Champions Of The Champions
Written By: Mark Armstrong
Produced By: WWE
Date: June 14 2015
Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Money In The Bank has often been one of the top WWE Pay-Per-View events of the year. This year, the card promised two Ladder matches (one of which was MITB) and a rematch of John Cena-Kevin Owens from Elimination Chamber. Combined with a number of under-card matches, then, expectations were fairly high going into this show that it would be a barnburner. In the end, though, I felt that while there was a true Match Of The Year contender and the action was largely good, the show overall still felt slightly underwhelming, and while it was by no means a bad card, it had a couple of flaws preventing it from being a truly memorable event.
Money In The Bank began, rightly, by paying tribute to the recently-passed Dusty Rhodes. The American Dream was one of the biggest names in wrestling history, and his respect level within WWE and the wrestling industry was underlined by the entire roster, headed up by Vince McMahon, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, as the bell tolled ten times with wrestlers and fans standing in silence to show respect to Dusty. This was followed by his music playing once more, with fans spontaneously clapping along, making it an even more touching moment. But what really did bring me close to tears was the video tribute to Dusty, shown a little later on the card, which perfectly encapsulated what Dusty meant to so many and what he achieved. Although the video tributes are generally speaking unfortunate to have to watch (because they are playing after a performer has died), they are brilliantly compelling and excellently produced, and WWE does a great job of having you smile when reliving fond memories before feeling upset when they end with the final graphic paying tribute to the fallen hero. That definitely was the case here, but was even more notable on the MITB Kick-Off show when host Renee Young genuinely broke down in tears and delivered her subsequent links while not being shown on camera because she was so upset having known Dusty and then watched this tribute. The whole situation is just so sad, but WWE paid tribute to Dusty perfectly here. If anything, this was the most memorable aspect of the entire card for me.
By the way, on the Kick-Off show itself, R-Truth pinned King Barrett as part of their feud which is seeing Truth strangely believe that he is the King despite Barrett fairly winning the KOTR tournament in April. I don’t understand this, nor why Truth would pin Barrett with the (real) King clearly still having the potential to be a future main eventer in WWE. Hopefully, WWE will explain this in the coming weeks, and as funny as Truth can be at times (I did laugh at his apparent confusion with interrupting a pre-MITB promo on Raw involving several entrants, only to be told that he wasn’t in the match to his surprise, which led him to then simply leave the stage to plenty of laughs), I hope he doesn’t win this rivalry; if Barrett doesn’t ultimately defeat Truth, then his future is bleak in the company. And that would be Bad News for Barrett.
The first match on the main MITB card was this year’s Money In The Bank Ladder match, which involved Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Neville, Kofi Kingston and Kane. The field was a little hit-and-miss, although there was enough talent and star power to make this another worthwhile MITB entry. Kofi this time had The New Day trying to help him win this match, and it was interesting to see how many people thought Kingston was really going to win MITB. I personally thought that Reigns would come out on top, especially after his brutal powerbombs onto Neville, Kingston and a ladder within moments of each other. Neville himself took some great chances, and the latest Orton-Sheamus rivalry continued to slowly build. But I still thought it would be Roman’s night … only for a totally unexpected interruption by Bray Wyatt, who tipped over the ladder with Reigns on it followed by a delivery of Sister Abigail to the ex-Shield member. I wasn’t sure who would win after that, but I felt disappointed when Sheamus won after slightly striking Neville off the ladder moments after Wyatt’s interference. Partly because the final sequence wasn’t very memorable, and partly because despite his heel turn, Sheamus doesn’t strike me as the fresh, future chosen one who you would normally hope would win this match. If anything, I think the result is set up for Sheamus to lose when he cashes in MITB (and if it’s within the next few months, I hope that is the case because I particularly enjoy seeing Seth Rollins as WWE World Heavyweight Champion), or it was a reaction to those saying that Reigns winning was a foregone conclusion and deeply predictable. They were proved wrong! Overall, though, a good MITB match, but not one of the best that we’ve seen.
Match two pitted Nikki Bella against Paige for the Divas Championship, set up by The Bellas using Twin Magic to prevent Paige becoming champ a few weeks prior on Raw (marking what I believe is their third turn of the last seven months, or ten months in Nikki’s case). Paige promised beforehand to win it for Dusty, which was a nice touch (Dusty was heavily involved with NXT, and had a big role in the development of Paige during her time there; she was actually the first NXT Women’s Champion). That promo, combined with Nikki’s lengthy reign, Paige’s popularity and the general staleness of WWE’s Divas scene, made me think that Paige was definitely coming out on top and winning the Divas Title. But it didn’t happen: after a rather good match, Paige pinned Nikki to a huge pop, only to learn that, erm, she didn’t pin Nikki. Brie Bella had switched places and fallen prey to a roll-up, so when the referee pointed this out, Nikki ran back in and hit the Rack Attack to win the bout and retain the gold (or silver, or pink). Fans weren’t very happy, and neither was I (I wouldn’t have been too fussed had we not heard Paige dedicate the match to Dusty beforehand). Actually, some believe that the finish itself WAS a tribute to Dusty (if you Google “The Dusty Finish”, you’ll know what I mean). Regardless, Nikki remains Champ, and I now feel that it will require a call-up from NXT to change the WWE Divas division for the better.
