Matt’s Last Look: Money in the Bank 2014

MITB2014

Money in the Bank
June 29, 2014
TD Garden, Boston, MA

This past Sunday we witnessed the halfway point of the 2014 WWE PPV calendar, as the TD Garden in Boston played host to the annual Money in the Bank event. Traditionally, Money in the Bank is one of the best shows of the year, so I had pretty high hopes heading into this event, coming off the heels of a surprisingly solid Payback a month before. Of course, the PPV was coming at a time of uncertainty in the company due to the injury of Daniel Bryan. As we left our last PPV it seemed as though Bryan would be back in action here defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Kane in a stretcher match. Of course it was revealed a few weeks later that Bryan’s condition was worse than suspected and as a result he was forced to relinquish the title. It’s a case of an injury coming at the worst possible time for a guy. Anyway, with the title vacant, this PPV looked to steer the company back in a direction heading into the summer, which along with Mania season tends to be the most exciting time of year. Lets take a last look back at the way things played out. There was no pre-show match this month as instead Michael Cole conducted an in-ring interview with Daniel Bryan. He got a great reaction from the crowd as you would expect, but he said he did not yet know when he would be able to return to the ring and potentially faced a second surgery ahead. He did promise that he would be back however. He was eventually interrupted by the awesome Bo Dallas, who condescendingly told him he needed to just Bo-lieve through all the hardship. Bryan told Bo that he was acting like a Bo-ner and that he should Bo-Leave. It was a fine segment that got Bryan out in front of the crowd and gave Dallas some exposure around a top guy. The crowd were into it so it was a good way to get them started up for the night.  We then kicked off the actual PPV with the opening video package focused on the two ladder matches for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight title and Money in the Bank contract. Following the opening pyro our usual announce team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & John Bradshaw Layfield got the show under way.

WWE Tag Team Championship: The Usos (c) vs Luke Harper & Erick Rowan My pick heading in: Luke Harper & Erick Rowan. Winners: The Usos by pinfall following a Superfly Splash to Erick Rowan at 13:23. I was a bit surprised that this match kicked off the show as I was expecting the Money in the Bank ladder match to do so. Aside from that though, this was the right choice to get the show started, as you always know you’re going to get some good action with these teams in the mix. These two teams put on a great show last month at ringside during the Cena/Wyatt match, so it was natural that they would face off for the tag titles here. I liked the new theme for Harper & Rowan here. The match was pretty good and had some fun spots mixed in such as the double superplex to Rowan followed by a Superfly splash by the champions onto both Wyatt Family members to finish them off. I expected the challengers to pick up the win here, with the Usos having held the titles since before Mania, but I don’t have a problem with the result either. The feud is likely continuing and I expect we’ll see a rematch between these teams at Battleground. Harper & Rowan will probably win there. The Usos have been great champions so far, putting on exciting matches each week and this was no exception. The crowd were into them as always, and I think they really benefited by being linked to Cena during his feud with the Wyatt Family as it gave them the rub from a top guy so that the fans would invest in them more. They’ll be a staple of the tag division for a while and are good in the role of the team the crowd can get behind. Overall a very good match that allows the Usos to continue their roll whilst the Wyatt Family look to regroup.

My Grade: ***1/2

Up next we got a video package focused on the Money in the Bank ladder match. We followed up by going to Dean Ambrose backstage. He cut a great lunatic promo like usual, being torn on whether to grab the briefcase in the ladder match or using the ladder it to smash Seth’s face, before deciding to do both. I’m loving face Ambrose and he reminds me of a combination of Brian Pillman and the Joker from Batman.

