KELLER’S WWE MONEY IN THE BANK PPV REPORT
JUNE 17, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Panel: Renee Young, Booker T, Peter Rosenberg, David Otunga
-In a live split-screen interview, Daniel Bryan said a good big man might beat an equally good small man, but Big Cass isn’t nearly good enough of a big man to beat him. Renee wished him a Happy Father’s Day.
-Seth cut a promo while also playing the guitar that he stomped on Raw last week.
(A) THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS vs. KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title match
Back and forth match with a lot of power moves and big collisions in and out of the ring, but no surprise with the finish as the Bludgeon Brothers are at the start of their big push and title reign and Anderson & Gallows continue to be a utility tag team and nothing more.
WINNERS: Bludgeon Brothers to retain the titles.
-Kevin Owens interrupted a Samoa Joe interview with the panel and pitched working together. Joe said KO is right about everything he said, but he still doesn’t trust him enough to work with him.
-At the end, when discussing the Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey match, Booker T said transferring between WWE and MMA doesn’t always work. He cited C.M. Punk by name and said he “got the breaks beat off of him.” The panel seemed to react like they weren’t sure what to do with that. Renee looked like Booker basically dropped an MFer on air. Booker tried to regroup and make his case by talking about rope breaks and such.
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Smackdown Match Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
(1) DANIEL BRYAN vs. BIG CASS
Bryan got in early strikes and the crowd was going crazy for him. Cass took over a couple minutes in and dominated for a while. Bryan fought back and hit a series of dropkicks. Cass bailed out at ringside. Bryan took a running dive at Lashley and took him down at ringside. Cass got in another stretch of offense. A “C.M. Punk” chant broke out. Cass scored a two count after a fallaway slam off the second rope. Cass scored another two count after a torture rack and a slam. Bryan pulled the top rope down when Cass charged at him with a big boot attempt and then took Cass’s knee out. They fought back and forth with Cass finally landing his big boot for another two count. The announcers made an issue of Cass not seizing Bryan after the kickout and instead taking his time. When he went for a torture rack, Bryan slipped free and hit a running knee to the head and then a heel hook. Cass struggled, reached toward the bottom rope, and eventually tapped out.
WINNER: Bryan in 16:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Better than their first match. The crowd was totally into Bryan, as expected. Needless to say, this seems to indicate Cass will be cooled off a little and Bryan is on the rise. It’s possible Cass will be so upset, he’ll attack Bryan leading to a grudge match with a stipulation at Extreme Rules next month, though.)
-Kevin Owens entered the New Day’s locker room and poured a bunch of pancakes out of a giant nap sack. New Day were ecstatic. He then produced giant jugs of syrup. New Day were even more excited. When they offered Owens one, Owens said he doesn’t like pancakes. Big E looked as if that was an unforgivable sin. They told him to leave right away. Owens said they’d regret it when Braun Strowman is running wild on them. He yelled that IHOP was smart to change their name because breakfast food is terrible and burgers are better.
Raw Match Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
(2) SAMI ZAYN vs. BOBBY LASHLEY
Cole pointed out that Sami tweeted earlier than he is dedicating his match against Lashley’s father and his three beautiful daughters and his one disappointing son. Lashley responded on Twitter that Sami is a fool and that his dad taught him many things including how to stand for yourself, honor, integrity, and being prepared. He said he’s in for a painful lesson. Coach said “Lashley has star written all of him.” Graves called Sami a genius executing a well-orchestrated plot. Sami bailed out to ringside as soon as the bell rang and danced around and taunted Lashley. Graves said Sami is going to taunt Lashley until he makes a mistake. When Coach repeated what Graves said and asked if that’s what he said, Graves signed and said, “That’s what I just said in plain English.” Sami entered the ring briefly, then bounced around back at ringside. Cole said it’s been more than a decade since Lashley has had a singles match on WWE PPV. Graves said he didn’t think Lashley had that big of a problem with anything Sami said including questioning his military service so he’s just waiting for him to eventually snap.
Sami entered the ring and bailed out again. Lashley chased him this time. When Sami re-entered the ring, he tried to stomp on Lashley as he re-entered, but Lashley just popped p and shoved him. Sami, though, raked Lashley’s eyes while the were in the ropes and knocked Lashley to ringside. The ref began counting Lashley out, but when he tried to enter the ring, Sami stomped on him and then threw him head-first into the ringpost. Cole called Sami shrewd. Fans in the crowd sang Sami’s son early and then chanted “Bobby’s Sister.”
