Monday, 15 June 2015

WWE Money in the Bank 2015 Review

It had only been two weeks since Elimination Chamber, and here we were at another multi-man based gimmick PPV, namely Money in the Bank. Alongside the eponymous bout in which Roman Reigns, Sheamus, Neville, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston and Kane did battle for a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, WWE presented two marque rematches in the form of Seth Rollins putting his aforementioned title up against Dean Ambrose (with added Ladder match gimmick) and John Cena tangling once more with Kevin Owens. Could the rematch live up to their previous counterparts? Could the Money in the Bank ladder match set itself apart from past incarnations? Let's find out with this here review!

Promotion: WWE
Show Title: Money in the Bank
Date: 14th June, 2015.
Venue: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, United States of America.

Theme Song: Money in the Bank by Jim Johnston
Commentary by: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, John Bradshaw Layfield and The Miz (Big Show vs. Ryback only)

Ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins (C) 
Dean Ambrose

There's a lot to talk about when it comes to the longest one on one match on WWE PPV since Triple H and Shawn Michaels did battle inside Hell in a Cell at Bad Blood in 2004. Where does one even begin? How about the start? Things were kept to a minimum in terms of added build up on the PPV, with the initial video package, followed up by the Kick-Off Panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves putting over their excitement for the match and running through the possibilities. A much better approach than the Authority over-kill we've seen on previous PPVs. A backstage segment just prior to the main event did everything that needed to be done, as all the Authority had a chat with their pal Seth. Triple H absolutely killed his rallying cry for Rollins to step up to the plate. 

Over thirty five minutes is a long time for a wrestling match these days, especially in WWE. Both Elimination Chambers ran shorter than this, so there was a lot of pressure on Ambrose and Rollins to deliver enough content to fill the time they were provide and keep the audience both within the arena and at home captivated by the action. The early section was a rip roaring adventure, with the former Shield duo running through a series of exciting and well-timed spots, like a superb sequence that ended with The Architect  flying into a ladder off a suicide dive sequence and Ambrose's diving elbow drop off the top of the ladder (with added tribute to Dusty Rhodes).

The bout needed to shift gears in order to be able to go the distance, and it did so, heading into a more psychological avenue. Rollins going after Ambrose's knee, after hitting it with a steel chair, allowed the match to breath and settle, as the paced slowed considerably for a time. The two worked so well in their given roles in this section of the match, Rollins focused attack made him look like a bit of dick, especially with his usual boastful swagger, whilst Ambrose showed the all-important babyface fighting spirit and showed it well, especially in a back and forth slap battle whilst Rollins had him placed in a figure four leg lock. Ambrose continue to sell the leg for the remainder of the bout, even when it wasn't the focus, so that get's a big thumbs up from me, and a double thumbs up for when Rollins went back to the leg hitting it with a TV monitor later in the match.

A real set back for this match for me was the crowd, who were quiet for the majority of the match, rarely getting behind Ambrose or jumping on Rollins back for his antics. There were pops for the bigger spots but nothing else. If the crowd had died off as the match went on then that could easily be attributed to the bouts epic length, but the crowd were hushed from the opening bell onwards. Maybe they were worn out from the lively John Cena vs. Kevin Owens bout that came before this one, maybe they weren't quite ready for the main event to start when it did. It'd be interesting to hear an account from someone who was inside the building at the time to find out exactly why the crowd were so muted.

The pace of the final third of the match was an interesting combination of the two previous thirds, with both men clearly spent from twenty odd minutes of action, Ambrose selling his injury limb, but both going hell for leather in order to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Rollins desperation to put away Ambrose on his own really came into play at this point of the match, as we saw a more determined Rollins than we have seen over the last three months. Whilst some of these sections of action felt a little bit unnecessary, such as the spot that saw Rollins and Ambrose head into the crowd, only for Rollins to throw Ambrose into a flimsy table and run back to the ring, but the one section that stood out to me was Rollins absolute destruction of the Lunatic Fringe as he hit multiple barricade bombs (see what I did there?), before a superb sitout powerbomb onto a ladder that was piled with chairs. That particular spot really put over how desperate Rollins was to win and sold how he was willing to put his body on the line for the title, thus making the title look like something worth winning.

