The first WWE show from Las Vegas’ new T-Mobile Arena, Money in the Bank certainly left a lasting impression… if you just watched the final hour-or-so of the show!
In the days leading up to the show, the card shuffled around a lot, with four matches announced for the pre-show before some were moved up – leaving us with a pair of tag-team matches as the hors d’oeuvre.
Golden Truth (Goldust & R-Truth) vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)
Even Mauro Ranallo got fed up of the Golden Truth entrance, talking over it for a Mountain Dew product placement. The gimmick here is that Breeze and Fandango were wrestling with sunburn after spending too long on a tanning bed, and that’s where the comedy came from, with Fandango screaming in pain at the initial lock-up.
Truth chopped away at Fandango’s chest, before the latter tagged out to Breeze, who got more of the same. Really, the entire match was little more than Truth and Goldust teasing shots to the sunburnt back and chests of their opponents, with Truth catching Breeze’s attempt at a low-bridge and slapping him in the back instead.
The heels worked over Truth in the corner for a spell, with Fandango grounding him with a toe hold, before Truth nailed a leg lariat as a set-up for a hot tag to Goldust, who chopped away at Breeze and Fandango, before nailing the Final Cut suplex to Fandango for the win. A nothing comedy match **
Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) vs. Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley)
From being United States champion last month, to this… and it could have been so much better as Kalisto was apparently slotted (and advertised) for the Money in the Bank ladder match at one point.
No such comedy here, as we started with Bubba bullying Kalisto, before quickly tagging in D-Von, who kept Kalisto cornered, at least until the former US champion used his speed to get away and bring in Sin Cara. The Dragons started flying with tope con hilos to the Dudleyz, but were unable to follow up with stereo dropkicks after the Dudleyz crotched the duo at the same time.
After a commercial break, we returned to see Sin Cara being dropped with a Bubba Ray headbutt, before D-Von came in to choke Sin Cara on the ropes, with a suplex getting Bubba a near-fall. Sin Cara fired back with a dropkick, then brought in Kalisto with a springboard seated senton to wipe out D-Von, before almost missing the ropes as he springboarded off with a spinning forearm strike.
A spike hurricanrana dropped D-Von from his knees, before another seated senton got Kalisto a near-fall. Bubba quickly got the upper hand though, and set up Kalisto for the Doomsday Device, scoring a two-count as Sin Cara broke up the pin, before Kalisto grabbed a roll-up on D-Von for a near-fall.
The Dudleyz went for the 3D, but Kalisto held onto the ropes, then fired back with a Salida del Sol out of the corner, before Sin Cara landed a senton bomb on Bubba Ray for the win. A fun little tag match, albeit a pointless one in the scheme of things. **¼
WWE Tag Team Championship: Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows vs. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (c)
Usual four-way fare here, with it not being long before things broke down, as the New Day were left up against Enzo and Cass. Unfortunately for them, the Vaudevillains were the legal team, which led to some double teaming on Kofi.
We quickly ended up with Enzo and English up against each other, but Enzo found himself dispatched to the outside as Luke Gallows targetted him for a while. Cass got the hot tag and cleared house, even knocking the Vaudevillains off the apron, before drilling Anderson with the Empire Elbow… but not covering him, instead opting to rocket launch Enzo onto Anderson, but Gallows pulled out Enzo to save the match.
Kofi whiffed badly with a Trouble in Paradise after blind-tagging his way into the match, and that led to the Vaudevillains just-about hitting the Whirling Dervish for a near-fall. Big E took out Simon Gotch with a spear through the ropes, before Kofi flipped out of a clothesline and into a DDT on English. Anderson made the tag in as the champions went for the Midnight Hour, before drilling English with the Magic Killer. Big E broke it up and caught Anderson with the Big Ending, before Kofi covered English for the win. Not a bad match, but four-way tag matches have a tendancy to be one of 3 things: really good, really bad, or really average. This was the latter. **¾
Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ugh, AGAIN with this? At least they made the pay-per-view this time. Ziggler started out trying to out-wrestle Corbin, before an early superkick attempt saw Corbin powder to the outside.
