Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Money in the Bank 2013
Posted by Jack Bramma on 09.10.2013
Two MITB ladder matches for opportunities at each world championship, Dolph Ziggler getting his return match against Alberto Del Rio for the World Championship, and Mark Henry fakes retirement to get a chance against John Cena's WWE Championship.
• For the first time ever, I'm including the Kickoff Show for the full review.
• We start off with our analyst panel of Josh Matthews, Showster, Kofi, and recently fired Vickie Guerrero. Show takes umbrage at being introduced as a “multi-time” world champ and corrects him to say that Show himself is a 7-time champ. Kofi is the guru of the ladder match and Vickie is well Vickie. She suggests that the only reason this show is successful is her leader and Show agrees(!) with her. Let's get to the action.
• WWE World Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. The Shield (c). The Usos got this shot by beating Tons of Funk and the PTPers in a triple threat match. Oh yeah, they along with Christian also handed the full Shield team their second only pinfall loss EVER.
• Jey and Seth to start. Jey with a quick roll up for a fleeting 1 count. He tries another with La Magistral and then a backslide but everything is only a 1 count. Rollins backs off to the corner and tags in Reigns. Reigns drives Jey back into the corner for some right hands and headbutts. Crowd chanting for RVD already as Jey fights back. He tries a suplex but Reigns blocks. Jey boots him down and tags in Jimmy. They hit a double suplex and elbow drop for 1, only 1. Jimmy hits the burrito in the corner and snapmares Roman for nothing this time. Jey tags back in as Cole describes their pre-match ritual dance.: “It comes from the gut – it's all about EMOTION!” Thanks for that. The Usos hit a double spinebuster for 1111111111! I guess Roman has been talking to Sheamus about taking 2 counts. Jey goes for a superkick but Rollins helps pull Reigns to the floor to regroup. On the pre-show, we... take a break? We get not one, but TWO commercials for the PPV that the pre-show is already advertising mind you. We're back to Rollins taking some heat in the face corner. Cover gets a 1 count even on Rollins. He comes back with a dropkick and SWAT team rolls to tag in Reigns. Reigns with a face smash but whiffs on an elbow drop. King: “That's dangerous if the Shield are more focused than ever.” JBL: “They've only put out John Cena, The Undertaker, The Rock, so if they're more focused, that's bad for everyone.” They botch a whip into the corner and Reigns like a pro covers by no selling. Jey counters a backdrop and gets to the apron but Rollins distracts long enough for Reigns to blasts him with a LARIATO that flips Jey on his ass. Nice. Back in, Rollins chokes away and drops a knee for 1, 2, 2 ½. Reigns tags in with a right hand and some boots. Rollins chokes more behind the ref's back as things have slowed down a bit.
• The crowd does what they do best: “RVDRVDRVDRVD!” We're near 5 minutes have elapsed since anyone on the crew mentioned the Usos or tried to distinguish between who is in the ring and who is on the apron. The crowd tries to get behind Jey but he gets thrown down by Rollins. Reigns tags back in for more choking and trash talking. Reigns whiffs on a charge but still manages a tag to Rollins. Jey shitcans Rollins out but not before a blind tag back to Reigns. Jey flips out of a suplex from Reigns and tries for the tag. He finally kicks Reigns away but ROLLINS KNOCKS JIMMY OFF THE APRON! THATNOGOODBASTARD! Reigns shitcans Jey out to eat a burrito from Rollins. Back in, Reigns hooks the leg for 1, 2, only 2. We take another hiatus for a Dean Man Down commercial and another for the PPV in question. We're back and HERE COME THE USOS! The Usos fly out with dives and Rollins gets whipped hard into the barricade as the crowd has come alive. Back in, Jimmy flies off with a crossbody for 1, 2, 2 ½. BUBBA BOMB! Jimmy fires up for the Runaway Samoan Semi and a pop-up Samoan drop on Rollins. 1, 2, NO! Jimmy heads up top but Rollins crotches him. King: “THINK LONG, THING WRONG!” Rollins preps a superplex but Jey is there and so is Reigns for the SUPERPLEX, BACK SUPLEX, POWERBOMB TOWER OF DOOM! An always welcome spot. Quadruple KO spot that gives the crowd time to pop and cheer for everyone. Rollins drapes the arm for 1, 2, 2.99. Rollins is exhausted and goes for the tag but JEY PULLS REIGNS OFF THE APRON! Nice callback. Rollins wants the suicide dive for revenge but Jey lands a haymaker. Seth stumbles back into a superkick! Jimmy makes the climb for the BIG SPLASH! THE USOS BRINGING HOME THE GOLD! 1, 2, REIGNS BREAKS IT UP! He gets dumped out but lays out Jey with a SUPERMAN PUNCH! Crowd cues up the This is Awesome chant. Jimmy gets Rollins up in the fireman's carry and climbs up top. Rollins with Reigns' help counters to a BUCKLEBOMB! SPEAR! 1, 2, 3 to retain at 14:47.
• The heat was boring as shit mainly because Reigns while having the look and presence of a megastar still has miles to go in the ring. But everything after the second commercial break was breakneck, electric stuff. This should have been on the PPV. ***1/4
• Post-match, The Shield joined by third member Dean Ambrose celebrate on the announce table and bathe in some Philly cheers.
• We go back to the analysts. Kofi is proud of their effort as a former 3-time tag champ himself. Show puts over how the Shield are on a roll, but the Usos are future tag champs for sure. Vickie admires their collective good looks and we're on.
• Matthews wants to know who's taking him the WWE Championship. Show thinks that Mark Henry is on the roll of his career despite having only one match in the past two months and that was easily being dispatched by Sheamus in a strap match. Before that, his last major victory was over Ryback by falling on him. I love Mark Henry and as a performer, he's on a roll, but in any semblance of kayfabe reality, he's not on a winning streak. Kofi can't pick against John Cena and Vickie wants The World's Strongest Man as well.