Lashley eventually made a comeback by grabbing Sami’s fist and twisting, then clotheslining him hard. When Sami leaped off the top rope, Lashley caught him and tossed him down, then clotheslined him in the corner hard. He followed up with a shoulder drive into the abdomen of Sami. Sami fought back with some strikes, but Lashley turned it into a sidewalk slam. Coach said it’s clear Lashley has disdain for Sami. Lashley lifted Sami into an inverted body vice a la Jesse Ventura. Then he executed a delayed vertical suplex. He looked to the crowd with intensity. He was neither loudly cheered or jeered, so probably a win given this is a Chicago WWE crowd. He put Lashley in another inverted body vice, this one for about ten seconds. Then another delayed vertical suplex. This also was with a longer delay, which the crowd liked. He scored a one-hand-on-chest cover for the three count.
WINNER: Lashley in 7:00. (*1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Jeesh, that felt like a burial of Sami more than a boost for Lashley. I didn’t expect Lashley to beat Sami with a single hand on his chest with no shoulder leverage to keep him from lifting a shoulder or kicking out. Will Sami pester Lashley into a rematch or do they quickly move on? What’s next for Sami after this decisive loss? If you’re a Lashley fan, this is a rewarding clean win and a nice payoff. If the purpose of the match was to establish Lashley as a powerhouse moving on to bigger and better things, it was a step in that direction. Poor Sami, though, as he’s turning into a joke of a heel without anything close to main event credibility, a far cry from his top notch NXT Title reign.)
-The announcers talked about Ronda Rousey challenging Nia Jax. They showed Rousey warming up, with Natalya sitting behind her.
-A commercial aired for “Miz & Mrs” which premiere July 24 on USA Network.
(Keller’s Analysis: Miz showed up nude – or they implied that with a big black square graphic – for a photo shoot with a bunch of women, so if that’s not incentive to watch this show to see such hijinx, what else is? He’s stealing Enzo’s gimmick. This blends two of USA’s remaining ratings hits – WWE and original “reality” TV series.)
-Elias strummed mid-ring and asked the fan who wants to walk with Elias. He said he knows he’s in Chicago because he’s surrounded by a bunch of loudmouth scumbags who just want attention. Fans cheered. The crowd erupted in chants, but couldn’t quite sync up. I think they chanted “We Are Scumbags.” He then played his guitar, stopped, and told Chicago they’re just not worth it. The lights came on and Seth Rollins’s music played.
(3) SETH ROLLINS vs. ELIAS – Intercontinental Title match
Coach said this is the biggest match of Elias’s career. Graves said Elias has been in the ring with some of the who’s who including John Cena and Roman Reigns, so he wouldn’t be surprised if he’s ready for this big spotlight. Coach said in his social media poll, fans picked this as the match to steal the show. After some chops, Seth landed a dropkick. Elias rolled out of the ring. Coach said he doesn’t want to upset Brock Lesnar or Paul Heyman, but Seth shows up every week and is the man right now. Seth slingshot himself onto Elias at ringside and threw him back into the ring. Seth pounded away at Elias in the corner. The ref pushed him off. Seth went to the ring apron for a new angle at Elias, but Elias knocked him down hard with a clothesline. Seth dropped hard. Cole said Seth’s neck is sore from the guitar shot and this could be a turning point.
Elias stayed on offense for a while, settling into a chinlock. Seth eventually stood and went for a suplex, but Elias battered him down again. Eventually Seth did comeback and landed a blockbuster. On a springboard, Seth landed and sold a knee tweak. Elias seized the opening with a flying knee for a two count. He lifted Seth onto his shoulders. Seth punched out of it, but favored his knee. Elias rolled him up for another two count. Seth came back with a superkick and scored a two count. Cole said Seth’s injured knee prevented him from making a full leveraged cover. Seth shook out his knee as he climbed to the top rope. Graves said it’s insanity and ill-advised and the wrong time to go high-risk. Elias lifted his knees to counter Seth’s frog splash.
Elias climbed to the top rope. Seth knocked him off balance. Seth then superplexed Elias and hit a Falcon Arrow for a believable near fall that popped the crowd. Seth superkicked Elias in the ribs, then went for a stomp, but Elias rolled out of the way. Seth then dove through the ropes, but Elias moved and then threw Seth hard into the ringpost and then hard into the ringside steps. It was fast and relentless. He then leaped off the top rope with a flying elbow and scored a near fall. The crowd popped for the kickout. Coach called it an incredible 30 seconds for Elias. Seth tried to lift Elias out of the corner, but Seth’s knee gave out. When Elias went for a Drift Away, Seth rolled him for a two count. Elias rolled up Seth and pulled on his pants. Seth rolled through and pulled on Elias’s tights for the win. None of the three announcers picked up on the fact that Elias pulled on Seth’s tights before Seth returned the favor, and instead justified his actions in a general sense. They really complimented Elias for his effort.
