Tuesday, 16 July 2013

WWE Money in the Bank 2013 Review

Money in the Bank was a Pay-Per-View that largely lived up to it’s hype, with the matches that WWE had booked well heading into the show, working well creating some enjoyable matches. However, there was a slight lull in the middle of the show, in which the matches were far from terrible but either hadn’t been booked very well, or didn’t live up to previous contests.

All-Star Money in the Bank Ladder Match:

Rob Van Dam vs. CM Punk vs. Sheamus vs. Christian vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton

This match went on last and definitely had that main event feel that warranted the last spot. It’s taken up the most time on Raw and Smackdown taking most of the final segments of those shows, so it was logical decision. There were a lot of stories going into the match, which is an unusual occurrence for a Money in the Bank Ladder Match, with Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton having a long running story over the last few months, it was a real shame that took Kane out of the match, as I was intrigued as how those three would have interacted in the match. There was also the return of Rob Van Dam and how he would fit into the match, after a less than stellar three year run in TNA. Finally there was CM Punk’s relationship with Paul Heyman and other Heyman clients Brock Lesnar and Curtis Axel and how that would affect the contest. Sheamus and Christian seemed in the match to make up the number, with neither particularly involved in anything of any substance leading into the match.

The match worked well, moving from one spot to another and telling a good story with all the competitors bringing something to the match, although this should be expected when you’ve got six of WWE’s premier stars in one match up. We started with a regular melee with each superstar being thrown out of the ring one by one, before we ended up with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in the ring. Bryan and Punk had a nice short wrestling section, before Sheamus took them both out with the Ladder, before getting a drop kick from Orton for his troubles. Rob Van Dam looked good throughout the match and it was great to see him back in a WWE ring as he delivered a number of his signature moves to all the other superstars, and the Philadelphia crowd certainly agreed. Sheamus took a nasty looking bump when Van Dam pushed the ladder from underneath him and the Celtic Warrior came crashing onto the metal, it was amazing that Sheamus managed to continue.

The spots continued at a pretty break-neck speed, with the regular all men on the ladders before all falling to the floor spot getting a nice airing here. This spot basically rebooted the match, as well allowing the wrestlers to get a well needed mid match break. Sheamus continued to impress, being booked strongly throughout the match, Sheamus certainly works better in an ass-kicker role, rather than a smily Irish stereotype, he also took a number of nasty bumps with the aforementioned Van Dam fall, and then a spot with CM Punk riding the ladder onto him from the corner. The other man of the match for me, was Christian who put in a solid display, playing his role of bump taker well, the highlight being a well worked spot building to a Five-Star Frogsplash from Rob Van Dam from the top of the ladder. Daniel Bryan also presented a ladder filled variation on his regular comeback, delivering a corner drop kick onto a ladder to Randy Orton, an outside dive onto CM Punk onto a pile of ladders and double missile dropkick to Sheamus and Rob Van Dam.

Just a Bryan seemed to have the match won, after taking everyone else out of the match, and with one hand on the briefcase, Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel came down to the ring with a chair and took him out of the match. This interference certainly took a little of the matches steam away and it was audible from the crowd reaction as well. Axel was swiftly dispatched of by CM Punk with a GTS which drew out Paul Heyman, who lambasted Axel for getting involved with Punk. With Punk climbing the Ladder it seemed he had the match won, until Heyman turned on him, hitting him repeatedly with the ladder. It was a well worked moment that was played well by Heyman and Punk, certainly helping to build the intrigue for the next night’s Raw, as well as a possible Summerslam encounter between Punk and Brock Lesnar. With Sheamus, Christian, Bryan and Punk all taken out of the match, we were left with Rob Van Dam and Randy Orton. As Van Dam climbed the ladder, Orton snuck into the ring, pulled Van Dam off the ladder hitting a mid-air RKO, before ascending the ladder and detaching the briefcase to claim a match for the WWE Championship. I was happy with Orton winning the match, as hopefully this will bring about the anticipated heel turn for Orton and he has worked hard over the last few months to improve his game and remove the staleness from his work.