So that leaves us with one thing to talk about, I suppose. The finish. Now, usually I'd have no problem with this particular finish, that saw both Ambrose and Rollins fall to the ground holding the title, with The Architect holding onto it, but in this match it just didn't sit right for me. As over half an hour of action and buying into the various stories that were weaved into the match, it felt a bit cheap to have none of them really pay off. Ambrose's injured leg didn't play into it, Rollins wasn't able to show decisively that he could do it on his own and the feud wasn't settled at all but seems to be over again, at least for now. Obviously, Rollins has something to boast about that will continue to see the growth of his character, with some more of his twisted truths, and Ambrose should slot into another feud without much trouble being able to build momentum that should see him in a position to win the big one in twelve months or so, so it's not all doom and gloom here. An interesting experiment in terms of the WWE main event scene, but one that will need some tweaking before we see about of this length again.

Overall Rating: 7

Singles Match
WWE United States Champion John Cena 
WWE NXT Champion Kevin Owens

It's an accepted fact that the second album is harder than the first, ask The Strokes or Bloc Party, but for every Room on Fire or A Weekend in the City, there's a Favourite Worst Nightmare or Contra where the group manages to duplicate the critical or even surpass the initial effort. This was one of those moments, taking all the best bits from John Cena and Kevin Owens initial encounter two weeks ago and building. I'd love to go back and watch these two matches back to back, as they almost follow on directly from each other, with each match complimenting the other. 

What made the wrestling nerd in me squee a little was, of course, the story telling. This is where having the match happen only two weeks after the original actually played in it's favour, as the events of that match were still pretty clear in my mind. So I could see that John Cena was attempting to put Owens away using a number of different moves, that either we haven't seen from him before or he uses rarely. There was an inverted suplex, a sitout electric chair drop, the return of the Cenacanrana (which looked the best it ever has) and the West Newbury Destroyer. Whilst on the flipside, Owens pulled out a number of similar moves to what we saw him use at Elimination Chamber, the contrast was great to watch play out on the screen. And it didn't stop with just the moves.

John Cena's character performance took things to the next level. When was the last time we saw Cena confront a referee about a decision? I know, I can't remember it happening for quite some time at least. The frustration that he showed through his face and body when being unable to get the pin following an AA, put over how much the victory would mean to The Cenation Leader and therefore raised the stakes of what was essentially just a singles match. The crowd added a bucket load to this as well, as the Nationwide Arena was rocking from start to finish. "Big match feel" is an often forgotten about variable in terms of match ranking, and one that is difficult to quantify, but non-the-less, this match had it.

John Cena may have gotten his win back following a springboard stunner and an Attitude Adjustment, which was the right decision going forward in my opinion, but it was Owens who ended the matches air time standing tall with both the WWE NXT and United States Championships. This will, arguably, do more for Kevin Owens than another victory over Cena would've done, as he came across as a nobhead for attacking a Cena who was willing to shake his hand after a hard fought battle. I'm hoping that we see Cena off television for, at least, a few weeks to sell the attack by Owens (just like Sami Zayn did on NXT), giving Owens the freedom to show what he can do against opposite a less experienced WWE hand, but I wouldn't expect we've seen the last of this rivalry.

Overall Rating: 8.5

Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Roman Reigns 
WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston 
Dolph Ziggler 
Randy Orton

Obviously, the spots are the most important ingredients in a match like this, and that's what the majority of fans expect heading into proceedings. It has to be said that this match wasn't as packed with those big memorable spots as previous matches have been. Whilst there were still moments like Randy Orton tripping Neville off the ladder into an RKO, Roman Reigns powerbombing The Man That Gravity Forgot and Kofi Kingston onto a ladder in the corner and a cool sequence of action that lead to Dolph Ziggler hitting a Zig Zag off the ladder to Sheamus, this match suffers because of everything that has gone before it in previous years. If you'd never seen a Money in the Bank Ladder match before then I'd imagine it would have been a much more awe-inspiring display than if you were watching your sixteenth. 

Where this match also suffered was it's almost formulaic structure, which was undermined by a lack of logic, at times, that made it hard for one to suspend disbelief. The biggest example of this would be Dolph Ziggler's involvement in the match. It would be easy to praise The Showoff for his hard work in the match, he took a number of big bumps and was heavily involved throughout most of the match. However, after taking a bump off the top of the ladder, Ziggler was up almost instantly to hit a Superkick on Kane, in a match that lives and dies on the consequences of falls like the one Ziggler took, to have a competitor jump straight up makes it harder to buy into the fact that they can't get to their feet for the final few minutes of the bout. 

I'm almost definitely being harsh on what was an throughly entertaining slice of WWE action, that saw everyone in the match (with perhaps the exception of Kane) working hard to put on a spectacle for the Colombus crowd and us folk at home. Neville's performance stood out especially, taking some big bumps, being believable in his selling and impressive when on the offence. In a match that needs everyone to be selfless in order to put on the best possible match, The New Sensation gave a lot to his opponents taking a number of big moves from the likes of Reigns and Orton. Undoubtly the biggest match of his WWE career so far, and only his third appearance on pay-per-view, Neville showed that he more than belongs in this type of match-up, hopefully we'll see him continue to get a steady push over the next few months.