WINNER: Seth in 17:00 to retain the IC Title. (***1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. Easily the best of the night so far. Elias is showing he can carry his end of a big match.)
(4) WOMEN’S MONEY IN THE BANK – CHARLOTTE vs. NAOMI vs. EMBER MOON vs. BECKY LYNCH vs. NATALYA vs. ALEXA BLISS vs. LANA
Becky was aggressive at the start including against Charlotte, but Moon flipped onto Becky before she could pick up a ladder. Ember then entered the ring, but before she could set up the ladder, Naomi re-entered the ring stopped her. Moon kicked a ladder into Sasha then set up a ladder. She didn’t hurry, though, and the announcers scolded her. Sash recovered and went after Moon. Moon springboarded off the middle rope and body pressed Sasha hard onto the ladder. Ouch! Sasha rolled to the floor. Lana got in some offense. Natalya then atomic dropped Naomi onto the ladder, and Naomi did the splits. Natalya then basement dropkicked her out of the rig. Natalya looked up and grabbed a ladder, but Charlotte re-entered the ring and chopped away at her. The women were really taking turns so there was one thing to focus on. Charlotte overhead suplexed Natalya and kipped up. Becky met Charlotte just as she began to set up the ladder. They grabbed opposite ends of a ladder and argued. Fans chanted “Becky! Becky!” Naomi dropkicked the ladder, knocking both Charlotte and Becky down. Then she leaped onto Bliss at ringside. With everyone down at ringside, fans chanted “This is awesome!”
As Naomi and Ember struggled over a ladder, Becky quick ascended it, but Naomi and Ember knocked the ladder over and into Becky in the corner. Then they hit her with stereo dropkicks in the corner. They squared off. Naomi hit Ember with rapid-fire kicks. Ember came back and tossed Naomi onto the ladder leaning in the corner of the ring. A couple minute later Sasha cleared the ring and climbed the ladder, but Charlotte yanked her off. They exchanged words and both tried to climb the ladder, but knocked each other off. Sasha escaped a Charlotte attempt at a Razor’s Edge by pulling herself onto the ladder. Natalya pulled Charlotte off the ladder as Sasha reached for the briefcase. Sasha leaped off the ladder with a knee drop onto Charlotte and Natalya. Becky then climbed the ladder alone and the crowd stood and cheered. Bliss yanked her down and punched her.
When Bliss climbed the ladder, Sasha yanked her down. Sasha then met her on top of the ladder. Becky yanked Bliss down and met Sasha up high. Lana entered with another ladder and set it up. It was the tallest of them. She began to climb, but Moon re-entered and met her up top. Natalya yanked Sasha down. Sasha yanked Natalya down. More chaos followed with multiple women trying to climb the ladder. Graves said it was “getting downright catty.” Charlotte went for a powerbomb, but Bliss countered into a sunset flip and Charlotte landed hard and rolled to the floor. Bliss shoved Lana and climbed the ladder. Lana yanked her down and shoved her. Lana landed a jumping roundkick to Bliss, then applied the Accolade. Graves and Coach agreed it was a bad strategy. Lana climbed the ladder. Naomi springboarded onto the ladder and knocked Lana down, then reached for the briefcase, but couldn’t unlock it. She had five or so seconds, but Becky yanked her down.
Becky then climbed and the crowd cheered. Becky leaped off onto Naomi, then repositioned the ladder. Charlotte her at the top. Bliss tipped the ladder over. Charlotte speared Bliss, then looked up at the briefcase and set up the ladder again. Sasha gave Charlotte a back stabber and climbed the ladder. Namoi yanked her off and threw her into the ladder. Lana then climbed the ladder, but Natalya dropped her backward out of an electric chair. She smiled and climbed the ladder, but Moon knocked her down. Moon climlbed, but Charlotte yanked her down. Charlotte speared Moon hard into the ladder leaning in the corner. Becky then tried to take Charlotte out of the ring with an exploder suplex. Becky tried again and hit it. Becky climbed. Coach said, “It’s over.” She stopped when she saw Alexa approaching. Alexa knocked her off the ladder onto another ladder below. Becky looked dopey there since she easily could have pulled the case off the hook. Bliss then grabbed the briefcase and unhooked it successfully.
