June 20, 2016 by Joey Keogh
Sometimes – sadly, not very often anymore – WWE pulls a total surprise out of the bag, knocking those of us who roll our eyes at every John Cena ‘what up, homes‘ promo, every Baron Corbin opportunity, every Roman Reigns victory out of our seats. These are the moments that make us, if not proud, slightly more rationalised pro-wrestling fans.
Tonight’s Money In The Bank 2016 was one such event.
But before all that, we had another bullshit Kickoff show to sit through. You know the drill by now, and I’m not going to insult your intelligence by peddling the same ol’ tired Corey Graves slags again and again (but what was up with that hat?) so I will only say the following; Lita was a decent addition to the panel, the Lucha/Dudley tag was good fun and the Fandango/Breeze sunburn bit was hilarious and perfectly-played by two pros at the top of their comedic game.
The main show, as it were, begins with none other than Enzo Amore, wearing all of the accessories in the world as per usual, and flanked by Big Cass as he delivers the usual medley of puns and wordplay. The match that follows is good fun, if a little messy (not to mention botch-heavy, at times – eek) and the ending, which sees The New Day retain, is predictable but satisfying. These guys are #1 in WWE right now, and their path to that position was hard-fought so the fact they’re hanging around as champs to break a record nobody outside of the boardroom cares about is fine by us.
Corbin wins over Ziggler in a mercifully slow bout, during which neither man seems fully roused from his mid-afternoon nap. Why this was moved from the pre-show is anyone’s guess, but the case was not made for its inclusion. Annoyingly, the women’s tag match that follows seems short, even by comparison. And although it ends with a shocking heel turn by Nattie, as she turns on her partner Becky for supposedly making them lose, it’s disheartening to see the newly-formed female division rushed through to make room for, er, another Sheamus match.
That the match in question is one of the most dynamic of the Irishman’s recent work should not be brushed aside, but the fact remains that his opponent, Apollo Crews, is being bizarrely undersold on the main roster. Take, for example, the fact that he wins here with a roll up. It’s still a win over a big guy, but it’s not really much of a win, is it? And the crowd barely react when it happens, which isn’t surprising considering they were dead throughout, but still sad when we know how over Crews was in NXT. He has everything Vince wants in a champ, so surely it’s not just skin colour holding him back? At least Sheamo’s rocking a great big bushy beard to add something new.
Up next is the highly-anticipated Cena/Styles face-off, which begins with the latter offering a particularly withering look, for which the camera, hilariously, zooms right in on him. Midway through, he asks nobody in particular “Is this all he’s got!?” before continuing to lay into Cena. Considering he hasn’t lost at this PPV since 2011 (where some random tattooed fellow who we don’t acknowledge anymore seems to have been involved in some way), it’s still hard to imagine the #1 guy eating the loss here. And, naturally, he doesn’t.
Instead, after a succession of signature moves, including Styles’ Clash and his calf crusher, along with Cena’s AA (obviously) the ref is mistakenly sent flying and doesn’t recover long enough to catch a three-count. In the meantime, The Club come out, sling an arm over Cena, beat the shit out of him and then tiptoe away quietly, leaving Styles to steal the pin and, by extension, the victory. It’s an interesting moment, admittedly, but at the same time it’s disappointing to see yet another great wrestler – and, in this case, a worldwide star – fall victim to the idea of Cena only being beaten by nefarious means. But, hey, maybe it’ll be twisted differently on RAW, who knows.
The Money In The Bank ladder match follows, sporting many, many, many great ladder spots and not much regular fighting. Ambrose is pegged as the winner from the outset, but does take his time getting to the top of the bloody thing, ascending only to drop a flying elbow at first as both Zayn and Ambrose, bickering as they do, are hot on the heels of whoever even looks up there. A “this is awesome” chant seems a touch unearned, although it’s always nice to hear fans being positive. A Michinoku Driver into the side of the ladder, by Zayn, to KO is the highlight, even if it means both of them are pretty much out of the running.
In the end, surprising nobody, it’s Ambrose who grabs the briefcase and wins. But, considering he’s a big, greasy, wild-eyed weirdo, it’s still pretty cool. Unfortunately, it does impact negatively on the decent, if not in any way memorable US title match that follows, pitching current champ Rusev against Titus O’Neill. By this stage, the show is threatening to spill into overtime, which means that Baron Corbin was considered more relevant than these guys. Anyway, Rusev retains after a strong, hard-fought bout that nonetheless establishes Titus as a real contender.
And finally we come to the world heavyweight championship match. As expected, it’s boring as hell right up until the last few moments as the recently-returned Rollins carries Reigns up until the second when, thanks to another dead ref, he’s given an extra chance at the belt and steals it to win with a Pedigree. Then, in the biggest surprise of the night, if not the year (Rollins returning at the last PPV may have been bigger, depending on your personal preference), Ambrose shows up, briefcase in hand, and cashes in on an exhausted Rollins to win the title and become the world heavyweight champion, the face of the company, et al.
It’s a wonderful, life-affirming moment for freaks everywhere, and fans of Ambrose in general, but it is slightly bitter-sweet because things like this don’t usually happen in the WWE without there being some kind of catch. Regardless, for now it’s wonderful and we should enjoy it for as long as possible.
Overall, Money In The Bank 2016 was like a goofy, lively, overstuffed episode of RAW with a killer PPV shock ending tacked on and all the dud matches we’ve come to expect from our weekly episodic pro-wrestling TV show. Neither amazing nor terrible, it nonetheless zipped along (too quickly at times, as with the women’s match), passing the time quite nicely for the most part.
Now to wait for Summerslam and the inevitable Shield reunion three-way that entails. Hopefully it brings with it another stunning Ambrose/Rollins victory and is Reigns’s last moment in the spotlight. We can but dream.