Following this was the intriguing Intercontinental Title match between Ryback and Big Show. They exchanged several big moves, but after no more than a few minutes, The Miz (who had provided commentary on the match) ran in and attacked both men, causing a double disqualification. This is an obvious sign of a future Triple Threat match, and most probably a Ryback-Big Show rematch. Hopefully, Ryback will triumph because neither Miz nor Show will reach greater heights than they already have. What annoyed me about this match didn’t actually happen here: on an episode of Miz TV on the previous Raw, Ryback easily hit Big Show with Shell Shocked. That should have been saved for the feud-ending match, or at least this bout in terms of its first appearance; a potentially memorable moment was thrown away, and perhaps telegraphed that it wouldn’t end the bout at MITB.
We then got the second part of the John Cena-Kevin Owens feud. They had delivered above expectations at Elimination Chamber, especially with Owens shockingly pinning Cena, but given their styles and the staleness of Cena, was it realistic that we would get a superior match here? Amazingly, the answer was yes: this was the best singles match in WWE all year. Cena-Owens 2 was a borderline classic, a brilliant back-and-forth war which included tons of big moves. Owens survived two AA’s and withstood the STF; Owens couldn’t get the job done even after two Pop-Up Powerbombs and several huge manouevers. There is a slight negative to the fact that there wasn’t much in the way of selling after so many big moves, but on this occasion it was only minor. This was a superb bout, easily the highlight of the show, and perhaps its greatest achievement is the fact that Owens wasn’t damaged by the fact that he lost. A third AA beat the NXT Champion, but afterwards Owen rejected a handshake and attacked Cena, and hit him with a powerbomb on the ring apron (Cena was lifted with less ease and slammed with less impact than Sami Zayn had been on previous occasions by Owens), forcing Cena to be stretchered out of the arena. A five-star match in my opinion, and if anything losing this one has made Kevin Owens more of a star than he was beforehand. The perfect example of a newcomer who was enhanced despite defeat, and it looks like this surprisingly excellent rivalry will continue.
After the Dusty video tribute, we got a WWE Tag Team Title scrap between The New Day and The Prime Time Players. New Day have been on a roll since winning the gold at Extreme Rules, and with Tyson Kidd recently being injured, I assumed that this would be a transitional scrap for TND while WWE looked for a new set of challengers, especially given that the Players, despite being entertaining more often than not, generally don’t come across as championship material. However, I was wrong. After a decent tag match, Titus O’Neil hit Xavier Woods with the Clash Of The Titus for the pin (fans were clearly not expecting it to be the victorious move, nor I think for the PTP to even win, which resulted in a sudden surprise pop). O’Neil and Darren Young are Champs; The New Day had a bad day. Still, despite this unexpected result, I feel that the Players won’t be champs for long, and that New Day will once again reign as titleholders. Besides, New Day Rocks! (According to them, anyway.)
The main event pitted Seth Rollins against Dean Ambrose in a Ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The culmination of the Rollins-Ambrose feud, this of course promised thrills and spills due to the Ladder stipulation, and with Rollins being told that he had to win this all on his own, many were expecting this to be a huge career night for Seth. Plus, who was to say that Ambrose wouldn’t actually win this one and keep the WWE Title that he had been in possession of since Elimination Chamber?
However, in the final surprise of the evening, the match was a bit of a disappointment to me. This was partly due to what seemed like a subdued crowd (possibly worn out by Cena vs. Owens), although they did pop and chant “This is awesome!” on occasion. But I think it was because there just wasn’t enough going on. The intensity of previous Ambrose-Rollins matches wasn’t really there, at least in the beginning. It also didn’t help that the match was very long; with about ten minutes shaved off, this would have been a better match and there would have been less filler. Speaking of which: I don’t want to criticise the participants for not taking enough chances because these matches are dangerous, but without that truly memorable spot, this felt like a protracted main event where the chances they did take were good, but not great. What I mean is this: at WrestleMania, you remembered the massive suplex by Barrett to Stardust, the powerbomb that Ambrose took from Luke Harper, the elbow that Ambrose dropped onto all of his opponents at ringside. As risky as these moments were, they were memorable. Here, nothing was memorable, so although the combatants took great chances and put forth great effort, to me it felt a bit pointless.
The final negative to this match was the lack of selling, especially by Ambrose. Towards the end, Rollins hit Ambrose with several brutal powerbomb throws at ringside, the last onto a pile of ladders and chairs. When I saw this, I thought “That’s got to be over”. No way was Ambrose getting up. But then he sprinted up the ladder to stop Seth. Had he at least made a slow attempt which proved unsuccessful, it would have been more believable, but it came across far too hokey. Moments later, they both tried pulling down the WWE Title at the same time and both did pull it down, but it landed in Rollins’ hands and he won the match. A clever end to a match that was actually very watchable, but just went on too long and, overall, ended the long-running Rollins-Ambrose feud on a slightly damp note.
Overall, Money In The Bank 2015 was worthwhile. The opener was good but had an odd result, the Divas match was better than expected, the IC Title scrap was short and overall a disappointment, and then we got a fantastic Cena-Owens match. But the Tag Title match was uneventful and the surprise finish felt a bit abrupt, and the main event was just too long and, despite the grapplers clearly grafting, didn’t deliver the classic Ladder match that we had all hoped for. It didn’t match previous Money In The Bank shows, and it could be argued that this was actually a one-match card thanks to Cena vs. Owens, but I still enjoyed MITB and am interested to see where the developing storylines go from here.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good