WINNER: Bliss in 19:00. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Really well executed with the exception of a few moments where wrestlers on the top of the ladder with briefcase in hand had to stop because they weren’t supposed to win and the interference came late to stop them. This gives Bliss some new momentum.)
-Raw G.M. Kurt Angle gloated a bit to Smackdown G.M. Paige. Paige said there’s still the men’s MITB and she’s confident. Angle said they can agree that these double-branded PPVs are really cool. He said he likes seeing old friends like Daniel Bryan, A.J. Styles, and Samoa Joe. Paige said she knows what he’s doing and keep his eyes off her roster “because they bleed blue.” In walked Baron Corbin. He said tonight isn’t about playing patty-cake with Paige, but rather bringing the briefcases back to Raw. He said he wouldn’t want to disappoint Stephanie McMahon. Paige mocked Corbin for failing miserably last year to cash in his MITB. Paige and Angle shared a laugh.
-The Raw announcers threw to a video package on the Jinder Mahal-Roman Reigns feud.
(5) JINDER MAHAL (w/Sunil Singh) vs. ROMAN REIGNS
Sunil introduced Mahal from the stage in a wheelchair, neck brace, and arm sling. Graves praised Sunil’s bravery. They went to on-camera shows of various other announce teams. Reigns then made his ring entrance to a surge of boos. Cole called him “the most polarizing figure in WWE today” and said he considers himself the Universal Champion. Reigns took it to Jinder early. The crowd pelted Reigns with chants. When Jinder made a comeback and rolled to ringside to regroup, fans chanted “Boring!” Reigns went after Jinder at ringside. Sunil stood out of his wheelchair and shoved Reigns into the ringpost. Jinder took control again. Fans chanted “Rusev Day!” Back in the ring Jinder took it to Reigns and scored a two count. Fans chanted “This is awful!” The announcers talked frenetically to try to cover up the fan chants, which they didn’t acknowledge. Jinder settled into a facelock.
When Jinder went back to a chinlock after a few more minutes of offense, fans were distracted by something, presumably beach balls. They were cheering and booing whatever was going on. Jinder got up and yelled, “I’m the show, you pay attention!” Fans began chanting, “Let’s Go Beach Ball!” Reigns made a comeback and some women and kids cheered. The crowd began doing the wave as Reigns clotheslined Jinder in the corner. Jinder gave Reigns a running knee and scored a two count. Fans chanted “This match sucks!” Reigns stood and snarled and waited for Jinder to stand. He set up his superman Punch. Fans booed. Jinder ducked it. Some cheers. Jinder kicked Reigns in the face and then gave him a lift-and-drop gut-buster for a two count. Fans booed the kickout.
Jinder was bleeding from the side of his left eye. “End this match!” chanted fans. Jinder went for the Khallas, but Reigns came back with a Superman Punch for a two count. (I’d give this match five stars if they take it to a 60 minute draw just to spite the fanbase; it’d be a microcosm of Reigns’s entire never-ending babyface push since The Shield break-up. Jinder kicked Reigns as he went for a spear and then threw him shoulder-first into the ringpost. More protest chants from the crowd. Reigns legdropped Jinder on the back of his neck and then went after him at ringside. Sunil interfered. Reigns punched him and he bumped onto the wheelchair and fell backward. Reigns smiled and nodded and looked around. He let out another “ooooh!” and then speared Sunil. Mahal then surprised Reigns with a small package as he entered the ring for a very near fall. Reigns then speared Jinder and scored the three count. Coach said Reigns will remember this win for a long time.
WINNER: Reigns in 15:00. (**)
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s like Vince McMahon thinks as long as Reigns works really hard, fans will eventually appreciate his work ethic and cheer him. It’s not going to happen. The die is cast and only a major change in Reigns’s presentation is going to change this. The match itself was formulaic but fine. It just didn’t matter, though, what they did because fans in the arena were going to send a message that they don’t like or care about either wrestler, and they are buying tickets despite them, not because of them. Or, as Reigns puts it, he’s good at stirring up fans. Does this match disprove once and for all that “any response is a good response” and “as long as they’re loud, it’s good”?)
-A video package aired on the Special Olympics with Big Show’s involvement. A woman athlete was shown smiling in the front row.
-The Smackdown announcers recapped the results so far and then threw to a video package on the Smackdown Women’s Title match.
