Let’s take a closer look at the first post-WrestleMania 35 PPV offering from WWE, Money In The Bank 2019.
Daniel Bryan & Rowan vs. The Usos
Given the quality on show here – a bona-fide top-tier talent in Bryan, arguably the most influential tag team of the past decade in The Usos, and a hungry, resurgent Rowan – it was a little surprising and disappointing this bout was relegated to the much-maligned pre-show. To be fair, it was a decent match-up, hurt slightly by the split screen advertisements encroaching on the action.
Rowan and Bryan dominated the early exchanges, The Big Red looking especially imposing. Rowan hit an impressive double superplex off the ropes to the twins, followed by some stiff-looking kicks by Bryan to Jey. Jey reversed the offence with an enzuigiri and then a superkick to the former ‘Yes! Movement’ leader. His attempt at a splash was countered by a LeBell lock from Bryan, which Jey just escaped. The twins negated the threat of Rowan with a double superkick and suicide dive before hitting a double splash on Bryan for the win.
This was a largely entertaining match-up and the crowd seemed hotter than usual for the kick-off show. While it sets up what is sure to be a series of top matches between the two squads, it does muddy the waters further over what is already an ambiguous Wild Card stipulation. It exposes the lack of depth in the SmackDown tag division and one hopes that suffering a loss so early in their tenure doesn’t halt the momentum of Bryan and Rowan, in what is a promising pairing.
Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Ember Moon vs. Nikki Cross vs. Naomi vs. Dana Brooke vs. Carmella vs. Natalya
This was a great showcase for the women’s division, with huge feats of athleticism and some nasty looking bumps. Brooke was impressive throughout, taking the fight to the rest of the women with a renewed vigour. It was Cross, though, who was the first to take control, wrapping Brooke and Rose in the apron and swinging a ladder high above her head with gleeful abandon, taking out all superstars in her path, though some of the ladder shots looked less than convincing at times. Elsewhere, Bayley suffered a legitimate injury from a falling ladder, and Carmella was accompanied to the back after seemingly suffering a knock from Mandy Rose.
Brooke continued to throw everything at Moon and Bayley, before the hugger became the first superstar to make a concerted effort to ascend the ladder, being thwarted by Natalya and Mandy Rose. Naomi and Cross then took turns to reach for the case, to no avail. Next, Brooke latched on to the case and started swinging precariously above the ring as Rose and Bayley rushed to stop her. As Cross tried to take advantage and sneak up the ladder, Natalya tipped it over and sent all four women crashing to the mat. The Queen of Hearts was then on the receiving end of a stunning Eclipse by Moon from a ladder outside the ring.
Carmella limped gingerly back to the ring, selling her earlier scuffle with Rose. The Princess of Staten Island cleared Rose from the ring and looked set to bag the contract again, before Sonya Deville, ringside in Rose’s corner, put a stop to that, and then scooped her pal up in a fireman’s lift, and in an impressive show of strength, scaled the ladder with Rose on her back. As it seemed Rose was going to be the new Miss Money In The Bank, a recovering Bayley dispatched of the duo and grabbed the briefcase, celebrating with a delighted Hugger Section.
This was a fun match that had some real ‘wow’ moments and also showcased the talents of a few otherwise under-utilised superstars, not least Brooke. Carmella and Rose looked to have ignited a feud and the dynamic in the friendship between Rose and Deville will be one to look out for in the coming weeks. Bayley going over was the right move and could be a real shot in the arm for her career.
United States Championship Match
Samoa Joe (C) vs. Rey Mysterio
Mysterio entered the XL Centre in Hartford, Connecticut looking to avenge being squashed by Joe at WrestleMania six weeks ago. He did this, and then some, relentlessly attacking Joe, bloodying him with a seated senton and surviving a Coquina Clutch. Miraculously, Rey pinned the champ, albeit in controversial fashion, with Joe’s shoulders up. Joe brutally attacked Mysterio after the bout in front of Rey’s watching son, Dominic.
It was a nice moment for Mysterio, winning his first US Title, but after the decimation at Mania, Joe needed to wrap up this programme with a more competitive match before moving on. This is clearly not the case, with issues between the men obviously not over. Joe looked a monster, but is this a feud anybody wants going forward?
Steel Cage Match
The Miz vs. Shane McMahon
Unfortunately, this match was a bit of a waste of everybody’s time. What should have been The Miz finally gaining revenge for the way Shane O’ Mac has systematically attacked and embarrassed his family, again saw McMahon going over on a full-time, red-hot superstar in the A-Lister. McMahon bossed the early proceedings, throwing Miz into the cage and hitting him with a neckbreaker. When Miz turned the tide, Shane tried to escape through the door, only to be dragged back inside, steel chair in tow. Miz used McMahon’s weapon on him, unloading with a series of shots, and using it as a target for a Skull Crushing Finale, McMahon escaping only by having the wherewithal of putting his foot on the bottom rope for a two count.
