Wrestling Review: WWE Money In The Bank 2014

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Image Source: WWE

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Genre: Wrestling
Produced By: WWE
Format: Pay-Per-View
Date: June 29 2014
Location: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Attendance: 15,653

The fifth annual Money In The Bank supershow was preceded by the unfortunate news that Daniel Bryan’s neck injury, which was originally supposed to keep him out of action for only a matter of weeks, would now put him on the shelf for months, meaning that he was forced to relinquish the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It’s a shame that Bryan’s hugely memorable title win at WrestleMania XXX ultimately led to a short reign due to injury, but it’s hoped that the long rest will be enough for Bryan to fully recover and come back better and healthier than ever, whenever that might be.

Bryan’s injury meant that the vacant title would be decided in an eight-man Ladder match at MITB (he would have defended the gold against Kane in a Stretcher match had he been cleared for a return to the ring). Whilst there was intrigue over who might win the championship, a quick analysis of the contenders (and of the roster in general) meant that there was only ever likely to be one winner, especially after the apparent leaking of a poster for SummerSlam which appeared to give away the planned main event for the biggest show of the summer. Let’s keep tight-lipped about that for now until things properly develop, and we’ll stick to Money In The Bank and the crowning of a new WWE Champion.

Although Bryan couldn’t compete in the ring, he did make an appearance on the Kick-Off Show to a loud ovation. He filled fans in on how his recovery was going, before being interrupted by Bo Dallas, and the two shared a humorous exchange which ended with Bryan telling him to “Bo-Leave!” It was good to see Bryan here, considering that we probably won’t be seeing him again for some time.

Kicking off the PPV was a WWE Tag Team Title match between The Usos and The Wyatt Family team of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. This had been built up slowly over the previous few weeks, beginning with a lengthy brawl during the Last Man Standing bout between John Cena and Bray Wyatt at Payback. Six months earlier, such a match might not have seemed like an enticing prospect, but the improvement that Rowan and Harper have showed, combined with their strong teamwork (a perfect example being alongside Bray against The Shield at Elimination Chamber), suggested that this could be a really good doubles match, and that’s exactly what it proved to be, which also allowed The Usos to continue building what is turning into a pretty memorable reign as Tag Champs.

Harper and Rowan isolated Jey and prevented him making the tag to Jimmy for some time, using their power to unleash quite a beating on him. Jey eventually managed to wriggle away from the swamp monsters and make a tag to Jimmy, where things truly picked up. There were plenty of big moves as the finish line approached, from Samoan Drops to a corkscrew plancha to powerbombs to suicide dives to superkicks. In the end, Rowan tasted a perfectly-executed top rope double suplex, followed by stereo splashes for the win. This was one of the best regular tag team matches in a long time in WWE, and although the Wyatt challengers lost here, the action was so good that few would complain if there was a rematch. The slow build-up to this feud suggests that it won’t be all said and done after this first PPV encounter.

Match two saw Naomi challenge Paige for the Divas crown. The build-up to this one was a bit odd. Paige has been the new babyface, erm, face of the women’s division since her debut the night after Mania XXX, but with AJ Lee absent, her heel opponents were limited to Tamina Snuka and Alicia Fox. Therefore, for MITB, WWE tried something different with fellow babyface Naomi as her contender. The weird aspect was that Naomi’s Funkadactyl partner Cameron has made it clear that she disapproves, to the point that she has shown complete ignorance during Naomi’s recent matches. That seems to be setting up a Naomi/Cameron split, but the way it is being executed means that rather than us thinking that there is trouble in the Funkadactyl camp, it’s coming across more that Cameron is not interested whatsoever in whatever is happening in the ring, which is harming the presentation of the characters and the feud, as well as the prestige of the Divas Title; if a regular competitor makes it clear that the match doesn’t interest her, why should it interest the audience?

