MONEY IN THE BANK (2014): Fandango Loves Triangles

Money in the Bank 2014

Money in the Bank (2014) – TD Garden (Boston, Massachusetts) – Main Event: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match (vacated title): John Cena, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Sheamus, Kane – Announcers: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, Jerry “the King” Lawler; Pre-Show: Renee Young, Booker T, Alex Riley, and Christian.

MONEY IN THE BANK 2014 barely qualifies as a decent episode of RAW. The first true PPV clunker of 2014, MONEY IN THE BANK featured way too much filler and two Ladder Matches that were far too crowded and far too predictable. Jerry “the King” Lawler couldn’t remember if the WWE Network cost $9.95 or $9.99 a month, but it doesn’t matter because if MONEY IN THE BANK is the only thing the Network had to offer, I’d have felt like I overspent.

Luckily, MITB 2014 isn’t the only thing the Network has and at $9.99 a month, it’s still the best deal in internet broadcasting.

But man, what a less-than-stellar event. Only two matches truly stuck out in a good way on the night: the opening Tag Team Championship match between the Usos and the Wyatts and the traditional Money in the Bank match for the briefcase that guarantees the winner a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship whenever he wants it. Neither was without fault, however.

As great as the Uso/Wyatt match was, it’s not something we haven’t seen before. Now, I am definitely not the kind of person who wants PPVs to have completely different cards than RAW and Smackdown, but the build up to this match was ill-served by the match itself. Simply as a match, Jimmy and Jey Uso and Erick Rowan and Luke Harper put on a a terrific match, but I do believe that at PPVs, matches should either serve as the end of a storyline or clearly mark the end/beginning of a new chapter.

That didn’t happen with this match.

As the storyline had been constructed over the past few weeks, in particular, and in the ongoing feud over the past few months, this match really needed to end with the Wyatts winning, and that didn’t happen. A Wyatt victory would have clearly marked a new chapter in this feud, and given us a narrative reason to care about watching these two teams continue to face off against each other, as you know they will. Failing that, an Uso victory that somehow altered the dynamic – either between the teams or inside one of the teams – would have done the same, too.

Instead, all we got was a match. A very good match that was well-deserving of the “this is awesome” chants that broke out at the Garden, but not a match that altered, in any way, the WWE landscape.

In a too-frequent occurrence, the match was also hurt, more than it was helped, by an increasingly off-the-rails announcing team. Near the beginning of the, Michael Cole decided it was important enough to ask Jerry “the King” Lawler whether he thought Erick Rowan or Luke Harper was the stranger of the two Wyatt Family members.

This is why people hate Michael Cole.

Well, one of the reasons. To Michael Cole, wrestling is never anything more than a pre-scripted cartoon in which it is more important to work in talking points than it is to call the match.

The Wyatts are strange.

The Usos are the sons of Rikishi.

Set up the King for a canned joke he wrote in 1988.

Get in a slappy-talky exchange with JBL.

Vintage Orton!

Mention how many people are in attendance.

Check the time sheet to see when the match will end.

He’s even worse during a match he doesn’t care about, which on this night included the Diva’s Championship, Sandow/Adam Rose, and the Layla/Summer Rae match. He seemed barely invested in either the Rhodes Brothers/RybAxel match or the Rusev/Big E contest, but this was more a case of Cole sticking to his talking points as opposed to focusing squarely on the match. The Sandow/Rose match was this announcing team at it worst, with Cole not paying attention to the ring action and instead, blabbering on in a useless, pointless argument with JBL as the King sits by wondering why he’s still doing this, waiting for his opportunity to blabber out, “If there was a Strange-O-Meter …” in an attempt to answer Cole’s nonsense.

Brutal.

If the WWE doesn’t think a match is worthy of the attention of the announcers, then don’t book it. If it is worthy of the announcer’ attention, then tell them to shut up and call the match. The longer the Cole/JBL/King announce team sticks together, the worse they get.

The Diva’s Championship between Paige and Naomi came in between the Tag Championship and Sandow/Rose and the WWE’s mishandling of Paige continues. I think Paige is the best thing to happen to the Diva’s division since Mickie James, but the WWE writers are screwing up all the work the creative folk down at NXT did with her. Her championship reign has been a rolling collection of not-quite-feuds, which would be okay if they just let her be the same aggressive force she was down at NXT. But they don’t. Instead, her matches have a disappointingly Cena-esque quality to them, as she gets beat up for a few minutes and then pulls out a victory after hitting a big move or applying her submission hold.

It’s infuriating that NXT can do such a good job with wrestlers and then WWE Creative screws them by trying to fit them into typical wrestling roles. Paige is a face and so she has to have matches where she gets knocked down and then recovers … yaaaaaaaay!

Ugh.

This young woman is an amazing performer and the WWE isn’t doing her any favors.

The match with Naomi was okay (both women can wrestle), but it’s another example of bad storytelling. (They fired the one guy in Creative who knew the least about wrestling and the storytelling got worse.) The night was set up to be the swan song for the Funkadactyls, but WWE Creative apparently wants to cater to their 18 remaining fans and kept them together. (Remember, Total Divas airs every Sunday night on the E! Network, and now Season 1 is available on the WWE Network for $9.9something. Drink Diet Mountain Dew.) The Funkadactyls have done good work for the company over the past few years, but there’s no reason for them to be together anymore, is there? Brodus Clay has been released and their brief partnership with Xavier Woods was a non-starter. Why not have one of them turn heel? Why not let Cameron interfere with Naomi’s title shot?