(6) CARMELLA vs. ASUKA – Smackdown Women’s Title match
Carmella shoveled Asuka on an early rope break and then moon walked. Asuka soiled and nodded and went for two spinning backlists. Carmella backed away and ducked, then taunted her as she sat on the second rope. “Whatcha gonna do, Asuka?” she said. She walked on the ring apron and told the ref to back Asuka away. She re-entered the ring and tried to kick Asuka, but then blocked an Asuka kick and slapped her. Asuka soaked it up as Carmella yelled, “I’m not scared of you, Asuk!” Fans chanted “Asuka! Asuka!” Asuka went after Carmella with rapid-fire offense. When Carmella tried to leave with her belt, Asuka leaped off the ring apron and kneed her in the head.
Asuka followed Carmella onto the ring apron, but Carmella yanked her into the ringpost. Carmella controlled Asuka for a few minutes, grounding her mid-ring. Asuka eventually attempted a comeback with a missile dropkick, but Carmella moved. Asuka countered Carmella seconds later with a knee-bar, but Carmella quickly reached the bottom rope to force a break. Carmella slapped and shoved Asuka a few times. Saxton question the strategy. Asuka kneed Carmella and landed a dropkick in a flurry of offense. After two hip attacks, Carmella kicked out. Carmella ducked a charging Asuka, who tumbled to the floor.
Carmella snapped Asuka’s neck over the top rope then thrust kicked her hand off the top rope, so Asuka fell to the floor. Carmella then tackled Asuka at ringside and quickly threw her back into the ring and scored a two count. Carmella screeched and made another cover. She tried a third time and screeched again in frustration and dismay. Saxton said she was having a meltdown. Fans began a “One more time!” chant. Asuka came back with spinning backlists and then she jackknife covered her for a two count. She followed with a roundkick to the face. Suddenly someone in a Japanese robe and mask like Asuka’s stood on the ring apron. Asuka was frozen in fear. Fans were confused. Carmella even looked on. Some fans chanted “C.M. Punk!” Carmella rolled up Asuka from behind after a long 20 seconds for a two count. Graves wondered if it’s “anotehr Asuka.” Asuka turned back to the person, who unmasked and it was James Ellsworth. He winked. Carmella blindsided Asuka and scored the pin. Graves called it genius. “A plot laid out so well, it deserves an award!” he exclaimed.
WINNER: Carmella 11:00 to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship. (*1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Ellsworth cancelled an indy appearance this weekend, which led to speculation he’d be involved here. The match itself was what you’d expect if they were going to have it last ten minutes or longer and be competitive. Carmella’s execution and timing was at times not where you’d like it it to be at this level, but at other times the exchanges were solid. Her personality is obnoxious and I can totally see it working at riling up a big part of WWE’s audience. Ellsworth is a fun act to a point, so I’m curious to see if she’s back with Carmella full time. It’s good for Carmella to have someone interfering on her behalf since it really discredits babyfaces like Asuka to not beat her otherwise.)
-An ad aired for “Something Else to Wrestle” on WWE Network.
-The Smackdown announce team talked about the WWE Super Show-downin Melbourne, Australia announced over the weekend featuring Triple H vs. Undertaker.
-A video package aired on the A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match.
(7) A.J. STYLES vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA – WWE Title match
Phillips noted that the first Last Man Standing match in WWE took place in 1999 at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre featuring Mankind defending against The Rock. A loud “A.J. Styles/Nakamura” dueling chant took place. The crowd cheered for Nakamura during ring introductions, but they popped big for Styles’s entrance music. A few minutes in, Styles yanked Nakamura to the floor with a leg scissors. Styles then slingshot himself at Nakamura and landed a Phenomenal Forearm. The ref counted to five before Nakamura stood.
Styles threw Nakamura into the ringside barricade. Phillips noted #MITB is the number one trend worldwide. Nakamura overhead suplexed Styles onto the diamond plated ramp ending. The ref counted, but Styles stood. Nakamura took it to Styles in the ring for a while as fans engaged in dueling chants. Styles got louder chants than Nakamura. Nakamura methodically continued to beat on Styles. He bent him over backwards on the bottom metal step at ringside and then pressed his foot on his face. Then he threw Styles over the ringside barrier. As Nakamura circled and kicked Styles, Graves said, “Nakamura is just toying with Styles right now.” Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm off the ringside barricade, but Nakamura kicked his legs out from under him. The ref counted Styles down for a seven count before Nakamura dropped him again by slamming him into the ringside steps.
