Last night’s Money In the Bank, was a sad return to pre-Wrestlemania booking for the WWE. Almost every match ended poorly, leaving fans wondering where we go from here.
1 – What happened to the storyline for MITB?
In professional wrestling it is always a bad thing to give the fans what they want every week. However, there should be a balance, a little give and take. Last night there was one poor winner after another. Starting with the MITB match itself. Roman Reigns should have won, no question, he is working harder and putting in the performances needed to earn his shot. The problem with Reigns, stems back to The Royal Rumble. The WWE creative team seem so afraid of another hostile crowd, that Reigns is now being passed over in favour of anyone. He is out of the main event picture, his role as Ambrose’s partner was completely ignored and he is now left on middle card duties no matter what he does or what reaction the crowd have. His powerbombs on Kofi Kingston and Neville were the highlights of a dull and strangely paced MITB match. To have Bray Wyatt come out and instigate a feud makes little sense going forward. To make things worse, Sheamus won the match. Of all the people in the match Sheamus was the one I feared winning. In ring he is as good a performer as anyone, but his character just doesn’t fit in the main event scene. Is he seriously going to fight with Lesnar, Rollins and the current top level? Their realism and brutality, is at complete odds with the Celtic Warrior look and persona.
2. All the matches had cheap endings
We have already looked at MITB. The Divas match just copied the twin ending from last week without making any sense. It was painful to watch Paige and both Bellas have to sell it again. The sooner some fresh divas from NXT make it through the better. Miz ruined the IC title match before it had a chance to get going. The New Day inexplicably lost their titles to the Prime Time players just when they were single-handedly carrying the tag division after the injury to Tyson Kidd. The New Day are old fashioned crowd relief who play on the traditional Freebird rules by being a threesome. If they don’t have the belts, they have nothing. I can only hope they get them back on RAW.
The cheapest ending was saved for the best match. Once again Cena and Kevin Owens, stole the show. The crowd were invested, both wrestlers were playing to their characters perfectly and finally the Cena mask was beginning to slip. It’s so refreshing to see the Cena superhero persona crack. The promo for this match was brilliant. Kevin Owens called Cena out for everything that an older wrestling fan hates about him. The catchphrases, the merchandise and the whole corporate machine that is John Cena. By doing this Owens was immediately the poster boy of the anti-Cena generation. So what did the WWE do last night? Of course the traditional ‘Cena wins lol’. As cheap as ever, both athletes kick out of multiple big moves only to have Cena win with his stupid springboard stunner and attitude adjustment. Just like he does on RAW, every week since time began. The hopes of a new Cena set back another few weeks. The Owens attack after the match did nothing to advance the feud. It just gave Michael Cole and JBL another chance to look like idiots. The reason J.R. and the King worked so well was diversity. One was heel the other face. Now we have the three of them, voicing the same point of view and same opinion every week. You almost hope for a Lesnar rampage again so the three of them shut up. Who knows where it goes from here. Seeing Cena under pressure, about to crack and even considering bending the rules is a rare and welcome sight. To give him another cheap win is back to square one.
3. Dusty Rhodes passing is the end of an era
The tragic loss of The American Dream is a personal and commercial tragedy for the WWE as a company. Dusty Rhodes was the reason people like Mick Foley, Dean Ambrose and even Kevin Owens exist. By being the most popular face of his time Rhodes was able to overcome traditional body image wrestling stereotypes. My first memory of him was as a young child. Seeing him execute a perfect standing dropkick, being his size and shape, helped change my opinion of him and other wrestlers forever. I stopped looking for the biggest or the strongest and started to appreciate the characters. If you have the WWE network check the rivalries documentary with him and Ric Flair. You see in it, the rulebook for all modern wrestling. When the four horsemen famously ‘broke’ Dusty’s leg, he even stayed on crutches and cast around his sons Dustin and Cody. With this dedication you can see why they have gone on to be such good wrestlers in their own right.
The biggest loss however from a wrestling point of view is on the creative side. You could see last night on the tribute video, how many of the current stars he worked with. From the outside it seemed he was the voice of reason. Perhaps advocating a return to a harsher old school brand than the current post PG era. Looking at the final match last night and the ‘Dusty’ finish from Elimination Chamber I feel with his passing, the chance of someone like Ambrose being WWE champion is gone. The ladder match last night was again spoiled by a poor finish. The match itself was like an old Flair vs Rhodes match. Both competitors know each other so well that, it became an angle in the story, with each countering the other time and time again. Rollins showed a mean streak that should have allowed the match to end with Ambrose buried under a pile of ladders and chairs. Unfortunately the creative stuck the knife into Ambrose again by having both men fall to the ground with the belt. Only the bounce of Rollins left it with him. An ending ok in its own right, but after the last PPV it left a sour taste. Why not let Ambrose win at Elimination Chamber and have Rollins reclaim it here? Instead the feud seems to have ended for now after an hour long match and another controversial finish. The question many will ask with a five week break before the next PPV is were does everyone go after their storylines were destroyed by MITB 2015?