Tuesday, 21 June 2016

PPV Review: WWE Money in the Bank 2016 (James Marston)

Sup homeslice. Here's ATPW's look at Money in the Bank 2016, fresh for your eyeholes. We've switched back to the MOTD format, because...just because. Let us know what you think about what we think in the comments or social media. Oh look, here's Dean Ambrose. Hi Dean Ambrose. 

So, we had two new WWE World Heavyweight Champions crowned in one night, for the first time since...erm...November last year...okay that's not really that impressive, is it? How about the first time we'd have three WWE World Heavyweight Champions in one PPV since SummerSlam 2013 in August of that year. That's a bit better, isn't it? The first time someone's won a Money in the Bank briefcase and cashed it on the same night against a new champion? Hmmm, that's probably the best we're going to get here. (And more on Dean Ambrose's Money in the Bank Ladder match victory later on in the review) Let's be honest, these kind of occurrences have become pretty common place in WWE since 2005, but that didn't seem to effect the reaction that Dean Ambrose got from the T-Mobile Arena when he headed down to the ring and grabbed WWE's main prize from Seth Rollins' hands after hitting Dirty Deeds for the victory. It was a fairly straight-forward "shock" finish to the show, that I'd guess many had predicted and leaves some interesting option heading out of the show, even more so with the WWE Draft less than a month away.

So I've covered the aftermath, which was always going to be the biggest talking point, but how did Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins do with their main event contest. For me, the former Shield duo, both put in credible performances, that managed to work with the crowd reactions and play up certain aspects of their game in order to do that. Reigns' early period of dominance was a clever piece of booking, as it almost saw the two swap roles and allowing the crowd to be involved in the contest, without trying to fight against them. We had Reigns mouthing off to Rollins, questioning whether he was ready, before throwing over the announce table table, there was a definite shift in presentation here, similar to Reigns' previous matches with AJ Styles. 

There's also perhaps comparisons to be made with Seth Rollins' series of matches with John Cena last summer, where we got to see Rollins employ a much flashier offence, one you'd expect from a babyface. His comeback was highlighted with a suicide dive, which was quickly followed up by a tope conhilo, not some usually associated with your main event "heel". Following Rollins' quick and pacy comeback sequence, the pair settled into a back and forth contest, trading near falls and working some pretty neat transitions. Perhaps the biggest marker of their back and forth section was Reigns nailing Rollins with a Superman Punch directly after being thrown into the turnbuckle with Rollins' signature Buckle Bomb. During this period I felt that both men's facial expressions managed to hold the match together, where at times the running times almost felt a bit flabby. 

With both men getting solid near falls, including a well-timed Pedigree from Rollins as a reversal to Reigns' spear, it was perhaps surprising to see Rollins pick up a clean victory as he hit another Pedigree to win the title. I think this is especially surprising as WWE was planning to have Dean Ambrose come out immediately afterwards to take the title away from Rollins. Did it effect the reaction Ambrose got? Probably not. And with Reigns being protected somewhat by having the match won a few minutes earlier after hitting a Spear with the referee down, this kind of finish does perhaps lend itself more to a continued feud between the three heading into the Summer. I've also got a feeling that WWE will be turn Rollins babyface over the next few months, as this seemed the plan for him prior to his injury last year, so having him win the title cleanly will only help that turn when it happens. 

After years of appearing on everyone's WWE vs. TNA dream cards, John Cena vs. AJ Styles had a lot of hype to live up to. It was always going to be difficult to separate the match from the years and years of build up, but Cena and Styles managed to deliver a very good match indeed. The pair kept things relatively simple inside the ring, but did things well, telling a strong, coherent story throughout the match and flowing from one moment to the next relatively easily. 