Nakamura threw Styles back into the ring. Styles showed some life with chops and an enzuigiri. Nakamura staggered but remained standing. Styles charged, but Nakamura lifted his boot. Styles caught Nakamura leaping at him off the ropes with a dropkick. The ref counted both men down. Graves said, “We could see another no decision.” He almost choked on his words mid-sentence as he said that. Styles face-planted Nakamura. Both stood. Nakamura went for a low blow to counter a Styles Clash attempt. Styles backed away. Nakamura begged off and pleaded for mercy and tried to call a timeout. (Awesome!) Styles had none of it and gave him a Pelé kick. Nakamura ducked a forearm and landed a reverse exploder. Nakamura signaled for his Kinshasa kick, but Styles met him first with a flying forearm.
Nakamura kicked Styles out of mid-air. Both went down and the ref counted to eight. Nakamura threw Styles into the time keeper’s area. (No one was there, so who is keeping time on this match?!?! That’s an important role because WWE never ever talks about match length unless it’s a Beat the Clock or Iron Man match.) Nakamlura put Styles on an announce desk and then ran over the top of two other tables and gave Styles a Kinshasa. The ref counted to nine before Styles rolled off the table and sort of stood. Nakamura went back after Styles and threw him into the ringpost.
Nakamura pulled a table out from under the ring and slid it into the ring. Fans laughed when Nakamura struggles to lock down one of the legs and it collapsed. He fixed it and moved on. Nakamura put Styles on the top rope and set up a superplex through the table. Styles slipped out and went for a powerbomb instead. Nakamura held on and dropped Styles. Nakamura lifted and dropped Styles on the side of the table after it was tipped over. Then he set it up a table in the corner and threw Styles through it. It broke in two. The ref got to nine before Styles stood emphatically before collapsing into the ropes. Nakamura frowned and went back on the attack.
Styles made a comeback and applied the Calf Crusher. He got a lot of torque. He then smashed Nakaura with a chair at ringside. Phillips wondered what extend Nakaura would go to. Styles smashed Nakamura with the chair. It looked like it hit his head and shoulder. Graves quickly said it hit Nakamura’s shoulder, since unprotected chairshots to the head (or any chairshots to the head) are not okay anymore in WWE for obvious reasons (and years too late). Nakamura hit Styles with a low blow to stop another chair shot. Graves quickly pointed out it was totally legal. Nakamura hit Styles with a Kinshasa kick. Both went down and the ref began counting both down. Nakamura stood first. The ref got to nine before Styles stood.
Nakamura then lifted Styles onto his shoulder while standing on an announce table. Nakamura’s knee gave out from the Calf Crusher. Styles then leaped off the table and landed a Phenomenal Forearm. Styles stood on the ringside stairs base and set up a Styles Clash. He leaped off of it and delivered the Styles Clash to Nakamura. Phillips: “Holy hell!” Fans chanted, “Holy shit! Holy shit!” That was dangerous if Styles came up at all short, as Nakamura’s forehead would have clipped the edge of the ringside steps on the way down. Nakamura stood at nine and then began smiling a la Nikki Cross. He begged for more. Styles gave Nakamura a running kick to the crotch. That’ll do it. Saxton said sometimes you have to tap into your deepest darkest aspects of your personality to walk out with the championship. Styles then springboarded out of the ring and hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Nakamura through the middle announce table. Both were slow to stand. Styles stood at seven. Nakamura stayed down for the full ten count.
WINNER: Styles in 31:00 to retain the WWE Title. (***3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: I think it was a bit long and dragged at times, but overall it was really good with a fitting conclusion that made up for any slower spots that seemed to be filling time unnecessarily. I’m not a big fan of Last Man Standing matches, but this was a good execution of the format.)
-A commercial aired for WWE 24 on the Hardys premiering on WWE Network tonight.
-They Raw announce team sat in front of the crushed table and commented on the match. They threw to a video package and a tale of the tape on the WWE Raw Women’s Title match up next.
(8) NIA JAX vs. RONDA ROUSEY – WWE Raw Women’s Title match
Jax, the champ, came out first. Rousey came out smiling and in a kilt. It seemed like a nice pop for Rouse, but not sustained. Jax had her game-face on. Rousey wore a “Rowdy” sports top and black compression shorts. During formal ring introductions, both got what sounded like polite cheers.
