Last night, for the first time ever, WWE put on a single-brand MITB PPV, which included a historic version for the Women’s division. But was it any good?
The Money In The Bank ladder match has long been one of my favourite matches in WWE. The winner of the match gets a contract for a title opportunity at any time or place, allowing them to pick the exact moment to cash in, which has allowed 15 of the 17 MitB winners to win the Championship. Careers have been made by Money in the Bank. Exciting action combined with the promise of one of your midcard favourites being suddenly elevated to a main event slot means it really is one of the stand out events of the schedule. And while events like TLC or Hell In A Cell have suffered from being fixed points in the calender – a feud should earn those matches, rather than just because they happen to be at a certain point of the year – I was still pretty pumped when the blue brand’s line-up was announced.
AJ Styles and US Champion Kevin Owens were probably the favourites from the get-go, with Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin outsiders, and Shinsuke Nakamura an absolute wild card who should be a nailed on certainty to win but it could be too early in his main roster career. Despite being a former champion, Dolph Ziggler is surely beyond redemption as far as title contention is concerned, although the betting sites actually have Baron Corbin as odds-on favourite. But with Jinder Mahal’s recent ascent to WWE Champion showing us that literally anything can happen on Smackdown Live (plus giving us a beatable champion), the MITB briefcase really was anyone’s to win.
WWE has also spent the last couple of years ticking off a series of “historic firsts” for the Women’s Division since the “Diva’s Revolution” began. Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks headlined RAW and what were once called PPVs, and they had the first female Hell In A Cell and Ironman matches on WWE TV. SmackDown Live had the first Women’s Championship Tables match between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss, and now Shane McMahon put together a women’s Money In The Bank ladder match featuring Charlotte, Becky, Nattie Neidhart, Tamina, and Carmella. Not exactly loaded with star power, compared to what the Women’s division could have put together sometime in the last 2 years, and handing a title opportunity to Lana on the same event rather undermines the “life-changing opportunity” aspect of MITB, but still, it was an intriguing line-up.
With the two Money in the Banks matches, Randy Orton getting his Championship rematch in his hometown against “The Modern Day Maharajah” Jinder Mahal, The New Day facing off against The Usos for the Tag Titles, Naomi facing Lana for the Women’s title, and… well not much else, let’s get to it!
Please note: this is the first time reviewing a wrestling event on ImAllOuttaBubblegum.com so I’m trying out a few different ideas to see what works. Let me know what you like and don’t like!
The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) v The Colons
The definition of a thrown together tag match! Zack Ryder returned on Tuesday night after 6 months out with a knee injury that he picked up in the match that won them a tag title shot. Mojo Rawley won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale at Wrestlemania in his absence. The Colons are very skilled, experienced wrestlers but are just warm bodies right now.
Ryder and Rawley get a pretty great reaction when they come out. Ryder starts out with.. Epico? He runs through most of his stuff, getting a early “Woo, woo, woo” chant going. Mojo tags in an gets pops for all his stuff as well. Good, lively crowd tonight. Epico catches Ryder coming back into the ring though, and the Colons go to work on the previously injured knee, through an annoying commercial break. We’re back with the Colons still isolating Ryder’s knee. Ryder gets a neckbreaker, and makes the hot tag to Rawley, who blasts through both Colons, hitting his Hyper Drive (a fireman’s carry into a flapjack, but he doesn’t really put much downwards pressure on it) on Primo which Epico breaks up very late. Ryder takes him out with the Broski boot, gets the tag and the Hype Bros hit the Hype Ryder (with Ryder selling the knee on landing in a nice touch) for the three count.
Winner: The Hype Bros by pinfall
Verdict: Exactly what you want in an opener. Lots of energy, good crowd reactions, and the good guys won. The Hype Bros are certainly a popular team, and they could be worth a title run some time in the future.
Money In The Bank Ladder Match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship contract:
CHARLOTTE FLAIR v BECKY LYNCH v CARMELLA v TAMINA v NATALYA
– This match was made after a number one contendership match between these five wrestlers ended in a no-contest.
– Charlotte is a four-time WWE Raw Women’s Champion. She came to SmackDown during the Superstar Shakeup in April.
– Becky Lynch was the first WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion, before losing the title to Alexa Bliss.
– Despite having been on the main roster for a decade, Natalya has only one Diva’s Championship reign to her name. After the three of them interfered in a match between Naomi and Charlotte, she formed “The Welcoming Committee” with Tamina and Carmella (and James Ellsworth)
– Tamina debuted alongside The Usos in 2010, but has never held any championship gold.
