Monday, June 30, 2014

Gorilla Position: Who's Got Dat, Who's Got Dat, Dat Money In Da Bank!?

What a night!
Money in the Bank continues to grow in reputation, as evidenced by its Royal Rumble-style video package reviewing the statistics of the history-making evening. Nine years, seven new champions. It's truly changed the year of WWE events, because the evening essentially guarantees a major title defense at some point during the year, and statistically speaking, most likely a title change. And now, with only one unified title at stake, the Briefcase has become even more important.
I felt a little underwhelmed by the fact that the championship itself was being contested via ladder match too. I feel like that should've been a bigger deal. Perhaps because it was already up for grabs in a TLC match earlier in the year? Who knows, but the second ladder match lacked a spark the first one had.
Overall, I think this was a fun night and some really solid matches. The filler could have been a lot better, but every card can't be perfect, I guess. That said, I felt at least the championships were well-represented, and I felt like some real stand-out stars were made throughout the evening.

Here are the matches!

Jimmy and Jey, THE USOS defend their Tag Team Championships against Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, THE WYATTS

I think if you really want to kick off a Pay-Per-View strongly, open with a tag team match, and put something on the line.
The Usos have proved to be capable champions. They're faces, but they're exciting faces, which is more than can be said for a lot of the singles roster faces at the moment. Against Harper and Rowan, it's simple underdog, scrappy, high-flyer, little faces against big guy, ruthless, relentless evil heels.
I preferred Harper and Rowan's creepy music box version of "He's Got the Whole World" as their entrance theme. This one sounded more rock generic (though I guess it was an abstract cover of "He Got the Whole World", still?)
All four competitors were top-notch in this match, and considering that they have to compete with bigger matches with much more on the line, it's quite a bold statement, but I believe they very nearly stole the show. They got a "This is awesome!" chant early on and deservedly so. A lot of fun spots in there, including Rowan setting up an Uso to take a Harper dive through the ropes and a superplex to Rowan by both Usos followed by their trademark splashes. While it would be fun to eventually see a possible Wyatt Family tag team run, I'm content with the ending, especially with such great matches.
Score: 7/10

PAIGE defends the Divas Championship against NAOMI of the Funkadactyls
I mean, does no one else find it weird to have Naomi and Cameron still referred to as the Funkadactyls, and continue to come out to Brodus Clay's entrance theme, with no Funkasaurus to be found? Because I do. But, considering the state of the Divas division, I'm sure if they weren't called the Funkadactyls, no one would have any idea who they are.
Which is unfortunate, because I've actually started to really like Naomi. I for one couldn't look more forward to this split from Cameron they seem to be building toward, because I find Cameron to be absolutely useless, and after having her on commentary, I also find her exceedingly annoying.
I'm pretty sure the top rope setup for what was probably going to be a superplex was a botch, though I can't really tell by whom. I would think Paige was mostly in control by that point in the move, though I hesitate to blame her, because, you know, she's supposed to be the one who knows what she's doing.
Regardless of that, I really thought the match was great. Paige has been garnering steadily stronger reactions, and like I said, Naomi is proving herself a better and better worker. They're a ways off from deserving more time than they got, but they certainly made the most of it.
Score: 5/10

Look, this was the only worthwhile part of the match. Another chance for Damien Sandow to show an immense talent for characters, and to get in some straightforward heeling. Could he be doing more in the WWE? Quite possibly, yes. He was once Mr. Money in the Bank, and the only other unsuccessful cash-in besides Cena, which puts him in rare company, even though it's negative.
But with Wyatt and the Authority, I just don't think there's much at the top for Sandow, who is a great worker, but lacks any more of a compelling storyline. Perhaps if this ever turns into some sort of "disgruntled worker" angle where he refuses to dress up every week anymore, then his character will really heat up, but I for one am enjoying his character work, because there's not a lot of guys who can pull this off anymore.
Also, speaking of character commitment, I hate, I hate, Adam Rose. I find the gimmick endlessly pointless. I hate the Rosebuds, I hate the entrance, and I hate that he keeps going over. He's not good. And yeah, I'm sure he was just great before they gave him this Adam Rose gimmick, but I mean, I actually think Fandango is a damn talented wrestler. I don't see any of Rose's skill being showcased. It's boring, and it's aggravating. What a waste of time that could've been given to the Divas.
Score: 0/10

