The Hits & Misses Of MITB

Ahead of Summer Slam in just a few weeks, a packed crowd attended the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in Toronto. Despite the lengthy history of the Hart family in Calgary, Toronto has always been a wrestling city as well. The fans in attendance stayed energized throughout the entire broadcast. I know it’s becoming somewhat common place with the continued international events on the WWE calendar, but a riled up audience really can impact the presentation of an event.

The show opened with the men’s MITB ladder match, which gave an indication of what was going to unfold later in the night. This segment was exactly what you’d expect it to be, it was a car crash match, but it was done right and there was a lot of action. The leg drop that Andrade did while Chad Gable was on the ladder was a neat spot. Speaking of Gable, he shined in his featured spots. The punch exchange between LA Knight and Jey Uso was fun and it really underscored how much depth is currently on the roster because both guys are more or less considered mid-card talent (and there’s nothing wrong with that) but are still very popular with the audience. There were some insane bumps, including when Gable was hanging from where the briefcase was held and fell to the canvas. Eventually, Drew McIntyre got the win to get the MITB contract, but again, taking into account that the previous winner, Damien Priest kept the contract for several months, and the basis of McIntyre’s current feud, the office almost tipped their hand as far as the direction of the storyline.

I was very surprised that Sami Zayn beat Bron Breakker to retain the IC belt, mostly because it seemed like a rather easy booking decision to continue to push Breakker up the ladder on Raw. Perhaps, that’s why management decided to go the other way with the result so that it wasn’t too predictable. Still, sometimes the simplest answer is the right answer, and I think that was the case here. I say this with nothing against Sami, he’s one of my favorite performers on the roster and the fact that he can deliver such quality performances on a consistent basis makes him a truly valuable asset to the company. However, Sami is so over with the audience that he has reached the point that he doesn’t need a championship to maintain that status. On the flip side, this could’ve been a key piece of the puzzle for pushing Bron, who has the potential to be a top guy in the future. The match itself was really solid, and Breakker had the chance to show some tremendous athleticism, but he was pinned clean after he was presented in a more dominate fashion on television in the weeks prior to this. Hopefully, there’s more to this angle and it will be something that can present Breakker as a force on the Raw brand.

John Cena’s surprise cameo was a cool moment. His announcement of a 2025 retirement tour is a very smart business decision, as it’s an extra selling point for every event that he works before he hangs up the boots. That could even be a key piece of the puzzle for the switch over to Netflix if he wrestles on television on a semi regular basis. While it maximizes the money that he can draw before he finishes his in-ring career, which is the entire point of the pro wrestling business, from purely a sports entertainment perspective, John Cena deserves a retirement tour and the recognition that goes along with it. Cena is unanimously known as one of the hard-working performers in WWE history, and he has represented himself very well during his career. In many ways, John Cena is the real-life super hero that Hulk Hogan pretended to be on television. You could make the argument that Cena’s contributions transcend the pro wrestling business. Undoubtedly, John Cena is one of the biggest stars in the history of the business, and it should be fun to watch this retirement tour in 2025.

The World Heavyweight championship match was entertaining for what it was, Seth Rollins and Damien Priest are polished pros, but similar to what I said earlier, the office tipped their hand. It was made too obvious that Drew McIntyre was going to cash-in the MITB contract, because it was mentioned on commentary as soon as the match started. As I said earlier, it makes sense that they didn’t want to have Drew keep the briefcase for an extended period of time after Priest kept it for months, but booking the cash-in the same night as the pay-per-view takes away the spontaneous nature of the stipulation, which is the entire point. Furthermore, since it was obvious that Drew was going to cash-in, it also became clear that CM Punk was probably going to cost him the title again. The reason being, the McIntyre/Punk feud is based on a personal grudge, not a championship so it doesn’t need the belt. The finish was very clunky, as it looked like there was some miscommunication and Drew’s music was supposed to cut off the pin fall attempt. Priest clearly didn’t kick out and it halted a lot of momentum built by the solid action previously. There are two problems with how this was booked. First, Damien Priest, more or less throughout his entire title reign since he won the belt at Wrestlemania, has played second fiddle to the CM Punk/Drew McIntyre feud. With Gunther as the scheduled challenger for Summer Slam, an argument could be made that Priest should be a transitional champion since there’s still a lot of hype for Gunther in recent months. The bigger problem might be that unless Punk is very close to being cleared to return to the ring, there’s not much more that can be scripted for this storyline. Punk has cost Drew the title three times so there has to be something of substance booked next or the angle could lose its luster in terms of an anticipated match.

The women’s MITB ladder match was very well done and there were some wild bumps in this contest. Similar to the other MITB ladder match earlier in the night, this was booked to be a stunt segment and it definitely was with some memorable spots. Lyra Valkyria took some brutal bumps on the ladders, and the spot where Iyo Sky did the falcon arrow on the ladder looked rough. There was a scary moment when Zoey Stark looked like she clipped her head on the ladder when she did a dive into the ring. Chelsea Green took a crazy bump from the top of the ladder through two tables at the conclusion of the match. I understand why Tiffany Stratton was given the win, but taking into account that she’s still relatively new, I think Chelsea Green would’ve been a better choice in terms of what could be done with the MITB stipulation from a storyline perspective.

The main event was basically the six man tag team brawl that you’d expect and it was a fun segment. There was a lot of action and a few more table spots, which were probably over done throughout the show, but it’s one of the troupes of the modern era. More than anything, this segment truly established the new Bloodline as a dominate faction in the WWE, mostly because of how dominate they were made to look in this match and that Solo Sikoa pinned Cody Rhodes to get the win. Sure, the match itself had a paint-by-numbers approach, but it was very effective. There should be a lesson taken from the formation of this new faction within the Bloodline. Granted, Solo is new to the role so naturally, he’s not going to have the cache or star power of Roman Reigns, given that the former WWE champion held the title for almost four years, but the new Bloodline are presented as stars. They are portrayed as dangerous and were put on the same level as three of the top baby faces in the company. Specifically, Jacob Fatu is new to the company, but he was immediately put in a spot that let the audience know that he’s an important character on the show. The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reported that Cody vs. Solo is going to be booked for Summer Slam, and that would make sense with the finish that was booked for MITB. I doubt Solo wins the title and would guess that Roman Reigns returns to the company, but in the grand scheme of things, it looks like there are another series of marquee matches that can be booked for the Bloodline angle during the next few months, specifically a potential war games match at Survivor Series.

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Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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