The Modern Way: Money in the Bank 2015

Maybe it is just me, but I feel like WWE on PPV/supershow are on a bit of a roll. Sure, I’m not going to pretend that everything is mind-blowing and amazing, but they feel a lot more consistent and focused. Additionally, we are seeing matches that are interesting and novel with wrestlers who aren’t always pushed as the top, top guys getting a shot to show the fans what they can bring to the table. This trend continued with Money in the Bank 2015 where, outside of a match or two, everything bought something of value to the table.

Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Kofi Kingston vs Roman Reigns vs Neville vs Randy Orton vs Sheamus vs Dolph Ziggler vs Kane

This type of match is always going to live or die by the quality of the entrants, the quality of the spots, and the mini-storylines that are weaved into the fabric of the match to make it more than just ‘my spot, your spot’. On the whole, I feel like this was a success, with enough going on to keep in interesting for the majority.

Due to the nature of the match, a play by play account would always be difficult, so a focus on key spots is probably the best way to attack this contest. Kofi Kingston is a brilliant heel, breathing life into a character who I couldn’t have cared less for in recent years; his attempts to steal the title at the start, and The New Day run-in to help him attempt to win were two particular highlights. I especially enjoyed the moments that saw Kofi and Neville meet in the ring – one can only imagine the potential quality of a match they might be able to put together.

Speaking of Kofi and Neville, the Kofi/Neville sandwich on the ladder was a good, if a little cringe-worthy, spot. The inclusion of Neville opened up the opportunity for newer spots, highlighted by Randy Orton’s RKO on a falling Neville. Neville is OVER. I didn’t necessarily imagine he would have the same impact on a larger scale, but the crowd feel like they are enjoying him – he has a moveset that is impressive, and a fair bit of charisma to go with it. Hopefully he maintains this upward trajectory. Not to be outdone by the high-fliers, it was hard not to be impressed by Reigns’ no hands dive to wipe out the wrestlers at ringside.

The Wyatt interference was an interesting way to go – Reigns was the expected winner, and to have him cheated out of it, and to then have Sheamus win (with a valiant attempt by Neville to halt the Irishman’s ascension) makes it fairly unclear where they will go with the booking. They need to do more with Wyatt, so maybe a feud with Reigns might offer that opportunity. A Sheamus/Neville feud might not be too bad an idea either – the big bully taking on the young upstart. I’ve seen a mixed reaction to Sheamus since the end of the show, but I personally have enjoyed him as a heel. When the time comes for him to cash in will be the interesting question – I can see him simmering along in the background whilst the inevitable Lesnar/Rollins feud wages on.

Nikki Bella (c) vs Paige for the Divas Title

Once again, I can’t fault what the women in the Divas division are trying to bring to the table in the WWE, yet it still feels a little bit too little, too late. Despite the admirable efforts of Nikki and Paige, an injection of new blood is sorely needed.

Paige’s fiery promo at the start segued nicely into her start in the match as she nailed Nikki with a cannonball senton and an electric chair drop on the barrier outside. However, the majority of the match saw Nikki take control, using a variety of wear down holds to keep Paige grounded. A near fall off of a Ram-Paige following a blocked Rack Attack was a near fall, a moment where I did feel Paige might wrestle the title away from the champion. This seemed the obvious way to go, yet once again, Twin Magic does for the Bellas. A nice little touch with the Dusty Finish, although it would be considered poor booking at any other time – Brie gets pinned by Paige, only for the ref to realise she pinned the wrong Bella. A forearm and a Rack Attack later, Nikki retains the title.

The title needs to come off of the Bellas, but probably not to Paige. Paige needs time to rebuild herself, as she seemingly is always one step behind the Bellas. This could be the perfect opportunity to bring up a woman or two from NXT to bulk out a division that clearly needs some bulking up and revitalising.

Ryback (c) vs The Big Show for the IC Title

As someone who skim reads Raw reports and only really watches the big shows now, this angle doesn’t really make sense to me, and I don’t really get the point of the Miz’s involvement. This is one of the lower points of the show, mainly due to how little time it was actually given more than anything. The ragdolling of Miz at ringside was pretty funny, but the match has barely even got started before The Miz attacked The Big Show to cause the DQ finish. Guess we are heading towards a three way match in the near future – can’t imagine that would offer much more, though Miz as a designated bumper might make the match somewhat more interesting.