I have to say I was surprised to see Sheamus walking out with the Money in the Bank briefcase, as I think like many I was convinced Reigns winning was nailed on. Whilst I wasn't too enamored with having Bray Wyatt take Reigns out of the bout, I'm fairly happy to see The Celtic Warrior get a chance to move back up the card. His character has been head and shoulders above what we'd seen prior to his return a few months ago and, bar a sub-par effort against Orton on Monday Night RAW #1150, his in-ring performances have been enjoyable. A quick feud with Neville would do a lot for both men over the next couple of months, and I'd expect we may see Sheamus holding onto the briefcase until at least after SummerSlam in August.

Overall Rating: 6

Singles Match for the WWE Diva's Championship
Nikki Bella (C)

Going hard and fast from the outset, this was one of the best Diva's bouts to be presented on Pay-per-view in quite some time. Whilst the bout was hurt by the duo being unable to get the Nationwide Arena into the match, until perhaps the final near fall, both worked hard to create an enjoyable encounter, that included some nice near falls and for the most part strong action. The action in the first couple of minutes on the outside of the ring may have been the strongest of the match, with Paige hitting a somersault senton off the ring apron and Nikki tripping The Anti-Diva on the barricade.

Whilst having John Bradshaw Layfield shitting on the finish on commentary didn't help things, I thought the closing angle that saw Paige able to reverse Twin Magic and pin Brie Bella, before the swap was revealed to the referee, allowing Nikki to pick up the win, was a clever one that played nicely of their previous match on Monday Night RAW #1149. It builds the desire to see Paige defeat the Bella Twins, whilst also firmly placing the Twins back as heels within the Diva's division. A rematch should be much more anticipated and just goes to show what can happen the women of WWE are given the time to peform. More of this please.

(Quick Note - I'd prefer to have only been able to hear Paige during her pre-match interview with Renee Young)

Overall Rating:  5.5

Singles Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Ryback (C) vs. The Big Show

The Miz's pre-match promo, before taking his seat from commentary may have been the best thing about the almost fifteen minutes this was given. The action wasn't actually that bad, but there was just no real drive or purpose behind it, Ryback just seemed to batter Show (including an impressive verticle suplex), before Miz had enough of dicking around a ringside and ran in a caused a disqualification. If there hadn't have been only two weeks between PPV's, then this could easily have happened on Monday Night RAW to set up a triple threat, if that's what they want to do. Why they are pushing a Ryback/Big Show/Miz three way feud, I have absolutely no idea. 

Overall Rating: 1

Tag Team Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships
The Prime Time Players 
The New Day's Xavier Woods & Big E (C)

Sticking to your bog standard tag team formula, this was a solid outing for both teams. Hurt slightly by the lack of time it was given, Xavier Woods, Big E, Titus O'Neil and Darren Young put together an entertaining match, helped along by just how over The New Day have become in WWE. Whilst the wrestling wasn't spectacular, with Big E's overhead belly to belly to Young being perhaps the standout moment from the bout, but it didn't need to be, in between the Owens vs. Cena and Ambrose vs. Rollins this worked nicely. I'm convinced the Prime Time Players only won because the show needed a face victory, but hey, Millions of Dollars, Millions of Dollars etc.

Overall Rating: 4

Tribute to Dusty Rhodes

Kicking off the show was a moving tribute to WWE Hall of Famer, Dusty Rhodes who sadly passed away on Wednesday. Having the entire WWE roster out on the ramp to start the show was a classy move by the promotion and seeing Vince McMahon shuck and jive to Common Man Boogie by Jimmy Hart and J.J. Maguire would have surely going a belly laugh out of The American Dream! The video package that would air later on in the show was one of the most emotional pieces of footage that WWE has ever created. Our thoughts remain with the Runnels Family and anyone close to Dusty at this difficult time.


An interesting outing for WWE, with a lot of strong action on display throughout the card, often undermined by questionable finishes to differing degrees. Only Big Show vs. Ryback stands out as a match that I struggled to gain any kind of enjoyment out of, with Kevin Owens and John Cena delivering the best match of the show. The encouraging performance in the Diva's Championship match is also worth a lot of praise, hopefully we'll see WWE continue to push women's wrestling it's programming going forward. Certainly not the strongest incarnation of the Money in the Bank PPV, but definitely not a bad show.

Overall Rating: 6.5

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