It wouldn’t be a Shane O’ Mac match without a death defying spot, which came courtesy of getting dragged off the top of the cage by a now vengeful Miz, who followed that up with a splash from the top rope. Miz then set up for a superplex off the top of the cage, but a weary McMahon wriggled out of his jersey, and to the floor for the win. A further, controversial finish to a match in this programme means it has dragged on far too long now and should have been wrapped up tonight with a convincing Miz win. As it stands, it’s 2-0 to McMahon, a part-time star.
Cruiserweight Championship Match
Tony Nese (C) vs. Ariya Daivari
The Cruiserweights were bumped to the main show, and Daivari even got to arrive in a luxury car, a nice surprise seeing as though PPVs rarely have elaborate gimmicks outside of Mania. Nese himself had a strong showing in an underrated bout with Buddy Murphy on the Grandest Stage of them All last month, and was looking to build on the momentum with this defence. It was Daivari, though, who controlled the early stages, dominating the champ and dispatching of him to the arena floor. He also scored a couple of near-falls and hinted briefly at a major upset.
Nese showed his resilience and staged a comeback, taking it to the heel and hitting him with The Running Nese for the 1,2,3. Nese is a strong performer, and produced a decent match in what was a tough spot on the card, the ‘bathroom break’ match if you will. He will be looking to move on to a new challenger who more matches his athleticism.
Raw Women’s Championship Match
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Lacey Evans
The Man is arguably the most over superstar in the company at the moment and faced a challenger in Evans who, in recent weeks, has run with the opportunity at a title shot, antagonising and goading Lynch at every turn. And she arrived to great fanfare, firing Dollar bills out of a gun, but was on the receiving end of a bit of a beating at the hands of the Irish Lasskicker.
Evans turned the tide, working on the arm of Lynch, a tactic which could prove significant with Becky Two Belts pulling double duty tonight. Evans even scored a couple of near falls. Her arrogance got the better of her, goading the champ, while she was down, and that was all Lynch needed to mount a comeback, pinning Evans for a two count after a Bexploder. Lynch then countered a roll-up and locked Evans into the Dis-Arm-her, clinching the win and setting her sights on Flair later in the night.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Charlotte Flair
It turned out to be a lot sooner than Lynch thought, as Flair wasted little time in looking to seize her opportunity and made her way to the ring, looking to immediately capitalise on Lynch’s injured arm. As the bell rang, Flair went straight for the arm, taking the fight to The Man, and looked to secure her 9th title.
Lynch tried to stage a comeback and managed to evade the Natural Selection and Flair was sent outside the ring. As Lynch was recovering and planning her next course of action, Evans stole a Women’s Right on the champ, who walked into a big boot from the Queen and relinquished the title to her long-standing foe.
Lynch had no time to lick her wounds as the two heels savaged Becky with a brutal beatdown in the corner. Bayley made the save, hitting the ring, briefcase in tow. She cleared house and the crowd were eating it up, imploring her to cash in on the newly-crowned Flair.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Charlotte Flair (C) vs. Bayley
She obliged and hit an elbow drop from the top turnbuckle and nabbed the gold, receiving a rapturous pop from the WWE Universe. It was nice seeing Bayley get this moment after months of what must have been frustration at Creative for lacklustre storylines and criminal under-utilisation of one of the company’s more popular stars. It also sets up a nice programme between her and Flair, going into the summer.
Roman Reigns vs. Elias
Reigns was preparing to Walk With Elias and was shown marching intently to the ring backstage. He was ambushed by Elias, who blasted The Big Dog with his guitar and made his way to the ring to serenade the Connecticut faithful. Making his way back up the ramp, Reigns appeared and hit a Superman Punch. Back in the ring, the bell sounded and Elias hit a spear for a super-quick victory. Elias provides the comic relief. Reigns shows why he is The Big Dog. Everyone moves on.
Universal Championship Match
Seth Rollins (C) vs. AJ Styles
Two of the most gifted and decorated stars in the entire industry did battle for the first time in what was maybe the most eagerly anticipated match on the card. It didn’t disappoint as the Architect and The Phenomenal One produced a Match Of The Year candidate.
With there being very little between the two superstars in terms of in-ring skill and the ability to create top matches, the opening exchanges were finely balanced, both men feeling each other out and mounting offence. Rollins was the first assert some dominance, hitting a couple of suicide dives and pinning Styles for a near-fall. AJ responded with a German Suplex and a near-fall of his own. Rollins hit a stunning suplex from the ropes and an inverted DDT for another near-fall before Styles continued the back and forth nature of the match with a DDT of his own.