Unfortunately, we were not treated to the presence of the Intercontinental Champion, Wade Barrett. Thanks to Jack Swagger, yet another career was put on hold with the dislocation of Barrett's shoulder.
Look, we can say it was an accident, we can say that maybe Swagger is mostly fine as a worker. But that makes two absolutely dangerous accidents he's caused now. It was an accident, but it was an avoidable one. Swagger was fresh, and walked out to the ring to assault a tired Barrett. If it had been Ambrose who caused the dislocation following something in the two's match, that would've made more sense to me. But Swagger was uninvolved until he had one spot to do. And he botched it. He should know better.
On top of that, I remain unimpressed by Swagger, who since his debut, has done nothing that amazing to me. Name an unforgettable Swagger match, and I'll tell you you're wrong, simply because you are. How on earth he remains in high-profile matches like this one remains a mystery to me. Even more so, how on earth he is a former Money in the Bank winner and a former Heavyweight Champion confounds me to no end.
Now, on to the match.
These six guys put on a really worthwhile show. Like last year, in the "smaller" of the two Ladder matches, they really put everything on the line. We had a great spot from Kingston (a little more subdued than in years past, but I can't really complain, since they keep finding devastating ways every year to use these things) and the Rollins/Ambrose blood feud really helped add depth to the match. Normally, we don't have too much story going into Ladder matches, especially Money in the Bank, since there's enough at stake already, that's compelling on its own. Right off the bat, Ambrose set out to destroy Rollins, and it was a lot of fun. Rollins also later took a back body drop off the ladder on to another ladder by Kingston, which was thrilling.
Most impressive performances though, besides Rollins and Ambrose (who also stole the show with a superplex spot from the top of the ladder that looked devastating) were Rob Van Dam, who has quite a lot in the tank, and was particularly on last night, and Dolph Ziggler.
Now, I find this hard to admit, but I am not enamored with Dolph Ziggler. I think he's a competent worker, and a great seller. His cash-in is one of the best ever. All that said, I just am not that big of a fan. While others have complained of him being constantly passed over, of his win-loss record, his demotion from the championship scene, I really didn't have an opinion either way. If he'd continued on the push following his concussions, I would've thought, great. If he hadn't (which is what happened), I would've thought, great.
But last night, I saw a man truly give it his all, and he reached me. When he took Kingston down on that Zig-Zag and there was a moment as he was doing it that he knew full well he was also landing on the ladder, I bought it. For the first time, I bought Ziggler. He was impressive in his spotlight. And I truly believed for a moment they were going to let him win.
I also believed Ambrose had it. So Kane coming in to interfere legitimately surprised me.
Score: 8.5/10

I am still refusing to use the tag team name bestowed upon Axel and the Big Guy, because it is stupid. It is infinitely stupid. It sounds like diarrhea meds, and I hate it. And it's too bad, because the two have really impressed me as a tag team. Are they legit contenders for the belts yet? No. I definitely think Harper and Rowan have a better claim to that for a while.
I am also impressed by Goldust and the bizarre, bizarre Stardust. Look, love or hate the new gimmick, it's still Cody Rhodes. It's the talented, underestimated, underrated Cody Rhodes. And this Stardust gimmick is getting him noticed. The reaction to him is not unlike it was for Goldust in the Attitude Era. Sure, it's not as boundary-pushing now as it was then, but it's still quite off-putting, based on audience reaction. But then you see the two work, and you get it. I mean, to a lesser degree, it's the Macho Man formula. Randy Savage came to the ring with insanely loud, solid color tights that looked like the cover of a Tiger Beat magazine, ribbons on his arms like wings, painted sunglasses, and quite literally the most pompous music you could enter to, and you just couldn't take him seriously. But then he got in the ring, and he worked his ass off. You loved him. It's the same for the Rhodes brothers. They are off-putting, but they are absolutely solid workers, and this gimmick keeps Cody relevant.
The match wasn't as strong as the Usos/Wyatts affair, but we've also seen this match-up a lot as of late, both before the Cody/Stardust transformation and after. Which is terrible, because Stardust is only a couple weeks old. But all that said, it was a fun little match, and the Tag Team division goes 2/2 for the evening, which is more than can be said for the Divas...
Score: 6/10

RUSEV (with Lana) VS. BIG E
Sadly not given much more time than a filler match, Rusev and Big E put on a great hoss match. The two are awesome workers, deceptively agile big men, and while E seems an unlikely candidate to challenge Rusev on a USA VS Russia angle, the match more than makes up for it. Frankly, I'm more of a fan right now of Big E than of Rusev, though both are talented. And I also think I'm just bored with monster squashers. They seem to get way more interesting once their domination phase is over.
Score: 4/10

