WWE performed in front of a live crowd for the first time in 16 months Sunday in its annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
An ultra-hot crowd was treated to a pair of Money in the Bank ladder matches, where Nikki A.S.H. stunned the crowd with her victory while Big E snared the briefcase in the men’s match that truly stole the show. Both are now in line for future title opportunities. We’ll have to see when and against whom they decide to cash in.
Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley turned in a fantastic match that saw Charlotte once again regain the WWE “Raw” women’s championship, while The Usos became seven-time tag team champions by upending the Mysterios.
Bobby Lashley dominated Kofi Kingston to retain the WWE championship and Roman Reigns turned back the challenge of Edge, with a little help from Seth Rollins, to keep the WWE Universal championship firmly in his grasp.
But the big story was the return of John Cena, who stunned the crowd by appearing after Reigns’ title defense. The two appear to be headed for a SummerSlam collision in August.
Here’s how it all went down.
The Usos def. Rey and Dominik Mysterio for WWE ‘SmackDown’ tag team championship
The crowd was hot for the preshow opener and couldn’t decide between the white-meat, babyface father-son duo of the Mysterios or The Usos. Although they’ve been positioned as heels, The Usos are simply too good to dislike and they worked a solid match here. It’s still difficult to buy into Dominik’s offense, but he did well enough to keep the match together. Obviously, the match went up a notch whenever Rey Mysterio entered the fray with his exceptional selling and acrobatics.
But this was all about The Usos getting their titles back and further solidifying the dominance of what can be called The Samoan Swat Team 2.0 alongside Universal champion and family member Roman Reigns. In the final stretch, Jimmy sacrificed himself during a Rey 619 attempt to give Jey time to recover and nail a superkick. Jey hit the Uso splash for a near fall that received a huge reaction from the crowd. Moments later, Jey rolled up Rey and had a little help from Jimmy to get the pinfall as the Usos secured the tag team title for the seventh time.
A good opener that didn’t overstay its welcome and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Nikki A.S.H def. Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Natalya, Tamina, Asuka, Liv Morgan & Zelina Vega for women’s Money in the Bank briefcase
This MITB simply wasn’t very good. The finish was a head-scratcher, not necessarily because Nikki A.S.H. won but because of how stupid she made every single woman look as she nabbed the briefcase from right in front of them.
The match started pretty rough with a lot of waiting spots as the women tried to find places to set up offense. A particularly bad one was a ladder tug of war between Morgan and Natalya where the ladder ended up being a prop for moves. It wasn’t smooth. Add in Bliss hypnotizing Vega at the top of the ladder and we had a lot of goofiness that stunted the action. Tamina and Natalya’s presence was nothing more than prevent defense as they routinely got in the way of a ladder climb.
The bright spots included Morgan and Naomi’s showcase of offense throughout, but those spots ended up being few and far between as the match was often slowed by the numerous projected setups. Bliss, who appeared to be a favorite heading into the match, showcased her superhuman powers by hypnotizing Vega to prevent her from getting the briefcase, but she couldn’t muster the power to get up from being buried under a bunch of ladders.
The end saw six of the women climb up three ladders and battle for the briefcase while Nikki climbed up and snatched it as everyone else watched like goofballs. There was a similar MITB ending last year when Otis won, and it’s clear that Vince McMahon prefers his comedy acts. He couldn’t figure out what to do with Otis and eventually had to have him cough up the briefcase to The Miz. Will something similar happen to Nikki?
AJ Styles & Omos def. Viking Raiders for WWE ‘Raw’ tag team championship
After running shows without fans for more than a year, WWE seemingly forgot how fans react to some of its talent. Case in point: Viking Raiders. They struggled to get much of a reaction before the pandemic and WWE overestimated the kind of reaction they’d get when positioned as babyfaces. The WWE universe simply didn’t buy into the Viking Raiders here as the crowd routinely cheered the heel team of Styles and Omos. The result was a match that was being worked one way but not in sync with the crowd reactions.
The work by both teams wasn’t bad, but the match dragged. Omos showed how green he still is with awful selling, while the Viking Raiders did their best to convince the crowd to get on their side. The less said about this match, the better. Everything felt as if it was happening in slow motion. At least Styles was excellent, as usual. The end came with an Omos slam and the champs retaining. Nothing to write home about.
Bobby Lashley def. Kofi Kingston for WWE heavyweight championship
First, Kingston’s “Masters of the Universe”-inspired gear looked fantastic. Second, Kofi is just as over with fans now as he was during the height of KofiMania.
That said, this was a showcase of brutality from Lashley, who dismantled Kingston from start to finish. Unlike Kofi being squashed by Brock Lesnar in seconds a couple of years ago, this was handled better as Lashley simply went to work with a barrage of power moves and punishment. Kingston was never in the match and Lashley wouldn’t give him an ounce of breathing room as he pulverized his foe with a trio of Dominators and finished the job with The Hurt Lock. Even though it was one-sided, it was entertaining for the seven-plus minutes that it lasted.