An attempted Stomp by the Beast Slayer was thwarted by Styles in mesmerizing fashion as he countered with a Styles Clash for an even closer near fall, which brought the XL Centre to its feet, absolutely relishing seeing these two super-talented competitors in their prime. After further back and forth, Rollins produced a Super Kick and a Stomp to finally put the challenger away and retain the title.
Amidst the celebrations, AJ approached Rollins in what looked like an imminent heel-turn but instead showed his appreciation with a handshake, in a show of respect for his peer. This looked to have brought this truncated feud to an end for the time being, but an extended programme between the two further down the line would not be a bad idea at all.
Lars Sullivan Gatecrashes A Lucha House Party
The Freak interrupted what looked set to be an impromptu six-man tag match featuring Lucha House Party. He rolled over Gran Metalik, Kalisto and Dorado. He cut his head. That’s it, really.
WWE Championship Match
Kofi Kingston (C) vs. Kevin Owens
This was another top quality Championship match, with Owens back to doing what he does best in playing the snarling, whingeing heel and Kingston continuing to ride a huge wave of momentum and proving there is no hangover from what was one of the greatest WrestleMania moments of all-time.
Kingston unleashed fury on KO, displaying the new found aggression, which has been a feature during his title reign. He punished Owens with punches and kicks, but was halted by a superkick and then a frog splash off the ring apron. Kingston attempted his comeback but was met with another superkick by the Prizefighter, who then saw his Pop-Up Powerbomb answered by Kofi with an SOS for a close two count.
The champ then wriggled out of an attempted stunner and hit Owens with Trouble in Paradise but could not capitalise as Owens was knocked out of the ring. Back inside he smashed Kofi with a stunner, but then failed with a big splash from the ropes when Kofi stuck out his knees. He quickly acted on this advantage and followed up with a Trouble in Paradise to retain the title and continue WWEs biggest fairytale of the past year.
It remains to be seen what is in store next for The New Day member, but Owens will surely not surrender his place in line to the throne and will inevitably be looking for revenge and chasing the gold in the coming weeks.
Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn vs. Finn Balor vs. Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton vs. Andrade vs. Ali
Zayn was taken out of commission earlier on after being attacked backstage, so the remaining members of the match took to the ring for what promised to be a barnstormer of a match. It didn’t disappoint, and it was relentless from the offset, Orton setting the pace, using his experience to immediately retrieve a ladder and clear the ring, looking to get the match consigned to the history books as quickly as possible.
Ricochet, Ali and Andrade had their moments before the big men in McIntyre and Corbin showed their teeth, beating a path of destruction. Orton put a stop to this with a DDT to Corbin off the middle rope but had his attempt at an RKO cut off by a brutal Claymore Kick from the Scottish Psychopath. Balor and Andrade entered the fray and seized the opportunity to shine before meeting each other at the apex of a ladder set up in the middle of the ring. They traded blows at the top before, in what will be played in highlight reels for years to come, Andrade hit Balor with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the top onto a ladder which had been set up below. It was an incredible spot, in a match that has traditionally become synonymous with unforgettable moments such as this. Andrade is such a talented performer, and all signs are pointed towards a tussle over Balor’s IC belt in the coming months, which should produce more magic like this.
Corbin and McIntyre briefly formed an uneasy alliance to clear the rest of the line-up, including a chokeslam for Ali through a table, but it was short lived partnership, as The Lone Wolf turned on McIntyre. He then attacked Balor and Ricochet before McIntyre re-emerged with a Claymore Kick to Corbin.
McIntyre put paid to any further obstacles as he seemed to be hell-bent on retrieving the briefcase, using the ladders to bump Andrade, Balor and Ricochet all over the place. Before McIntyre could punch his ticket to a guaranteed title opportunity, he fell victim to an RKO off the ladder by Orton. That move never gets old, and remains one of the few finishes in the company that seems unstoppable. The way that Orton continues to use fresh and exciting ways to deliver the RKO outta nowhere justifies his inclusion in this match.
Ali, a peripheral figure thus far, dispatched of Corbin over the top rope, and with the rest of the field bruised, battered and down, looked to score a major upset. Brock Lesnar’s music hit to audible gasps from those in attendance, and the commentary team. He got rid of Ali, and rather uncomfortably, sat atop the ladder and retrieved the briefcase to become Mr. Money In The Bank.
It was a genuinely surprising moment at the end of one of the better ladder matches of recent years. Lesnar going over the rest of the field was a little disappointing though. All signs are that he will likely retrieve the title in the near future, taking the opportunity away from a full-time star and representing the belt only sporadically. It does increase the danger levels of the Beast, arming him with the element of surprise and ensuring Rollins and Kingston will be marked men over the coming months. However, Lesnar is seen as a top attraction in WWE and doesn’t necessarily need the briefcase to be inserted into high-profile feuds. Putting the win on a main-event ready monster heel in McIntyre may have been the better long-term option here.