LAYLA VS. SUMMER RAE, with Fandango as Special Guest Referee
This is what I was talking about when I said the Tag Teams had one up on the Divas tonight.
What a waste. As I said about Adam Rose, I hear Summer Rae is actually very good. Clearly she's not getting to showcase it here, and Layla's just never been one of my favorites. Fandango, who I actually think is quite good despite a terrible gimmick, was relegated to being absolutely useless here.
On top of that, the storyline is insulting, both to women, and to people who like stories. Two people fighting over one person is a fantasy. Either way, it paints the women involved in a terrible light, and the men look like sleazeballs. No one fights over a single person. It doesn't happen. This is an invention of Hollywood.
On top of this, you could not have a storyline like this in the hands of worse storytellers. Whether this is their fault, or the creative's fault, I'm not entirely sure, but it led to a match with no stakes, and no logic. Why is Fandango the ref? There's no rhyme or reason to this call. He's not a valid official for this bout. Ken Shamrock reffed the match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin not because he used to be one of their friends and now was the other's. That would make no sense.
It would have only made sense if Fandango turned on Layla. Which he didn't. Hence, a waste.
Good timing on the "CM Punk" chants, WWE Universe.
Score: 0/10

Well, now that was fun.
Boy, they really didn't like the idea of Sheamus winning, huh?
Del Rio got featured more than Bray Wyatt, which is too bad, because I never thought he ever had a legitimate chance at winning.
Kane was there for filler, which was unfortunate too. I feel like he shouldn't have been used at all, and only gotten involved as a non-entrant. They didn't need him to interfere in the earlier match, Rollins could have found a way to do it himself. But WWE heeling 101, I guess: never do anything by yourself. Make yourself look as incapable as possible.
Reigns was impressive here, but I'm interested to see him work a lot more extended singles matches soon. The Shield was able to cover any deficiencies he had as a worker, with Ambrose and Rollins absolutely solid, and most of the matches Reigns has been involved in outside of The Shield have been battle royals and the Royal Rumble, again masking deficiencies. I'm not confident in him quite yet as a solo act. But I have no doubt he'll get there. I frankly was glad he didn't win this evening. I think the push that far would be premature. I'm also really liking the solo Shield's entrance music, unlike the Wyatts' recent change I mentioned earlier. They're all loosely inspired by the group's music, with Reigns' being the closest to it still, and it's really fun.
Cesaro looked impressive too, but I honestly think of the five heels involved in the evening's match, (yes, I'm counting Cesaro as a heel) Orton impressed me the most. I mean, you forget how good Orton can be sometimes, with his apex predator persona. He got color the hard way, and continued the match. And he was even better after the head wound! He looked dangerous. It was awesome to see. I thought he also had a legitimate moment at taking the titles.
But c'est la vie, John Cena stood tall at the conclusion of the match. And you know what, I don't mind. Most of the normally hostile Boston crowd didn't seem to mind either. Cena goes into his 15th reign, but we'll talk about just how long this reign will last...
Score: 9/10

The Aftermath
The Usos carry the titles for a bit longer, but I think this can only eventually end with the Wyatts winning. There's something enticing about the Wyatts eventually holding title gold, because it's something The Authority doesn't want and it's something none of the faces want. It could give us one of the more exciting storylines. The Wyatts winning might happen as early as Battleground, if only for the fact that I don't think a rivalry can be sustained to SummerSlam, though the lack of the division's depth may necessitate that fact.
Paige has no legitimate challengers in the forseeable future, short of AJ Lee coming back to take the title back. Then we'll have a pretty strong title picture going forward from there, with Paige chasing the champion.
Stardust is here to stay, and I think he made a better impact tonight than his debut. I don't think they'll re-enter the championship picture again, but they could hold over the division until a couple new teams get added.
You now have a legitimate star in Dean Ambrose, whom I am loving more and more every day. I hope something similar happens between Ambrose and Rollins, as happened with Sandow and Cody Rhodes with last year's Money in the Bank. I don't know if it will, but it'd be a lot of fun to see.
Cena is heading into the match of his life against Lesnar at SummerSlam. I can feel it. And we all know what's going to happen. Look, there's always doubt when it comes to Cena, and we've seen him beat Lesnar before, but this is now the Lesnar who conquered the Streak. Lesnar could very well be your next WWE Heavyweight Champion. And I for one, look forward to it.