WWE – Money In The Bank 2018 (Cert 15)

2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 245 minutes approx.

The annual big rewards ladder-fest show is now back to being contested by wrestlers from both brands after being exclusive to Smackdown last year. And there are two matches again as both the men and women have the chance to change their fortunes by winning that all-important briefcase with the title match contract inside.

You may have noticed that this is two disc set. This is due to all WWE PPVs now running for four hours, and this is too much to fit on one single DVD disc without compromising the picture quality. On the plus side this means the extras are no longer limited to a single Kick-off match, with bonus footage from the Kick-off show, hype segments and matches from RAW and SD both before and after this event took place.

Heading into this show, the big buzz was surrounding the second ever televised WWE match for Ronda Rousey, which also happened to be a RAW Women’s Title match – not bad for someone who didn’t wanted to be handed anything and wanted to earn her opportunities.

Money In The Bank event took place on June 17th at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois before 11,800 fans with commentary from Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton for the SD Live matches and Graves with Michael Cole and the insufferable Jonathan Coachman for the RAW matches.

As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers, expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches.

 

Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass

The 7ft (6’8 in real life) Casshole was already in the WWE doghouse when the first match took place at Backlash in which Bryan was victorious via submission. Cass continued to be an arse of epic proportions after this, ignoring management instructions, going on drunken rampages on the European tour, harassing his ex-girlfriend Carmella and breaking a toilet door on the WWE tour bus.

I know I have a no spoiler policy regarding the match results but two days after this show, Vince McSenile fired Cass at a talent meeting at the SD tapings and he didn’t even get the “best wishes in his future endeavours” notice other dismissed wrestlers get. So you know who got the win here – the little guy who did all the work to make this as watchable as possible.

Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn

Leading the charge for “Worst Feud Of the Year”, the build up to this was painful to watch but we all know who is to blame. It began with Lashley doing a fluff piece, nice guy interview on RAW about how his sisters used to beat him up as a child. The next week Sami Zayn came out with three men in drag to play Lashley’s sisters in a skit that died a thousand deaths. 

Zayn continued to taunt Lashley over this, finally challenging him to run a military style obstacle course after disputing the veracity of Lashley’s military service. Yes,. He went there and no-one cared. Unfortunately Zayn was injured and needing surgery thus couldn’t work a full match so we got this pointless squash instead. Lashley’s return to WWE has been a huge bust so far.

WWE IC Title Match – Seth Rollins (c) vs. Elias

You know how everyone always says Status Quo only know three chords? That’s three more than Elias. In his pre-match performance he called the Chicago crowd “scumbags” which led to a chant of “We are Scumbags”. Stay classy Chi-town! This feud has been built around Seth and Elias destroying those nice guitars of Elias which is a waste of those nice looking instruments.

Elias was one of the worst performers in NXT yet his surprise jump to the main roster has seen him improve tenfold. This was one of his better in ring moments, largely thanks to Rollins being the workhorse he is, and holds Elias in good stead to be taken seriously if they ever decide to get behind him as a top flight heel for the RAW brand, or even a face as his “Walk With Elias” catchphrase is getting over. Good match.

Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match – Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi vs. Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Lana vs. Ember Moon vs. Natalya vs. Sasha Banks

Yes, Lana is in this match. Not Bayley, Ruby Riott or even Mickie James but Lana. I’m all for giving people opportunities but I don’t think Lana’s match experience extends to double figures yet. At least she wasn’t completely offensive in this match and the impressive performances from the likes of Ember Moon covered up for her.

Just like last year, the ladies didn’t hold back and got stuck in with the crazy moves and big bumps – with one notable exception who did hardly anything for the entire match and took about two bumps. There were a couple of timing issues due to said lazy git where cues were missed (partially covered by judicious editing) but generally this flowed well and utilised the distinct styles of the women to create some inventive fresh spots with ladders. Great match overall.

Jinder Mahal vs. Roman Reigns

At least this isn’t headlining the show. This is another of those backwards booked feuds where the face behaves like a complete tool yet is still expected to be cheered. Okay, so that doesn’t quite work with Roman who gets booed regardless. In this instance, Reigns  injured Jinder’s ribs, speared him through a (cardboard) wall, beat him up during an interview and put Sunil Singh in a wheelchair yet is still the face here?

Not in the eyes of the fans here however who true to form crapped on this from a great height, chanting for anything and everything to hijack this whilst Reigns and Jinder did stuff. They worked hard but it was all in vain which is basically how Roman’s career will play out for the foreseeable future until he finds a cure for cancer or gets Vince to sack Coachman again.

WWE Smackdown Women’s Title Match – Carmella (c) vs. Asuka

This match closes out disc 1 for anyone who cares. If you ever wanted a masterclass in how to botch a “sure thing” look at the treatment of my Goddess Asuka on the main roster. In NXT she was not just the longest reigning women’s champ but of any NXT title holder, as well as eclipsing many main roster championship reigns too.