– Carmella was called up from NXT during the Draft in July 2016. She has been involved with James Ellsworth since December.
Charlotte out first to a huge ovation, followed by Becky Lynch who gives her steam punk goggles to a young fan, again getting plenty of cheers. Tamina then walks out to barely any reaction, Carmella (with James Ellsworth by her side) gets a bit of a reaction, and Natalya comes out last.
Before the match gets going, we get a video package putting over the historic nature of the match. Strange timing – especially since there are five wrestlers just stood waiting in the ring as we watch this.
The bell rings, four of the wrestlers exit the ring and grab ladders while Tamina stands tall in the middle. As everyone tries to enter, Tamina pushes them away, until Charlotte gets some traction, before a huge superkick stops that. Tamina then starts working people over, catapulting Natalya into a ladder and smashing Becky with one. Becky eventually pushes a ladder onto Tamina to put her down, and as Becky and Natalya play tug of war with a ladder they hit Tamina with it to take her down. They each pull one side of the ladder for slightly too long, before knocking Carmella off the apron, causing them to drop the ladder before Natalya body slams Becky onto a ladder.
Natalya is then first to climb, and gets fingertips to the briefcase before Charlotte catches her in an electric chair drop. Charlotte is then cut off by a returing Carmella, and the two of them fight at the top of the ladder before Tamina tips them both off. Tamina herself is then hit by Natalya with a ladder (causing a nice bleeped swear), and Natalya snatches Becky into sharpshooter. Charlotte and Carmella then brawl with Natalya, who takes them out until Becky whips her into a ladder in the corner. Becky is then taken down by Carmella, who is next to climb before Charlotte takes her out with a boot, followed by one to Becky in the corner. Tamina takes out Natalya with a superkick on the outside. Tamina and Charlotte brawl in the ring before a rather sloppy spear/tackle from Charlotte through the ropes and then another, better one into the steps. This sets up Charlotte for a twisting dive (not her moonsault) onto Natalya and Tamina.
Carmlla climbs, but Becky Lynch cuts her off and hits a power bomb on Carmella from the ladder to the floor. Becky then climbs before James Ellsworth comes in and tips her off the ladder. He then climbs and gets the briefcase, drops it to Carmella. The bell rings, three referees argue, James Ellsworth grabs the mic and announces the result. I guess that’s it.
Verdict: Good match, with a terrible finish. It’s long been speculated about an outsider getting the briefcase, I remember Queen Sharmell, Hornswoggle, and Maryse all threatening to climb the ladder in previous matches. Why James Ellsworth would be involved directly in the finish of a “historic Women’s match” like that is confusing. Being handed victories is a time honoured heel tradition, but it never really works in the right way if the focus stays too much on the hander rather than the handee: see Kevin Owens being handed the Universal Title by Triple H. On a personal note, my first attempt at a live review could have been a slightly easier match!
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champion Match:
THE USOS (champions) v THE NEW DAY
– The Usos have held the titles for nearly three months after beating American Alpha. They most recently defended the titles against Breezdango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze).
– The New Day earned this opportunity after a record setting 483 day RAW Tag Team Championship reign and being drafted from Raw to SmackDown Live during the Superstar Shakeup in April.
Kofi and Big E for The New Day tonight. Jimmy and Kofi start, Kofi gets the upper hand, Jey tags in and doesn’t fare much better. Big E comes in and hits a slightly dangerous looking splash on the ring apron which saw the Uso’s neck seemingly snap back, but I guess he was ok. Kofi back in, but Jimmy low bridges the top rope sending him to the outside, and the Usos start double teaming him on the outside. There’s a nice spot where they double suplex Kofi into the ringpost. They keep working over Kofi inside and outside of the ring, until he gets to make a tag to Big E! Belly to belly suplex, a big uranage in the corner (Somoa Joe’s STJoe was always my favourite version, but Big E’s is good). Big spear through the ropes by Big E (that’s a crazy move) but a blind tag from the Usos leads to Kofi Kingston missing a cross body and tweaks the knee, leading to Jey working the knee, and locking in the Tequila Sunrise, the same move that won them the titles. Big E looks to come in as Kofi struggles, but is stopped as Jimmy dives to outside – only for Big E to catch him and hit a big belly to belly on the outside. Jey breaks the submission hold to stop Big E, and Kofi then locks in a Dragon Sleeper, which might be a slightly more believable if he had ever won a match with it before. Jey gets out, only for Kofi to hit the SOS, leading to a 2 count. Blind tag by Big E, and Kofi gets caught with a superkick and Jey goes up top to attempt the Superfly Splash… only for Big E to catch him – sort of. He scoops up Jey and hits the Big Ending!Pin for 1…2… Jimmy breaks it up at the last possible moment!