• Josh wants MITB Superstars picks and Kofi obviously being a bad handicapper and picking all favorites goes with Daniel Bryan. Show shows some guts and goes with RVD because of his high-flying expertise and home field advantage. Vickie wants to add that SHE hired RVD.
• Ambrose hangs out in the ring while Fandango enters with Summer Rae's help and a nice black number. IT'S PPV TIME!
• Scheduled Card:
1. Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Fandango vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow vs. Wade Barrett.
2. WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Curtis Axel (c).
3. WWE Divas Championship: Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee (c).
4. Chris Jericho vs. Ryback.
5. World Heavyweight Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio (c).
6. WWE Championship: Mark Henry vs. John Cena (c).
7. Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the WWE Championship: Kane vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Christian vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. CM Punk.
• We start off with a cool package showing the MITB briefcases escorted via armored cars to the arena. These briefcases contain something far more valuable than money... OPPORTUNITY! The vignette shows a helicopter following a motorcade to the arena and intercuts it with various hopefuls of both MITB matches but especially the returning sensation Rob Van Dam. Henry/Cena program gets a brief mention but then segues back to the PPV's namesake. Good stuff.
• Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Fandango vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow vs. Wade Barrett. The PPV proper has started and we get brief re-entrances for Fandango and Ambrose. Fandango gets a respectable ovation but it's blown away by the pop for Ambrose. Colter gets the stick for We The People. He says that Betsy Ross maybe should have added some tacos and burritos to the American Flag. Stay classy. Tonight, if Cesaro and Swagger can win the briefcase it'll be one small step for man, but one giant leap for America. WE THE PEOPLE! Sandow pulls a Rude by calling the crowd “slack-jawed mouthbreathers.” Cody tries to get in a word edge-wise but Sandow cuts him off and then the monkeys in the production truck cut HIM off from declaring the unified front of Rhodes Scholar.
• Fandango dances at the bell and Barrett tries to jump him but Fandango tangos out of the way. A brawl erupts as WTP have Ambrose and Cody isolated. They shitcan them out get a WETHEPEOPLE chant started. Rhodes Scholar take out Ambrose with a ladder and bring it in. WTP is doing the same to Fandango. Now, it's a ladder standoff between the Scholars and the Patriots. WTP throws the ladder at them to win that showdown. Swagger sets up a ladder in the corner for Cesaro to Karenlin Bomb Cody on the ladder. Swagger than biels Sandow and WETHEPEOPLE are standing stall. They go for the ladder sandwich on Cody but he avoids and hits a Beautiful Disaster on Cesaro. Swagger takes him down and starts to climb but Ambrose is back in. Swagger gets sent into the ladder and shitcanned out in a nice sequence with some reversals. Ambrose starts to climb and the crowd is with him but Barrett breaks it up to boos. Barrett traps Ambrose in the middle of the ladder and then big boots him down and out. Wade blasts WTP with the ladder and goes for Fandango but eats a rope-assisted enzuigiri and a SLINGSHOT GUILLOTINE LEGDROP ON THE LADDER! Fandango starts the climb but the Scholars are in to cut him off. Ambrose waffles Cody and dumps him back out. Sandow pulls Fandango down and throws him into the ladder and hits a snap suplex on a different ladder in the corner. Barrett pulls Ambrose out to the floor and sends him into the steps. Frenzied action so far with all having something to do. Barrett pulls a step off a ladder and goes to waffling everyone as Cole recounts the list of world champs who won this match and then won their first world title with the cash-in: Edge, ADR, Miz, Jack Swagger, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and RVD. Barrett clubbers down Sandow. King: “Have you ever had your bell rung with a rung?” Barrett and Ambrose both climb up but WTP pull Barrett off into the DEATH FROM ABOVE! Ambrose is a bit tougher to pull off. Swagger wants a spinebuster but Ambrose counters to a slick DDT.
• Cesaro and Ambrose climb and slug it out at the top. Cesaro applies a Sleeper, sort of but then just shoves Ambrose down. Cody cuts off Cesaro but keeps getting kicked off. Cody fires up and gets him up for the MUSCLEBUSTER ON THE LADDER! BRUTAL! Barrett back in with a DDT on Cody but he's too late to stop the CODY'SMUSTACHE chant. Swagger catapults Sandow into a low bridge ladder and everyone is down except Swagger and Barrett. They both are up on a ladder. Barrett lowers the bad and hits the Bullhammer and Swagger is toast. Barrett reaches up but Fandango is there to meet him. Fandango can't reach the briefcase, so he improvises with an MDK BOMB OFF THE LADDER! YESYESYESYESYES! Summer Rae cheers on Fandango to climb, but Ambrose squashes that with the bulldog DDT. Ambrose climbs but Cesaro picks up the ladder. Ambrose keeps climbing, so Swagger pulls him down. Ambrose fights them off for the old Funk/Dudley ladder carousel. But WTP have seen their ECW tapes and pick UP the ladder and Ambrose with it. Yeah, he's hanging on and not actually trapped but who cares. Ambrose skins the cat ON THE LADDER and tries to reach the briefcase but gets dumped out to the floor. Cool sequence. WTP drop the ladder on Barrett and now they're ladderless. They try the Andre-Snuka spot that JeriShow also tried at TLC 2009. Amazingly, they keep it together long enough for Cesaro to reach and touch the briefcase but Cody breaks it up with a missile dropkick. Awesome. THISISAWESOME says the crowd. That's two such chants in back to back matches but this time it's the full house. Swagger gets dumped out to the floor by Cody. Fandango in but he eats Crossroads.