Asuka’s impressive 2 ½ year undefeated streak ended at WM 34 against Charlotte who in turn lost twice to Carmella. But it’s Asuka, so the result should be a 30-second no brainer right? Well, let’s look at the facts – Carmella is blonde and American, Asuka is Japanese and Vince McRacist is the booker. Throw in a goofy finish that makes Asuka look as gormless as a Sun reader, then remember why everyone prefers NXT to the main roster.

WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match – AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

It’s sad that this feud has not delivered on its potential given who is involved. The matches haven’t been bad but not the blow away classics they should have been, partly down to the lame booking. After Nakamura turned heel at WM 34, his gimmick has been the low blow which has come into play in the finish of the previous matches, including a double low blow in their Backlash match.

Rather oddly, they decided to blow off this feud by having these two wrestle again on SD to determine who picks the stipulation for this final match. Why not have them pick a representative to fight for them? Anyway, Nakamura won and chose Last Man Standing. Like before this was another very good match but the slow first half made for an awkwardly paced affair. It picked up near the end and concluded with a heated closing minutes with a decisive finish. Oh and they faced off again a few weeks later on SD….

WWE RAW Women’s Title Match – Nia Jax (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

This was weird for a number of reasons. First, Jax challenged Rousey which is a rare and mostly unheard thing for a champion to do, secondly this meant Jax, who had just turned face was now a heel again for this match. Curiously, this saw Jax play the bully when the whole crux of her feud with Alexa Bliss was that Bliss was bullying Jax!

Not to mention the aforementioned issue of Rousey’s getting a title match so early in her run, when she has always said (in kayfabe) she wasn’t to have any preferential treatment (which has already been negated but stay with me). Jax can’t lose the title this soon and Rousey can’t win it this quickly either so why rush this match?

Luckily Rousey has really taken to wrestling after MMA (and weeks of rehearsals) and this was a good match, with Jax finally looking like the monster of the Women’s division she is supposed to be. This was actually going to close the show but was changed at the last minute, as explained by the finish which still got over and could have been a great final moment for the show.

Money In The Bank Ladder Match – Samoa Joe vs. The Miz vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Bálor vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Rusev vs. Bobby Roode

After weeks of teasing which member of the New Day was going to take part in this match, they went for the safe but reliable option of Kofi Kingston. You with have noticed that one participant is not known for his high spots or dangerous bump taking so how will cope in this match? I’m referring to the chap getting a “monster” push and to keep him down everyone else would have to gang up on him so he doesn’t “get” his “hands” on the briefcase.

To that end the stunts were very different in this match compared to women’s ladder match, relying more on power moves and big spots outside of the ring within the context of the above outlined scenario, while the women kept it all in the ring. This meant the likes of Kevin Owens died an early death for our entertainment but to be fair, Strowman took a couple of big bumps too.

Despite being more over than most in this match, Rusev wasn’t given much opportunity to make his mark beyond a triple Accolade spot while Samoa Joe didn’t give the tiniest hoots for size or power and ran roughshod every everyone in his path. It was another good, hard hitting match but I am sure the outcome will be too predictable for many to feel that this was a great match, as hard as every involved worked.

Bottom Line:

Following the dire Backlash event, the biggest compliment I can pay this show is that it over delivered what on paper didn’t look that enticing, largely due to rematches and poor build ups. The real stars of the show were once again the women through the great ladder match and the RAW women’s title match.

The day Ronda Rousey can get by without having to rehearse a match for weeks on end is the day she will prove herself worthy of the hype and big money contract but the fact she “gets” wrestling this quickly suggests this day isn’t that far off. Putting her in a title situation this soon is hasty and maybe even short sighted and whilst the end game is clear from the finish of the match there is still more to gain from having Rousey grow before taking that big step.

In the case of the men, we are still in that bizarre status quo/uncertain territory with Universal Champion Brock Lesnar still being AWOL and looking to return to UFC and Roman Reigns treading water until his inevitable coronation at Summerslam. However the winner of the men’s ladder match might offer a change in direction but Vince is a stubborn old coot and doesn’t like to be dictated to by the fans so the future is both interesting and frightening. 

Four hours is still too long for a PPV though. If you cut the first two matches and Jinder vs. Roman this a very good show.

 

Best Match – Women’s Ladder Match

 

Extras:

German Language

Money In The Bank Kick-Off

WWE Smackdown Tag Title Match – The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows

What’s In Kevin’s Bag

Seth “Freakin’” Rollins: The Intercontinental Champion

Smackdown Live! June 5th 2018 – WWE Title Match Contract Signing

Monday Night RAW June 11th 2018 – Fatal Four Way Match – Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Bálor vs. Bobby Roode

Monday Night RAW June 18th 2018 – The Goddess Feels The Wrath Of Ronda Rousey

 

Rating – ***

Man In Black