The WWE makes their content so accessible these days too. With the super cheap WWE network giving you access to a ridiculous amount of shows, documentaries and all the Pay Per Views (PPVs) as they happen. They are a television production juggernaut. The only thing that really frustrates me is the fact that their two biggest weekly shows, Smackdown and Raw, are only available to stream weeks after the fact. That sucks because if you’re trying to keep up with the PPV storylines you’re running on a huge delay and you’ll need to get your Smackdown and Raw fixes elsewhere.But I have to say WWE has run hot and cold since the end of the attitude era. Dare I say they’ve almost become complacent in their storytelling since they not so much cornered but completely annexed the market. For whatever reason (possibly a midlife crisis) I’ve got a newfound interest in Wrestling. While it’s never really gone away I’m paying more attention to it nowadays. Newer talent like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Charlotte Flair, Jinder Mahal and The New Day have that spark that reminds me of the old school. Real characters whose showmanship is only matched by their talent in the ring and their ability to tell those stories during a match that has the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand.
Fans have become frustrated with certain characters being put forward over others; Roman Reigns is a classic example and that has been compounded by the complete absence of the Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar, since Wrestlemania. Also, the PPVs since Wrestlemania have been a tad lacklustre (Bray Wyatt v Randy Orton House of Horrors at Payback anyone?).
In spite of these discretions, they’ve also done a couple of things very, very right since. One was to put forward Samoa Joe as the number one contender for the Universal Championship, he seems like the logical choice as far as even being able to hold a candle to Lesnar, his style and character is as tough as it is vicious. The other was putting Jinder Mahal over as the WWE Champion. Mahal has surfaced as a solid heel working the old school angle similar to greats such as the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. He appeals to that base level, almost casually racist, patriotism of the crowd.
“And now I will speak to MY people in MY language of Punjabi”… Cue those “USA, USA” chants.
He also appeals to a potential audience of 1.3 billion people in India. I’d say he’s pretty good for business.
Money in the Bank has been the first PPV this year that has been better with it’s quality of matches and stories. In defence of those pre this event and post Wrestlemania, I’d say it’s because they’ve actually had some time to build on the post Wrestlemania storylines.
So, let’s re-cap, spoilers follow:
Women’s Money in The Bank Ladder Match.
Charlotte Flair v Becky Lynch v Natalya v Tamina Snuka.
A first for the WWE giving the girls the opportunity to hit the ladders and while it wasn’t bad, know what Charlotte can do in the air I had anticipated something more spectacular and it left me wondering if it’s a duty of care thing. Mainly because I’m selfish and I think if they want to hurt themselves for the sake of entertainment, let them! Of course then my sensible side kicks in and I wonder where you draw that line. In any case (get it? Case?) I think the line could have been more left of where it was. The girls seemed very conservative with the ladders.
James Elsworth was generally annoying for the duration, just having him there is stupid but I have to say the ending was pretty cool. Carmella laid out at the foot of the ladder, everyone else down for the count, Elsworth ascends, grabs the case and drops it into Carmella’s hands. The crowd went nuts. It was a fun moment.
Tag Team Championship
The New Day v The Usos (champs)
What’s not to love about The New Day? They’re great fun and their injection of humour and showmanship adds a vaudevillian almost pantomime style to this match. The Usos on the other hand were the perfect counterbalance to the New Day’s antics. The pace of this match was frantic and dramatic and the fans were rabid with all the close count-outs and false finishes. Kofi Kingston and Big E delivered some huge moments but that was largely due to the work put in by their opponents. The Usos are great heels and the finish was ridiculously unsatisfying with The Usos pulling out of the match via a count-out, meaning they lost, but retained the title. A terrible result if you bought a ticket but I can see what they are doing in building that storyline and we are set for a great rivalry and, given the pace of this one, some spectacular matches.
Winner: The New Day, but The Usos retained the title
Naomi v Lana
Boooooorrrriiiiinnnng. I think the crowd used this match as a toilet/drinks break. Lana sucked and Naomi, try as she did could not make anything exciting happen. Late in the match Carmella appears to try and build some tension. Would she cash in the newly acquired money in the bank contract and take the title? Nope. Of course not. What would be the point in that? The WWE aren’t stupid enough to blow up that whole story when they can milk it for weeks to come. Sorry girls, this was a garbage match.
Jinder Mahal v Randy Orton
Randy Orton in his home town, his dad the legendary ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton sitting in the front row with Ric Flair, Sergeant Slaughter, Larry ‘The Axe’ Hennig and Greg Gagne. This was set to be the fairy tale where Orton would win the title back from the Modern Day Maharaja. But we all secretly knew what would really happen. This was a great match; it had a bit of everything, drama, suspense, controversy. It was drawn out but consistently entertaining and the presence of the legends ringside did not disappoint, thanks largely to the Singh brothers.
Late in the match Randy hits Mahal with the RKO out of nowhere and pins him. It’s over. Until the Singh brothers interfere, the ref ejects them, they argue on the way out, manhandle Cowboy Bob and Randy loses his shit. It was great because Orton is a colossus next to the Singhs and he destroyed them, RKO, suplexes and an RKO through the announcers table for good measure. It was awesome but also painfully obvious as to how it would end. Well it should have ended in a count out because the Singh beat down took forever but Randy slithers back in the ring and a recovered Mahal hits him with the Khallas and its game over.
Winner: Jinder Mahal
Tag Team Match
Breezango v The Ascension
I don’t know why this was on the card, except for the fact that Breezango have provided some good comic relief and relatively exciting matches in the past. I feel like they wanted to bring the clowns on in the circus before the lions came out for the main event. It was short. Fandango finished it, everyone had a chance to pee and grab a beer before the main event.
Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Shinske Nakmaura v AJ Styles v Kevin Owens v Dolph Ziggler v Sami Zayn v Baron Corbin
I love a good ladder match done right and with this line-up it could not be anything but awesome could it? Yes and no. It started off great with Corbin interrupting Nakamura’s entrance before he even hit the runway, bashing him with a ladder and then finishing the job with a video camera. This makes Corbin go up a few notches in my book. Don’t get me wrong, I like Nakamura but his entrance is exhausting and I feel like he’s been pushed too hard. In fact I initially thought they were going to put him over in this match, how wrong was I?
This had everything you would want in a ladder match with some spectacular aerials delivered by Zayn, who really deserves a break; he’s such a good wrestler. Zayne’s sunset flip powerbomb on Ziggler was a huge highlight as was Styles hanging from the briefcase sans-ladder. Nakamura returning to the match after his initial beat down sent everyone nuts and he exploded. The best part was the faceoff with Styles, both good guys going head to head on top of the ladder only to be taken out by Corbin who was able to climb to the lofty height and secure the win. But where the fuck was Kevin Owens through this? I’m speculating he may have been nursing an injury, because it doesn’t seem right that one of the most gifted performers in the WWE was so absent during most of this match.
Winner: Baron Corbin
It’s good to see the momentum pick up, I’m hoping Raw gets its act together because I’m really excited for Great Balls of Fire.