I was going to review ROH’s Best in the World PPV, but I just could not make it all the way through the show. I expected it to deliver, but it ended up being (from what I saw) a rather mediocre show. I decided to watch Money in the Bank 2013 on the WWE network instead.
Arena: Wells Fargo Center
World Heavyweight Championship Contract Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Fandango vs. Jack Swagger vs. Antonio Cesaro
Money in the Bank 2013 Review
Date: July 14, 2013
Arena: Wells Fargo Center
When this was announced, I was befuddled that they would try to pull off a MITB match with all heels. I thought it would never work because the crowd wouldn't know who to cheer for. Needless to say, I ended up being wrong. This starts off with a funny moment: Fandango tries to dance in the center of the ring, but all of the wrestlers attack him for being foolish. The ladders are quickly introduced, as Swagger and Cesaro use them to destroy the Rhodes Scholars. Ambrose is abruptly left alone in the ring. He tries to climb the ladder, but Barrett stops him. Barrett picks up a rung that broke off a ladder and uses it as a weapon. He tries to climb the ladder, but Ambrose pulls him off. Elsewhere in the ring, Rhodes delivers a devastating Muscle Buster on Cesaro, who goes back first into a ladder.
About 10 minutes in, Ambrose climbs a ladder, but Cesaro closes it up on him. The Real Americans pick up the ladder, although Ambrose manages to climb onto it. He gets near the briefcase, but Cesaro and Swagger decide to toss the ladder, with him on it, over the top rope. Without a ladder in the ring, Swagger allows Cesaro to get on his shoulders. Cesaro comes close to retrieving the briefcase, but Rhodes springboard dropkicks Swagger, which makes him drop Cesaro.
Feeding off adrenaline, Rhodes delivers Cross Roads to everyone that tries to get in his way. Rhodes climbs the ladder while Ambrose climbs the other side . The camera zooms on Rhodes’ cut near his eye. “See ya, bye”, he mutters out while he throws Ambrose off the ladder. The Shield run in to help their partner win. Both Reigns and Rollins clear the ring, allowing Ambrose to be the last one in it. The Usos, however, come out to stop the Shield from playing unfairly.
In the ring, Ambrose sneaks up the ladder, but Rhodes shoves him off it and he lands on a bunch of wrestlers that are the floor. "It's Cody's time!, Cole screams. The crowd is going crazy as he inches closer to the ladder, but Sandow shoves him off the ladder and retrieves the briefcase @ 16:30. Wow, that was a helluva performance by Cody Rhodes. His diligence and body language, bursting with desire, perseverance and emotion, truly enforced the crowd to rally behind him. Just an excellent job of portraying a rambunctious babyface. Unlike a lot of multi-man ladder matches, there weren't any, if any, lapses in logic in this one. Every wrestler laid out outside the ring was there for a purpose, whether it been a big spot or finishing move that made them unable to get up. Moreover, the high spots were not only crazy, but more importantly they were realistic and malleable. And, this made Rhodes look like a star and Sandow look like a boastful coward in the process. It was truly a ladder match that every type of fan could enjoy. **** for the match, an extra 1/2* for the emergence of babyface Cody Rhodes. **** 1/2
(My two cents: The fans empathized with Rhodes because he fought hard and was screwed by someone that played incognito in the entire match. It was not because Sandow ''turned on him''. Because of his poor sportsmanship, he ended up becoming an insufferably smug bully that hazed and tormented Sandow; and consequently, the fans became reluctant to cheer for him. He did regain back his sympathy in the “Authority mistreating him and his family" angle, though.)
