Money in the Bank has garnered a reputation since its conception of being arguably the most exciting Pay-Per-View of the year. Last night, the combination of a raucous Philly crowd, two excellent heavyweight title matches and two exceptional ladder matches held up Money in the Bank’s reputation in what turned out to be another very good Pay-Per-View in a year of very good WWE Pay-Per-Views.
With so many newsworthy developments, I think it is only fair to begin with the match that bludgeoned up the majority of these — the All-Star Money in the Bank ladder match. With Kane out of proceedings after the Wyatt Family debut and subsequent steel-step-face-mush on RAW last week, the match became a six-man bout. The Philly crowd were hot just about all night and exploded when Rob Van Dam made his (almost) triumphant return. It is very cool to see RVD back in the WWE. It is also incredible (though not particularly surprising) that he looked like more of a superstar in one night than he has done in the past three years over in TNA.
This match closed the show and was one of the more brutal Money in the Bank ladder matches in recent years, with both RVD and CM Punk needing staples to close head wounds afterwards (poor Christian also chipped his tooth — yes, he was in the match). RVD executed the usual RVD spots just about as well as he has done in the past, and even hit a Five-Star Frog Splash from the top of a very high and jittery ladder. Sheamus took a painful looking tumble through a ladder parked on the outside towards the end of the match — apparently Sin Cara is giving away DVDs of this moment to any and all.
As the match began to gear up to its conclusion it looked like Daniel Bryan — one of the favourites — was going to win after taking out everybody, but was attacked with a steel chair out of nowhere by Curtis Axel (who successfully defended his Intercontinental Title against The Miz earlier in the night). I am unsure if this was just there to set up the next spot, or if it is the beginning a Daniel Bryan-Curtis Axel feud, but I sincerely hope the latter is not true. After the summer he has had thus far, it would be unfair to see Daniel Bryan relegated to an Intercontinental title match at SummerSlam.
With everybody out of the proceedings, CM Punk was then left with the opportunity to win the match. Everybody was waiting for Brock Lesnar to show up (even the Philly crowd who were chanting his name) but instead Paul Heyman turned on Punk and whacked him over the head with a ladder. Why Paul why? Before RVD could close in on the briefcase, he was RKO’d off of the ladder by Randy Orton (which looked very cool), who went on to win his first ever Money in the Bank briefcase. I liked it.
With the All-Star ladder match closing the show, the World title was once again shafted to the beginning, with the World title ladder match kicking-off Money in the Bank. Going into this one there was not really a clear favourite to win (I picked Wade Barrett, for goodness sake), which made the match all that more intriguing. It would have been interesting to see this one play out in a less-significant wrestling city, but Philly got behind a number of the heels and seemed to like letting everyone else know that they were people (I would never have guessed).
The most innovative spots in this one included Dean Ambrose skinning the cat onto a ladder held horizontally by Cesaro and Swagger (now known collectively as The Real Americans, brother) and trying to grab the briefcase before being tossed to the outside. Fandango hit a smooth-looking sun-set flip power bomb from the top of a ladder on Wade Barrett. Heck, Barrett even went all Ryback on everyone after dismantling part of a ladder and using it as a weapon. Fandango was actually pretty over in Philly, with a lot of the crowd cheering every time he climbed the ladder — there was also a Summer Rae chant at one point (works for me).
Cody Rhodes was definitely the MVP of this one, with the crowd firmly behind him and it looked like he was on his way to winning the Money in the Bank briefcase and finally receiving that push he has deserved for years. After being stopped by Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns the first time around, Rhodes was whacked off the ladder by his tag team partner Damien Sandow who went on to win the briefcase. I am absolutely fine with this. It looks like WWE are going for Sandow vs. Rhodes at SummerSlam, but I will get into that a little more later. Even though he did not win this match, Rhodes probably came out looking the strongest, and hopefully this is a career-defining moment for him.
The two heavyweight title matches were very good, with John Cena defeating Mark Henry and Dolph Ziggler losing to Alberto Del Rio via disqualification. There was a lot of interference throughout the PPV, but each time it made sense and therefore I do not have any complaints. AJ (‘inadvertently’) cost Dolph Ziggler the World title after hitting Del Rio with her previously retained Divas belt. The ending here was a little anticlimactic, but the match was quick-paced, with many near-falls and could have gone either way at any moment. The Philadelphia crowd were firmly behind Ziggler more than any other crowd since his babyface turn, and he shone in the match. Del Rio and Ziggler do work well together.
In terms of the WWE title match, Cena and Henry put in a good effort — a better effort than some may have expected beforehand in fact. The fans in attendance were firmly behind the World’s Strongest Man and Cena got a pretty hostile reception, which is more or less expected in places such as Philadelphia these days. Both guys kicked out of the other’s respective finishers, and Cena won after causing Henry to tap-out to an STFU (is the ‘U’ still there?). I am not a big fan of Mark Henry tapping out, but what can you do. Cena winning was probably the right decision, even though most of the Philly fans wanted to see Henry pick up the title.