WWE Championship Match:

 John Cena © vs. Mark Henry

 This rivalry started so strongly the night after Payback, with Mark Henry’s retirement speech suckering Cena in. However, it steadily went down hill as it fitted into a regular John Cena rivalry with recycled segments and generic Cena promos squashing the story that had originally been created. This match need a strong storyline behind it, to make it feel like a must watch contest, but unfortunately it didn’t get that and I went into this expecting little, and 100% behind Mark Henry.

This match took your regular John Cena/Hulk Hogan versus big man pattern, with Henry dominating for most of the match, with power moves like front suplexing Cena onto the steel steps. Henry suits the role well, but Cena’s act is stale now after his match with Ryback and it did feel a bit like being placed back in 2007. We perhaps got a little too long of Henry dominating Cena, which made this section of the match feel a little overdrawn. Cena made his familiar comeback, until he was unable to lift the World’s Strongest Man for an Attitude Adjustment in a nice touch, calling back to Raw a few weeks back.

There were also a number of false finishes that really helped to lift the match, with Henry kicking out of an Attitude Adjustment, which really should been the ending after the story had built around it, and then Henry catch Cena to deliver a World’s Strongest Slam for another near fall. Mark Henry also got a chance to show his brain as he distracted the referee by removing a turnbuckle cover and throwing chairs into the ring, allowing him to remove another turnbuckle cover. This however backfired on Henry, with Cena managing to lock in an STF for another false finish, followed by a low blow from Henry behind the referees back, as the false finishes really mounted up. The actual finish then was disappointing, with Cena avoiding another World Strongest Slam allowing him to lock in the STF once again for the submission victory. It felt like a massive anti-climax after the match had built up fairly well, and Cena’s STF looks so sloppy it’s difficult to really suspend your belief and imagine it was even hurt the big man.

I’d guess that this is it for Cena and Henry, with the storyline crawling over the finish line at best, it would be difficult to keep this going for another day, let alone another month to Summerslam. As well, the ending was pretty definitive with Henry tapping out to Cena, so there isn’t really anywhere they can run with the story. I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen to Mark Henry in the next few months, we’ve already seen him go away after his loss to Sheamus and another decisive loss to Cena here has certainly hurt him going forward.

World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio ©

 It’s been a bit of a rocky road for Ziggler and Del Rio since the fantastic double turn at Payback, that will hopefully be remembered for a long time to come. Ziggler obviously took some time to settle in the new face role, and this wasn’t particularly helped by some bizarre booking that saw Chris Jericho get involved in the feud. Del Rio on the other hand has fitted back into the heel role well, possibly better than his original heel run and looks a hell of a lot more comfortable in that role, having main event matches against WWE’s top faces John Cena and CM Punk certainly helped him and the World Heavyweight Championship. The story between these two seemed to tell itself, with Ziggler seeking revenge for Del Rio’s actions at Payback, it was a shame that WWE clouded it a little and lost sight of the original goal.

Ziggler would seem to have finally settled into the face role, fitting into the sympathetic underdog role well, and with Del Rio playing such an unlikeable heel, it was nice to be able to get behind a face in an almost totally kayfabe way. Ziggler started of well attacking Del Rio and getting in some good offence, in what was a satisfying opening allowing Ziggler to show his disdain for Del Rio and get an element of revenge for last month’s Payback. Del Rio soon got the upperhand, as a sent Ziggler into the barricade. Del Rio then worked Ziggler’s head, which at times made for uncomfortable viewing, knowing about Ziggler’s very real concussion, but makes sense in terms of the story and Ziggler’s selling only helps you want to get behind him to make the comeback. The match really began to pick up with Ziggler hitting a X Factor of the top rope and from here the contest was pretty much a flurry of back and forth action and near falls.