Intercontinental Championship: Curtis Axel © vs. The Miz
Axel knocks Miz to the floor early on. Miz does an Eddie Guerrero tactic by pretending Heyman slapped him. The ref turns around, sees him on the floor, and thinks that Heyman knocked him down. Heyman's protests, but the ref boots him from ringside. He freaks out and shouts, "I'm Paul Heyman!" before walking to the back. Amusingly, the crowd chants, "We Want Heyman”. I am glad that stupid spot backfired on them. One guy in the crowd then tries to start a “you’re not over” chant as Miz is on offense. Miz yanks down on Axel's knee to set up for the figure-four leglock center-ring. The crowd starts heavily booing him. Axel ponders on tapping out, but he manages to reverse the figure-four. On their feet, Axel punches Miz in the mouth near the ropes and then delivers the Axehole, good enough to pick up the victory @ 9:20. As a babyface, Miz lacked a lot of crowd popping moves. His offense mainly consisted of mediocre looking punches/kicks. This was of one of those matches that flows sufficiently because of its back-and-forth nature, but everything comes across as meaningless because the moves are not telling a real story. Both really struggled to work the crowd as well.* ½
Divas Title Match: Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee ©
Kaitlyn attacks AJ and then hits her with a gutbuster. Outside, AJ runs Kaitlyn into the ring-post and then goes to town on her injured arm. Back in, AJ sinks in a hammerlock, and then turns it into a sleeper. Kaitlyn reverses it with a backbreaker. She mounts a little comeback with an inverted DDT for two. AJ cuts her off by attacking her arm. A small package from AJ gets a two. On the rebound, Kaitlyn gets the spear. She hurts her elbow again, and it allows AJ to lock in Black Widow, which forces her to tap. As most probably expected, this had soft hitting spots and the pace was tedious. Oh, and AJ locked in Black Widow on the wrong arm. Not bad overall from a divas standpoint, but far from good. * 3/4
Ryback vs. Chris Jericho
Ryback throws Jericho around, but Jericho responds with chest chops. This makes Ryback roll to the outside. He recuperates, pretends to re-enter the ring, but drops back to the ring floor. Back in, Ryback gains the advantage as a "Goldberg" chant breaks out. Jericho goes for a maneuver off the top rope, but Ryback neck-snaps Jericho across the top rope.
Ryback controls the tempo with his methodical offense, but Jericho fights back with some chops. Ryback pops back to his feet and clotheslines Jericho to the mat. Ryback tosses Jericho off the ring apron onto the edge of the announce table. Around 10 minutes in, Jericho hits an enziguiri that gets a nearfall. Ryback rolls out to the ring apron, which allows Jericho to hit a codebreaker. Ryback stumbles to the outside, but he makes it back into the ring before the count of 10. Jericho hits a big splash and gets a nearfall. Jericho runs into Ryback. He lifts up Jericho and attempts to hit a power move, but Jericho counters it with a DDT for a two count.
Jericho slugs Ryback with some right hand and then knocks him down with a shoulder tackle. He goes for a Lionsault, but he avoids it by moving away. Jericho lands on his feet, but Ryback rolls him up with a sloppy small package for the win @ 12:20. Jericho worked hard, but this was a weird match because of Ryback’s undefined role. First, he is throwing Jericho around like a rag doll, then he is running away from him, then Jericho is knocking him down with ease, then he's back to being a monster, and then he defeats Jericho due to being opportunistic. They should have just stuck with the portion where Ryback was a beast, but Jericho used his veteran intelligence by capitalizing on Ryback's mistakes, as it would have made the story less incoherent. ** ¼
WHW Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio ©
The crowd is popping hard for Ziggler. The action quickly goes to the floor, where Del Rio throws Ziggler into the guardrail and takes control of the tempo. Back in, Ziggler goes for a corner attack, but Del Rio moves, sending Ziggler headfirst into the corner turnbuckle. Del Rio takes advantage by attacking Ziggler’s injured head. The crowd rallies behind Ziggler with a "Let's Go Ziggler" chant. Del Rio mocks the crowd. Rio then tries to damage Ziggler's head, but Zigs moves and he goes stumbling to the outside. Rio tries to get back into the ring, but Ziggler hits him with a facebuster. Both fight back and forth with some strikes. Del Rio goes shoulder-first into the ringpost, but fights right back with a German Suplex and a bridged pin for a nearfall.
