The night started out, as I thought it would, with the Smackdown Money in the Bank ladder match. This match started out kinda slowly, with the bumps being quite restrained, and I started to worry that they were holding a lot back for the RAW MITB match. This all changed however, when Kofi Kingston delivered a huge Boom Drop from the top of a ladder on to a prone Drew McIntyre on the Spanish announce table. This started the ball rolling on what was to become one of the matches of the night – a good sign since it was the MITB matches that really needed to do well in their own PPV. I wont go in to too much detail because the action is so unpredictable, but I will go over some highlights. Shortly after the Kingston spot, Ziggler was reaching for the case, when Big Show swatted the ladder away, caught the falling Ziggler at the neck and chokeslammed him – some great and smooth timing. Another favourite was Kofi springboarding from the apron on to a ladder in the middle of the ring, before receiving an excellent missile dropkick from Cody Rhodes. A particular favourite moment was to do with th Big Show. In matches with multiple competitors, the story is often of a brief solidarity among the smaller guys (if you can call them that!) against the big guys. In this match, this manifested in the complete decemation of Big Show, with the rest of the field powerfully dumping ladder after ladder on him, and Kane chokeslamming various people on top of those ladders. It must have been hugely painful for Show, but nonetheless a unique image and story. Brilliant. Before the match, most people (me included) thought Drew McIntyre was almost a lock to win this match, and for a while in the closing minutes, he looked destined to fulfil this. However, perhaps due to the huge expectation of that result, Drew was in fact scuppered, by Kane. I admit to almost completely ruling Kane out simply because he has his own major storyline to be getting on with, so I was quite disappointed. I had been hoping that if not Drew, then Christian or Cody Rhodes would take the contract and I didn’t think Kane needed it. As i’ll come back to later though, Kane’s victory did seem to have storyline ramifications, so, as long as it does, i’m ok with it. Kofi Kingston was probably, as you might expect, the most daring and entertaining performer of the match. I just hope he doesn’t turn in to perpetual MITB bridesmaid, Shelton Benjamin.
The second match was the Divas Championship match between Eve Torres and Alicia Fox. Eventhough the result was, in my view, very predictable, these two up and comers put on the best divas match i’ve seen in a long time, making a five-minute match seem ten-minutes long. The crowd were dead for the opening salvos, clearly not expecting much from the match, but not after long, they were invested in the matches drama. There were one or two genuinely dramatic near falls and a couple of nice spots by Eve (a shanding moonsault and a new move, an attempted Senton bomb that was blocked by A. Fox with her knees us). You could tell they were really trying to put on a good match and it paid off with a good finish, Alicia hitting her scissors kick after Eve’s missed senton bomb. The right winner and an impressive match. If they carry on improving like this, these two could be the future of the division.
The Usos vs the Hart Dynasty followed. As i’ve said, i’ve had very little interest in this feud, but for what it’s worth, they put on a quality match, with most of the quality coming from the Harts. One of the most memorable moments came when one of the Usos hit their father’s [Rikishi] patented hip thrust in the corner, snapping David Hart Smith’s neck right back which made for the good kind uncomfortable viewing from Smith’s selling. The Usos alley-oop in to a Samoan drop was also very impressive, getting a good two count. Indeed, the Usos impressed with these two power moves, which is an improvement, while the Harts held it all together. Probably the best match these teams have had together, as you would expect at PPV, and like with Divas match, made it seem longer than it actually was.
The next match was the World Heavyweight Championship Match. Now, I missed at least five minutes of this because my coverage cut out, so I don’t want to make many judgements on the quality of the match as the time I missed made the match seem much shorter than it was. To get a real feel for the match, i’ll have to watch it back. All i’ll do, with that in mind, is talk about the storyline events. Personally, I had cooked up a whole different version of events to take place (i.e. Drew wins MITB, cashed in on Rey before the match and then beats Swagger), so i’ve got to say, I was a little disappointed Rey beat Swagger as the ultimate underdog routine is a little old in Rey these days, especially with them selling his injury as so debilitating. However, Kane coming out to cash in on him was fantastic, and really got over the jeopardy and unpredictability of the MITB concept. As soon as he came to Rey’s aid from Swagger I knew it was going to happen, but I liked the theatre involved in how he did it, coming down without his briefcase, dispatching Swagger to the back, and returning, this time with briefcase in hand! Its also great to see Kane at the top of the mountain again. It’s been such a long time and few deserve it more than him. My only problem was, eventhough the story was that Swagger’s post-match ankle lock was what did the damage, I still worry that it could be seen as Kane beating an injured Rey while Swagger couldn’t making him look weak. Luckily, it seems they’ve tried to salvage him from that by having him be the one to do the damage to Rey. So, what does this mean for Kane’s character and storyline? Well, I think it is one of only two possibilities: either, Kane is the one that attacked his brother and is turning heel; or, my personal favourite, Kane had discovered that it was, in fact, Rey Mysterio that attacked his brother, and this action was just the start of the payback, and a much-needed character development for Rey Mysterio. It will all almost certainly become clear on this week’s Smackdown …
The second divas match, while being more interesting in storyline terms than the previous one, was definately inferior to the first. I’m a big Layla fan, and while Kelly Kelly is very affable, it is clear that she’s not up to much in the ring as of yet. There were one of two nice moments: the opening exchange from the collar-elbow tie-up, and Layla’s sweeping away of the ring skirt (valance?) in a great offensive move (akin to Finlay!) against Kelly that seemed like a genuinely hard bump. Other than that though, there was an abundance of quite unpleasant screaming, I think from Kelly Kelly, and some passable in-ring action, but nothing of the drama and accumen of the first divas match.