And the crowd were understandably not that interested either, probably because they have been given little reason to care. This should have happened on Raw or SmackDown with the intention of setting up Paige vs. whomever and Naomi vs. Cameron, because it was obvious that Naomi wasn’t winning the title here, and the presentation made the whole thing feel second-rate. This was despite the effort of the women, who did their best under the circumstances. Paige sealed the victory with a DDT, to the subtle (or not-so-subtle) delight of Cameron. Hopefully, WWE will find better competition for Paige, because whilst she has given the women’s scene a boost, the lack of credible opponents are threatening to make her title run a disappointment. Hopefully, WWE will advise Cameron on better ways to showcase jealousy as opposed to coming across as not giving the slightest toss about a match which was apparently important enough to be featured on a Pay-Per-View event.

Next up was Damien Sandow vs. Adam Rose. Sandow was dressed as Paul Revere as part of his recent impressionist gimmick. Rose won quickly. Next!

Okay, I’ll analyse it a bit. Rose as a newcomer is gathering momentum, and is becoming rather popular (look no further than the reaction he received on the London episode of Raw; I know because I attended it, largely because it was my birthday), but it remains to be seen how far he can progress. The forecast looks far gloomier for Sandow, though, whose career is close to hitting rock bottom. Hopefully, he can rebound because he showed a lot of promise in 2012-3, but he has yet to recover from his failed Money In The Bank cash-in; his current role has the potential to be a career-killer, especially if he keeps losing while impersonating whomever it may be.

After a promising start, the show had kind of flat-lined over matches two and three, but fortunately it was about to pick up in a big way with the annual Money In The Bank Ladder match with the MITB contract at stake (only one this year, since the WWE and World Titles were unified back at TLC). To be honest, I felt that this looked less appealing than most bouts of this ilk in recent times due to the lack of true contenders; of those involved, most felt like filler, either because of previous MITB wins or because they were here solely to provide spots. Fortunately, that still meant we were probably going to get a memorable spot fest, and that’s exactly what we saw; although it felt like the least significant MITB match to date, it was still one hell of an effort by all.

Unlike previous MITB clashes where it was about the briefcase and nothing else, this one had the additional layer of Dean Ambrose looking to get revenge on Seth Rollins for his shocking betrayal of Shield members Ambrose and Roman Reigns on Raw the night after Payback. Their exchanges were a continuous theme of the match, but the other competitors (Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Rob Van Dam and Jack Swagger) also had their moments. (Oh, by the way, Bad News Barrett was meant to be included, but an injury suffered on the pre-MITB edition of SmackDown ruled him out.) The most notable spots were Kofi being shoved off a ladder only to use the top rope as a springboard for a crossbody onto his MITB foes, Kofi and Dolph dragging each other off the top of a ladder and in two completely insane moments, Rollins taking a hellacious backdrop off a ladder onto another ladder (the landing looked like controlled chaos, and looked brilliant, but must have hurt so much!), and Ambrose hitting a suplex to Rollins off the top of an unbelievably high ladder. One can only imagine how much pain everyone was in after this ended, especially Rollins who took the two biggest bumps. But his punishment was rewarded, as a Kane Tombstone took out Ambrose, allowing Seth to scale the ladder and become Mr. Money In The Bank 2014.

After Triple H proclaimed Seth to be the future once he joined The Authority, his MITB win here puts Rollins in a commanding position. A potentially superb feud with Ambrose is only in the early stages, and should his push continue, the former ROH and NXT Champion could be in a position to seize the WWE Title in late 2014 or early 2015. It’s hard to see how he could defeat the likes of John Cena or Brock Lesnar should one of them hold the title in the winter months, but hopefully he will be promoted effectively enough that such an occurrence would not be out of this world. Either way, whilst many questioned the wisdom of The Shield being split up, it certainly feels right now that all three members could benefit more from the faction splintering, for which WWE has to be commended. As for the outcome: as noted, most of the cast were there for the spots as opposed to having a serious chance of winning, so besides Ambrose, Rollins was the only possible winner, and so few could argue with the result.