From the opening exchanges it was made clear what direction the match was heading, with both the commentary and the performers making this clear as mud. The story, especially early doors hinged on the fact that Cena was having his first televised match since December and hasn't wrestled regularly since October. This played out in the ring as Styles dominated the early proceedings. The part that really caught my eye was Cena's regular comeback sequence being cut of by Styles at various points throughout the match, in different ways. This created a different feel to the match, with Cena constantly gaining momentum, only for Styles to cut him off almost immediately.

Yes, the match had a couple of cool false finishes and the transition into the Calf Crusher was quality, but I can't review this match without talking about talking. As someone with so much experience as Cena has, I shouldn't be able to hear him call anything during the match, let alone every single spot. It's shoddy work that let's down the creativity of any spot that the two did, because most of the time I knew exactly what they were going to do, because Cena had told me! Also interesting to note that Cena lead the match, I'm sure many will have something to say about that. 

The finish was, in my opinion, exactly what the match needed. With Cena inadvertently knocking down the referee, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson would strike, hitting Magic Killer on the Cenation Leader, giving Styles the victory. For me, this cheap victory was needed to cement Styles as a top heel in the company. A rematch between Cena and Styles is a bigger, more personal match because of the result and also gives the company months of material to play with on Raw and Smackdown. There's more to come from Styles and Cena, but this match laid the foundation for what should be a massive feud this summer. 

Money in the Bank ladder matches are all about the spots, aren't they? Loads of blokes chucking other blokes onto bits of metal. This years match had plenty of cool spots and moments, with all six men putting in fine displays, both delivering out the punishment and being on the receiving end of it. Perhaps, the match lacked a defining moment or any really mind blowing, but the action was kept fairly fast with lots going on. These types of matches are usually very easy on the eye, without asking an audience all that much, this clash was no different. It was good to see everyone looking relatively safe throughout the bout.

The contest felt very split across the two major feuds that were involved in the match, with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens continuing their story, whilst Chris Jericho looked to gain a measure of revenge on Dean Ambrose. Zayn and Owens' action stood out amongst the pack, with Zayn's Michonoku Driver onto a ladder on it's side and Owens powerbomb onto a ladder spanning the turnbuckle and an upright ladder, being among the matches most notable moments. At times it felt like Cesaro and Alberto Del Rio were there to fill the spots, but both guys made sure they didn't fade into the background, especially in the first two thirds of the contest.

I have to say I thought the finish ended up feeling a little bit flat, not because Dean Ambrose won the match, but down to how the ladder structure that was set up was used. With two ladder joining a turnbuckle to the main ladder, it felt like we were about to see something truly spectacular and whilst the ladder "bridges" were used, there was nothing that could be described as spectacular. The moment where also six men where on the ladder, and the follow up spot with ADR and Cesaro bringing in their own ladder seemed poised to offer up the "Holy Shit" moment the match needed but it never came with the tension slowly petering out. I would talk about Ambrose's potential with the Money in the Bank briefcase, but as we know, he'd already be WWE World Heavyweight Champion by the end of the show, so there's nothing to actually talk about! 

Leading the under card was a busy Fatal Four-Way tag team match, involving Enzo & Cass, The Vaudevillians and Gallows & Anderson challenging for The New Day's WWE Tag Team Championship. These matches have become pretty common place on WWE PPV's over the last few years, but this bout was perhaps the strongest looking line-up for a while, with all three teams having legitimate claims to the title. This was played up nicely by some strong near falls, with all three of the challengers hitting their finish and getting solid reactions from it. Gallows and Anderson's Magic Killer on Aiden English was probably the strongest part of the bout. 

I did feel however that parts of the match weren't as smooth as they could have been, perhaps because certain parts felt very rushed. The teams never quite seemed to find a rhythm to settle into and I think this was fairly obvious by the finish, which felt clunky as Big E and Kofi Kingston went for the Midnight Hour on Karl Anderson, whilst waiting for Big Cass to take out Luke Gallows with a Cactus Big Boot. Kingston would then go on to pin English a couple of minutes after taking the Magic Killer. had this match just been a bit tighter on it's timings, slowing down at points and speeding up at others, it could have been a real triumph for the tag team division, however what we ended up with was a good bout, that should have been better.