Del Rio tries to follow with a step-up kick in the corner, but Ziggler ducks and then delivers the Fameasser for a close two count. A "Let's Go Ziggler" chant breaks out. Ziggler runs into a backbreaker from Del Rio for a close two count. Del Rio climbs up to the top rope, but Ziggler kicks him in the face on the way down.
WWE Championship: Mark Henry vs. John Cena ©
This was one of my favorite feuds of the past decade. It started because of a superbly booked segment where Mark Henry announced his retirement, but his retirement ended up being an evil ploy in order to have a shot at Cena's WWE title. Hell, he even cried and got choked up a few times during his promo. It was truly a brilliantly acted out performance by Henry. He deserved an Oscar. Anyways, Henry comes to a lot of male friendly pops. Seriously, this man just knows how to walk slowly to his music perfectly. He knows how to look so badass walking. Details matter, people. The bell rings as Henry smashes Cena into him to the mat and then taunts him. Henry corner-smashes Cena and decelerates the pace. Henry headbutts Cena and the impact sends him out of the ring. Henry does not want to wait, so he attacks Cena on the outside. He suplexes Cena stomach-first onto the ring steps. Back in, Henry covers Cena, but only gets a two. Henry hits a big body smash, but its only good enough for a nearfall. Henry tries a right hand, but Cena blocks it. Cena runs right into a Henry forearm smash, though. Henry follows up with a Giant Swing, which sends Cena rolling to the outside.
Outside, Henry delivers another Big Swing that sends Cena into the barricade. Back in, Henry shouts to the crowd, "That's what I do!" *Beat ‘em up, beat em’ up, break his neck, break his neck*. Henry goes for a corner attack, but Cena avoids him. Cena tries to follow up with a Feat of Strength move. But Henry don’t got time for that, so he jumps on Cena and squishes him into the mat. That gets a two. Cena fights back, as he finally gets Henry off his feet with two shoulder tackles. (See, even when you build the simplest things up, they mean something when they’re paid off).
Cena follows with a side-suplex and sells his back pain. He connects with the Five Knuckle Shuffle and then tries to go for the Attitude Adjustment. Henry, however, falls onto his back. Henry covers him, but it only gets a two. Henry screams, "Get yo ass up ." He goes for some power move, but Cena counters it with a somewhat sloppy looking DDT. Cena picks up him up and delivers an Attitude Adjustment. JBL screams, “Cena’s gonna retain the title”, but Henry kicks out just in time. Cena, in shock, asks the ref if he was sure that was only two. He climbs to the top turnbuckle, jumps off, but Henry catches him in midair. He nails the World Strongest Slam. One, two, thre-no! Cena kicks out. The crowd cannot believe it.
A now hungry and desperate Henry removes the turnbuckle pad. He leaves the ring to grab a chair. The referee commands him to put it down. Cena, however, throws Henry stomach-first into the exposed turnbuckle and then locks in STF. More than half of the crowd beg Henry to reach the ropes, and he does. On his feet, Henry pushes Cena into the referee. Henry kicks Cena where the sun does not shine. Henry goes for a cover, but only gets a two, due to the referee being groggy. Henry has pure rage in his eye. He wants to end Cena with another World's Strongest Slam. He goes for one, but Cena jumps over him and locks in on the STF. Cena drags him back to center-ring. Henry has nowhere to go, so he taps out @ 16:20. Henry will never considered an athletic or a technically sound wrestler. He has a limited moveset and moves around slower than molasses. However, he reinvented his in-ring work by wrestling smartly. Everything he did in this was serviceable to the story and to his character. Every one of his threats, rejoinders, or angry facial expressions towards the ref, John Cena, or the crowd adds a heavy dose of realism into this and makes the crowd feel involved. Moreover, his demeanor and facial expressions are spot-on in regards to his menacing character. Kudos to Cena as well. He made Henry look like a monster by selling convincingly and bumping hard. Henry tapping out was a questionable decision, but everyone forgot about it when Daniel Bryan was announced to be the number one contender for Summerslam. *** ½
WWE Title MITB All-Stars match: CM Punk vs. RVD vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Christian vs. Sheamus
RVD tries to do his thumbs-to-shoulder chant, but the other five wrestlers toss him to the floor. A stare down with Bryan and Punk happens, and the Philly faithful go wild. RVD re-enters and cleans house. Both Bryan and RVD lock up. RVD drops Bryan on a ladder and hits Rolling Thunder. Christian is the only one standing in the ring. He comes close to pulling the briefcase down, but Sheamus attacks him from behind. Sheamus starts to climb the ladder, but RVD pulls him off. Sheamus awkwardly lands on the ladder coming down. Sheamus is all right, though, and proceeds to smash RVD into a ladder. Sheamus tries to powerbomb Bryan onto a ladder, but he escapes and delivers a running knee to his face. In the ring, Christian tries to climb the ladder, but Bryan stops him from doing so.