The second MITB match followed. I’m not sure that it was quite as good as Smackdown’s version, but there were nonetheless, a lot of great, risk-taking action. Mark Henry proved the sceptics wrong about his inclusion in the match with his Herculean spot where he pushed two ladder over simultaniously and in different directions, sending the four incumbant superstars to respective corners. In an odd, but enjoyable moment, Maryse, who had stayed at ringside, attemted to climb the ladder herself to get the briefcase for Ted (the commentators suggested it might have been for herself, but I disregarded that – it’s not like just anyone can come in and win the match – we have qualifying matches for a reason!) before being gently removed by John Morrison. While i’m sure Maryse could take a modest bump, on that evidence, it doesn’t look like WWE are confident enough to put their divas at the risk of a MITB match just yet. Eventually, in true MITB fashion, the ladders became set up like an elaborate and painful game of Mouse Trap, all interlinking – something John Morriosn (another potential candidate for Shelton-esque over-looking) took full advantage of, climbing a ladder outside of the ring up against a ring-post, mounting another, and swinging on it perfectly to the ladder in the middle of the ring. No bump taken, but great athleticism! Another brilliant use of the ladders came when Morrison got trapped, prone, between rungs of the ladders. Edge and Miz threaded another ladder over Morrison before slamming it up and down on his mid-section. Edge then thrust the ladder squarely on to Miz’s head – proving that it’s every man for himself – before simply pushing Morrison’s ladder over so he landed very uncomfortably. I imagine Morrison will be feeling roughly the same as Big Show this morning. Orton also had some good spots, though they were linked inextricably to his move-set: hitting his spiked DDT from a rung of a ladder rather than a second rope, and hitting an RKO as Jericho fell from the ladder. While this was impressive, whenever he got near the briefcase, my heart was in my mouth. It would have been pretty distasteful I think, had Orton have won it, needing no sort of push, and having very little ladder match experience (at least famous ladder matches). I had the same feeling whenever Evan Bourne climbed the ladder. Evan was largely disappointing in this match. Perhaps not acting like a spot-monkey shows he’s being taken more seriously as a potential main eventer. Nonetheless, it would have been nice to see more spots from him, showing us why he deserves to be pushed – he is a high flyer after all. A nice moment, nonetheless, was when Orton hit an RKO, and Bourne hit his shooting-star press just as Orton hit the ground, ostensibly perhaps, in retaliation for that huge RKO on RAW last week. As I was getting on to saying, I don’t think Evan is ready to be a World Champion elect, so to speak, so I was glad when the eventual winner was The Miz. I wanted and predicted a Chris Jericho win, mainly due to the storyline potential, but in any other consideration, Miz was the right winner. He’s been over for a long time now, has had some major outings with main eventers, and is ready, in my view, to be a champion. Pressuming that he does cash it in, it’ll be fascinating to see the circumstances under which he does it, especially with Nexus hanging around the WWE Champion, and to see what becomes of the US title.
Our main event was the cage match for the WWE Championship between Sheamus and John Cena. This was a good, physical cage match, that grew in to a dramatic match up quite quickly. There were a couple of really good near-falls from Sheamus’s Brogue Kick and Cena’s Attitude Adjustment. I was quite tired by this time (around 4am in the UK!) so particular details are a bit misty, but what was clear was that Sheamus is being touted as a possible face. Like Cena, he seemed unhappy with just climbing the cage to escape, wanting instead to pin his adversary. Not only that, but the resiliancy he showed when kicking out of the AA was very face-esque. Time was getting on, but Nexus eventually arrived at ringside. I was hoping for a clear Cena heel-turn, in which Nexus helped him beat Sheamus (for instance). Instead, they physically stopped Cena escaping the cage, allowing Sheamus to overtake him at the last possible point. This in itself was a very enjoyable conceit, amping up the pressure on Cena, by making him lose by the smallest of margins. It was quite difficult to follow though, with Sheamus and Cena at opposite sides of the cage, which neutered some of the impact of what happened. This did seem a bit like business as usual with this feud, which, although fascinating, really needed a bigger plot-twist than it seemed to be given. The only silver lining is how Cena took one of the ‘N’ armbands from one of the Nexus. This may be in the same way as he did when he lost the tables match to Sheamus (i.e. motivation to beat them), or, hopefully, it will be Cena coming to the heel-turning decision to join those he cannot beat. Hopefully we’ll find out tonight. I certainly hope they’re not refraining from a Cena heel-turn in order to maintain the massive merchandise sales he brings in.
The slightly disappointing finish to a good cage match did not detract from what was otherwise a very good PPV in my opinion. The only other weak match was the Women’s championship match, while every other match delivered very watchable wrestling, especially (and importantly) the MITB matches. They always seem to deliver, and make for a very exciting, unpredictable PPV. Beforehand, I had stated that I thought there should be only one match, and in that case, it should be at WWE’s other marquee event, Summerslam, and while I still like the logic of that, it’s hard to deny that the Money in the Bank PPV was, and could continue to be, a highlight of the PPV calendar.