WWE – Money In The Bank 2020 (Cert 12)

1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 134 minutes approx.

The Lockdown era for WWE continues as they present their second audience-free PPV event, the annual ladder-assisted stunt show that is Money In The Bank. Encouraged by the “success” of Wrestlemania 36, eight men and eight women will risk their wellbeing to climb a ladder and secure the briefcase containing a contract that affords the holder a title shot against a World Champion of their choice for up to a year.

One thing that stood out about Wrestlemania was how the absence of a crowd really hurt many of the matches, especially gimmick matches including the interminable Last Man Standing Match and an uncomfortable ladder match. What did work was the cinematic showdown between Undertaker vs. AJ Styles in a Boneyard Match, designed to be epic in scale and cover up the limitations of an aging Taker.

So, Vince being Vince decided to solve two problems in one go and used this concept to spice up the MITB ladder matches. For the first time ever, the wrestlers would climb the “Corporate Ladder” as the matches took place at Titan Towers in Stamford, Connecticut and not at the Performance centre. Not only were the matches taped beforehand, both took place simultaneously – sounds fun right?

Money In The Bank took place on May 10th 2020 at the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando, Florida with an attendance of approximately 0 fans while the main event was taped on April 15th at Titan Towers in Stamford, Connecticut. Commentary is provided by Michael Cole and Corey Graves for SD and Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Samoa Joe for RAW.

As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers because the DVD back cover artwork does that for me, expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches:

WWE SD Tag Title Fatal Four Way Match – The New Day (c) vs. The Miz & John Morrison vs. Lucha House Party vs. Forgotten Sons

For reason known only to Vince, The New Day are once again SD tag champs for the 100th time, with Big E winning them in a three-way singles match over the other two guys not in the Ladder match at WM 36. But with one of the Usos injured (I’m not sure which Uso, I think it was the other one) the Lucha House Party were dragged out of the mothballs along with recent NXT call-ups the Forgotten Sons for this four-way.

Even with the addition of the Sons – Steve Cutler, Wesley Blake, and Jaxson Racist… sorry Ryker – the lack of depth of the SD tag division is once again exposed by having every team in one match (Heavy Machinery are on hiatus while Otis gets a singles push). Regardless, this was a good opener, non-stop action and everyone got a chance to shine, including the newcomers. Lucha House party continue to impress but you know they’ll never get the belts, which might be a hint as to how this ended.

Bobby Lashley vs. R-Truth

This was originally meant to be Truth vs. MVP, who was brought back full time as a wrestler, announcer, and talk segment host after his surprise return at the Royal Rumble. It was added at the last minute with zero build up but as it turned out, meant something in the long run, which is unusual for WWE these days.

Basically, despite being dressed to wrestle, MVP instead gave his spot to Lashley who proceeded to destroy truth in short order. More of an angle than a match his should have been on RAW not a PPV.

WWE SD Women’s Title Match – Bayley (c) vs. Tamina

Since Bayley has beaten everybody else on SD and the inevitable break up of her and Sasha Banks is taking the slow burn approach, Tamina was the only viable opponent left. Therefore, after her return at Wrestlemania 36 and a strong showing in that match, this title shot was inevitable.

A tidy match, they did a good job working around Tamina’s limitations and Bayley’s heeling worked in making Tamina look like a threat but the result was never in doubt.

WWE Universal Title Match – Braun Strowman (c) vs. Bray Wyatt

The champ who was never meant to be takes on his former master in his regular guise and not his Fiend persona in an inevitable showdown. The story going into it was Wyatt trying to get Braun to “return home” to the Wyatt Family – which now consist of comedy hand puppets – but Strowman is a good guy now and more importantly his own man who doesn’t need Wyatt anymore.

Unfortunately the story was more interesting that this match, which, like most of the matches of late, really needed a crowd to sell this – without, it came across as flat and unimportant, and certainly lacking in drama. Not a good start to Strowman’s title reign.

