Seventy weeks is a long time, especially when that is the entire time that WWE functioned without live fans in attendance. It was also the last time that WWE held a show outside of Florida. But that seems to be all over now. Yes, WrestleMania may have had some fans in attendance, but that simply pales in comparison to seeing the Dickies Arena packed to the rafters for Money in the Bank. The crowd were electric, and so they should be, considering how famished they’d been for live pro-wrestling for so long.
Earlier on the pre-show, the Uso’s defeated the Mysterios to become the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions. That must have meant that the Head of the Table was pleased, but would the Bloodline be able to finish the night with all of their Championships. There were six matches on the main card, two of which were Money in the Bank Ladder matches, while the rest were all for Championships. Let’s have a look at what went down on this Sunday night in Fort Worth, Texas.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match
Asuka vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki A.S.H. vs. Liv Morgan vs. Zelina Vega vs. Natalya vs. Tamina
Alexa Bliss was out first and she stood on one of the turnbuckles while the rest of the women entered. Alexa initially seemed glued to her corner when the bell rang, while the rest of the women went after each other and ladders. While everybody else was outside, Bliss skipped into the ring and tried to summon the briefcase down. We’ll never know if she’d be successful as she was quickly disrupted by an opponent. Tamina was the first to set up a ladder, but Liv Morgan was quicker, as she tried to climb and retrieve the briefcase before the ladder was tipped over.
Asuka and Tamina then went one on one for a short period. Asuka also knocked Natalya off the apron before setting the ladder up again, pinning Tamina beneath it. Asuka climbed the ladder but was stopped from reaching the top by Liv. Morgan began to climb before Natalya tipped her off. The two then played a brief tug of war with the ladder, before teaming up to attack Nikki with it. Natalya eventually trapped Liv in the corner with the ladder. Bliss then sent Natalya face-first into the ladder, before Liv escaped.
Bliss set up the ladder and climbed up one side as Zelina Vega climbed up the other. At the top. Bliss appeared to have Zelina under a hypnotic trance, preventing her from attempting to win the briefcase. Natalya attacked Bliss, breaking the trance. Morgan returned to the ring and went after Vega. Then Naomi returned, powerbombing Morgan onto Vega, who was lying prostrate on another ladder. Nikki tried to attack Naomi but was only slammed onto a ladder for her trouble.
Natalya then dumped Naomi out of the ring and tried to climb the ladder, but she had Vega on her back the whole time. As Natalya tried to win the briefcase, Zelina applied a sleeper hold. Morgan then climbed up and pulled both women down. While most of the women were brawling in the ring, Nikki climbed a ladder on the outside and leapt onto all of them, wiping out the field. It looked like it was Nikki’s moment as she set up the ladder, but Alexa returned and pulled her down. The two former Tag Team partners went at it before Bliss floored her former friend with a modified Sister Abigail. Alexa tried to climb before she was attacked by the current Tag Team Champions. Natalya and Tamina worked together to attack Bliss outside the ring. All of the other women worked together to bury Alexa under a pile of ladders. This earnt huge boos from the fans.
Back in the ring, Liv Morgan climbed the ladder, but Tamina pulled her down. Liv sent Tamina face-first into a turnbuckle. Natalya set up a second ladder, putting it side by side with the first. Asuka set up a third ladder, the other side of the first. Morgan floored Asuka, then tried again to climb the middle ladder, but Naomi climbed the other side. The remaining women – bar Alexa – climbed the neighbouring ladders. While most of the women were distracted, brawling with each other, Nikki unhooked the briefcase.
Winner: Nikki A.S.H
Verdict: That was not the outcome I was expecting. Due to a comedy act (Otis) winning last year before the briefcase was taken away from him, I thought they might avoid going a similar route again. That said, I have no complaints about Nikki winning. I just hope WWE uses this opportunity to properly get behind her because right now, she hasn’t been booked as a credible challenger to either of the current Champions.
As a slight side note, after such a long time without fans in the building, it was interesting to hear who the current fanbase likes. Alexa Bliss clearly got the biggest cheer in this match, perhaps closely followed by Liv and Nikki. While Tamina and Natalya got the loudest boos.
RAW Tag Team Championship match
AJ Styles and Omos (c) vs. The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar)
It looked like Erik and Styles would start the match for their respective teams, but Styles promptly tagged out to Omos. So Erik tagged out to Ivar, then both of the Raiders went after Omos together, but Omos quickly flattened them both. With Ivar looking weak, Styles tagged in and tried to pick up a quick pin. Ivar quickly regained control so the Raiders deployed frequent tags as they wore down AJ. Erik landed a knee to AJ’s face, for a close two-count.