After Cody Rhodes teased a heel turn at Payback, following his and Goldust’s defeat to RybAxel, it seemed like we were getting the much-awaited Goldust vs. Cody feud. Instead, after Cody unsuccessfully tried to provide suitable new tag team partners for The Bizarre One, Cody unexpectedly transformed into Stardust. Imagine Goldust without the Tourette’s Syndrome, the implied homosexuality, the Shattered Dreams … okay, it’s hard to explain, so just imagine Cody Rhodes dressed as Goldust, and you have Stardust. Fans at the Raw episode where this character was unleashed didn’t know how to react, and it seemed like this audience at Money In The Bank were confused too. Goldust and Stardust were teaming against RybAxel on this night, which depending on your point of view is either a rematch from Payback or a fresh offering. I lean towards the former.

The action was standard stuff; it was well-executed, but after the thrills and spills of the Ladder match, this had that dreaded “filler” feeling to it. Stardust impressed me by almost offering a completely different move set to Cody, which helps to make Stardust more than just Cody Rhodes in Goldust’s outfit. Stardust got the win with a roll-up on Ryback (how far has he fallen over the previous 12 months?), and the brothers Dust repelled a post-match Curtis Axel attack. It looks like WWE is going ahead with Goldust and Stardust as a team, which is something few were expecting. Hopefully, this will have a purpose, and it will still probably culminate with some form of Cody-Goldust feud, but if that is the plan, then WWE is setting it up in a pretty unique way.

Following that was a rematch between Rusev and Big E. Whereas their Payback match was better than expected, this was a slight disappointment, probably because they had unleashed enough cool spots in their previous PPV meeting that in a rematch, and with less time due to the bout being positioned later on the card, there was little new to see. Big E’s spear through the ropes to the floor always looks impressive and it did again here, even if it nearly always looks like Big E is close to decapitating himself with the move. Once again, Rusev came out on top, this time managing to make Big E submit to the Accolade.

Although this bout was inferior to the original bout in Chicago, it was still watchable, and it assists Rusev as he slowly moves up the card. Big E has taken a tumble recently with three consecutive supercard losses, so unless WWE has something up its sleeve or directs Big E towards Sheamus and his United States Title, the big man could be treading water for a little while going forward. Oh, and after the match, Stephanie McMahon had Brie Bella removed from the arena; Brie was backstage as a guest of her twin sister Nikki, despite having quit at Payback. This appears to be leading towards a major match of some sort, although I’m not sure whether it’s a bout that a lot of people really want to see.

Layla vs. Summer Rae with Fandango as the special guest referee was yet another filler match; by my count, the fourth of the show, which was at least three or four too many. To me, a filler match is something which either has no reason to exist or is no different from a match on Raw or SmackDown. So, the two Ladder matches on this card would not be classed as filler. Nor would the Tag Team Title bout, since it was part of a clear rivalry and was very enjoyable. Rusev vs. Big E wouldn’t be considered filler since the two big men had an issue, basic as it was. But Paige vs. Naomi (no feud), Damien Sandow vs. Adam Rose (zero tension), Goldust & Stardust vs. RybAxel (a Raw match transported to PPV) and this one were all designed solely to fill time, as opposed to provide PPV-worthy action or to settle a major score. Most supercards have at least one filler match, which is fair enough, but this had four! Sure, the Ladder matches meant that there were fewer wrestlers available to fill the rest of the PPV time, but surely more could have been done to make the other 90 minutes-two hours of the card worth watching.

To be fair, there was an issue in this match because Fandango dumped Summer Rae (on Twitter, hilariously), then went for Layla, and now both women hated each other because of Fandango, hence this bout. The reason why this was filler is because the action was pretty poor, and nobody in the arena cared about the match. I am happy with comedy storylines as long as they’re, well, funny; this one unfortunately wasn’t. Layla picked up the win, and afterwards both girls put Fandango in his place. If Damien Sandow’s prospects look bleak, then Fandango’s future seems even less bright. Okay, Sandow’s is probably worse; at least Fandango is still playing the role of Fandango.