The rest of the card was fairly solid, if not a touch underwhelming, with the exception of a good Tag Team title match between The Shield and The Usos on the kick-off show, with The Shield retaining. As I mentioned earlier Curtis Axel successfully defended his Intercontinental title against The Miz, although the most noteworthy part of this match involved the ejection of Paul Heyman, which was not well received by the ECW-Philly fans. AJ and Kaitlyn contested another decent Divas title match, which AJ won by way of her very painful looking Black Widow submission. Chris Jericho guided Ryback through a better-than-normal Ryback match, which Ryback won via roll-up.
With two new Money in the Bank briefcase holders and a whole load of other developments, the question now is what happens next? Over the last month or so, the internet has been buzzing with the rumour that Daniel Bryan is set to face John Cena for the WWE title at SummerSlam. While this match is still a possibility, after last night its prospects have somewhat diminished in my eyes. Are WWE going to go with Randy Orton vs. John Cena at SummerSlam (for the third time), or will Henry get a rematch? For me, the ideal situation would be for Daniel Bryan to face John Cena and win the WWE title at SummerSlam, only for Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase, win the title off of Bryan and turn heel in the process. This would set up a program involving those three guys throughout the autumn, perhaps up until the Royal Rumble. We know Orton and Bryan work very well together, and Orton and Cena have had some brilliant matches over the years — and John Cena, in spite of any “you can’t wrestle” chant, is capable of having great matches with anybody — so this seems to make sense in my view.
It looks like Cody Rhodes will be a babyface going forward after Damien Sandow turned on him last night, and it would be excellent to see these two feud over the briefcase and have a match at SummerSlam. They were a brilliant, if not a vastly under-used tag team as Rhodes Scholars, and both guys are very good in the ring and on the mic, so this one has a lot of potential. I see Sandow keeping the briefcase and not cashing in for a while (maybe not until after WrestleMania next year), unlike Orton. Sticking with the World title picture, the break-up of Dolph Ziggler and AJ is imminent. The question is: who gets custody of Big E? Most likely AJ, setting up a Ziggler-Big E match for SummerSlam (nothing new here). If this is the case, hopefully after SummerSlam Ziggler will get the World title run he deserves. That leaves Alberto Del Rio free for next month’s PPV. There are a few opponents he could face — Sheamus, Chris Jericho, maybe even a returning babyface Big Show? I am going to go out on a limb here and say Del Rio will defend the World title against RVD at SummerSlam.
One thing we do know for certain heading into ‘the biggest party of the summer’ is that CM Punk will face Brock Lesnar at the event. With Heyman now fully against Punk, the duelling between both guys on the mic over the next month or so will be absolutely golden. It remains to be seen if Lesnar will show up tonight on RAW or even how often he will show up on the road to SummerSlam (that does not quite have the same ring to it), but if anybody can sell a match, Paul Heyman can. Punk vs. Lesnar could be a show-stealer at the event, and with all three guys involved here accustomed to going against the mould, there could be fireworks.
I really do not know what will happen the Wyatt Family tonight, but I cannot wait see what they have in store for us. Some people are suggesting that Kane will end up being a part of the family, although the most likely situation is a Wyatt Family vs. Kane and Undertaker match at SummerSlam. The latter would be incredible, and having the Undertaker on the card would make the PPV that extra bit special. Looking at the other trio on the roster, The Shield, they seem to have lost a bit of momentum recently. The Tag Team title match should never have been on the kick-off show last night, and Ambrose was lost in the shuffle of Money in the Bank participants in all honesty. A Shield vs. Wyatt encounter is surely pencilled in at some point over the next few months, but until then I hope The Shield get back to somewhere near the dominance they were showing around three months ago. I am fine with seeing them defend the Tag and US titles against guys likes The Usos and Christian, as long as they retain the gold and are not dismissed as unimportant.
The McMahon story-line? I think I will pass for now. It has hardly been must-see television recently, and I cannot see it getting any better in the coming weeks, nor am I sure how it will evolve.
One thing is for sure though — RAW should be explosive tonight.
Kick-off:- The Shield (Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) (c) defeated The Usos, to retain the WWE Tag Team titles (14:48)
1:- Damien Sandow defeated Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Dean Ambrose, Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger and Fandango, to win the World Heavyweight title Money in the Bank briefcase (16:25)
2:- Curtis Axel (c) defeated The Miz, to retain the Intercontinental title (09:08)
3:- AJ (c) defeated Kaitlyn, to retain the Divas title (07:03)
4:- Ryback defeated Chris Jericho, in a singles match (11:20)
5:- Alberto Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler via disqualification, to retain the World Heavyweight title (14:29)
6:- John Cena defeated Mark Henry, to retain the WWE title (14:46)
7:- Randy Orton defeated CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Christian, Sheamus and Rob Van Dam, to win the WWE title Money in the Bank briefcase (26:38)