Corbin scored an early two-count following a clothesline and a really lax pinfall attempt, before Dolph and his jump-and-punch comeback led to nought. The Las Vegas crowd were audible bored during this, and why wouldn’t they? Corbin’s been a bit-part player unless you’ve been watching the pre-shows, and even then, he’s had little to do to develop his character.
Dolph’s rapid-fire comeback commenced, with more leaping punches and a neckbreaker, before getting a two-count from a leaping elbow, only to see a superkick blocked and taken down by a diving clothesline from Corbin for another two-count. Ziggler tried the Famouser and got dropped into the turnbuckle, before hitting it at the second attempt for a near-fall.
Corbin ducked out of the ring to avoid a superkick, and then met a charging-but-stumbling Ziggler on the floor with the Deep Six on the outside. Ziggler beat the ten-count, a la New Japan, before hitting the superkick for a two-count. In the end though, Corbin took the win after catching Ziggler up top, knocking him to the mat, then landing the End of Days for the clean win. Now can both of these guys move on from this?! **
Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Becky Lynch & Natalya
This one felt a little rushed, with Natalya and Dana starting off, and my word, Dana looked like she’d borrowed one of Natalya’s prototype outfits. Charlotte came in and was immediately taken down by Natalya, before she teamed with Becky to land a Hart Attack clothesline on the Women’s champion.
Natalya fought off a brief two-on-one attack, before being decked by a big boot from Charlotte, who then kept her foe grounded with a cravat in the middle of the ring. Becky got knocked off the apron as the assault continued on Natalya, who eventually made the hot tag to Lynch, who cleaned house with clotheslines and dropkicks.
Lynch threw Charlotte with an Exploder for a two-count as Dana made the save, before a double missile dropkick from Lynch earned another near-fall. Charlotte almost stole things with a roll-up with her feet on the ropes, but Dana ended up throwing Becky into Natalya as they tried to mount a comeback… one Natural Selection later, and Charlotte wins an otherwise forgettable match. **¼
Post-match was where the real story came, as Natalya was helped to her feet by Becky… before turning on her and unloading with punches onto the self-proclaimed “Lass Kicker”. I guess someone had enough of losing?
Sheamus vs. Apollo Crews
If I said “hey, they made it to PPV!” you’d struggle to guess who I’m talking about… This match was apparently made because Crews took offence to Sheamus bragging about his role in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. At least it’s not a shampoo commercial.
Sheamus jumped Crews at the bell, but they ended up starting by exchanging headlock takedowns. Seriously. After a brief spell outside, they ended up back in the ring, with Crews trying to fight back, but he ended up being worn down with a rear chinlock during a long period of nothingness. A Finlay roll got Sheamus a near-fall, before he went back to another rear chinlock.
Crews fought free with a jawbreaker, and took down Sheamus with a cross body before landing an enziguiri for a near-fall. Sheamus elbowed himself free of a fireman’s carry, but was sent to the outside with a belly-to-belly suplex, which Crews followed up with a moonsault off the apron to the floor.
Sheamus caught Crews up top, land caught the WWE rookie with the White Noise off the second rope, but after only getting a two, Sheamus argued with the ref and found himself slipping on a banana peel, as Crews rolled him up for the win. On paper there was little wrong with this match, apart from the sheer crowd apathy. Crews may have some flashy moves for a guy his size, but right now he is firmly stuck in a creative-less, vanilla babyface purgatory. **½
AJ Styles vs. John Cena
This one was well worth it – in his first pay-per-view appearance since last year’s Hell in a Cell show, John Cena went the distance with AJ Styles, as the two worked together to pull a classic out of each other.