When the bell rang, Jax charged and lifted Rousey and shoved her into the corner and rammed her shoulder-first several times. Then she tossed her hard across the ring and splashed her. Graves: “Ronda never felt that in the Octagon.” Jax gave Rousey a Biel throw, but Rousey side-stepped her on a charge. Rousey punched away at Jax. Jax headbutted her down. Graves noted how rules are different in WWE compared to MMA. Jax put Rousey on her shoulder, but Rousey countered in a kimura attempt and dropped Jax to the mat. She tried to extend her arm and Jax fought it. Jax lifted Rousey and tried to slam Rousey, but Rousey held on and blocked the slam. Jax went for it again and then time gave Rousey a sitout powerbomb. Coach said that might be the first powerbomb Rousey has ever taken. Rousey stood, stumbled, and fell to the floor.
Jax went after Rousey at ringside. Rousey went for a rana, but Jax held on and swung Rousey into the ringside barricade. Jax threw Rousey back into the ring. Cole said, “This is turning into a slaughter. She doesn’t even know where she is.” The heavy-handed announcing is the Vince McMahon Sledgehammer Reverse Psychology at play. Jax lifted Rousey onto her shoulders and lifted and dropped her in front of her. She made the cover. Rousey kicked out at two. Cole said this might be Jax’s best performance so far in WWE by far. Rousey leaped onto Jax and applied a guillotine. Jax yelled out in agony, but then lifted Rousey. Rousey went for a sunset flip, but Jax grabbed her and shoved her down hard. She did it a second time, bouncing Rousey’s head off the ring. And again. Graves said she was rag-dolling Rousey.
Jax shifted into a bear hug. Rousey struggled to break free, but Jax held on. Coach said this might be to Rousey’s advantage. Cole pushed back hard and said Jax is squeezing the breath out of her. Rousey fought out of it. “How are you still employed Coach?” asked Graves. Coach said he was correct because look at what happened. Jax landed a Samoan Drop for a near fall. Jax went for a running legdrop, but Rousey moved. Rousey backed ihtho the corner and lifted herself up, looking exhausted and disoriented. She avoided a Jax charge into the corner. Rousey applied an armbar on Jax while leaning over the top rope. The ref ordered her to break before five. She did. Rousey tumbled to the floor. The ref checked on Jax’s arm. Jax flexed her hand. Rousey looked at the top rope and thought about it. She climbed it and Cole said we’ve never see her there before. She leaped off with a crossbody for a two count. Jax kicked out with authority, sending Rousey into the corner. Graves said Rousey wasn’t sure what to do next.
Rousey got fired up and threw a barrage of punches at Jax. She connected with a high knee and then gave her a judo throw. Jax almost landed awkwardly on her head. Yikes. ‘What was that,” asked Coach. The crowd gasped. Jax kicked out at two. Rousey then put on the armbar, but Jax leveraged Rousey’s shoulders down for a two count, forcing Rousey to release. Rousey then landed a modified Rock Bottom. She went for an armbar, but Jax locked her hands to block it. They struggled. Rousey broke Jax’s grip. Bliss then whacked Rousey from behind with the MITB briefcase.
WINNER: No contest in 11:05 when Bliss interfered.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t think there is just one single way for Rousey to be a successful main event act for WWE, but I was eager to see the path they took in terms of her ring work. Would she win quickly and decisively? Would she work a longer more traditional longer match? Now we know. Rather than having her plow through anyone, they’re having her opponents appear credible. I see the reasons behind taking that approach. Jax was a strong choice for her “first singles match” because of the size advantage working against Rousey having a.cake walk. The finish sets up Rousey to have her first grudge against Bliss. There were a few clunky moments, but mostly it was a dramatic match that showed Rousey is green in some ways but also a good fit for the worked matches even without the “crutch” of working with a partner against gimmicky experienced heels like Stephanie and Triple H.)
-Bliss continued to attack Rousey with a briefcase. Fans chanted “Cash it in!” Bliss was tempted, but then walked to ringside to check on Rousey. She whacked her a couple more times and threw her over the announce desk. Then she entered the ring and swung it at Jax, the champ. Bliss considered cashing in, but swung it at Jax again. She then talked to the ref, and cashed it in.
(9) NIA JAX vs. ALEXA BLISS – Raw Women’s Title match MITB cash-in
Bliss gave Jax a quick DDT. Graves said Bliss only has one working arm. Bliss then rammed Jax’s arm into the mat. She climbed to the top rope and leaped off with Twisted Bliss and scored the three count.
WINNER: Bliss in 1:00 to capture the Raw Women’s Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s quite a chain of events. They managed to avoid having Rousey win the title o her first try or sacrifice Jax to her, but instead “made up for it” by following the non-finish with a MITB cash-in title change.)
-A video package aired on the MITB match.
