Money in the Bank 2016 was heavily hyped as being the greatest MITB PPV of all time. When it was all over a little after 11:30 PM Eastern time, their boasting turned out to be a tad premature.
The latest incarnation of Money in the Bank, taking place live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, was just another Sunday night PPV. Only the main event featuring Roman Reigns defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Seth Rollins resembled anything close to an excellent match. Many of the matches were disappointing in one way or another. Some of the booking decisions were strange, to say the least.
I will say this in WWE’s defense. Despite the disappointments, this was the first post-Mania PPV to finally feel like a New Era had been ushered in. Fresher talent scored crucial wins over established talent, which wasn’t the case with Payback or Extreme Rules. The main event featured several surprises, all of which were for the betterment of the product and provided several tantalizing options for the future.
A thumbs in the middle for Money in the Bank. It’s not the greatest in history (that would be 2013’s edition) but it’s not the worst either (that would be 2011’s edition, which boasted a classic John Cena-CM Punk main event but had nothing else worth recommending, with 2014 a close second)
1. Pre-Show Match: Golden Truth Vs. Breeztango: This match didn’t look great on paper, but it could have been decent if not for one tragic booking decision. Since Tyler Breeze and Fandango were locked in a tanning booth by Goldust and R-Truth on last week’s Smackdown, they became “sunburned”, so the decision was made to milk this match for cheap laughs. The problem was that only one person found it funny: Vince McMahon. Certainly the audience didn’t find it humorous to see Breeze and Fandango wince in pain every time Golden Truth touched them. So that meant lots of stalling. There was very little in the way of actual wrestling in this match as a result. Then there was the fact that WWE suddenly expected us to care about four guys who lose all the time on television. Horrible match finally came to an end five interminable minutes later when Goldust finished off Fandango with the Final Cut. Consider it a mercy killing, not an end to the match. One of the worst matches of the year so far. -**
2. Pre-Show Match: The Dudley Boyz Vs. The Lucha Dragons: This match wasn’t as good as it could have been, but compared to the previous match, it was a classic. It didn’t start out well, as Bubba Ray Dudley has slowed down in the ring since packing on the pounds once again. Not to mention the Lucha Dragons were confined to being tossed around like rag dolls. Eventually the match picked up to the point that it became a fairly good match. The last three minutes were really good, with Kalisto going wild with the high flying. Kalisto flattened out Bubba with the Salida del Sol, allowing Sin Cara to finish him off with the Senton for the pin. **3/4
3. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) Vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows Vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) Vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass: This could have been a great match considering the talent involved. Alas, it was only very good. The main problem was they were only given 11 minutes of TV time for the match itself, which is far too short for a Fatal 4-Way loaded with talent like this one. As a result, the match was rather rough at times due to all eight men rushing to get in their high spots. Still, it was definitely exciting most of the way and unlike most of the other matches this evening, the fans were into it right at the start. It would have been even better had the endless 10 minute promo cutting before the bell rang had been trimmed and the extra time given to the match itself so these four teams could have had a classic match. It’s kind of sad to see the Vaudevillains stripped of what made them so special on NXT: their tongue-in-cheek humor. As humorless cardboard villains on the main roster, they aren’t getting over in the slightest. Enzo and Big Cass were the most over team, so naturally they weren’t going to win. Most expected (myself included) Anderson and Gallows to win the tag team titles, but in a surprise, the New Day retained when Kofi pinned English after Anderson and Gallows destroyed him with the Gallows Killer but couldn’t score the pin due to Enzo and Big Cass taking them out. ***1/2
4. Baron Corbin Vs. Dolph Ziggler: After the two traded wins on the pre-shows of the last two PPVs, Corbin and Ziggler had their rubber match of their feud on the main PPV itself. Their first two matches were terrible, but to my surprise, this one was actually pretty good. Perhaps it was a combination of working on the actual PPV instead of the pre-show and being given enough time to have a better match, since they had 12 minutes instead of the 8 or less their first two matches were given. Either way, this was a great improvement. The live crowd didn’t care and actually chanted boring, which it most certainly wasn’t. I still think Corbin was called up too soon from NXT as an additional year there would have done him a world of good. Still, he showed promise here, something he didn’t in his first two bouts with Ziggler and the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania. Corbin scored the win with the End of Days, which was another pleasant surprise. ***1/4
5. Women’s Champion Charlotte & Dana Brooke Vs. Natalya & Becky Lynch: Reportedly, HHH had pitched a Money in the Bank ladder match featuring the women who have revitalized women’s wrestling in WWE. But to no one’s surprise, Vince McMahon said no, preferring to do just an ordinary tag team match. After eight or so months of longer women’s matches on WWE PPV, we were back to the rush job city of the Divas era, as they barely had 7 minutes here. Dana Brooke was given a hideous makeover, including make-up so overdone that it made me recall comedian Mario Cantone’s stand-up routine about Tonya Harding dubbed “Whores on Ice”. Brooke didn’t look impressive here, which just goes to show you that once out of the nurturing atmosphere of NXT, talent are still left out to dry on the main roster. Most of the match was below par considering the talent involved. It was decent, but it could have been great with more time and had it consisted of something more than Natalya being beaten on for most of the match. Charlotte cheated to win yet again when Brooke slammed Natalya into Becky Lynch, allowing the champ to finish off Nattie with the Natural Selection for the pin. Then came a WTF moment when Natalya turned on Becky, beating her to a pulp and then cursing at the fans when they started showering her with boos. So they turn Nattie heel for no reason whatsoever during a time when management is complaining about a lack of faces in the women’s division. And they wonder why people have no faith in the main roster product. **1/2
6. Sheamus Vs. Apollo Crews: Far and away the best match of the first half of the show, primarily because it was rock solid wrestling from start to finish. Crews looked great, pulling off every move with skill and precision. He did a moonsault off the ring apron and onto Sheamus outside the ring that was simply awesome. Sheamus was the ideal opponent for the up-and-coming Crews: hard hitting when necessary and a skilled in-ring worker who could pull off the wrestling end of things. This match was so good I wish they had been given more than just 9 minutes. Crews scored the pin by trapping Sheamus in a crucifix slide. The announcers played it as a total fluke, saying Crews was lucky when they should have been hyping his craftiness in getting one over on Sheamus. Crap like this is why fresh new talent like Crews have a hard time getting over in this company. ***3/4