WWE Diva’s Championship: Paige (c) vs Naomi w/Cameron My pick heading in: Paige. Winner: Paige by pinfall following the Ram-Paige at 7:10. Our second title match of the evening was the first of two divas matches scheduled for the PPV. This was the one that I was looking forward to more as you had two women who are quite capable in the ring going at it. I was particularly impressed by Naomi who was very impressive despite not being involved in many singles matches of late. She hit a really good dive over the top at one point. Of course, there was no chance Naomi was winning here, as this was simply another title defence for Paige to continue her reign until the inevitable return of AJ Lee, as I’ve been saying for the past three shows now. That would end up coming sooner than I expected, as AJ would return the following night on Raw and defeated Paige in an impromptu match for the title. Based on that segment it seems Paige’s face run has also come to an end as she definitely came out looking like the heel whilst AJ was the face diva who had learned from her previous arrogance. Its for the best, as Paige just hasn’t been getting the fan support lately that she had the night after Mania, whilst AJ is pretty much the only diva that casual fans care about. Anyway, back to the match here, as I’m sure we’ll be talking about Paige/AJ at Battleground. The match was solid and both women were fairly aggressive. I was thinking as they came out that its funny how likeable one Funkadactyl is whilst the other is so easy to hate. Thats obviously the reasoning for the Cameron heel turn that is coming as she was cheering for Paige during the match, only checking on Naomi afterwards.

My Grade: **

Up next we checked in with our expert panel consisting of Renee Young, Alex Riley, Booker T & Christian. I was sad to see Josh Mathews released a week ago, but more Renee Young is always a good thing. They threw us to a cool Royal Rumble style video package focusing on the statistics in the Money in the Bank ladder match.

Adam Rose vs Damien Sandow My pick (as the match began): Adam Rose. Winner: Adam Rose by pinfall following the Party Foul at 4:02. Our next match was an unadvertised comedy bout designed to get Adam Rose a win on the PPV. I’m personally a fan of the Adam Rose character (and not just because a friend of mine got to play a Rosebud a few weeks ago) but it has been very hit or miss the past few weeks depending on the crowd. On this night in Boston however, the crowd were into him, singing along to his very catchy theme song during the match. This all came about due to Sandow coming out to the ring dressed as Paul Revere (you’ll have to excuse my lack of knowledge when it comes to American History, but I believe he was part of the US Revolution) and ripped on the crowd. Of course, Sandow was great as usual, although its sad to see how far he’s fallen after failing to cash in Money in the Bank last year. The announcers didn’t even mention that he won the Money in the Bank match last year (although thats probably a good thing if you want to put over the contract). I did laugh at one point in the match when Sandow went for his Elbow of Disdain and shouted out “the elbow is coming”. Aside from that, this was the very definition of filler. Adam Rose is going to need a proper feud if his character is going to stay over, which is something I’ve been saying a lot about some of the newer guys on the roster.

Grade: *

The Money in the Bank ladder match was up next, so we got some quick old school style promos from all the participants except for Ambrose, who we heard from earlier. Of course, Bad News Barrett was pulled from the match due to the shoulder injury he suffered on Smackdown. There’s another guy who was injured at the worst possible time – just as he was gaining momentum!

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Dean Ambrose vs Rob Van Dam vs Dolph Ziggler vs Kofi Kingston vs Seth Rollins vs Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter My pick heading in: Dean Ambrose. Winner: Seth Rollins after retrieving the briefcase at 23:10. Our first of the two ladder matches was for the contract guaranteeing a title shot at any time in the next 12 months. It was clear from the get go that this match was going to be centred primarily on the heated rivalry between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose following the split of the Shield, so I knew it would be one of those two that emerged victorious from this one. I gave Ziggler an outside shot simply due to Triple H introducing him as “a guy you all think I can’t see the talent in” on Raw when he introduced the participants in the match, but overall I felt it would go to a former Shield member. The other three were there to take the bumps. Speaking of Ziggler though, he did have a great segment towards the end of the match where it really looked like a win was in his grasp, and the crowd was going bonkers. It’s a testament to the guy that he continues to get some of the biggest crowd reactions on a consistent basis despite having been booked so horribly for the past year. Here’s hoping brighter times lay ahead for the guy. On the topic of Ambrose and Rollins, despite people clamouring for Ambrose to have been the one that turned heel in the Shield, a month later I think we can say they made the right decision. Rollins fits perfectly as the chosen corporate suit, whilst Ambrose’s lunatic act has gotten over with the fans big time. As far as the match goes, it was very good, as these matches tend to be. All six guys took big bumps with there being far too many awesome moments to list. Swagger hit a vicious powerbomb to RVD off the ladder at one point, whilst Kofi had his usual impressive stunt by landing on the ropes after being knocked off a ladder and springboarding off onto the guys on the floor. Ambrose also delivered a crazy superplex off one ladder to Rollins onto another set up horizontally in what I thought was the spot of the match. Ambrose was eventually taken out of the match by medical staff after battling on the outside with Swagger. Based on the Real American’s track record I was a bit worried there, as I thought we saw the dreaded X as Ambrose yelled at the trainer to pop his shoulder back into place. It was all a set up for later in the match however, as Ambrose returned to the ring to a big pop to stop Seth from retrieving the briefcase and followed up by destroying his former teammate with a series of chair shots. At that moment I thought Ambrose had the match won, and I think the crowd agreed with me, but then we got Kane’s pyro as the Authority’s Demon delivered a Chokeslam and Tombstone to Ambrose, and then allowed Rollins to climb up and grab the case. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, simply because I don’t think Kane needed to get involved. It does play into the Rollins being chosen by the Authority storyline, but it just seemed unnecessary to be and I would have rathered Rollins screw Ambrose on his own somehow. I have nothing against Kane the performer, but he really has been booked as this guy you just want to go away for this whole year. The ending doesn’t take away from the match as a whole though, and I’m fine with Rollins being the winner. Obviously the feud with Ambrose will continue, and the idea of Ambrose getting in the way and thwarting any cash ins by Rollins adds a new dynamic to the feud as well.