• ANOTHER FOR BARRETT! CODYCODYCODYCODYCODY! CODY FOR WORLD CHAMP! Cody gets the big Home Depot/Tommy Dreamer ladder. Cody climbs up but Ambrose is there. They slug it out and Cody gets busted hardway as he pulls Ambrose into the ladder several times and dumps him. Cody: “SEE YA! BYE!” The crowd tries to cheer on Cody. BUT WAIT! THE SHIELD HAVE COME OUT! Cody valiantly fights them off but it's short-lived as Reigns pounds him down. They keep Fandango and Barrett at bay with Spears. They help Ambrose up. BUT WAIT! MY GOODNESS, IT'S THE USOS! They dump out Reigns and Rollins with WTP's help. HELL HAS BROKEN LOOSE AT RINGSIDE! AMBROSE IS CLIMBING! BUT CODY SHOVES THE LADDER OVER AND AMBROSE WIPES OUT EVERYONE AT RINGSIDE! CODY IS FIRED UP! JBL: “THE SON OF THE SON OF A PLUMBER IS ABOUT TO WIN THE CONTRACT!” Cody climbs and the crowd is chanting for him. He's almost there. NO! SANDOW DUMPS HIM OFF FROM BEHIND! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Sandow pulls down the briefcase at 16:27.
• For a great gimmick match that always delivers, this is head-and-shoulders one of the best ones in years. There is nary a slow point or downspot in the whole match. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the opener from last year, there were tons of moments with guys openly waiting their turn at ringside for their spot. There was none of that this year. Every time a guy was off camera, he had taken a finisher or a brutal spot on a ladder that should put him down for minutes at a time. The teamwork of WTP and Rhodes Scholars was perfect and logical unlike say two tag partners turning on each other the first 30 seconds of the RR. When this is coupled with the Usos-Shield kickoff match, you've got one of the best hours of wrestling from all year if not longer – with continuity, intersecting storylines, drama, hot crowd, high-flying action, everyone you could want. It reminds me of guys like Bret or Shawn or Austin or Foley from in the early 90s knowing they weren't getting booked worth a damn and were hitting the glass ceiling, so they went out there and put on the best matches of the show and busted their ass MAKING everyone pay attention. They knew Randy Orton wasn't taking a musclebuster on a ladder, so collectively they went out and stole the show. If there were any justice in the world, Cody would be a STAR after this match. He and Sandow should have a Steamboat-Savage series that would last 6 months getting both guys more over in the process. ****3/4
• Post-match, Cody is heartbroken while Sandow is exultant.
• Cole: “And Damien Sandow double-crossed Cody, as you take a look at the absolute brutality with this Money in the Bank ladder match.”
JBL: “IT'S NOT A DOUBLE-CROSS! IT'S EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF! HE DID WHAT WAS LEGAL AND WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE DONE! THAT'S HOW YOU BECOME A CHAMPION! THAT'S WHY DAMIEN SANDOW IS THE SMARTEST MAN TO EVER BE IN MONEY IN THE BANK! AND HE'S YOUR NEXT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION!”
Cole: “King, inside that briefcase a Money in the Bank contract that Sandow can cash in any place, any time, he can do it tonight for a world championship opportunity.”
King: “Well, JBL's right. You do anything to get what Damien Sandow has right now.”
Cole: “But the months and months and months of running around of saying that he and Cody were the best of friends and then this tonight--”
JBL: “OH WAAAA! WAAAAAAAAAAA! THEY'RE IN COMPETITION FOR THAT CONTRACT! CONGRATULATIONS, THAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE, TO DAMIEN SANDOW! GET READY, GET USED TO IT, FOLKS! THAT'S YOUR NEXT WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION! TOUGH LUCK, CODY!”
King: “And when you're the next World Heavyweight champion, you don't need friends.”
JBL: “You can buy them; I did.”
• Newly hired GM Brad Maddox is out. He wants to thank everyone involved in his unceremonious rise to the top. Vince. Vickie. He singles out Vickie from the analyst table and gets a few cheap pops and some cheap heat before rolling an ignominious video package for her. This is a waste of time, so moving on. We're at a 10 full minutes since there was wrestling.
• WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Curtis Axel (c). Miz, Fandango, and former champ Wade Barrett had triple threat feud heading into the Payback PPV. The odds-on favorite to take the belt, Fandango suffered a concussion and Heyman used the gift of gab to talk Axel into the title shot and the belt. Axel has the awesomely generic, guaranteed winner gimmick of “I use my dad's music remix, I use my dad's finisher but as a signature and never get wins with it, and mostly win matches by countout.”
• Quick ECW chants for Heyman thus guaranteeing he'll be the most over one in the match. Miz grabs a quick headlock but quickly shoulderblocks Axel down. After a roll through, we're back to a stalemate. Heyman: “NOT EVEN A ONE COUNT! YOU'RE FINE!” Axel with a knee and a few right hands to take charge. He goes to the chops in the corner and a turnbuckle smash. Axel: “I'M THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION, MIZ! YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!” Believe it or not, that's another staple of his dad's, especially late in his WCW run – just randomly screaming that he's the US/TV/Tag champ/Guy that turned on the Horsemen and he should be respected because of it. Miz comes back with a flapjack and clips the knee. Axel bails out to sell that one kick. Miz leaps out with a baseball slide dropkick and a HATER HAMMER off the apron. Miz gives Heyman the stink-eye and Heyman begs off while the ref attends to Axel. Miz pantomimes getting whacked complete with side effects and the ref buys it and ejects Heyman and the crowd turns on all of them. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! FUCK YOU! Cole: “Heyman being sent to a much-needed early shower.” Yes, yes, you see it's commendable because Heyman is the stereotypical evil Jew like Gargamel. How any of this makes Miz likeable or a face I fail to recognize.