They started with a good few minutes of Cena and Styles soaking in the crowd before they even touched. The chants continued when Cena tossed Styles out of a headlock, and they continued the back and forth with Styles chopping Cena against the ropes, before going outside. Cena went to whip Styles into the ring stairs, but AJ leapt over them and avoided the impact.
Cena took a hard Irish whip into the turnbuckles, but Styles was taken down with a massive back body drop, before the former IWGP champion started to ground Cena with a rear chinlock. After fighting free, Cena fought back with shoulder tackles, but Styles evaded a Blue Thunder bomb, nailing an enziguiri as he only delayed those Five Moves of Doom. The Las Vegas crowd started to boo as Cena went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but AJ hit a kip-up hurricanrana to send Cena out to the floor.
AJ whiffed with a corkscrew flip dive through the ropes, as Cena took him back inside for an Attitude Adjustment. Styles elbowed free, and connected with a Stinger Splash in the corner, before being caught in the STF in the middle of the ring, with Styles eventually making the ropes. A hotshot on the ropes bought AJ some time on the apron, but he got caught on the top rope by Cena, who looked to bring AJ in the hard way with a superplex, but Styles slipped under and back into the ring.
Cena went to drop AJ over the ropes, but instead caught him in the ropes as Styles came down hard in the ring, before going up for a Samoan drop off the top rope. AJ fought free, shoving Cena down, but was caught in an AA from a Phenomenal Forearm, only to roll into the Calf Crusher as Cena was trapped in the middle of the ring.
Cena made the ropes, but AJ kept on top of Cena with kicks to the leg, before Cena dropped Styles with a lariat, then an Attitude Adjustment for another near-fall, in spite of AJ’s attempts to elbow free. A follow-up came by way of a top rope legdrop effort by Cena, but Styles caught him in mid-air and turned it into a powerbomb for a two-count.
A Pele kick sent Cena loopy, as Styles went for the Styles Clash, landing it for a two-count as Cena just about kicked out. Cena got the knees up as Styles hit the slingshot 450 Splash, before AJ missed a Phenomenal Forearm that led to a ref bump. That left nobody to count the pin after an Attitude Adjustment, which led to Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows running down to KO Cena with the Magic Killer, and that was enough for snatch the win in a really good outing. ****
During that last match, I noticed a fan in the front row with a Bayern Munich jersey, with black tape censoring the sponsors logo. Which I’d understand, if Bayern Munich were not sponsored by T-Mobile. Who also sponsor the arena that Money in the Bank was held in…
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. Alberto del Rio vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose
Your typical wild and wonderful ladder match, with spots-a-plenty early on. Del Rio targeted Cesaro in the early going with a tiltawhirl backbreaker, before eating some uppercuts, as Cesaro then went to the apron and threw himself into a ladder onto Jericho. Because, reasons.
That quickly segued into Sami Zayn’s first dive, with a tope con hilo into a pile on the floor, before Jericho dropkicked a ladder into Kevin Owens’ face. Jericho went to set up another ladder in the ring, but was cut-off by Cesaro, who took a front suplex onto another ladder, then a ladder shot to the head.
Dean Ambrose renewed rivalries with Jericho, but quickly got suplexed onto a ladder, and then had the same ladder slammed on top of him as Del Rio inexplicably cut off Jericho’s assault. Clearly watching his New Japan from earlier in the day, Del Rio set up a ladder over the ring post, with the ladder facing into the ring, as Cesaro opted to deliver a barrage of uppercuts to Messrs Ambrose, Del Rio and Jericho… until Owens jumped in and shoved Cesaro into the exposed ladder.
A series of cannonballs kept the prior trio down, but Sami Zayn ran in to give an Exploder on Owens to Jericho in the corner, before landing some Helluva kicks as he then went to grab a ladder. Zayn started climbing, but was pulled down by Del Rio, who hung up Zayn in the Tree of Woe, before blocking Zayn in the corner with another ladder.