My Grade: ****1/4

We now headed backstage, where Byron Saxton got a word with Randy Orton, one of the participants in the WWE title ladder match. After getting a subtle jab in on Rollins needing help to win, he said he could win without any help. Byron went on to ask him about his thoughts on Roman Reigns being in the match, but Orton did not answer.

Goldust & Stardust vs Ryback & Curtis Axel My pick heading in: Goldust & Stardust. Winners: Goldust & Stardust by pinfall after Stardust rolled up Ryback at 7:32. For the third time on PPV this year (including the pre-show at Elimination Chamber) these teams face off in tag team action. Of course since our last outing, Cody Rhodes has been repackaged with the great Stardust character to match his older brother, and the team is back to its winning ways after Cody was made to doubt himself in recent months. I said at Payback that was the direction in which the Rhodes Brothers storyline was going (although I didn’t expect Stardust to come out of it) and I’m really glad that it did go this way rather than a team split, as Cody is better as a face than a heel. Rybaxel is decent enough as a team for the role they fill, but they are not going to be a serious threat in the tag division or anything. One thought I did have as Cody made his entrance here was just how far the guy has come in terms of his mannerisms. I remember when he arrived on the scene in 2007 he used to look so awkward in the way he carried himself. as far as Rybaxel goes, they are fine for the role they had here. They were here to put the repackaged Rhodes Brothers over. They’re not going to be a serious threat in the tag division or anything. Its actually kind of funny that Ryback used to be a main eventer, but I’ve never been a big fan. In terms of the match, it really wasn’t much more than a basic TV tag match. It was fine to give the Dusts a victory as they continue to build back their momentum. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as future challengers to the Wyatt Family down the line once they win the titles.

My Grade: **

After a brief recap of the Layla/Summer Rae feud, we went backstage to Byron Saxton who was with Fandango. Both Layla and Summer interrupted and they each talk themselves up to the special referee in their upcoming match. They both end up storming off with Fandango looking uncertain of what to do.

Big E vs Rusev w/Lana My pick heading in: Rusev. Winner: Rusev by submission with the Accolade at 7:19. This was a rematch from Payback, where Rusev easily destroyed the former Intercontinental Champion who lost all his momentum. It really begged the question of why Rusev had to face him again here. Surely there were other faces on the roster that Rusev could progress on to. I mean you could have accelerated the Swagger face turn and had Big E in the ladder match if you wanted (who knows – maybe Barrett wouldn’t have been injured either!). That said, we got a better match than last month here, as it was a bit more competitive rather than a squash. Big E even busted out his awesome spear outside the ring spot that sent the Bulgarian Brute to the outside. It was a fun little power match that saw Rusev come back and dispatch of his opponent with the Accolade. He’s moving on to a rivalry with the newly turned Swagger from here which actually interests me. I said last month that Rusev was slowly growing on me. That continues to be the case, and Lana is also growing on me as a performer. I still don’t get the rave about her supposed attractiveness compared to the other women on the roster, but that must just be my personal taste. This match served its purpose but was nothing to write home about.