• WEWANTHEYMAN says the Philly faithful as Miz tries a roll up for only 1. Miz goes for the SCF to no reaction but Axel grabs the ropes. Axel comes back with a double-pump Backdrop Driver for 1, 2, 2 ½. Axel stomps a mudhole and chokes away in the corner to more crickets. Axel hits a Bluechipper dropkick: “THAT'S WHY I'M THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION!” Lawler keeps calling Heyman a walrus and finding new and exciting ways to continue shoveling dirt on ECW's 12 year old grave. Axel with the somersault neck whip also from his father for 1, 2, only 2. Axel works a resthold while the crowd kind of gets behind Miz. He blocks a suplex and sidesteps a Stinger Splash and fires up for some rights and kicks to boos. Miz with a burrito and the knee lift/boot of fear combo. The smarts get to him a bit as he antagonistically eggs them on to boo him while he hits the corner clothesline. Miz with another double sledge off the top for another nearfall. He wants the SCF but again Axel fights him off. He tries the PerfectPlex but Miz counters to the F4 but Axel kicks him off into the post. Solid sequence. Axel follows up with the PerfectPlex for 1, 2, nope. Axel goes for a neckbreaker but Miz catches him with a kneebreaker and immediately rolls Axel into the F4. Miz cranks it and is in good position. Axel fights it and rolls it over. AND! Unlike every other time ever, Miz works in a favorite of mine and TEASES TAPPING OUT TO THE REVERSAL! That's a personal cause of mine. If the F4 is so deadly, why wouldn't the reversal? Why does it never end a match? Etc. ANYWAY, Miz fights through the pain and ROLLS IT BACK OVER! Axel grabs the ropes to escape and bails out to the floor. Axel gives chase and grabs the leg but Axel boots him away and chokes him with a kick to the ropes that lands on Miz's throat. Cravat Bulldog (Move needs a name – The Ax? The Future Endeavor? Wheel and Axel?) puts down Miz for the count at 9:22.
• If Miz ever wants to be a top-level face, he needs a moveset adjustment – whether it's a crucial overhaul or just minor additions remains to be seen. The clothesline in the corner and his double neckbreaker are good to go. But as a face, he mostly uses nothing but the 80s MSG special of kicks, punches, and double sledges. It just seems so obvious that face Miz is so antithetical to everything that made that character work at one time and the only glimmer of personality coming through was when he heeled it up and told the crowd to metaphorically go fuck themselves. As a match, this offered nothing of interest other than the F4 reversal tease as a finish, but that's not good enough. Ejecting Heyman helped Axel secure a single's victory on his own merit but did nothing to keep the nuclear crowd hot after the opener and ultimately did all involved a disservice. *3/4
• WWE Divas Championship: Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee (c). King: “THE QUEEN OF CRAZYVILLE!” JBL: “THE KATHY BATES OF WWE!” With the help of Big E, AJ catfish-ed Kaitlyn and thus re-ignited a months-long feud. In the background, Dolph has been edging more and more face since getting his head kicked in by Del Rio at Payback and spending less time with his partners in heel. Kaitlyn is accompanied by Layla because “the numbers game” (TM The Shield). Kaitlyn is sporting an elbow brace after hyperextending it on Smackdown delivering a Spear.
• Kaitlyn dominates early with a fireman's carry gutbuster. She tosses AJ to the floor. Kaitlyn slowly goes for a slam, but AJ slides behind and posts her bad-arm first. Nice. Back in, AJ covers for 1, 2, nearfall. AJ works over the arm and goes to an omoplata and BRIDGES OVER! Good stuff. AJ stays on the arm with a Crossface Chicken Wing and grounds Kaitlyn with a body lock. Meanwhile, King loses his mind because he's never seen submission holds in his 40 years of wrestling experience. King: “SHE'S TWISTED! SHE'S EVIL!” Kaitlyn no sells to drive her back into the turnbuckle. AJ no sells that to switch to RNC. Kaitlyn again powers out and swings her around for a backbreaker. While King waxes poetic about her brutality, JBL spins a yarn comparing AJ to robber barons: “It's nothing Carnegie didn't do. It's nothing Gates didn't do... I'm saying, it's life.” Is Dostoyevsky in the Gorilla position feeding JBL watercooler analysis? AJ runs into a back elbow and a dropkick. Kaitlyn folds her up with a flying shoulderblock. Kaitlyn hits the Scorpion Deathdrop for 1, 2, only 2. Cole: “THIS IS FOR THE DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP, WHAT DEFINES THE DIVAS DIVISION!” AJ tries a slap, so Kaitlyn clubs her down for another nearfall. AJ counters to an armbar TD on the bad-arm. She heads up top but Kaitlyn shoves her off and luckily Big E catches her. Back in, AJ sneaks a small package for 1, 2, nope. SPEAR but Kaitlyn sells the bad arm. Nice. AJ with an upkick to the bad arm and hooks in the Octopus Stretch. Kaitlyn hangs on for a while but has to give it up at 7:02. If you can get past the usual soft, half-speed work, this was psychologically-tight with a hard sell on commentary to boot. **3/4
• We cut back to the analyst Algonquin roundtable. Vickie cuts a brief face promo before Kofi cuts her off to talk about Sandow “stealing” the MITB briefcase from his best friend, Cody. Show puts over how Axel is a third-generation star and he overcame Miz's cheating.
• Chris Jericho vs. Ryback. Both guys were coming off losses out at Payback to Punk and Cena. Jericho managed a strong showing against ADR before falling victim to the spit bucket waffle. Ryback squashed Great Khali and then feigned an injury and quit against The Miz in a real headscratcher. Jericho took offense because just like with HBK back at Backlash 2008 where Jericho was special guest ref, he hates when talented, superstars use injuries as a shortcut to avoid a fight. I'm probably giving them too much credit with that connection. All the while, Ryback was showing a heart of gold in this touching scene where he consoles fired Vickie Guerrero, the GM who gave him every opportunity he wanted against John Cena. Vickie looked to become Ryback's manager but instead was made Smackdown GM.