WWE Title Match – Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Seth Rollins

Speaking of title reigns, a new champ is only as good as his challengers, and for Drew McIntyre he doesn’t have a strong line-up of contenders just like Strowman. He faced Big Show in a surprise impromptu title match minutes after his Wrestlemania 36 title win over Brock Lesnar but there was still no clear direction for the new champ.

The only option was Seth Rollins as his Monday Might Messiah gimmick was the closest thing to a credible heel challenger, but Rollins lost his match against Kevin Owens so we have a loser as the top contender for the WWE Title. Yeah, I know… Anyway, the match was pretty good despite this and the strongest on the show but again, with it being too soon for Drew to lose, it could only go one way and it needed a crowd to gauge how Drew is doing as champ.

Money In The Bank Ladder Match – Asuka vs. Nia Jax vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Carmella vs. Dana Brooke vs. Lacey Evans / Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles vs. Otis vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Aleister Black vs. King Corbin

After the two “cinematic” matches at Wrestlemania 36, I opined if Vince would go into overkill mode and run one at every opportunity or use it sparingly for greater effect. Well, here is your answer. Taped three weeks before the PPV, Vince brought the wrestlers to Titan Towers, and the idea was they would start at the bottom of the building and fight their way up to the roof where a ring, ladder, and briefcase would be waiting.

Both the men and women’s matches ran concurrently, the women starting in the foyer, the men in the gym and they would fight their way up one floor at a time. Except Asuka exposed the flaw in the plan by taking a lift to the top! In fact, the lift stopped a few floors up so she rejoined the madness which basically involved occasional fighting and the typical puerile comedy that only Vince finds funny.

For instance, they stop to have a food fight. This is a match which is actually a race to get a shot at a world title and they stop for a food fight? If they aren’t going to take the title seriously, why should the fans? There are some cameos from people most of fans would have forgotten, including one from Big Steph which was clearly shot on a phone from a different location but we are expected to believe she was in the same room as the wrestlers. With all their hi-tech production facilities, they couldn’t have at least green screened her in?

Even when they got to the roof, the goofiness never stopped with King Corbin throwing two guys off the roof to their deaths – except they both appeared on RAW the next night fresh as daises. The women’s ended first with hardly any ladder spots and the men’s climax wasn’t any better either, with maybe two wrestling moves executed during the whole thing.

 

Bottom Line:

Just when I thought I had used the phrase “this show is everything wrong with WWE” in my reviews, Vince somehow manages to set a new bar for crass stupidity, inane booking, and counterproductive storytelling – this time in just one match!

Prior to the main event, the show ranged from lacklustre to cack, but the big takeaway is how much the absence of a crowd is to the atmosphere for both the wrestlers and the viewer. With nobody to react, there is no way of knowing if something is working or not, and having a match go 20 minutes in total silence makes for uncomfortable watch when all you can hear are grunts and groans and not the good kind.

Not to mention when there is a story being told, like a face/heel turn or the culmination of an angle, it has no resonance if there isn’t a reaction. The Strowman vs. Wyatt match exemplifies this, resulting in something that was more local am dram than pro-wrestling. 

Depending on how you feel about the cinematic matches, the MITB main event(s) will either be comedy gold or total indulgent farce. As this is Vince we are talking about, the consensus is it is the latter, since juvenile humour is his level as is humiliating his staff. I will concede that has been a sketch for the Edge & Christian Show, or something else non-canon I would have been fine with it, but we’ve been programmed to believe winning the MITB is a big thing and this just undermines that ethos.

It seems Vince has a new cash cow to milk, so we can expect to see many more of these filmed matches on WWE TV and PPV going forward. I can almost guarantee the novelty will have worn off pretty quickly as will any creativity behind them by the time wrestling can return to having live crowds again, and we will never want to see one ever again.

At least this show only ran for just over 2 hours, so it’s not too much time from your life you’d wished you got back…

Best Match – Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins

 

Extras:

German Language

Money In The Bank Kick-Off Match – Cesaro vs. Jeff Hardy

 

Rating – **      

Man In Black