My Grade: **

Up next, we checked in with the expert panel again before seeing footage from the Bryan segment on the pre-show.  We then headed backstage where Nikki Bella was hanging out with her recently fired sister Brie. They were confronted by Stephanie McMahon, who wanted to know what Brie was doing there. Nikki said she was her guest, but Stephanie said former employees are not welcome. Brie interrupted and showed Steph a video on her phone, which was Vickie humiliating Stephanie in the mud pool on Raw. Somehow Brie’s phone possesses the ability to intercept the PPV feed. Stephanie called for security to escort Brie out of the building before reprimanding Nikki. This is likely leading to a Brie/Stephanie match down the line whenever Brie is reinstated, which will be a good way to create another diva in the division that the fans care about once Brie gets her revenge on the Billion Dollar Princess.

Summer Rae vs Layla Special Guest Referee: Fandango My pick heading in: Summer Rae. Winner: Layla by pinfall after a kick to the face at 3:09. Our second divas match of the night was some more filler, as the two ladies who had been battling for Fandango’s affection faced off with Fandango himself as the referee. I predicted Summer heading in simply because she’s newer, but in hindsight, Layla winning was fairly obvious as they wouldn’t have split Fandango and Summer up if they were just going to reunite them here. The match was pretty bad, but I didn’t expect much else. Layla looked amazing though. I really don’t have anything else to say. The crowd weren’t into it at all and started up a “CM Punk” chant. Layla picked up the win and made out with Fandango afterwards. Summer cried. That is all. I try to avoid the DUD grade, but this was pretty close. At least it was short. Remember when Fandango was one of the hottest acts in the company?

My Grade: 1/4*

The main event was up next so we got a video package for it. Back in the arena, Triple H & Stephanie McMahon came out and took a seat next to the announcers at ringside.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Ladder Match: John Cena vs Roman Reigns vs Sheamus vs Randy Orton vs Kane vs Bray Wyatt vs Alberto Del Rio vs Cesaro w/Paul Heyman My pick heading in: John Cena. Winner: John Cena by retrieving the title belts at 26:37. Our main event of the evening was quite the star-studded ladder match, as eight of the top superstars in the company faced off for the chance to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Heading into this one I felt the outcome was fairly predictable, but it was for the right reason considering the direction it looks like the company is headed in for SummerSlam in August. To put it bluntly, whoever won this match was going to be a transitional champion to Brock Lesnar. Cena is the right choice for that and he needed to win here, as having another title change next month would have hurt the championship. Obviously you needed a face to win. Sheamus is the U.S Champion, whilst Roman Reigns has other things ahead for the summer. It would have been too soon for him anyway. His push to the title comes in January. John Cena was therefore the logical choice by default. In terms of the match, it was good, although not quite at the level of some of the other matches we’ve seen in the past of this kind (including the ladder match earlier in the night). That was expected as there were no crazy high risk guys in this one, but it was still a very enjoyable match with some memorable moments. Cesaro and Sheamus both looked fairly strong in there as they got their moments where they were close to getting the briefcase. Wyatt didn’t look very strong in there, but he thankfully has a new feud in line coming out of Raw the next night. As far as Del Rio goes – I completely forgot he was in the match on numerous occasions. He seemed out of place in there anyway. He would barely have been relevant in the briefcase match let alone this one! Then again he did qualify before the title was vacated in the first place. Kane was in the match simply to help Orton win, and he worked with him particularly towards the end of the match. I was surprised that Triple H himself didn’t interfere to stop Reigns winning at some point in the match, but there’s time for that down the line. You have to give Orton credit for taking a huge cut to the skull which had him extremely bloody. I don’t really think blood adds to matches like some, but the sight of Reigns pressing at the wound was quite sick. Whilst the match didn’t have a huge amount of big bumps, there were still some memorable moments like Orton hitting the RKO from the top of the ladder and Reigns dominating towards the end of the match. In the end Cena overcame Orton and Kane to win the title, after hitting both men with an AA and retrieving the title. It was a good match that got lots of time, but it wasn’t a classic by any stretch. I enjoyed it though. The show ended with the Authority looking on as Cena held the gold. Cole called Cena the greatest champion of all time. If that really bothers you, I don’t know what to say. He’s one of the biggest names in WWE history, having been the top guy since 2005. Are they really going to not put him over especially coming out of a big match like this?