• Ryback overpowers Jericho on a few lockups and pounds him down. Crowd is grumpy and just doesn't care. After a dynamite opening hour, they have lost the crowd with “Leave the Memories Alone” tributes for Vickie and a feud over a faked injury. Jericho up-and-overs out of the corner and tries some chops. Ryback bails out to tend to his hurt chest and equally hurt ego. Awesomely, Ryback pulls a Simon Dean and jogs in place to work on his cardio during a match. Jericho's all AIN'T NO NEED FOR NONE OF THAT JANE FONDA, GERIATRIC BULLSHIT, BILLY HO and challenges Ryback to step back in and then dropkicks him to the floor. Jericho sends him into the barricade and back in. Ryback awkwardly stands in place for a while as Jericho jumps off the top with a sledge and takes out Ryback in a strange spot. Back to the chops but Ryback comes running out of the corner with a LARIATO to take over. GOLDBERGGOLDBERGGOLDBERG. Jericho escapes out of a slam and goes to clipping the leg. Chioda tries to give him some leeway and Ryback takes over with a Stun Gun counter to a flying Jericho. Ryback with a Warrior splash for 1, 2, only 2. Ryback goes to a chinlock and slams down Jericho. He heads up to the second rope for a flying splash.
• Cover gets another nearfall. Jericho fights back with chops and avoids a knee with a roll up for 1, only 1. Another shoulderblock and Jericho goes down. He escapes out to the apron and Ryback knocks him into the announce table. Back in, Ryback chokes to mild jeers. RYBACKRULES. He hairtosses Jericho across to crickets and back to the chinlock. JBL's inherits JR's old job of dressing up the shits: “You can win ugly or you can win quick, it doesn't matter, just win.” Jericho counters with a burrito and a Northern Lights suplex for 1, 2, kickout. Ryback wants a Spinebuster but Jericho slides down his back for the WOJ. He shoves Jericho into the corner but then trips and blows the spot in the corner. Ryback sells by no-selling and shitcanning Jericho to the apron. Jericho wants another sledge but Ryback catches him in a belly to belly overhead suplex. Ryback fires up for the Meathook and hits it to nothing. FINISH IT! Ryback wants Shellshock but Jericho counters into a Codebreaker attempt. Ryback overpowers and slams him down and follows up with the double powerbomb. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.9. This isn't that bad but the crowd just does not care. Jericho clips the knee with another dropkick. Step-up enzuigiri gets 1, 2, kickout. Ryback bails out but Jericho catches him with a Codebreaker. Ryback goes down but falls to the floor. Count gets to 8 and Jericho is enthused as the prospect of a countout victory. Ryback beats the count back in the ring TO BOOS! He walks right into a crossbody for 1, 2, 2.99. Jericho with a head of steam but Ryback catches him in a press slam into the SHELLSHOCK! NO! Jericho counters to a DDT on the way down. 1, 2, no. Jericho shoves down Ryback and wants the Lionsault but lands on his feet. Ryback slips behind for a school boy for 1, 2, 3 at 11:22.
• I had this at about DUD live, and it's way better than that, if still not much good. Even with Ryback's two botches, this is probably his best singles match that doesn't involve Daniel Bryan or heavily gimmicked surroundings. The psychology on the leg and the counters were decent. Ryback convincingly played a dick who wanted the easiest way out possible of a real fight, but the crowd couldn't care less. **1/4
• World Heavyweight Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio (c). The night after Mania, Dolph cashed in and won the WHW strap from a hobbled ADR. A three-way ladder match was changed after Swagger gave Ziggler a legitimate concussion to an I Quit match and Del Rio won the number 1 contendership. As Del Rio's face run sank, he faced off against a returning Ziggler at Payback and enzuigiried and superkicked his way into a heel turn and another WHW reign.
• On paper, it seems like ADR went in a giant circle from the beginning of the year from heel to face, then back to heel. But something I love is that ADR has actually evolved as a heel character. His initial heel-dom was just the usual arrogant aristocrat, but in turning face and in his mind, he did everything the people asked of him and he turned over a new leaf. In fact, his strongest attribute as a face was his camaraderie with Ricardo and that has gone nowhere (even if Ricardo has). Del Rio is the exact same character he was 3 months ago as a face, he just so happened to kick the shit out of a guy the crowd likes better and they booed him and that made him a heel. The fans turned on him even though in his mind, he's still the same great face and it is beautiful.
• Tonight, Dolph is debuting a new sherbert t-shirt that is basically skin-tone for him. Strangely, he debuted a completely different shirt the next night on RAW and this one was quickly demoted to ass-skirt status. At the bell, Ziggler gets huge chants as Cole and JBL play up both men's amateur credentials. Dolph with a quick roll up and then struts and has some Soul Glo for ADR. ADR with a back elbow and over into a headlock takeover. Dolph sends him off but eats a shoulderblock. Dolph comes back with a Bluechipper dropkick to a pop. 1, 2, only 2. Dolph hits a Stinger Splash. LET'SGOZIGGLERLET'SGOZIGGLER. Dolph hits 10 consecutive elbow drops and clotheslines ADR to the floor. Crowd is eating up Face Ziggler. Back in, ADR cuts him off at the pass with an enzuigiri. Del Rio then throws him into the barricade concussed-head first. PSYCHOLOGY! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Del Rio covers for 1, 2, kickout. He drops several knees to the head and covers for another 2 as JBL recounts ADR's career accolades – RR winner, 2-time WWE champ, 2-time WHW champ, MITB winner, etc. Somehow his career just feels a bit underwhelming so far, but on paper, that's a KILLER list of fed achievements – WWE HOF-worthy; don't be surprised when in 10-15 years, he's inducted in. ANYWAY, Dolph punches his way free and sunset flips him for only 1. Another Bluechipper dropkick and ADR is done. Dolph goes for another Stinger Splash but comes up dry and eats RINGPOST! YEAH! CURB STOMP! HIS NAME IS ALBERTO DEL RIO AND HE'S YOUR WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP, BUT YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT! More punches to the head as the ref threatens to stop the match if Del Rio doesn't control himself. LET'SGOZIGGLER! ADR with shots to the back and another forearm to the back of his head. ADR then AWESOMELY mocks Ziggler's taunt and gets major league boos for that one. I know they always steal the taunt, but it gets me every time and apparently it gets Philly too.