The match left people wondering who could stop Lashley, and if the answer is the rumored return of Goldberg, then this is the way to get there. No, there is nothing exciting about a Lashley-Goldberg match in terms of quality, but it could clearly establish Lashley as a top guy.
Charlotte def. Rhea Ripley for WWE ‘Raw’ women’s championship
Who was the face and who was the heel in this match? Who knows? This feud has been a mess from the beginning and it was only made worse when the WWE universe revolted with a “We Want Becky” chant that was met with a middle finger by Charlotte. It was a testament to just how bad this feud has been handled; this should have been the moment that put Ripley over with fans in attendance while getting her revenge after dropping the NXT title to Flair at last year’s WrestleMania.
After early turbulence, these two ladies worked their tails off and delivered an exceptional match despite the fan revolt. Ripley established herself as the babyface with a phenomenal power move where she hoisted Charlotte into an excellent suplex. The work was well-paced; the duo took it up a notch each minute until the fans had no choice but to chant, “This is awesome.”
And it was. But the wrong woman won. This match could have firmly established Ripley as one of the top women on the roster.
An avalanche Natural Selection from Charlotte for a near fall drew an audible gasp from the crowd, which was now in the palms of the wrestlers’ hands. But being the daughter of the “Dirtiest Player in the Game” has its perks as Charlotte attacked Ripley’s leg, kicked it while it was trapped in the steel steps and then slapped on the Figure Eight to get Rhea to submit.
Again, the wrong woman won, and that’s where WWE dropped the ball here. But this was a fantastic match.
Big E def. Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Ricochet, John Morrison, Riddle, Kevin Owens & Shinsuke Nakamura
What a beautiful trainwreck this was.
Perhaps the best field for a Money in the Bank match produced a jaw-dropping exhibition of violence and athleticism where everyone had their chance to shine.
From Rollins and Morrison forming an impromptu team to dominate early, to Owens subjecting himself to brutal bumps, to a brilliant striking exchange between Nakamura and Riddle cut off by McIntyre, this match had everything. Ricochet showed off his magnificent athleticism with an incredible dive to the outside while Big E showed off his power with a brutal spear to the outside. This match simply never let up.
McIntyre appeared to be on the cusp of victory until an old friend made an appearance: Former 3MB partner Jinder Mahal took him out. This led to a fantastic final stretch where Owens — hobbled after taking numerous violent bumps — delivered stunners to everyone but then was cut off by Riddle, who spread the wealth of RKOs. Nakamura tipped his cap to KENTA with a GTS. Rollins appeared and took everyone out to make his ascent. Big E then hit a brutal Big Ending on Rollins off the top of the ladder, made the climb and captured the briefcase to a massive pop.
Words can’t explain how well this was booked. Everyone should go out of their way to watch this match.
Roman Reigns def. Edge for WWE Universal championship
From the moment these two made their way to the ring, this match oozed big-match feel. But rather than it being a full-out wrestling match, it played out like a methodical affair rich in storytelling and character. It worked considering the display of violence before it, and it set up a new feud between Edge and Rollins that had been teased for several weeks.
The match may not be a classic, but it was a big-fight battle that captured the true essences of good and evil.
Reigns dominated the early moments with hard-hitting attacks as he routinely taunted Edge. The pace stayed slow as Reigns remained in control. Edge would show flashes of a comeback but then Reigns would find ways to cut him off. The pacing worked well as fans invested in Edge mounting a comeback. They were fully onboard when Edge turned the tables entering a strong final stretch.
Reigns intercepted an Edge spear and then sunk in a guillotine. The two tumbled to the outside where Reigns attempted a spear but misfired and flew through the barricade. In response, Edge plowed Reigns through another barricade with a spear of his own. After a near fall, a Reigns Superman punch sent Edge into the referee and took the official out. Reigns attempted to use a piece of a steel chair to apply a crossface but Edge countered and put the very same hold on Reigns. The Usos attempted to interfere but were taken out by the Mysterios.
An incensed Rollins, fresh from losing the Money in the Bank ladder match, interfered and superkicked Edge to allow Reigns to escape. But Edge wound up hitting a spear for a near fall. Rollins reappeared to distract Edge and allow Reigns to hit a spear for the pinfall.
It was a little long at 33 minutes, but it was a well-told story. WWE has truly struck gold with Reigns’ heel run. So how does it take it up another notch?
The return of John Cena.
After Edge and Rollins brawled to the back, Reigns grabbed the mic and demanded to be acknowledged. Instead, Cena’s music hit and the roof blew off the building. There was no real interaction aside from Reigns staring down Cena, who hasn’t been seen in WWE since last year’s WrestleMania. This one is certainly heading to SummerSlam, and it will be a fantastic encounter.
WWE Money in the Bank 2021 results
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