(10) MEN’S MONEY IN THE BANK MATCH – KOFI KINGSTON vs. RUSEV vs. SAMOA JOE vs. BRAUN STROWNAN vs. BOBBY ROODE vs. KEVIN OWENS vs. FINN BALOR vs. THE MIZ
Ring entrances took place and took forever. New Day revealed Kofi was the official entrant. The bell rang 53 minutes into the FOURTH HOUR so this is going to last into the FIFTH HOUR. So much for earlier evenings for kids on school nights or regular people with regular work hours on the East Coast. Braun cleared the ring of everyone a minute into the match. He went to ringide and slid a ladder into the ring. Joe attacked him from behind. Everyone fought with Strowman back to the stage. They buried Strowman under a pile of ladders. Meanwhile, Miz set up a ladder in the ring and tried to steal the win. Graves called it genius. Joe shoved the ladder over and Miz came up short.
Fans chanted “Kofi!” Miz interfered. Kofi leaped onto a crowd at ringside. They caught him and then Balor flip dove onto all of them on the floor. Balor celebrated with a ton of fire. He tried to grab a ladder on the stage, but Strowman grabbed it. “Look who’s back!” said Cole. Braun shoved the ladder into the gut of Balor and then charged Kofi with a shoulder tackle. Rusev dove through the ropes and hit Braun with a flying forearm, then superkicked him in the jaw. Rusev then superkicked Braun. The wrestlers worked together again to stomp Braun down.
Owens directed Rusev to put Braun on a table. Braun fought back. Joe put Braun in a Coquina Clutch. Owens superkicked Braun in the face. They put Braun on the table. Joe ordered Owens to “get your ass up there.” Owens climbed the very very tall 15 rung ladder. Owens was on top and begged Braun not to tip it. Braun met Owens near the top and dragged him to the very top. He grabbed Owens by his shirt and shoved him off. Owens crashed through a stack of tables below. “Holy sh–!” chanted fans. A ref checked on Owens, who grabbed his head and kicked his feet in pain.
Braun went to work on Joe and Rusev with punches. Kofi ran at Braun, but Braun picked him up and chokeslammed him on the ladder. Then he charged down the ramp and broke a ladder in half that Balor and Roode were holding. Miz was in the ring and got wide-eyed. Graves said Braun just treated a ladder like a “sophomore football banner.” Braun caught Miz’s feet and yanked him down, then gave him a hard forearm to the chest. Braun climbed the ladder, but Joe hit Braun in the back with the ladder. Joe knocked Braun to the floor. Balor gave Braun a running dropkick into the time keeper’s area.
Joe and Balor climbed a ladder in the ring. Roode tipped the ladder over and threw Balor into the ringpost. Joe gave a charging Roode a urinage. Rusev ducked a charging Joe, then kicked Roode. Kofi ran into the ring and tried to kick Rusev, but Rusev caught his leg and gave him a round kick to the side of his head. Rusev stacked Kofi and Roode and gave them a double accolade. Miz came up behind Rusev and went for a Skull Crushing Finale, but Rusev blocked it, broke free, kicked Miz, and then Miz landed on Kofi. Rusev then gave them a Triple Accolade. Joe entered and put Rusev in a Coquina Clutch. Fans booed, siding with Rusev. Rusev kicked Joe, who rolled out of the ring. “Rusev Day!” rang out.
Rusev climbed the ladder. Graves said he took his first step to changing his destiny. Miz tipped the ladder over and Rusev dropped throat-first over the top rope. Miz then set up the ladder and climbed it mid-ring. He was about to unhook the briefcase when Kofi met him at the top. Kofi headbutted Miz and grabbed the case. Miz punched him and grabbed the case. Kofi headbutted him again, but got groggy himself. Roode tipped the ladder over. Balor re-entered and gave Roode a sling blade. He cleared the ring of Miz and Kofi. Kofi took a nasty bump, hitting his face on the edge of a ladder at ringside. Balor climbed a tall ladder at ringside and then leaped off of it onto Roode inside the ring with a Coup de Grace.
Balor climbed a ladder in the ring. Braun re-entered the ring and yanked Balor down and rammed his face into the ladder. He powerslammed Joe. Miz scurried up the ladder, but Braun yanked him down and gave him a powerslam. Balor and Braun each climbed opposite sides of the ladder. Kofi leaped onto Braun’s back, but Braun kept climbing anyway. Kofi reached for the briefcase. Balor slipped off. Braun threw Kofi off of him and Kofi bumped hard to the mat. Braun then pulled the briefcase off and won. Cole said Brock Lesnar should beware.
WINNER: Braun Strowman in 21:00.
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