• Del Rio goes for a Bossman attack but Ziggler moves and ADR eats it to the floor. Ref starts the count but ADR Stun Guns Dolph to come back. He heads up top but Dolph fires up for a SUPER X-FACTOR! Delayed cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. They slug it out and that's a shame, because for a solid 6 weeks, Dolph has been selling shots to the head well with the built-in psychology, but now he's no selling brain damage for the slug it out sequence that is all the rage. Ziggler sidesteps a charging ADR and he eats post. Dolph with a neckbreaker for 1, 2, 2 ½. Dolph goes for Rocker Dropper but ADR ducks under for a SWEET German suplex. 1, 2, kickout. ADR avoids a dropkick and rams him into the corner. He whiffs on an enzuigiri and Ziggler capitalizes with the Rocker Dropper. 1, 2, no. LET'SGOZIGGLER! He wants the Sleeper but ADR catches him in a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. 1, 2, 2.7. ADR pounds his head down in frustration and flies off the top into another Bluechipper dropkick. Cover gets 1, 2. nearfall. BUT WAIT! AJ LEE HAS COME OUT! JBL: “She has no business out here. None. She's interrupting a championship match.” Dolph's all I DIG CRAZY CHICKS BUT ONLY AFTER THE MATCH and tells her to take a hike. NONONONONO! Del Rio wants the tilt-a-whirl but Dolph lands on his feet and counters to the impact DDT. Cover 1, 2, 2.99. Crowd is less than enthused because they know Dolph is screwed now. ADR crotches Ziggler and follows up with a reverse superplex for another nearfall. Crowd is back for LET'SGOZIGGLER. Del Rio calls for the armbar and starts his own SISISISI chant that goes nowhere. I love heel ADR. Ziggler shoves him off to avoid but gets flapjacked down. SUPERKICK! 1, 2, 2.99999. That move beat Ziggler last month, so that's a good false finish. ADR exposes his knee brace and goes for another Superkick. Dolph catches the leg and wants the ZIG ZAG! NO! AJ WAFFLES ADR! DQ victory for Del Rio at 14:29. Fans boo that finish out of the building and I don't entirely blame them.
• Match was pretty damn great until Dolph stopped selling the head for a slug it out and some signature stuff. The signature stuff and the go-home worked well, but they seemed to be from a different pre-concussion match, not one where they are still playing on the injury psychology and sympathy. Finish sucked too, even if it protected both guys and quasi-ended the feud the next night. ***3/4
• Post-match, Dolph and AJ have a tiff that would lead to a break up the next night.
• WWE Championship: Mark Henry vs. John Cena (c). Henry returned to big fanfare earlier this year. He dominated the EC and came out looking the strongest, but came up on the short end of an RKO that sent him packing. He floundered around for a couple months defeating Ryback, then losing to Sheamus before taking a month off. He appeared after several weeks off in a salmon-colored sports coat to OFFICIALLY retire but it was all a ruse to goad Cena into a title shot in arguably the promo of the year. Henry returned the next week in some Brook's Brothers to show the world that even his hand-me-down goofy suit was a work. He punked out Cena a few times making him afraid to even pick up his world title belt and finally got another shot at the WWE championship.
• On a side note, Cena, Henry, and the Fed altogether did such a good job of putting Henry over as a contender that I talked myself into him having a great chance at winning. Cena wasn't afraid to let Henry COMPLETELY punk him out twice and appear gutless against a bigger, stronger, deadlier opponent. On his end, Henry has found an unbelievably effective wheelhouse of just screaming commands and threats at people. The last time everything congealed together in this way for a Cena program was either Batista back in 2010 or more likely Angle in 2005.
• Awesomely on commentary, JBL brings up the Thomas Inch dumbbell as one of Henry's feats of strength. Crowd solidly behind Henry and virulently anti-Cena at the intros. In one of his character touches I find endlessly frustrating, Cena appears frightening of Henry's ferocious yelling but then shakes it off and winks at the front row. Yes, he winks at the hard camera.
• At the bell, Cena is back to squeamish and hangs back in the corner. JBL: “Cena's reluctant to come out.” Cole plays up that Cena couldn't get Henry up for the FU on RAW. Henry dominates early by no selling a Cena charge and CLUBBINGBLOWING him down. Henry: “I WILL OWN YOU!” Henry with a whip and Cena sells the impact down to the mat. The dueling chants for/against Cena are going. Cena slowly gets to his feet and Henry bulldozes him with a fierce Ho Train. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. JBL: “John Cena has rules he lives by, Mark Henry does not.” Henry with a headbutt that sends Cena reeling and out to the floor. Henry follows out and gathers up Cena for a hanging vertical GORDBUSTER ON THE STAIRS! JBL: “This is looking like an old-fashioned, East Texas beatdown.” Back in, Henry covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Henry goes for the Bossman attack and hits it. Henry covers for another nearfall and Mark is pissed. Henry: “DAMMIT!” Cena fights back with a not so Bluechipper dropkick that Henry no sells and pounds him down to a big pop. HENRYHENRYHENRY! Henry picks up Cena for the Big Swing. Henry then steals a page from Cesaro's book and Big Swings Cena into the barricade. THAT'SWHATHEDO! Cole: “MARK HENRY DESPERATELY WANTS THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP AND HE'S GOING TO DO ANYTHING FOR IT! He realizes tonight is the night to cement his legacy, to ensure he'll always be remembered, to become a legend – that's what tonight is about for Mark Henry.” Mark goes for another charge but Cena moves and Henry eats turnbuckle. Cena wants a slam but his back collapses and Henry falls on top for 1, 2, only 2.