Ziggler continued to thwart Del Rio’s offense for the rest of the match, hitting a number of impressive reversal and even pulling off a decent drop kick with Del Rio flying off the top rope, that we’ve seen both John Cena and Randy Orton struggle to pull off in recent weeks. It was when Diva’s Champion AJ Lee made her way to the ring that we headed towards the finish of this one, with Ziggler attempting to get her to leave ringside, leading to a Superplex from Del Rio. JBL did a good job on commentary selling a moment when Del Rio superkicked Ziggler, reminding the audience this was how Del Rio won the match at Payback, it was a nice touch that certainly added to the drama of the bout. The end saw Del Rio remove his knee brace and looked to kick Ziggler, only for Ziggler to block and AJ to interfere hitting Del Rio with the Diva’s Championship, whilst Ziggler was about to hit a Zig Zag. It was a frustrating ending, to what could have been the best non-Ladder match of the night, but it makes sense in storyline terms to begin to split Ziggler from AJ Lee and this was obviously the finally seeds being planted in the demise of their relationship.

Hopefully, we get one more big match out of the Ziggler and Del Rio feud, as it feels far from over, with Del Rio unable to pick up a decisive victory here. With the next pay-per-view being WWE’s second biggest Summerslam, it would be nice to see these two positioned in a prominent place on that card, as the work both have put into this rivalry should be commended. However, with Ziggler involved with AJ Lee (and supposedly Big E Langston) we could see them go the other way and drop the Del Rio-Ziggler feud almost completely which would be a real shame for this well-crafted and exciting rivalry.

Best of the Rest (In The World)

In the other Money in the Bank Ladder Match, a number of “up and coming” superstar got their opportunity to show the “WWE Universe” what they could do, as well as the chance to elevate themselves to the main event level by winning the briefcase. Before the match, both Zeb Colter and Team Rhodes Scholars had a chance to speak on the mic, with Colter doing a good job of winding up the Philadelphia crowd, although Colter’s charge Antonio Cesaro will always get cheers in a town like Philly. Damien Sandow also did a good job of getting some cheap heat, whilst also continuing to sow the seeds for the breakup of Team Rhodes Scholars.The match had a unique dynamic with The Real Americans and Team Rhodes Scholars working as teams to take out Fandango, Wade Barrett and Dean Ambrose, before facing off against each other, with The Real Americans getting the upperhand sending Sandow and Rhodes into a ladder set up in the corner.

The match used it’s talent well with each man having an opportunity to shine and each man taking that opportunity well. We got a continuation of the teased Barrett-Fandango feud with Fandango getting the better of Barrett with a springboard leg drop on a ladder. With Cody Rhodes taking out the Real American with a drop kick whilst Cesaro was on Swagger’s shoulder, followed by a Cross Rhodes to both Fandango and Wade Barrett and sending Dean Ambrose falling off a tall ladder, it was time for The Shield to let their presence known. Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made their way to the ring to stop Rhodes winning the contract. The Usos came down to battle with The Sheild and a mass brawl ensued on the outside, before Dean Ambrose was pushed off the ladder by Rhodes, crashing into everyone at ringside, in a spot that usually looks weak because everyone falls down regardless of whether they have been hit, but actually worked well here. With Rhodes looking to have the match won, Sandow re-appeared pushing Rhodes off the ladder and capturing the briefcase to win the match. It was a nice ending that finally saw the break up of Team Rhodes Scholars and the pay off of some good booking by WWE, the only problem I had was WWE signposted the turn a little too heavily and it might have made more impact if they were a little more subtle in the build up.

In a match that has had some pretty poor build up to show, Chris Jericho faced off against Ryback. With the match set up the night after Payback, it seemed to take a bit of a backseat on Raw and Smackdown, with Jericho involved with Dolph Ziggler and Del Rio, before a series with Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel, whilst Ryback had been involved with Axel’s Money in the Bank opponent The Miz. Therefore by the time we got to this match, I really didn’t have much reason to want to watch it or care about who would pick up the victory, which is a shame as this really should have been treated like a big match.