Xavier Woods gets on the apron and starts playing the trombone, but this actually leads to Jey rolling up Big E and getting a close 2 count while grabbing the tights. Big E then goes for the spear though the ropes to both Usos, but they hit a double knee to stop him. They charge at him but he flips them both over the top rope like Hogan in a Rumble! Kofi Kingston with a huge trust fall dive onto The Usos on the outside.
Big E hoists Jay onto his shoulder, Kofi climbs and they HIT THE MIDNIGHT HOUR! 1…2… Jimmy pulls Jay out of the ring, and The Usos just walk off and take a countout defeat. Well then.
Winner: The New Day (by countout)
Verdict: Two anticlimactic endings in a row, which is a shame because this was really building into a good match. The Usos are on a roll with their new badass attitude, and The New Day looked fresh and motivated as well.
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship Match:
NAOMI (champion) v LANA
– Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss in a Six-Pack Challenge match at Wrestlemania XXXIII to win the title for a second time. She briefly feuded with Charlotte Flair before outside interference in their matches led to the Women Money in The Bank match.
– Lana was drafted to SmackDown as part of April’s Superstar Shake-up, and was granted a title show by Naomi after attacking her.
I hate the fact these two wrestlers both have dancing gimmicks, but neither of them have properly choreographed entrances. Naomi starts quickly, before missing a cross body and allowing Lana to take over, working the knee (does no-one keep track of this, why not mix it up?) including a suplex that sees Naomi’s feet land on the bottom rope followed up with another one into the second rope. She keeps attacking the knee before Naomi gets a cross armbar that Lana hits the knee to escape from. Naomi then hits a series of head kicks while keeping hold of Lana by the wrist, and hits the Rear View for a two count. Lana with a kick to the face and hits the Spinebuster that put Naomi down on SmackDown, but she only gets a 2 count!
Miss Money In The Bank Carmella makes her way out, as the commentators explain she is about to do what cash-in like Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania! She pauses before cashing in though, and with Lana distracted, Naomi locks in her Rings of Saturn variation with both arms trapped… and Lana taps out. Carmella again threatens to cash-in, but Naomi is up and ready to fight, so Carmella decides against it.
Winner: Naomi by submission
Verdict: Lana did ok in her first ever televised singles match… but this wasn’t good. Those suplexes into the ropes made me wince, and then adding Carmella into the mix was an attempt to add drama that didn’t really work. And does Lana need protecting after being competitive with the champion, really?
Breezedango are back with Fashion Vice, and they are now 80s Miami Vice inspired cops, after having been black and white noir gumshoes for the last few weeks. Fandango has a huge portable telephone, with “Property of Paul E” on the side. They receive a video cassette (“Is it Coliseum?”) which has two shadowy figures taunting them after trashing their office and beating up Tyler Breeze. If they want to know who they are, they will meet in the ring tonight. Fandango and Breeze agree. I guess we might have another match tonight.
We go back to the commentary table, but Mike & Maria Kanellis are here! They come out hand in hand, the video screens and platform filled with hearts, to the sound of an power ballad love song. Maria has spent the last seven years looking for the perfect partner, and she found Mike! They are here to show SmackDown Live the power of love. They gaze into each others eyes and slowdance as their music plays.
WWE Championship Match:
JINDER MAHAL (champion) v RANDY ORTON
– Jinder Mahal became the WWE Champion for the first time in March, beating Randy Orton at Backlash. This is his first title defense.
– Randy Orton is claiming his mandatory rematch, having been the previous champion, after beating Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania XXXIII. He is a nine-time WWE Champion, and a four-time World Heavyweight Champion.
Before the match, Greg Gagne, Larry “The Ax” Hennig, Baron van Raschke (claw!), Sgt Slaughter, Bob Orton, and Ric Flair are introduced ringside, and JBL gives a shout out to Harley Race, who suffered an injury after a fall at home. Good heel heat for Mahal and the Singh brothers, and a pretty huge pop for Randy Orton.
Orton starts out hot, beating down Mahal and going for the RKO early. Mahal bails to the outside, talks with the Singh brothers before charging back in and straight into a Thesz press from Orton! Stomps from Orton, Mahal cloth-lined outside and Orton hits another big clothesline. Mahal’s face is slammed off the announce table, Orton scares off the Singh brothers with just a glance! Orton back inside and goes for the rope-assisted DDT, but Mahal back drops Orton over the top rope, causing him to land awkwardly on his knee (again!) Mahal works over the left knee, before Mahal gets dropped onto the barricade right in front of the legends at ringside, leaving him in Bob Orton’s lap. Mahal then slams Orton’s knee onto the announce table, back in the ring for Mahal to work Orton over more. Orton catches Mahal with a fallaway slam, but Mahal goes back to the knee, locking in a Figure Four, in front of the Nature Boy himself!