• In a nice touch of continuity, JBL brings up that Ryback also collapsed under Henry's weight at Wrestlemania trying the Shellshock. Cena crawls around unable to get a rally going. Henry: “YOU SIT THERE AT MY FEET, BOY!” Henry's in-match, one liners are some of the best promos on the roster. Henry goes to a neck wrench. Cena powers out and fights back with haymakers. He tries a shoulderblock but Henry no sells. He fires up for one more and Henry finally goes down. Cena sells the impact nicely and then gets Henry up for a back suplex and 5KS. He hits it and now calls for the FU. JBL: “This is a guy, John Cena, who defeated the Rock in front of 80,000 people.” Cole: “YEAH, BUT THE ROCK DOESN'T WEIGHT 400+ LBS!” Cena fires up but he falls down under the weight again and Henry covers for 1, 2, 2.7. Cena is down in a heap and in a favorite of mine, tries to use his opponent to pull himself up. Henry: “GET YO ASS UP, BOY!” Henry gets him up for a Bulldog powerslam but Cena counters to a DDT. FU! 1, 2, NO! HENRY KICKED OUT OF THE FU! THIS REALLY HAS TO MESS WITH JOHN CENA'S PSYCHE! Cena greatly sells disbelief and checks the count with the ref. He heads up top to boos. JBL: “This is where John Cena could make a mistake, a mistake that could cost him the title.” Cena tries a crossbody but Henry CATCHES HIM! WORLD'S STRONGEST SLAM! 1, 2, 2.999999999999! Henry rips the turnbuckle pad off in frustration. He moves to the floor. Henry to timekeeper: “MOVE!” Henry brings in two chairs which the ref quickly throws to the floor. In the congestion, Henry goes to the adjacent corner and pulls off another pad. Cena shoves him off into the exposed turnbuckle and applies the STF. Henry struggles but reaches the ropes. Crowd: “YEAH!” Cena crowds Henry in the corner and the ref gets bumped. Henry with the BLATANTLOWBLOWPUNT! Henry hooks the leg for 1, 2, 2.9999. Henry wants one more WSS but Cena floats over and pulls him down into the STF. Henry crawls but Cena pulls him back to the middle and Henry taps at 14:44.
• Every element of a Mark Henry match is so much better than it used to be because he has just nailed down his character perfectly. Every yelled threat or rejoinder to the ref, opponent, crowd, timekeeper, announcers, etc. adds a layer of enthralling entertainment to his matches. They had basically the perfect Henry match for the first 10 minutes with Cena getting completely dismantled and selling everything from Mark like getting hit by a truck and Henry no selling everything. I'm not a huge fan of Henry tapping out because it was unnecessary and wasn't built to at all other than an extra attempt at the move. Otherwise, a very good match especially on a character level and selling level. ***3/4
• Post-match, Cena stands ready with belt raised to waffle Henry should he pounce, but Henry decides to fight the good fight another day and instead sell the leg.
• Back to the panel as Schemin' Gene Matthews wants to know why Show picked Henry since Cena never loses. Show again puts over the streak Henry was on and how vicious and unstoppable he looked but that wasn't enough tonight. Kofi chimes in to marvel at how Henry caught Cena coming off the top. All involved compliment the match before Show pivots to the main event and says that whoever wins has a great opportunity with Cena feeling the hurt from the World's Strongest Man.
• Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the WWE Championship: Kane vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Christian vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. CM Punk. Kane was scheduled to perform but instead was co-opted by the Wyatt Family and their search for answers and buzzards.
• Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the WWE Championship: Kane vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Kane vs. Christian vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. CM Punk. Surprisingly, RVD is out first, though you'd figure after all the hype and hoopla that he'd be out last. Still good reception for Mr. PPV. Awesomely, RVD pulls an old Sabu and points upward to the heavens. Cole brings up how RVD has won this match once and successfully cashed in against Cena himself. DB's entrance gets the biggest pop though with Punk and RVD being close seconds and Orton getting a sizable reaction as well. Cole credits Punk with twice winning the match and subsequently twice winning titles in the process. Star-studded line up.
• Everyone hangs back early as the crowd chants for RVD. Rob goes for his taunt but gets gang-tackled five deep in a funny spot. With RVD out of the picture, YESYESYESYESYES is the crowd favorite now. Sheamus is next in the crosshairs as he's the biggest of the group. Orton/DB and Punk/Christian pair off. Good continuity on the existing feud between Dragon and Orton. Punk and DB clear the ring TO A POP! ROH STANDOFF! RVD gets back on the apron and gets bumped off! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Philly needs to make up their mind. Punk and DB finally slug it out with forearms and kicks with Punk winning it with chops in the corner. DB flips up and over but slips and runs into a fireman's carry. Punk wants the G2S but DB tries the No Lock instead. Sheamus interrupts the indie darling party with a ladder. He waffles a flying Christian as well only to get dropkicked by Orton. Orton goes for RVD but gets knocked down and it's time for some VINTAGE RVD! Springboard kick on Sheamus and now Punk feeds in as well for kicks. Another for DB and the monkey flip on Christian. The stepover mule kick on Orton. RVDRVDRVDRVD! ROB! VAN! DAM! Electric atmosphere. He baseball slides a ladder back into Sheamus and Punk. Christian wants the Killswitch but gets press slammed onto the ladder. Another roundhouse for DB and it's ROLLING THUNDER TIME! That's how you pop a crowd. Orton shitcans him out to boos only for RVD to come back in. He wants the 5SFS on the ladder but Christian waffles him to the floor. All are down now as Christian gets to his feet with a few-rung step ladder. King: “Where'd he get that ladder? Hornswoggle?” He blasts a few guys and slides back in the ring with the small ladder. JBL: “I guess the exchange rate in Canada is not so good anymore.” Christian starts to climb but Sheamus pulls him down for a Harpoon in the corner. Sheamus climbs but Christian leap frogs him. Sheamus ducks under for the Razor's Edge only for Christian to slide out. Sheamus blocks a ladder shot and forearms Christian into next week and then waffles him with the ladder. Decent sequence. Sheamus climbs again but RVD shoves it out from under him and SHEAMUS LANDS ON THE LADDER! That looked brutal and most likely produced this crazy welt on the fella's leg. He gives RVD a receipt with the Finlay Roll on the ladder. Just as it becomes a bit obvious that Punk and DB disappeared for several minutes, DB is up to brawl with Sheamus. Sheamus throws him into the barricade and props the Tommy Dreamer ladder between the announce table and apron.
