WWE returned to pay-per-view (PPV) -- WWE Network for most of us -- last night (Sun., June 29, 2014) with its Money in the Bank event at the TD Garden Arena in Boston, Massachusetts, featuring a show that is surely to garner mixed reviews thanks to up-and-down in ring action and up-and-down booking.
Catch up on full results and the live blog by clicking here. Let's get right to reacting to all the night's events.
John Cena wins and I'm actually pretty happy about it
Granted, this is mostly off the various rumors floating around (most of which have been proven true, by the way), but here's what the plan seemed to be: Daniel Bryan wins the WWE world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania on the same night Brock Lesnar conquers the Undertaker's undefeated streak, the former runs through a filler feud for a couple months (Kane) while the latter takes time off, and the two come head-to-head in late July to set up a blockbuster SummerSlam main event.
Only Bryan gets hurt, has neck surgery, and no one knows when he'll be back. So WWE is forced to scramble to come up with an acceptable opponent for the
man beast who ended the streak.
It took all of a cursory glance at the roster to realize who that man was always going to be.
That man is John Cena.
Look, you can hate Cena all you want and I won't blame you for that. He's stale, he's too colorful, he tells a lot of jokes without being funny, and his head looks like a block. Whatever, it's easy to find something. Superman isn't much fun because he's never vulnerable.
Cena is never vulnerable.
WWE is literally about to get the best of all worlds here, even if so many fans are decrying the decision makers for ending a PPV with Cena standing tall. Look past that part for a minute and consider what's about to happen.
Cena, who you despise but all the kiddos love, is going to have to face Brock freaking Lesnar, who the kids despise but the smartened up fans (mostly) love, at SummerSlam. Cena is a babyface to all the right people and a heel to all the others. The same applies to Lesnar.
And Brock is going to crush him.
There's never been a better time for this to happen. For as angry as you are that Cena won the title, you'll be that much happier when he eats a couple F-5s and can't answer that three count because he ran up against a beast who actually can make him vulnerable.
You can bring up the Extreme Rules 2012 match and how Lesnar beat the ever loving shit out of Cena before doing the job but that was a different time and those were entirely different circumstances. That was Lesnar in his first match back after a near decade long absence.
This Lesnar just broke Undertaker's streak.
This Lesnar is untouchable.
This Lesnar is going to do exactly what you want him to.
So, if you can, understand your anger won't be wasted if you can stick around long enough to watch Cena get what's coming to him. Because it's payback time for that disgraceful decision back at Extreme Rules. He's in for another beating and it's going to be glorious.
And, hey, the ladder match was actually pretty good, wasn't it?
Segment grade: B-
I can't see from here (but I can smell your fear)
Bad News Barrett's inability to work the contract ladder match, while sad, was ultimately irrelevant thanks to Dean Ambrose becoming a made man. That may be a slight exaggeration but everything about this match was booked to make him a super hot babyface.
Ambrose is great for a number of reasons -- "daddy's gonna be mad at you" -- but there's no substitute for good psychology in pro wrestling. That's one of the big knocks on guys like Cena. Here we have a blood feud between two former partners and there was a very real fear that they would start the ladder match like just any other match because this is WWE and that's what happens.
Instead, Ambrose freaked out at Seth Rollins' mere presence and the brawl was on right away. It was so exaggerated that the action in the ring was stunted early on thanks to the distraction.
That's that good pro wrestling shit.
Props to whoever laid out this match, too, because everyone who was in got their stuff in, including Rob Van Dam working harder than he has in a long time, Jack Swagger managing to avoid injuring anyone, Dolph Ziggler doing what he could to get over despite knowing he wasn't going over (and he did), and Kofi Kingston doing his usual acrobatics.
But it all came back to Ambrose and Rollins, and they delivered in spades.
Exhibit B is WWE booking it like Ambrose suffered a shoulder injury and needed to be taken out mid-match. The crowd audibly groaned and simultaneously got lit up in anger at the idea of his leaving. That was the first sign this was going to be something special.
Then he said "I DON'T CARE IF IT'S DISLOCATED, POP IT BACK IN" and everyone loved him for it.
Then they went about the match and convinced you he wasn't coming back until JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT when he did come back to a thunderous pop. They set this up so wonderfully, I was convinced he was winning even though I had prior knowledge beforehand (unreliable as it may be) that Rollins was going over.
Then they pissed you off beyond measure when that bastard Kane showed up to ruin everything because if there's anything we've learned over the last year it's that Kane ruins everything.
But for all that anger, realize it's because you wanted Ambrose to win that badly. Then realize he'll get his eventually, and now that Rollins has a briefcase to cash in sometime down the line, can't you imagine all the possibilities? And aren't all of them delightful?
A great match with great booking, even if we were really mad about the finish (because almost all of that was pure fan reaction).
Segment grade: A-
But not least:
- Bray Wyatt hardly showed up in the WWE title match and Erick Rowan and Luke Harper couldn't get the job done against The Usos. The Wyatt Family has some rebuilding to do after taking it on the chin for a number of months. Heels are born to lose and all that but when are they going to get their licks in?
- Bo Dallas couldn't possibly be a better character. He was so good here that I'm almost upset that WWE scripted Daniel Bryan to call him a Bo-ner and that's probably going to become a popular chant. Not entirely sure what they were thinking with that, and Bryan should be above that kind of nonsense, but whatever. It must be a pain in the neck for Bryan to be going through what he's going through. He just didn't BOLIEVE enough.
- Paige and Naomi need more time in the ring together before they can have a really good match. Naomi can move so fluidly that if she tightened up her offense, she would be a real treat to watch. Paige is properly vicious, but they missed a few spots, with one really bad botch. They might have actually benefited from the death spot. Also, need more Rampaige.
- Moral of the story re: Summer-Fandango-Layla is that men can be as sleazy as they want and beautiful women will still fight to be with them. This was awful in every way it could be.
- It really does look like it's time to move on from Adam Rose. Damien Sandow, meanwhile, can keep on keeping on.
- Goldust & Stardust will always have my support because they will always make people feel uncomfortable for the worst of reasons. I love the idea of WWE booking these guys to get in your face and make you deal with it. It was in a bad spot coming after the first ladder match, but the crowds have no clue how to react to Stardust. At least the idiots who called them "hermaphrodites" as an insult did the job here.
- Rusev vs. Big E was ridiculously fun. Hoss fights usually are, of course, but Rusev showed that little extra we wondered if he had after this long string of straight squash matches. He gave Big E quite a bit and Big E wasn't shy taking it. At one point early on, Big E went for the spear through the ropes with the same setup at Payback and Rusev kneed him in the face. Cannot even describe how nice it is when they pay attention to these little details. When they went back to it later it was that much more effective. Well, that and Rusev taking the bump flat back on the outside and getting that look on his face like "welp, this was a stupid idea, and now I can't breathe".
This was a fine show when it was going right and downright painful to watch when it was going wrong.
Overall grade: C+
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?
(Photos via WWE.com)