Del Rio looked to eliminate Cesaro with a double stomp through a ladder off the top rope, then went to climb, only to be cut off by Jericho, who took an awkward looking double stomp as Del Rio leapt off the ladder. More climbing followed, but this time it was Cesaro who stopped the Mexican, only for Cesaro to be caught in the cross armbreaker in ladder. Dirty Deeds saw Ambrose stop Cesaro from climbing, before Jericho put the brakes on Ambrose with a Codebreaker. Del Rio landed a backstabber onto Owens as the rush to climb the ladder continued, before Del Rio, then Jericho took giant swings, with the latter coming to an abrupt end courtesy of a ladder.
Owens almost made Ambrose a part of a ladder with a frog splash onto a folded ladder, and we got Owens and Zayn once more, with Zayn dropping Owens with a Michinoku driver onto the side of an outfolded ladder. That. Had. To. Hurt.
— LARIATOOOOO!!! (@SenorLARIATO) June 20, 2016
Zayn took advantage and clambered up the ladder, and even had his fingers on the briefcase, only for Del Rio to use a second ladder to knock Zayn to the mat, before finishing him off with a DDT. Then, for whatever reason, Del Rio set up a ladder bridge using the middle turnbuckles, with Cesaro using a third ladder to bridge to the other turnbuckles, and of course it didn’t end well, especially when Cesaro set up yet-another-ladder to go for the briefcase.
Dean Ambrose sent Cesaro and Del Rio’s ladder flying, as they crashed and burned, before Sami Zayn crotched Owens in another ladder. Zayn almost had it won, only for Jericho to shove him down, but Ambrose cut off Jericho once more, using the Dirty Deeds off the ladder. Zayn tried to go up once more, before being stopped by Kevin Owens, who powerbombed Zayn onto one of the ladder bridges.
That left Kevin Owens to race up to the top, but he was joined by Ambrose, who dragged Owens into the ladder and down to the mat, before the “Lunatic Fringe” unhinged the briefcase and claimed the briefcase to bring an end to this ladder war! ***¾
So… Dean Ambrose has the briefcase and the title shot it contains for the next year, which adds an interesting layer to the impending brand split – particularly as the title picture post-July is as clear as mud!
WWE United States Championship: Rusev (c) vs. Titus O’Neil
Good luck following that one, guys! O’Neil made a beeline for his kids at ringside, and I’ve a feeling this isn’t going to be a happy Father’s day for them.
They started with duelling clotheslines on the floor as Rusev went towards O’Neil’s kids, and the action continued outside as Titus lit up Rusev with punches, before nailing a swinging side slam into the barricade. Back in the ring, it was all Rusev for a spell, with a spinning heel kick knocking the former Prime Time Player down.
Rusev kept O’Neil grounded with a rear chinlock, mocking his children in the process, but Titus fought back with punches and a shoulder tackle, before telegraphing a back body drop. A corner splash saw Rusev hit the post, as O’Neil picked up the Bulgarian for a reverse slam for a near-fall. An avalanche in the corner flattened Rusev, before a spinebuster earned the challenger a two-count, before Rusev went for the Accolade out of nowhere.
O’Neil escaped, and hit a pumphandle slam for a two-count, with Rusev rolling out for cover, only to be whipped hard into the ring steps. Back in the ring though, it was a different story with a thrust kick knocking down O’Neil, and it was straightforward from there as the Accolade left Titus with no choice but to give up. Perfectly acceptable, albeit forgettable wrestling. **¾
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns (c)
Typical boos for Reigns to start us off in the battle between former Shield running buddies, but aside from the anti-Reigns sentiment, this match struggled at times to get much of a response. Then again, at 25+ minutes long, what do you expect?
Reigns took Rollins into the corner early on, but was broken up by the referee, before Reigns took down Rollins with several shoulder tackles in a methodical opening spell. A dropkick and a knee from Rollins sent Reigns to the outside, where he was met with a tope, only for Reigns to retaliate with a Samoan drop back inside the ring.