• He wants a powerbomb but DB escapes to the top rope. He shoves Sheamus off for the FLYING BUSAIKU KNEE! Punk and Orton are now back in. Christian joins them as no one can get loose to climb. DB in too with another ladder. Lots of indiscriminate brawling and jockeying for position. Now, RVD and Sheamus too as all six are on the ladders. The briefcase ebbs and flows across the arena and finally all six eat it to the mat. That was cooler in theory than in execution. After the sequence with Christian, Sheamus wants yet another fire-up and goes for the Gaelic Hammers and half nelson backbreakers. He hits White Noise on Christian to crickets as he's somewhere in the bottom half of the power rankings in this match. RVD runs in and Sheamus waffles him and gives him to the FOOT TO THE FACE to boos. Poor Sheamus can't win for losing as now he's getting the short end of the crowd slugging it out with DB. Sheamus hits the clubbing blow barrage to universal and unanimous NO's! Sheamus grabs the briefcase but Punk pulls him down to save the match and the crowd from turning on them. Punk avoids a ladder waffle for a step-up knee in the corner on Sheamus. He rides the ladder bulldogging Sheamus in the process in an innovative spot. Orton back in to parlay with Punk over the briefcase. Orton uses the diplomacy of headbutts and a T-BONE SUPLEX ON THE LADDER! He follows up with the Apron DDT on Punk. Orton turns around into Christian Spearing him and DB as well. He climbs but RVD jabs him in the ribs with a ladder. RVD climbs up as the crowd chants for tables. Christian stomps down RVD as everyone lays around and sells. RVD and Christian now the only two up both reaching for the briefcase. The ladder tumbles over and Christian falls but RVD lands on a nearby ladder. RVD calls for the 5SFS but much like the 2002 Elimination Chamber, RVD can't so much fly out as fall down and thus gets almost no hangtime. Luckily, no one tears their trachea. RVD climbs up but Sheamus is there to meet him to boos.
• RVD wins the battle but Sheamus wins the war by tipping over the ladder. DB slides in to kick the shit out of both and ram Orton with a ladder to the breadbasket. IED ON ORTON! TOPE SUICIDE ON PUNK! DOUBLE MISSILE DROPKICK ON RVD AND SHEAMUS! He knocks everyone down with a ladder including Sheamus who bails out and eats it through the ladder he set up earlier. YESYESYESYESYESYES! BUT WAIT! CURTIS AXEL HAS COME OUT! He waffles DB to mild boos but mostly puzzled silence. Punk is up to G2S Axel to a pop. CMPUNKCMPUNKCMPUNK! MY GOODNESS, PAUL HEYMAN! He reads Axel the riot act for disobeying orders and jeopardizing Punk's chances to win this match. Crowd chants for Lesnar, but no go. Instead, Heyman slaps the apron and goads the crowd into another CM PUNK chant. Heyman: “GO, GET 'EM!” Punk slowly climbs BUT WAIT! HEYMAN TURNS ON PUNK! LADDER SHOTS TO THE FORMER WWE CHAMPION AND HIS BEST FRIEND, CM PUNK! Punk is demoralized, dejected, betrayed, and busted hardway in the process as Heyman stalks out. RVD climbs but Orton pulls him down into an RKO! Orton's left all alone and pulls the briefcase down to win his first Money in the Bank at 26:40.
• This match feels longer and yet emptier than the first. It's shiny on the outside with lots of nostalgia and starpower, but ultimately hollow. It gets marginal slack because it has lots of table-setting to deal with all the names and draws having to hit their stuff which slows the pace and clogs up the match, unlike the opener. I love the match's opening sequence with everyone gunning for RVD, then everyone trouncing Sheamus, and finally leading to the inevitable DB/Punk clash of the titans that is normally reserved for megaface collisions like Hogan/Warrior, Austin/Rock, Hogan/Rock, Cena/Orton, etc. – so it does my heart good that the same treatment was granted two ROH spot monkey, vanilla midgets as they say.
• I'd like the match more, if it didn't feel like they were several chunks of idle time like the video was buffering while the rest of the match loaded. Also, and I hate to say it, but it feels every so slightly like the Heyman heel turn might have killed the crowd a bit. It's probably more a combination of neither the favorites – DB and Punk – nor the hometown hero – RVD – taking home the gold...en opportunity at the gold and instead Orton soaking in his moment. Long-term, Orton may be the right choice, but in the short term especially in the house, Orton was a lukewarm choice and the crowd responded accordingly. ****
The 411: Another great, blow away PPV with five matches over *** and two of those north of ****. WWE is on a hot streak right now.