Kevin Owens vs John Cena

I think – and as a man whose memory is slowly addling away over time – I preferred this match to the first match. There were elements of the match that genuinely put a smile on my face as I watched – Owens channeling Cena, as well as Cena’s myriad new moves that he busted out to try and defeat the NXT Champion. This made the finisher overkill that I felt in the first match more bearable, as there was another level to the moves that the wrestlers were willing to use to try and get one over on each other. A reverse suplex from Cena was stolen from my backyard wrestling days, clearly, whilst the Code Red, though almost botched, was thoroughly impressive.

The best part of the match was Cena’s obvious desire to win to the point where he was getting in the face of the referee. There has rarely been a wrestler who is able to make a match feel ‘big time’ in the same way that Cena does; from his selling to his mannerisms, Cena makes you know how important the match is.

The later stages of the match started to veer towards finisher overkill again, only for the finish to feel like it came out of nowhere. It felt like it took less in the end to defeat Owens than it had before, though I guess the cummulative effect of all the additions to Cena’s repetoire caught up with Owens. The right man went over in this instance, and we can all prepare for the rubber match. Owens attack after the bell was good heeling, and a way to further make him a wrestler that people want to hate, rather than choose to cheer.

The New Day (c) vs The Prime Time Players

I had conflicting views on this match. I’ve loved The New Day, not having seen their initial stretch were they were getting a lot of X-Pac style heat from fans, yet I also love me some Prime Time Players. I would have liked to see The New Day have a longer run, but with the one man advantage not a factor in this match, the booking did make sense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see The New Day grab another title reign within fairly short order.

As for the match, it was perfectly acceptable wrestling. Darren Young was cut off early, and The New Day worked him over with aplomb. Big E, in particular, is a beast and it is scary to see how strong the guy is. The slapping abdominal stretch was also a thing of genius on his part.

The match centered around O’Neill’s hot tag, and when he got in, he cleaned house unsurprisingly. The Big E spear to the outside on Young did leave the more vulnerable New Day member in the ring and O’Neill finished Woods off with a sitdown spinebuster. Whether The New Day deserved to hold onto the belts for longer or not, it is hard to begrudge The Prime Time Players a run with the tag titles.

Seth Rollins (c) vs Dean Ambrose in a Ladder Match for the WWE Title

You have to admire both Rollins and Ambrose for their ability to work outside the constrains of gimmick matches. The Lumberjack match that looked more like a Falls Count Anywhere match was a starting point, and a Ladder Match that didn’t center at all around ladder spots for the sake of ladder spots was a refreshing difference. That’s not to say there weren’t any, or that the match wasn’t suitably violent – the spots just meant a lot more. I also feel that, after spending a lot of time not really playing to his strengths, WWE have allowed Ambrose a chance to re-build himself into a more legitimate contender. Acting like a face T-1000 will do that for you.

Following initial control by Ambrose, prolonged parts of the match were closer to an assault than a competition, as Rollins destroyed Ambrose’s knee and took every opportunity to brutalise his opponent with chairs and ladders. As a method of building sympathy for Ambrose’s character, the match worked wonders; every time you felt like Rollins had to win, Ambrose was able to fight back for one more opportunity, one more swing at the gold. Rollins’ violence escalated as he got more desperate – the powerbombs into the barricade two particular highlights – and the sitout powerbomb onto the chairs at ringside a particularly violent exclamation point. Yet, Ambrose still managed to fight back.

The close nature of the finish allows the possibility of a return. I’d even argue that the match was booked perfectly from a forward planning perspective – Rollins looks strong because he defeated Ambrose without any Authority help, yet Ambrose is still lurking in the background, ready to become a challenger whenever he needs to be one. They could become this generations’ Dreamer vs Raven, or even Santana vs Martel (…you decide), with a feud that never truly goes away but can be relied on to bring the goods in the future.

Outside of Ryback vs The Big Show, MITB 2015 was a good supershow. Where Ambrose goes from here is the question I’m left with. Rollins vs Lesnar, Reigns vs Wyatt, Sheamus vs Orton/Neville – doesn’t leave Ambrose many options. The momentum has been built, the WWE just need to make sure they don’t let it fizzle out.

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