Sheamus goes crazy. He hits everyone with Irish Curse backbreakers, Polish Hammers, and a White Noise. Sheamus is left alone in the ring, so he tries to climb the ladder. RVD climbs up as well, but Sheamus throws him off. He goes for the case, but D-Bryan runs up and hits with him some forearms. Sheamus fights back with forearms to the chest. He is close to bringing down the case, but Punk pulls him down to the mat. Down the stretch, RVD sets up a ladder center-ring, but Sheamus cuts him off. RVD knocks Sheamus down, but he shoves RVD off the ladder into the top rope. D-Bryan hits the ring and keeps kicking Sheamus and RVD in the upper-chest area. Bryan hits a flying suicide dive onto Punk, and they crash into a stack of ladders on the outside. “Vintage Bryan," Cole mutters. Bryan hits Sheamus off the top turnbuckle. Sheamus goes lands on a ladder and breaks it in half. Outside the ring, Curtis Axel, out of nowhere, attacks Daniel Bryan. Punk, however, hits Axel with a GTS. A funny moment happens when Heyman yells and screams at a knocked out Curtis Axel.
Punk rolls into the ring with nobody in sight. Heyman rallies him on with "C-M-Punk" chants. He climbs the ladder, but he is too injured to make it all the way up. Heyman goes into the ring and encourages him to climb the ladder. Punk is almost there, but Heyman grabs another ladder and smashes him with it. Heyman looks at him with evil inventions and then smashes his head in-between two ladders. Punk, covered in blood, watches Heyman smugly walk to the exit.
RVD comes out of nowhere and climbs the ladder, but Orton rips him off and delivers an awesome looking RKO off the ladder. Orton climbs up and pulls down the briefcase @ 27:10. In terms of action, this was hollower and emptier than the first ladder match. More idle time, spots that took longer to set up, and less of an “anything can happen at any moment” vibe. However, the star power did make this feel very important, and there was a lot to like about this. Daniel Bryan, at an accelerating pace, was hovering and bouncing all around the ring. RVD was bumping around like a pinball machine. Paul Heyman, with sadistic intentions, screwed over CM Punk, who came across immensely sympathetic due to his awesomely stunned “Why, Paul!?” look on his face. And, WWE threw a curve ball by having Randy Orton win because everyone thought Bryan winning was a foregone conclusion. *** ¾
Overall Thoughts: This was a great show that built a full head of steam heading towards Summerslam (especially the Paul Heyman and CM Punk’s feud that led to some of the most razor-sharp promo exchanges in WWE’s history and to an epic Lesnar and Punk match). We also found out that Randy Orton winning was not just a surprise for the sake of it. They instead had long-term storyline planned for him winning. Granted, the angle certainly had its ups and downs, but it ended perfectly at the Grand Daddy of them All, and that's all that truly matters. This was seriously a really fun time to be a WWE fan. It, unfortunately, didn't last too long, as the product cooled down after Summerslam and didn't start improving until Wrestlemania grew closer.
Thumbs Way Up.