Fortunately, we did get a match of significance after this one, which was the main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. This was an eight-man Ladder match (note to WWE: if a MITB prize is not at stake, it is not a MITB match) between John Cena, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, Kane, Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio and Roman Reigns, with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon sat at ringside. With Bryan injured, one of these eight men would win the title – but were they really eight potential champions? Kane and Del Rio were never winning this one. Bray Wyatt and Cesaro would have been fresh titleholders, but a short-term title reign (which this match was likely setting up) might have done more harm to their careers long-term. Sheamus has the United States Title already. Roman Reigns is considered to be a future main eventer, perhaps even one day taking John Cena’s spot as the top babyface in WWE, so again a rushed title win here might have done more bad than good.

So, it was between longtime main eventers Cena and Orton. Orton regaining the gold for the Authority seemed the most logical move. However, shortly before Money In The Bank, there were heavy rumours that Amazon had accidentally leaked a poster for SummerSlam, featuring a certain part-timer in the role of the challenger – which, given that particular person’s heel status, seemed to confirm that it would indeed be John Cena winning this match. If that didn’t emphasise who would be winning, then the fact that Cena’s face was the other one on the poster confirmed it. Oops! To be fair, Cena vs. (mystery wrestler) makes more sense for the match to have a face/heel dynamic, and since this seemed to be the substitute for Daniel Bryan defending the title against the opponent not to be named, then it was probably better for Cena to have the title for now and then pass it on at SummerSlam, since he would not be harmed by the defeat.

Back to the match itself, then. The main event lived up to the hype, even if it couldn’t quite provide the kind of hair-raising spots which we saw in the MITB Ladder match earlier in the night. Of note, Wyatt looked dominant at various points, but less so than Reigns, who continued to build his momentum as a future main eventer. Kane and Orton worked together at first, but they had a bit of a tiff later on when Kane realised what was at stake, Authority association be damned. Orton had a rough night as he was busted open unexpectedly when Reigns clocked him with a ladder, and the wound was pretty severe. Reigns, to his credit, made the most of it by targeting the heavy cut with a bloodthirsty expression, as opposed to ignoring it and pretending it never happened. Orton was stitched up at ringside, but returned to the ring in time to drill Cesaro with the move of the match, a pull off the ladder to Cesaro swiftly followed by a high RKO. But it was to no avail, as Orton tasted an Attitude Adjustment onto Kane (after Kane himself took an AA), and Cena climbed the ladder to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (15 by WWE numbers; 14 if you exclude his reign as the “second” WWE Champion back in the summer of 2011) to the dismay of the Authority leaders.

As noted, under the circumstances, Cena was probably the best, if not the only, choice to win here. Assuming that he is sacrificed to the challenger-whose-name-I-won’t-reveal-to-avoid-providing-a-spoiler at SummerSlam, Cena won’t lose any ounce of his aura, but the same could not be said for many of his opponents here. Many will complain about Cena winning, but as detailed, everyone else would not benefit, not so much from winning but from the inevitable title loss coming the way of the new champion. Besides, it’s Cena, coming right after Daniel Bryan’s title win at WrestleMania XXX, so of course people are going to complain. Incidentally, the fact that Cena now appears to be in the role of caretaker champion could be the first true sign that WWE is trying to move away from the Cena era of dominance, and perhaps one of the competitors in this match (hint: his initials are RR) will be the go-to man for WWE in the future, perhaps as soon as WrestleMania 31.

I enjoyed Money In The Bank, or at least I enjoyed the main matches. The two Ladder matches were fun, and the battle for the briefcase was tremendous. Add to that the really exciting tag team match to open the show, and you have a pretty good PPV, in spite of the mountain of filler content between the matches that mattered. In fact, had the rest of the show been up to scratch, this could have been the best event of the year. As it was, the top three matches were all very good in their own way, but the sheer number of insignificant bouts reduced the overall enjoyment of the show. Nevertheless, overall Money In The Bank was once again a success, and the rise of Seth Rollins adds intrigue to what will hopefully be an eventful summer season for WWE.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good