Liam Hoofe reviews WWE Money in the Bank 2018…
After a fairly lacklustre build, could the WWE pull it out of the bag at their Money in the Bank event this past Sunday night?
Daniel Bryan defeated Big Cass
Daniel Bryan was out to a thunderous reception to kick off the night in what was a very smart move from the WWE. Chicago crowds are always great, and having Bryan come out to set the tempo for the night will certainly help things as the show progresses.
Bryan starts out the match strong with a series of Yes! kicks but Cass dominates and slows down the pace. Cass then dominated the majority of the match from that point but Bryan managed to rally at several points to keep things exciting.
Cass eventually locked Bryan in a torture rack, only for Bryan to reserve it into a heel-lock and pick up another submission victory. This was a better match than what they had at Backlash, though, having Cass tap out on two consecutive PPVs all but ends any hopes he had of featuring in the main-event on SmackDown throughout the Summer. This was a fun and effective opener, and Bryan will likely shift his attention to the WWE title picture now.
Bobby Lashley defeated Sami Zayn
The best thing about this match is that it brings an end to one of the worst WWE feuds of 2018, well, hopefully. Sami Zayn tried to entertain in the early goings, but this was a dud from the moment it started. The crowd remained largely silent throughout, and Lashley picked up the quick victory with a vertical suplex. Sami got squashed here, and no-one comes out of this looking good.
Seth Rollins defeated Elias
Seth Rollins’ Intercontinental title reign has, so far, delivered some excellent encounters and restored some prestige to the mid-card belt. After an amusing opening segment from Elias, Seth Rollins made his way to the ring to an electric reaction and things got underway.
The match started fairly methodically, but the narrative of the match became clear as Rollins missed a move from the top rope and injured his knee. Elias then dominated proceedings, targeting Rollins’ knee and then ribs as he tried to get his hands on the gold.
Eventually, though, Rollins managed to pick up the victory after a series of exciting near-falls ended in a reversed roll-up. This was a solid match. Elias looked fine in defeat, with the nature of the finish protecting him, and Rollins continued to come across as the plucky, fighting champion babyface, which will hopefully lead to him going up against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
Rating: *** 1/2
Alexa Bliss Wins Money in the Bank
After last year’s calamitous ending, the WWE set out to right their wrongs with this year’s women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. Thankfully, this year’s match was a step up from last year’s encounter, and the women utilised the gimmick very well.
Ember Moon impressed in the early going, hitting a big crossbody onto the ladder on Sasha Banks, while Lana was giving a surprising amount of offence in what was one of her more competent performances to date.
As you’d expect from a Money in the Bank match, every competitor teased getting their hands on the belt, and the closing stages here were well executed. The WWE played well off the history between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, and the Chicago crowd made their feelings known when Natalya climbed up the ladder late on. In the end, Becky Lynch had the briefcase stolen from her grasp again, as Alexa Bliss arrived at the last minute to tip the ladder and become the second ever Miss Money in the Bank. This was a really fun match on the whole, and all of the women looked strong.
Rating: *** 1/2
Roman Reigns defeated Jinder Mahal
As expected, the Chicago crowd shit all over this match, with ‘CM Punk’ and this is “boring” matches breaking out inside the first two minutes. Jinder dominated the majority of the match with a series of holds, which only led to the Chicago crowd finding numerous ways to distract themselves. In the end, Roman rallied back and predictably finished things off with a spear.
Honestly, the only real highlight of this match was Sunil Singh, whose shenanigans on the outside provided the match with some amusing moments. The in-ring work was slow and methodical, and the crowd were having none of it.
Rating: ** 1/4
Carmella defeated Asuka
Why, WWE, why? Asuka has been booked horrendously since losing to Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania, and last night was a total disaster. The match itself wasn’t exactly great, and Carmella was booked to look far too strong against Asuka but the ending was horrendous. James Ellsworth returned to the WWE in the most ridiculous fashion ever, a year after winning the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, he returned dressed as a woman, but not just any woman…. Asuka.
That’s right, Ellsworth returned, dressed as Asuka and distracted her long enough for Carmella to kick her in the jaw and become the first women in the WWE to pick up a pinfall victory over Asuka. Words fail me.
AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura
This should draw a line under this feud, and while this was a really good match, it still didn’t give us the classic we’ve all been waiting for. Last man standing matches always have a strange structure and this one was exactly the same. The gimmick is frustrating in the early stages, with every single move forcing the referee to count, and it took the match a while to really find a rhythm.
The closing stages were excellent though, and I never thought I’d enjoy seeing two 40-year-old men hit each other in the dick so much. While they did overkill the 9-count a little bit, the final moments of the match delivered some really exciting moments, and AJ picking up the victory was probably the right choice. Shinsuke should drop down into the mid-card for a while and they can figure out how to regain his momentum.
Rating: *** 3/4
Ronda Rousey defeated Nia Jax by DQ
Any concerns WWE fans had about Ronda Rousey were vanquished last night. Her match with Nia Jax had a lot of build throughout the night, and for the most part, it delivered. The match was all Nia from the early going, and Nia sold like a pro. Seriously, her selling was incredible throughout, and when she did manage to get in some offence, she looked really confident. The crowd were also heavily invested in her, and it looks as though it is only going to be a matter of time before she wins the Women’s title.
Alexa Bliss cashed in and wins the Women’s Title
The match between Nia and Rousey was brought to a surprising end when Alexa Bliss attacked Rousey from behind with the briefcase. Alexa then brutalised Rousey on the outside, before cashing in on Nia and pinning her after a twisted bliss. Wow, I didn’t see this one coming. The company successfully managed to rebuild Alexa Bliss as Raw’s top heel over the course of one night. This was expert booking, it protects everyone involved, and gives us a nice feud between Bliss and Rousey going forward.
Rating: *** 3/4
Braun Strowman wins the Money in the Bank
Well, this was fun, wasn’t it? This was chaotic from the word-go, and the eight men involved managed to keep up an excellent tempo throughout. Kevin Owens going through the table from the ladder was the best spot of the night and the story of everyone trying to keep Braun down also provided some great moments.
Braun winning the briefcase was a surprise, and it will be interesting to see where he goes heading forward. The decision to put Kofi in the match ahead of Big E was slightly strange but on the whole, this was a great Money in the Bank match, and an awesome way to close out the night.
NXT Takeover: Chicago Thoughts and Ratings
Due to a weekend filled with football and wrestling, I’ve not had time to review NXT Takeover: Chicago in its entirety, but here’s my quick thoughts and ratings.
The Undisputed Era defeated Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan– This was a super hot opener, and Burch and Lorcan really did themselves proud here. The Undisputed Era are one of the hottest things in wrestling right now. *** 3/4
Shayna Baszler defeated Nikki Cross– This was a fun match. Cross’ character work was great to watch, and the finish of the match was something different. Baszler continues to look like a beast. ***
Ricochet defeated Velveteen Dream- This match really delivered. These two guys are two of the most entertaining performers in wrestling right now, and Velveteen Dream is a joy to watch. The finish was perfectly executed and this was a serious contender for match of the weekend.- **** 1/2
Aleister Black defeated Lars Sullivan– This was a really solid match for the NXT belt. Sullivan continues to impress for a big guy, and Black is a convincing champion, though, he does need to get a main-event soon.- *** 1/4
Tommaso Ciampa defeated Johnny Gargano- This was match everybody came to see, and once again, these two men delivered. This was brutal from the word go, and featured plenty of innovative spots. These two men have easily been the stand out performers in the WWE this year, and I can’t wait for part three of this incredible feud. **** 3/4
Photo Credits: WWE