legitimate contender to anything and a decent little mini-feud with two of the WWE’s biggest titans gets scrapped to help Miz get over?
Kevin Owens vs. John Cena
This match deserves higher stakes, like Owens getting a shot at Cena’s U.S. title. It in essence returns the title belts to props as neither wants the others’ title belt and simply wants bragging rights. When was the last time the STF got a win for anyone? If every time the guy who gets it put on makes it to the ropes and doesn’t submit why should the fans care when it gets slapped on? Vince McMahon and Triple H really need to rein in the constant kick-outs of finishers.
The name implies the match is over once they’re hit, but now like a video game, Cena and Owens have to stockpile their big moves to beat each other. Cole tries to sell the story like Owens is still the one that has to prove himself, but that doesn’t ring true at all at this point. Cena busts out the springboard stunner and the AA to get the win.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5. We’ve had two clean matches with each guy picking up the win. If WWE wants to really make this special, they should now escalate the feud and start making it personal to work in some actual hatred beyond a matter of who’s best. Owens accepts Cena’s handshake of respect and hits the ring apron powerbomb. Yep, that’s a good start. Just like Elimination Chamber, Cena/Owens looks to be impossible to top. Cena is helped to the back and limps back to fully sell the impact.
Renee Young interviews Dean Ambrose. The commentators reflect on Dusty before showing a video tribute. Blasted allergies. WWE Network celebrates Dusty after RAW. Hopefully it will be with fresh interviews and not just a replay from the Dusty DVD.
WWE Tag Team Title: New Day vs. Prime Time Players
Xavier and Big E cracked me up trying to get the fans to give Kofi clap therapy. I’m glad the PTP are getting a chance to make a mark and maybe finally get a run with the tag team titles. It annoyed me at first, but New Day has really won me over with their gimmick. Big E’s spear through the ropes is scary. With Darren Young and Big E incapacitated, Titus O’Neil hits a spinebuster to get the pin and capture the tag team titles!
Rating: 2.5 out of 5. This was a surprising result. The match was too short to be much of anything. I dig PTPs getting the title win though as they’d been around long enough and deserved a run even if it’s a short reign. The crowd seems happy.
WWE Title Ladder match: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Kane and J&J Security gloat as Seth makes his way to ringside on his own. Stephanie says she’s gonna blame Seth for everything if he loses while Triple H gives him a real pep talk. I’m enjoying Triple H’s soccer dad relationship with Seth. His ‘kid’ may be a spoiled, entitled brat, but Triple H still believes in him. The crowd seems a bit sleepy. If Owens and Cena have another match next month, they’re really going to have to go on as the main event as the other matches. Maybe it’s just because the fans have just seen Ambrose vs. Rollins too often?
Ambrose goes through his lunatic offense until Rollins focuses on Ambrose’s knee. Rollins is running outside the ring through the crowds and instead of climbing the ladder to take the belt, Ambrose follows him out. That just made no sense. Ambrose catches him in time as the fans try to get a weak ‘this is awesome!’ chant going. Rollins gets backdropped onto the ladder. Rollins hits the Pedigree and throws Ambrose twice into the barricade. The fans just don’t seem into this until a big spot begins. Both men hold the belt as they fall off the ladder and Ambrose loses his grip so Seth is declared the winner.
Rating: 3 out of 5. This was a pretty unique finish, but the fans were unimpressed. We may have hit the ladder match saturation point and watching another chapter in Rollins/Ambrose wasn’t going to shake things up enough to make for an exciting main event. Triple H was though and he walks out to raise Seth’s hand. Jojo comes out to interview Seth and just in case you thought something interesting would happen, it doesn’t.
MITB truly felt like the third show in less than two months. The action was decent, but it’s hard to get excited for yet another big special with so little major happenings to the status quo.
Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
Again, after Owens/Cena, there’s little reason to stick around unless you’re a big New Day fan.
Photo credit: WWE.com