Omos tagged back in and threw Styles onto Erik at ringside. Styles tagged back in and went on the attack, attempting to wear Erik down with a working hold. Erik fought free and tagged Ivar back in. The bigger of the Viking Raiders flattened AJ with a crossbody. Styles tagged out to Omos. Ivar tried to clothesline Omos but it had no effect. Ivar came off the top rope but was caught, and slammed to the mat. Omos then targeted the shoulder of Ivar, keeping the bigger Viking grounded.
Styles insisted on a tag and attacked Ivar with a series of chops. Ivar evaded and tagged Erik back in. Erik unloaded on Styles with a huge dropkick, followed by an overhead throw. A double team move from the Raiders still wasn’t enough to put Styles away. Styles found a second wind and managed to fight his way free and tag Omos back in. Omos slammed Ivar and cockily just trod on Ivar for the pin – but Ivar kicked out. AJ tagged in, again. The Viking Raiders worked together to fly and takedown Omos. They clotheslined Omos over the top rope and Erik attacked at ringside, while AJ tried to roll up a distracted Ivar. AJ Styles suffered a Viking Experience, but Omos broke up the pin by throwing Erik across the ring. Omos tagged in and landed the double arm chokeslam for the three-count.
Winners: Omos & AJ Styles
Verdict: Understandably, AJ Styles worked the majority of the match for his team. The parts Omos worked were short and minimal. There were times where the title reign looked in jeopardy, which was exactly what this match needed. There were the early showings of a fracture in this partnership, so it seems there may already be a ticking clock until we see an AJ and Omos feud.
Talking of the crowd again, there were loud cheers for AJ Styles throughout this match. That must have felt a little demeaning for the Viking Raiders – who were supposed to be the faces – but there just wasn’t the reaction for them. This suggests to me that AJ Styles really needs to be positioned and booked as a babyface right now.
WWE Championship match
Bobby Lashley (c) (with MVP) vs. Kofi Kingston
Mike Rome provided the formal ring introductions. There were loud cheers for Kofi and boos for Bobby. Unlike the previous match, the participants here were correctly booked according to the crowd reaction.
The bell rang and MVP held Kofi’s ankle. Lashley charged at Kofi, but Kingston rolled free to evade the attack. Kingston followed up with a double dropkick, but Lashley quickly turned the match around and went on the powerhouse attack. Lashley tried for a Spear, but Kingston evaded again. Kofi tried for a springboard attack but was caught and slammed. Lashley threw his opponent out of the ring, followed and then slammed him into the ring post.
Back in the ring, Lashley continued to overpower Kingston and handle him like a ragdoll. Kingston struggled back to his feet but ended up in the Hurt Lock. Kingston started to slip out, so Lashley slammed him to the mat. Lashley landed a Dominator and then played to the crowd. Lashley hit a second, it looked as though he could easily pin Kingston, but Lashley wasn’t interested. He preferred to taunt the crowd and land a third Dominator. Then Lashley applied the Hurt Lock. Kingston just about managed to tap out before he passed out.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
Verdict: This was by no means a classic, but it did exactly what it was supposed to. Kingston was never a realistic opponent here, so the one-sided beatdown makes sense. Lashley is clearly hated by the live crowd and earned the heat he received. That’s only going to ensure a massive pop when he is finally dethroned.
RAW Women’s Championship
Rhea Ripley (c) vs Charlotte Flair
Following the formal ring introductions, the pair were slow to start, taking the opportunity to size each other up. After a brief lockup, Flair flipped off the crowd to a nuclear reaction. “We want Becky!” chants echoed around the arena as the two women brawled. Ripley dumped Flair at ringside, attempted a senton but Charlotte evaded and Ripley landed on the arena floor. Flair followed up with a dropkick into the ringside barricade.
Charlotte took the advantage and went on the attack back in the ring. She landed a T-bone suplex and followed up with a working hold. Ripley managed to toss Flair out of the ring and took the opportunity to catch her breath. The “We want Becky!” chants continued, so far they were the loudest thing of the night. Ripley floored Charlotte with a dropkick and followed with a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Ripley landed a German Suplex and then climbed to the top rope. Flair got back to her feet. Ripley missed a dropkick and Flair turned it into a Boston Crab. Flair tried for Figure-Four but Ripley rolled her up for two.
A Big Boot from Charlotte also got a two-count. Flair climbed the ropes but Ripley tugged her down and set her up for an Electric Chair. Flair rolled through for a Sunset Flip, but Ripley transitioned into an incredible Suplex for a close fall. Ripley attacked Flair with a series of chops, but they seemed to only fire up the challenger. Charlotte knocked her opponent out of the ring and then landed a Moonsault to the outside. Back in the ring, Charlotte missed Natural Selection, Ripley applied a submission, but Flair rolled through for a two count.