This match then was a bit of a surprise, yet Jericho can have a half decent match with a broomstick, but I really wasn’t sure how he would mesh with Ryback’s in ring style. There was some good story telling throughout with Ryback continuing to sell having an injured leg and actually doing a pretty good job of doing so, with Jericho taking full advantage. A new side to Ryback is certainly welcome after WWE botched his face run and run as a monster heel so seeing him use his brain to sucker Jericho in on a number of occasion worked well for me, whilst Jericho’s selling also allowed Ryback to still look a powerful threat in the time when he was in control. The ending was another nice development with Jericho, of course, missing a Lion Sault with Ryback taking advantage with a roll up for the victory. I enjoyed this ending as it continue to add dimension to the Ryback character as he develops which will only help to make his involvement in future stories more interesting. You can’t be a monster for ever.

In arguably the best Pre-Show match WWE has put on since the concept returned at Wrestlemania XXVIII, The Shield defended their Tag Team Championship against The Usos. With both teams pulling out some great tag team action, that told a great story throughout the match. The Usos controlled the early part of the match with some good team work, before Roman Reigns hit a big clothesline on the apron to take down an Uso. We then got some regular work from The Shield, keeping Uso in the their corner with some more solid team work, that built up well for the hot tag, with both Usos doing a good job of working up the crowd and selling the moment. The break to advertise WWE product drawing the match seemed unnecessary  and took the momentum out of the contest for those watching at home, especially when the hot tag was missed out, these breaks could easily have been fitted either side of the bout. A highlight of the bout saw all four men conspire to pull off a X Division style tower of doom, that looked particularly impressive. There was a superb false finish with the Usos managing to take out both Reigns and Rollins, before a Superfly splash to Rollins looked like it might have won The Usos the belt, only for Reigns to make the late save for his partner. The end saw Rollins reverse a top rope Samoan Drop into a Buckle Bomb, allowing Reigns to hit the Spear and retain the titles for the Shield, in a great climax to a match that built well throughout.

Back on the regular Pay-Per-View, AJ Lee defended her Diva’s Championship against long time rival Kaitlyn. It was a decent contest between these two, however it couldn’t quite live up to their previous bout last month at Payback. The story here wasn’t quite as strong, with AJ taking advantage of Kaitlyn’s injured arm on a number of occasions, including sending Kaitlyn into the ring post, as well as a long period in an armbar submission. The best spot of the match saw Kaitlyn push AJ off the top ropes in the arms of Big E Langston, which visually looked impressive. The end saw Kaitlyn unable to capitalise on Spear, due to the injured elbow with AJ eventually taking full advantage of the situation locking in the Black Widow submission, and after some time in the hold Kaitlyn eventually tapped out and AJ retained the title. I’d suggest this could be the end of the road for the Kaitlyn-AJ Lee rivalry with AJ picking up two straight PPV’s win, but I can’t really see anyone else on the roster ready to step into a feud with AJ, although I expect we’ll  get some kind of Layla involvement at some point.

Elsewhere Curtis Axel defended his Intercontinental Championship against The Miz. Similar to the Jericho-Ryback match, the build for this has been pretty poor and I went into the match not really caring about it. The Miz’s poor attempt at being a face continued and having him pull out a heel tactic to pretend Heyman hit him at rinside, getting Heyman ejected was never going enamour him to Philadelphia. Axel did a decent job in his heel role, but up against an unlikeable Miz there is only ever going to be so much that he can do. The best part of the match for me saw Axel spend an age in the figure four leg lock, eventually managing to reach the ropes. Axel eventually retained with his new neckbreaker finisher for the pinfall victory. In terms of allowing Axel to win cleanly and without Heyman, this match should be commended as Axel did look good throughout, but the majority of the match was forgettable fair that only help to expose Miz as an even weaker face.

There was also a strange segment with Raw General Manager presenting a highlight package of classic Vickie Guerrero moments. Whilst Maddox and the highlight package were equally humorous I couldn’t help but wonder why these needed to be included on the Pay-Per-View, taking vital time away from matches that would have benefitted from an extra five minutes. 


What have I learnt from 2013's edition of Money in the Bank? 

1. Randy Orton's full heel turn has to be just around the corner.

2. Sometimes WWE misses what should be the real finish to a match, such as in the John Cena vs. Mark Henry bout.

3. Ziggler and AJ Lee might be over, but hopefully Ziggler and Del Rio will get one more opportunity to finish their rivalry properly. 

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