WWE had a lot of things riding against it going into Sunday’s Money In The Bank pay-per-view. The weeks of programming leading up to the show had been mostly lackluster, giving only the three top matches any real build. On top of that, they were going up against a highly anticipated episode of Game of Thrones and the seventh game of the NBA Finals featuring the defending champion Golden State Warriors and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavilers.
The show itself kicked off with a four-way Tag Team Championship match that saw New Day retain against Enzo & Cass, Vaudevillians and Club members Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. On paper, the match sounded like it would be highly entertaining, however, it ended up being a disappointment due to several sloppy exchanges and mistimed maneuvers. The next matchup saw Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler hopefully end their feud with a victory for the former. This contest went on way too long, and while both performers are generally solid, they have little chemistry in the ring. The firs hour wrapped up with the heel duo of Women’s Champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke defeating Becky Lynch and Natalya. The match was nothing special, and felt like filler. The only notable aspect was Nattie’s seeming heel turn and attack on Lynch upon its conclusion.
As the second hour began with another undercard match, Apollo Crews defeating Sheamus in an acceptable if repetitive match, it became obvious WWE was timing the show around their competition. Sure enough, the beginning of the “dream match” between AJ Styles and John Cena coincided with halftime of the Golden State/Cleveland contest. The two put on a fantastic match-up, with Styles surprisingly being booked to have the upper hand for a majority of the match. Styles took advantage of the opportunity, putting on perhaps his best match since coming into the promotion. Meanwhile Cena sold like the pro he is, making Styles look like a million dollars. The end came with AJ winning thanks to interference from Anderson and Gallows. Since that “broke” the contract signed Monday night, it seems obvious that these two will continue feuding through the summer.
Coinciding directly with the ending of Game of Thrones, the Money In The Bank Ladder Match between Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, Cesaro, Albert Del Rio and winner Dean Ambrose took place. The match was a spot-fest, as is typical for the match-type, but had a better flow than most years making it one of the best MITB matches in their 11 year history. Ambrose’s victory seemed predictable after last week’s Raw, though by the end of the night it would be worth it. Following the MITB match came a United States Championship tilt between champion Rusev and Titus O’Neil that was only notable for the fact that the company clearly stretched it out to last until just after the Cavs NBA Finals victory.
With GOT and the NBA complete, WWE had little competition to worry about when they staged the evening’s main event WWE Championship match between Roman Reigns and challenger Seth Rollins. The two put on a technically sound match, however, it seemed a bit out of sync with the build-up since the champion worked as a heel while Rollins played the role of plucky babyface. While crowds have booed Reigns and cheered Rollins since their current angle began with the latter’s return at Extreme Rules, the two working the match that way was strange. Rollins emerged victorious and regained his championship, only for Ambrose to cash-in his Money In The Bank contract from earlier in the night and attack him from behind (Credit to WWE for blocking and shooting Ambrose’s attack very similarly to Seth Rollins heel turn attack on Reigns and Ambrose from 2014 in a welcome nod to continuity). As has become par for the course in MITB cash-ins, Ambrose quickly dispatched Rollins and won his first WWE Championship. I loved the booking here, as Ambrose’s victory finally gave him a title and major victory over Rollins. The developments also seems to lock in a former Shield-members triple threat match as the main event for August’s Summerslam.
The build-up for Money In The Bank made it look like the event would be a three-match show, and the show proved to be exactly that. The undercard was weak and unmemorable. However, the triple main event delivered. Cena/Styles was match of the night, the MITB match was one of the best in its history and the Reigns/Rollins match was solid and delivered a potentially game-changing ending with Amrbose’s title victory. These three matches are definitely worth a watch on the WWE Network.