Elsewhere, Baron Corbin went over Dolph Ziggler in a solid match, that failed to capture the crowd. The two guys have struggled to get their programme over, despite starting it the night after WrestleMania in April. The duo have had five matches on TV since then and it was clear to everyone that feud had outstayed it's welcome as they contested their sixth match (the first on PPV), as the T-Mobile Arena showered them in either "Boring" chants or complete silence. 

To be fair to Corbin and Ziggler, the pair did work hard for each throughout the match, showing flashes of chemistry with some decent sequences peppered throughout the bout. Had the pair managed to pull out a match like this a few months back and then both moved onto to something else I feel it would have benefited both men, a lot more than the current structure of their feud. Despite this, I thought that the finish was incredibly weak, as the pair fannied around in the corner, which lead to nothing, before Corbin hit End of Days for the victory. Marking Corbin's fourth victory over Ziggler in a row, here's hoping that this feud is finally over.

Further down the card, we had a women's tag team match, because, why would you put a Women's Championship match on PPV, stupid idiot? A complete nothing match here, as Charlotte and Dana Brooke went over Becky Lynch and Natalya, in a match that happened. The Women's Champion and Brooke did some decent heel work, using underhanded tactics to keep control of the match, but beyond that I haven't got much to say. If the bout had taken place on Monday Night RAW or even Thursday Night Smackdown, it wouldn't have looked out of place, but it definitely didn't merit a spot on PPV. Natalya's turn on Lynch after the match was the most noteworthy occurrence, which in my opinion could be the best thing for Natalya who looks incredibly awkward and cringe-worthy as a babyface. (Yes, she unfollowed us on Twitter for saying that) 

Apollo Crews' first WWE PPV appearance saw him put a decent bout with Sheamus, en route to picking up the biggest victory of his 6 year career. The crowd was very timid at the start of the contest, but it felt like Crews was beginning to win them over, as he got his first real chance to show what he can do since being promoted from NXT. His moonsault off the apron to the outside looked extremely pretty and felt like the turning point in winning the crowd over. The reaction to Crews kicking out of a Super White Noise was a big one and I think had the pair had another five minutes to really kick on they could have potentially stole the show. A highlight of the undercard that showed potential in a talent who has struggled to connect with the crowd as of yet, there's more to come from Crews and Sheamus, as they both try to find their place on the current programming. 

Down at the bottom of the pile, we have Rusev retaining the WWE United States Championship over Titus O'Neil in a match. There was some storyline here with O'Neil's kids being at ringside and it being Father's Day, but it didn't really do a whole lot for me. I found myself quickly zoning out because I'm neither guy has got me invested over the last few weeks in their storyline and they didn't show much else here either. The Bulgarian Brute joking about with O'Neil's kids after the match and shouting "Happy Father's Day" got a good chuckle out of me though. 

ATPW Scale Rating - 6.04/10 

This show was promoted as the "Greatest Money in the Bank PPV of all time" and it wasn't. It was always going to struggle to live up to the billing, considering that Money in the Bank 2011 is considered one of the greatest PPV's off all time. However, I thought the top matches did manage to deliver plenty of entertainment, with Styles vs. Cena, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship bout and the Money in the Bank ladder match all being high quality contests. My personal match of the night would be Styles and Cena, as I thought they created a compelling contest that built nicely throughout, whilst also leaving something extra for a future rematch, that will be a bigger match because of this. 

Elsewhere, I thought the undercard was particularly weak with the Women's tag, Corbin vs. Ziggler and the United States Championship match bringing very little to the PPV. The Tag Championship match and Sheamus vs. Crews showed promise at points, but were held back through booking and a couple of slip ups. 

With this being the last show before the WWE Draft, it felt like a few of the performers were holding back just a little bit, when they should have been going all out to show that they deserved a major spot on either Raw or Smackdown. 

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