Orton fights then flips over onto his stomach to reverse the pressure. Mahal gets out and gets the Spinning Toe Hold! Shades of Dory Funk Jr! Orton with a roll up, before Mahal goes for the top rope superplex, before Orton reverses and hits one of his own! Two count for Orton!
Mahal and Orton exchange punches in the middle of the ring, before a snap slam outs Orton in control. He hits the rope-assisted DDT, then connects with the RKO! 1…2… Mahal’s foot is on the rope! The Singh Brothers put it there! The referee is going to disqualify them, but Orton begs him not to, and instead they are thrown out from ringside. They argue and then look to attack Cowboy Bob Orton, but Randy with the save! The Singh Brothers get a beating, including a repeat of that memorable back drop suplex onto the table, an RKO on the floor and ending with an RKO through the table! Back in the ring, Mahal hits Orton with the Khallas! Mahal retains!
Winner: Jinder Mahal by pinfall
Verdict: Decent match, Mahal’s best performance ever, and a big win for him. I did like the throw back moves from Mahal, and he is starting to look like he belongs in the main event.
Impromptu Tag Match:
Breezedango v The Ascension
So, The Ascension attacked Tyler Breeze and trashed The Fashion Police’s office. Not the most inspiring choice, literally just pick two single heels and make it them and it would have been better. After an early brawl, the Ascension star working over Breeze briefly until Fandango gets a tag. Spin kick from Fandango, but a big spinebuster from Konnor. Stomps to Fandango, Konnor goes up top but Breeze pushes him off, and Fandango rolls up Viktor for a 3 count.
Winner: Breezdango by pinfall
Verdict: A time filling match to get Fandango and Tyler Breeze on the show.
Money In The Bank Ladder Match for the WWE SmackDown Championship contract:
AJ STYLES v BARON CORBIN v DOLPH ZIGGLER v KEVIN OWENS v SAMI ZAYN v SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
– Shane McMahon announced the competitors for the SmackDown Money In The Bank match in May.
– AJ Styles debuted in WWE at the 2016 Royal Rumble, became WWE SmackDown Champion by beating Dean Ambrose at Backlash in September before losing it to John Cena at the 2017 Royal Rumble. He has recently been feuding with Kevin Owens over the US Championship.
– Kevin Owen is a former WWE Universal Champion, being defeated by Goldberg in a matter of seconds at Fastlane in February for the Universal Championship after holding the title for 6 months. He came to SmackDown in May to fight Chris Jericho in a rematch for his US Title, injuring Jericho in a post match beatdown.
– Baron Corbin debuted on the main roster winning the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale at Wrestlemania XXII. He has risen up the card since then, challenging for titles on SmackDown a few times, being unsuccessful at Elimination Chamber for the World Title and losing to Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania XXXIII
– Sami Zayn came to SmackDown in April’s Superstar Shakeup, and was pinned by Jinder Mahal in the Six Pack number 1 contenders match that led to Mahal’s title win. He managed to beat Baron Corbin the recent Backlash event, and actually beat Kevin Owens in the most recent match of their decade long rivalry.
– Dolph Ziggler is a 2 time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and also the only previous winner in this match, having won the Money in the Bank back in 2012 and famously cashing in on Alberto Del Rio the night after Wrestlemania XIX.
– Shinsuke Nakamura debuted in April on the first SmackDown Live after Wrestlemania. He feuded with Dolph Ziggler, before defeating him at Backlash.
Nakamura is attacked during his entrance by Corbin, beating him down with a ladder and a camera. Corbin gets in the ring and shouts to ring the bell, and the match begins with just five competitors!
Brawl to the outside, big dive by Zayn onto Owen! Then Corbin and Ziggler team up to hit Styles with a ladder, before Corbin then levels Ziggler with a big right hand, only to eat a superkick from Ziggler for his troubles! Ziggler into the ring with a ladder, but Zayn hits a forearm smash to send him to the aisle. is the first to climb, but is cut-off quickly. Zayn slides the ladder out to wipe out Owens, but then follows up with a big clothesline. Back in, Styles cuts off Zayn, before Ziggler and Styles fight over a ladder, Styles goes for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Ziggler runs up a ladder and pushes his foot off the rope, causing Styles to wipe out. Baron Corbin then with a HUGE Depp Six on the floor to Ziggler, before Zayn hits an asai moonsault onto Corbin, causing Zayn to tweek his knee (please, not again!).