My Grade: ***1/2

Three Stars of the Night:

1. Seth Rollins – a big win for Triple H’s new protege as he secures himself a future title shot in a very good Money in the Bank match. Remember when we all thought he’d be the Shield member that got lost in the shuffle? Yeah not happening. I believe this is also the third PPV this year that I’ve had him in this spot.

2. Dean Ambrose – the crazy lunatic character is over big time and he had the crowd behind him as he looked to be closing in on victory in his match. I had him as my pick to win the contract just to stick it to the Authority, but being the guy who raises hell when Seth wants to cash in is a better role for him. I’m looking forward to the Ambrose/Rollins feud unfolding.

3. Randy Orton – of all the guys in the main event, his efforts stood out the most to me in there. That cut was nasty as well.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Whilst it wasn’t up to the standard of some of the previous Money in the Bank PPVs, this was a good show, especially considering the disarray heading in with the title plans all having to be scrapped following Daniel Bryan’s injury. John Cena is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for the fifteenth time, and all signs point to him holding it through to SummerSlam where he will drop it to Brock Lesnar. He’ll retain in the upcoming fatal four way at Battleground, with Orton and Kane costing Reigns somehow to continue that storyline as well. Its good to see that it looks like the company has got some direction again after the last month or two being all over the place due to the championship limbo. It carried across to a great episode of Raw the next night as well. The match of the night at Money in the Bank was definitely the first ladder match. It was carried by the excellent rivalry brewing between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. I found it a little strange at first following the split that Reigns has really stopped interacting with them, but I think it’s for the best. He’s got a big push ahead – with him being elsewhere on the card, these two will both benefit out of this feud as well. With all the big names being involved in the multi-man ladder matches, there was bound to be some filler on this show. Outside of the Summer/Layla match that only lasted a few minutes, it really wasn’t anything that bad though. It sucks to see Sandow reduced to being a comedy jobber, but at least he’s funny in the role. The tag title match was very good as the rivalry between the Wyatt Family and the Usos looks to be continuing. Rusev put his rivalry with Big E to bed as he now moves on to the surprisingly over face Swagger based on Raw the following night. We saw a few returns the next night on Raw. I’ll just get the one nobody cares about out of the way first – that was the Miz. I don’t hate the guy like some, but it’s clear that he’s not getting a major push or anything anyway coming out of that segment. That segment was all about the long awaited return of Chris Jericho, who looks to be starting up a feud with Bray Wyatt. They had a match on NXT last year, so I look forward to the rivalry ahead. Jericho is a guy that doesn’t have a problem putting new talent over, so Wyatt will come out looking strong. We also saw the return of AJ Lee as I already mentioned, which led to a double turn with Paige and title change. If there’s a feud you can have to put on a longer match and get the fans invested in the divas division, its this one. With AJ being back, there are also questions as to whether a certain someone else will be back. I doubt it. I’d love to see it, but I still think Punk is done. AJ was expected back after her wedding anyway so I don’t think that changes anything there. Overall, what I can take from the past 48 hours is that there is direction again. Thats a very good thing after the on the fly booking that was a necessary evil as a result of Daniel Bryan’s injury. It looks like he’ll he out for quite some time, so for now the company needs to move on without him. Get well soon D-Bry! Money in the Bank was an enjoyable show with one very good match, and a few other solid ones.  FINAL GRADE: 7 out of 10
2014 PPV Rankings thus far:

  1. WrestleMania XXX (9.5)
  2. Payback (7.5)
  3. Money in the Bank (7)
  4. Elimination Chamber (7)
  5. Extreme Rules (7)
  6. Royal Rumble (6)

Author: Matt McCulloch