Reigns dominated for a spell, taking down Rollins with a tiltawhirl slam for a near-fall, but Reigns got a little cocky, slapping Rollins around, before hoisting him onto the top rope and slapping him to the floor, where the assault continued. The crowd woke up a little for the English announce table being dismantled, but Seth scarpered back into the ring, before going back outside and sending Reigns into the ring steps.
Seth got caught up top by Reigns, and brought back in with a crucifix powerbomb for a near-fall. Reigns tried to follow up with a Superman punch, but was caught and sent face-first into the middle turnbuckle instead. Another tope from Rollins sent Reigns into the barriers, as did a tope con hilo, getting a near-fall once they returned to the ring.
Out of nowhere, Rollins went for the Pedigree, but Reigns flipped out to evade it and landed a Superman punch for a two-count in retaliation. Reigns tried to follow up with a spear, but got nothing but Rollins’ knee, before Rollins launched into a springboard knee to the head and a frog splash for a near-fall.
Rollins got caught on the top rope as he went for another splash, but was able to block Reigns’ superplex… only to hesitate on a sunset flip powerbomb as they called back to the move that blew out Rollins’ knee in Dublin last November. Rollins went through with it anyway, nailing a buckle bomb for another two-count, before he stayed on top of Reigns with forearms in the corner as the champion looked to fade.
Seth twice got shoved to the mat easily as he tried to set up a superplex on Reigns, but was able to nail a superplex and rolled through into a Falcon Arrow for another two-count as Rollins edged closer to victory. Rollins went for a Pedigree but was blocked as Reigns instead fought out and snatched a roll-up… then a one-armed powerbomb for a near-fall.
From their knees, Rollins and Reigns traded punches, with Rollins briefly edging it, as he countered a Superman punch with a kick, and then a buckle bomb – but Reigns was able to hit the Superman punch on the rebound for yet-another two-count. Rollins crawled to the outside, creating an easy target for Reigns, who stalked his challenger, only for Seth to step aside as Reigns ended up spearing himself through the barricade.
As a doctor came out to check on Reigns, Seth picked up Roman and rolled him in, but a Pedigree attempt led to a ref bump, and a spear… except the referee was too dazed to start the count early enough, and that led to another near-fall. Roman went for a spear, but got caught as Rollins switched it into a Pedigree for (yes) a two-count, and after picking himself up, Seth hauled up Roman Reigns for another Pedigree… and regained the WWE championship in the process! ***½
In his first match back, Seth Rollins reclaimed the title he never lost – albeit in a bout that could have done with being 5-10 minutes shorter than it was. Particularly because the celebration was cut-off by… Dean Ambrose?!
Ambrose came out through the crowd with his newly-won briefcase – and we have a cash in!
Money In The Bank Cash In: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
After picking himself up from the briefcase shot, the bell rang, and with the Dirty Deeds, Dean Ambrose secured his first WWE title in just eight seconds. I’m not rating that, but I am really not a fan of hot-potato title switches, as Seth Rollins found himself the Yokozuna to Dean Ambrose’s Hulk Hogan.
There’s a comparison I never thought I’d be writing!
A solid show which greatly improved in the second half, but much like the New Japan show earlier in the day, Money in the Bank raised some intriguing questions coming out of the show. The show itself felt like WWE could have done without it – as the concept of a Money in the Bank holder couldn’t have come at a worse time, weeks before a brand split. But then again, having it won and cashed in on the same night kinda nullified that concern….
It’s just a shame that the brand split is likely to shorten the obvious three-way Shield feud, but at least we know what WWE is aiming for. With any luck, the creative braintrust will find a way to cash in on this, after leaving money on the table with the last storyline that was handed to them: a returning babyface Seth Rollins.
So, Dean Ambrose closes out Money in the Bank as the “face of the WWE” – where next from here? We’re likely going to have two “faces” of WWE very soon, but does this mean that the Roman Reigns experiment is over, or is this the latest effort at heating up someone who was struggling at best at the top of the pile?