Ripley tried for Riptide, but Flair reversed into a DDT for a close two-count. Charlotte seemed emotional, lost for what to do next. The two women got back to their feet and exchanged chops. After a back elbow, Flair made the cover but had her feet on the ropes so the referee stopped his count. Flair wasted time arguing with the referee and got a kick to the face for her trouble. Ripley sat Flair on the top rope and set up for a Superplex. Flair reversed into Natural Selection from the top rope, but again only got a two-count.
“This is awesome!” chants echoed around the arena. Flair got fired up and tried to set up Figure-Four, Ripley, escaped and knocked Charlotte out of the ring, Ripley went after Flair but got her head slammed into the ring post. Flair then trapped Ripley’s left leg behind the ring steps and repeatedly kicked the steps. Back in the ring, Charlotte locked in Figure-Eight. Ripley was in agony and had no choice but to tap out.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
Verdict: Cheers for somebody not even involved in the match can never be a good thing. That said, Flair and Ripley worked incredibly well here and got the crowd onside. By the midway point, the crowd were absolutely electric and hanging on every moment. I usually think “This is awesome!” chants are cliched, but after such an absence they felt like fresh air here and were arguably deserved.
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder match
Ricochet vs. John Morrison vs. Riddle vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Big E vs. Kevin Owens vs. King Nakamura vs. Seth Rollins
The opening moments were an absolute free-for-all as all of the participants went after each other. Seth and John argued over who was the true ‘Drip King’ before they were taken down by Riddle and Ricochet respectively. Drew and Big E were the two left in the ring. The two biggest men in the match went at it and exchanged power moves. They powered each other out of the ring, Owens brought in a ladder but was followed by Nakamura. Owens suffered a reverse exploder onto a ladder before the King set up the ladder. Morrison and Nakamura battled briefly before Morrison landed a corkscrew attack from the top rope. Both Nakamura and Morrison climbed the ladder. At the top, Nakamura applied a triangle, before Seth hit a flying attack that broke the hold. Seth and John then worked together, attacking Nakamura, Big E, Drew and Riddle with the ladder.
Riddle suffered a modified Samoan drop, from Morrison, onto the ladder. Ricochet entered the ring but also suffered a double team attack, from Rollins and Morrison, onto the ladder. Morrison and Rollins continued to work together and used the ladder to build a bridge from the commentary table to the apron, before attacking Kevin Owens. KO tried to outsmart the Drip Dastardlies, but then got dropped spine-first onto the ladder. McIntyre returned to the ring and went after both Rollins and Morrison. But the numbers advantage was too much. With McIntyre laid out on the ladder, Morrison barely missed Starship Pain. Morrison hurt his elbow in the process.
Rollins climbed the ladder, but Big E, Riddle and Ricochet returned. Riddle landed an RKO on Rollins. Nakamura returned and battled Riddle before McIntyre floored them both with a double Claymore. Big E returned and ate a Futureshock DDT. Ricochet tried to attack McIntyre but ate a Reverse Alabama Slam onto the ladder. Rollins slipped back into the ring and ate a Glasgow Kiss, then the crowd counted down for a Claymore. McIntyre was all alone, climbing the ladder, before Jinder Mahal’s cronies, Shanky and Veer stormed the ring and beat down Drew. Mahal then followed up and attacked McIntyre with a chair. With McIntyre a beaten mess, Shanky and Veer dragged the Scottish Warrior to the back.
Ricochet and Riddle scaled the ladder. Riddle tipped the ladder over and Ricochet crashed onto the opponents on the outside. They both climbed again, while Rollins set up and climbed a second ladder. Big E tugged Rollins down and threw him out. Riddle then delivered RKO’s to Big E and Ricochet, before Rollins hit Riddle with a Stomp. Nakamura dumped Rollins and then climbed the second ladder before Morrison climbed the first ladder and squirted the King with the dipstick. Owens tugged Morrison down and into a Stunner. KO followed up with a Stunner to Nakamura, and then a Pop-up Powerbomb to Ricochet.
Owens climbed the ladder, but Rollins attacked the knee and then powerbombed Owens through the ladder bridge, which snapped on impact. Rollins climbed the taller ladder, before Big E slipped into the ring and gave chase, then landing a Big Ending from off the ladder. Big E climbed and unhooked the briefcase.
Winner: Big E
Verdict: I am very happy with that outcome. This was the twenty-sixth Money in the Bank ladder match, so there was nothing new here. By this point, we’ve seen everything the stipulation has to see. We certainly saw all the greatest hits here. The action was fast-paced, there was no lull or time to get bored. Everyone had their time to shine, but Big E was the one standing tall at the end. It was a long-overdue win, and while I don’t think Big E will cash-in in the near future, we could be at the start of something special.
Universal Championship match
Roman Reigns (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Edge
Greg Hamilton provided the formal ring introductions for the main event. Edge got a tremendous reaction from the crowd, while Roman was booed, and all was right with the world. There were duelling chants of “Let’s go, Roman!” “Let’s go, Edge!” In fairness, that did sound pretty awesome after such a long time.