Styles with a ladder in the ring, but Owens is back and starts beating AJ down. He then wipes Styles and Zayn out with a ladder, then knocks Corbin and Ziggler off the apron with the ladder. He charges at Styles who hits a drop toehold. The two exchange punches, Styles sets for the Styles Clash on Owens, but Owens backdrops him to the outside. Zayn in to cut off KO though. Owens climbs to the top to try and dive onto Corbin, Styles, and Ziggler, but Zayn buts him off, and slams him off the top onto a ladder in the centre of the ring!
Zayn gets himself a new ladder from the outside with no-one around, but Ziggler cuts him off, sets the ladder in the corner and whips Zayn into it. Ziggler is then the first to actually attempt to climb, Zayn and Ziggler take each other off the ladder, before a big dropkick from Ziggler is followed by a Blue Thunder Bomb from Zayn leave both of them down. Zayn starts to climb slowly, Corbin smashes Zayn off the ladder. Styles in with kick and then the forearm for Corbin.
Styles centres the ladder and climbs, Corbin on the other side, Styles punches him down, and Ziggler climbs over Corbin up the ladder. Styles then gets knocked from the very top of the ladder. Ziggler gets pulled down by Corbin, but then he returns to hit the Zig Zag to Corbin off the ladder! Ziggler and Styles climb, Zayn up the other side of the ladder, Styles andsup on the supporting beam before being knocked down. Zayn and Ziggler fight, HUGE SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB by Zayn to Ziggler off the ladder!
Owens pulls Zayn from the ring as he looks to climb, goes for a Pop-up Powerbomb against the apron, Zayn fights out, the two are on the ring apron and Zayn hits the DRAGON SUPLEX ON OWENS ON THE APRON! Owens pretty much lands on his face! Zayn into the ring, this could be it… he climbs… PHENOMENAL FOREARM by Styles to Zayn halfway up the ladder! Corbin drags Styles from the ring and throws him over the commentary table. Corbin sets up a ladder bridge between the apron and ladder, but a Pele kick from Styles cuts him off! Styles charges , but gets caught by Corbin and chokeslammed onto the ladder! Corbin into the ring… HELLUVA KICK from Zayn! Zayn climbs, kicks off Ziggler, gets a hand on the briefcase – Owen is in to pull him down. Owens then just kicks Zayn in the balls! Zayn is down! Owens climbs, Styles cuts him off, gets backdropped over the ropes, Owens goes for a powerbomb on the apron but Styles gets free, pick Owens up and hits an Attitude Adjustment that throwns Owens from the apron to the ladder. Styles climbs but Ziggler removes the ladder! Styles is left dangling, holds on, tries to unclasp but eventually falls! Corbin pulls Ziggler from the ring and is left alone…
Corbin is about to climb when Nakamura’s music hits! The King of Strong Style makes his comeback! Corbin flings the ladder into the aisle but Nakamura dodges, and just lays into Corbin with kicks! The KINSHASA sends Corbin outside. Knee off the top and KINSHASA to Ziggler! Kick, Xploder suplex and KINSHASA to Zayn! Nakamura goes outside to get a ladder, is briefly detained by Owens before he too eats a KINSHASA! Nakamura sets up the ladder and starts to climb, before Styles gets to the other side of the ladder and the two lock eyes, put the ladder to one side and stand-off, Nakamura adjusting his gum shield and AJ stretching out his muscles. The crowd has been molten since Nakamura returned. The two start wailing on each other, Nakamura locks in a sleeper and then hits the Xploder suplex! He lines up for a Kinshasa to Styles… who cuts it off with a running Forearm! Styles begins to climb toward the briefcase, Nakamura revives and climbs as well. They both reach the top of the ladder and fight… Corbin in and tips them over, wiping both of them out! There’s no-one left to stop him! Baron Corbin climbs the ladder… he gets to the briefcase… unhooks it… BARON CORBIN IS MR MONEY IN THE BANK!
Winner: Baron Corbin
Verdict: Pretty good match. One of the longest MITB matches, everything worked well, everyone got big spots in, Nakamura looked like a superstar for the first time on the main roster. Corbin is an interesting winner, the one who probably needed it the most. He’s probably a future opponent for whoever takes the title from Mahal, which is a slightly strange booking decision. And if he cashes in, it means SmackDown will have had introduced two new Champions in a year in Corbin and Mahal.
OVERALL: A decent event that had plenty of action but some silly booking mistakes took it down a notch. Make sure to watch the Male Money In The Bank match, it was pretty special.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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