The two foes locked up in a feeling out process, neither wanting to give up the early advantage. Roman landed a shoulder tackle and the crowd erupted. Roman lapped it up and taunted them. In another chain wrestling series, Edge targeted the left arm of Roman. Reigns fought back and targeted Edge in the corner of the ring. Edge reversed and sent Roman shoulder-first into the ring posts. Reigns looked like he was about to walk out on the match before Heyman gave him a pep talk.
With Roman now a little fired up, the two heavyweights exchanged right hands. The two fought at ringside where Edge suffered a Samoan Drop. Back in the ring, Roman went on the offence and stomped his challenger in the corner. Reigns took Edge outside the ring and methodically beat him down, bouncing his head off the ring steps and the guard rail. Back in the ring, Roman delivered some ground and pound and the crowd started to get a little restless. Reigns sent Edge shoulder-first into the ring posts and tormented the crowd. Edge kicked out of a suplex and frustrated the Champion.
Reigns applied a chinlock and took the match to an all-time slow pace. All the while, Roman taunted the crowd as they cheered on Edge. The Hall of Famer tried to find a second wind, but just always seemed a half step slower than the Universal Champion. Reigns hit a Drive-By for another two-count. With the crowd absolutely hating him, Roman set up for a Superman Punch, but Edge reversed into a backslide for a two-count. Edge followed up with a big boot that sent both men down.
Both men got back to their feet and traded blows. Edge landed an Edgecution for a close fall. The Rated-R Superstar followed up with forearms and then sat Roman on the top rope, bouncing Roman’s skull off the top of the ring post. In the middle of the ring, Edge applied a Crossface and Roman crawled to reach the ropes. Edge tugged the Champion back into the middle and cranked the hold. Roman fought and get the bottom rope to force a break.
As Roman recovered, Edge set up in the corner for a Spear. Reigns blocked it and applied a Guillotine. Edge pushed forward and both men tumbled out of the ring. Edge side-stepped a Spear that sent Roman crashing through the barricade. Edge then Speared Roman through another barricade and then carried him back to the ring. Edge made the cover for a close fall. The crowd were electric and tried to fire up Edge. Roman avoided an Edgecution and delivered a Superman Punch that sent Edge into the referee.
With the referee, Charles Robinson, down, Roman grabbed a chair and snapped off the leg. Reigns applied a Crossface with the chair leg in Edge’s mouth. Edge battled out and attacked with a series of headbutts. Edge applied the Crossface, with the chair leg in Roman’s mouth, and the Usos came down. Before the cousins could make the save, the Mysterios attacked the Usos. Reigns almost passed out in the hold, but there was still no referee.
Seth Rollins got in the ring, kicked Edge in the back of the head and then marched to the back. Reigns got back to his feet, furious, and set up for a Spear, but Edge landed his Spear first. Edge made the cover, but it took too long for a second referee to get down to ringside, which allowed Roman to kick out at two. The crowd were in disbelief when Reigns kicked out, cueing more “This is awesome!” chants. As Edge set up for another Spear, Seth Rollins returned. Edge kicked Rollins off the apron, but the distraction cost him. Roman landed a Spear for the victory.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Verdict: For me, that was a fantastic match. It had absolutely everything. Sure, the ref bump was a little cliche, but it was necessary to get certain pieces into position. While there were a few slow periods, all the key beats were hit perfectly. Edge has clearly been booked as the biggest threat to Roman’s reign, so far, and he’d be the new Champion if it weren’t for Seth Rollins. The finish suggests to me that Edge will have a genuine claim for another title match further down the line. But first, he has a pesky Messiah to deal with.
Following the match, Rollins continued to beat down Edge and then stared down Reigns. Edge recovered, attacked Rollins and the two fought through the crowd, and to the back. Heyman handed Roman a microphone and Champion demanded that the whole world now acknowledge him. Then John Cena’s music hit, and out came the former 16-time Champion. The crowd were absolutely electric for Cena, I can’t remember him ever getting a reaction like that before. Cena squared up to the Champion and then posed in the corner. The show went off the air with Roman looking deflated at Cena’s return.
Overall: This show was everything it needed to be. As the first show back in front of a capacity crowd, it hit all the sweet spots and didn’t outstay its welcome. The crowd were wonderful and played their part throughout – I hope WWE keep their PPV’s to this length going forwards. Some of the events in the main event may have been a little predictable, based on the rumours for matches at SummerSlam, but I didn’t have a problem with that. I’m personally looking forward to Edge vs Rollins and Cena vs Reigns.
This was easily the best WWE show of the year so far, but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by suggesting we’ll see even better.
All images and videos courtesy of WWE