Honestly, it seems obvious it’s because WWE Creative doesn’t care about them but feels obligated to use them because Total Divas airs every Sunday night on the E! Network, and now Season 1 is available on the WWE Network for $9.9something. Drink Diet Mountain Dew.

Paige wins, keeps her title, no one is impressed, Naomi doesn’t get a bump from having Cameron turn on her, and Paige is done with another short, meaningless storyline in which she gets beat up and then recovers to claim victory.

Word Life.

There was a Vine floating around this week showing Emma in a black wig doing a Paige impersonation and being interrupted by her nemesis/pal that was a thousand times better than any story WWE Creative has stuck Paige in since she was promoted.

The Damien Sandow Loss of Dignity Tour continued next, as he dressed up like Paul Revere to wrestle Adam Rose. Odin bless my fellow Bay Staters for doing their best to get behind Adam Rose, but this entire match felt like an obligation. This isn’t a feud, and neither of these wrestlers are getting pushed, so why the hell are they here? What’s the plan with Rose, exactly? To be nothing more than comedic relief? If so, that’s a shame because the guy has skills in the ring. The internet has been full of stories of Rose getting buried backstage by both an unconvinced Vince McMahon and his pet flying monkey, Kevin Dunn. These kinds of stories have circulated in the wrestling business as long as there’s been a wrestling business, but while we can’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes, we can see what’s on our screen, and in this match that’s two wrestlers the company doesn’t appear to have much faith in. The announcing team spent the match engaging in ridiculous banter, including a fight between Cole and JBL about the frowning lemon on Rose’s boots that sounded like two five year olds bickering over whether Oreo cookies were made by leprechauns or farted from the asshole of a magical zebra.

The best match of the night was up next, as Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Rob Van Dam, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins put on a hell of a good ladder match.

Before the match, we were treated with some canned promos with everyone promising they were going to win that were pointless. The one real highlight, though, was Zeb Colter, who reminded the crowd that Boston was where Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag, and Boston was where Sam Adams uttered the phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Hilarious. Because Betsy Ross almost certainly did not make the first American flag, and the flags she did sew were done in Philadelphia, not Boston. Also, it wasn’t Sam Adams who said, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” but Patrick Henry, who said it in Richmond, Virginia, which is not a suburb of Boston.

Colter is one of the best trolls we’ve got.

The match itself had a few interesting fashion moments. First, Jack Swagger debuted the single greatest bad wrestling t-shirt of all time: a sold black t-shirt with a white chalk outline of a hand held over the heart. I’m not sure if I want to buy it for me or for someone I hate. (Not that you can buy it, at the moment …) I’ve never been a huge Jack Swagger fan, and it is kinda funny that his catchphrase is way more over than he is, but Swagger has done good work since Cesaro dumped him. I keep waiting for Colter to add a new member to the Real Americans (Titus O’Neil would be perfect), but I’m all for him getting a run as a singles competitor again, so long as they’re real mid-card feuds and not comical jobs to the Adam Roses of the card. A real feud with Rose would be fine, but not a series of jobs designed to make Swagger look like a chump.

A second interesting fashion moment from the match was Seth Rollins new ring gear, which the WWE apparently bought from a Joel Schumacher garage sale.

Third, was Kofi Kingston’s crimson tights, a shout out to his alma mater, Boston College. I don’t remember Kofi ever getting sold as a local kid in Boston matches, but Cole did mention it during the broadcast (check that box, Michael!) and the crowd was definitely on its feet when Kofi got his “you know he won’t get the briefcase” climb up the ladder.

One of the cool parts of these group Ladder matches is that crowd favorites often face off against crowd favorites, putting the in-attendance audience in a tricky spot. Kofi’s climb was aborted by another crowd favorite, Dolph Ziggler, which makes me wonder if one of the heels missed their spot or if the WWE bookers were purposely trolling the audience.

Kofi and Dolph did amazing work throughout the match, but then, so did everyone else. This was a great match, full of exciting spots that gave everyone a chance to shine. There was creative work with ladders (ladders get an anticipatory rise out of a crowd better than anything else) and some hard falls. Seth Rollins is going to take some well-deserved heel heat after Kane helped him secure the win, but Rollins sold out from start to finish, taking some massive falls onto ladders.

The only problem I have with this match is that, other than the Ambrose/Rollins feud, it didn’t further or create any other storyline. Maybe some of this is because of the absence of Intercontinental Champ Wade Barrett (he hurt his shoulder last week when Swagger hurled him into a barrier), but the match never felt like it existed for any reason other than for the Rollins/Ambrose feud, with Kofi, Dolph, Swagger, and RVD there just to provide a few highlights to make the crowd happy.

Kane made a surprise run-in at the end of the match that was ruined by Zeb Colter. First, his run-in was delayed by Colter standing too close to the ring posts, preventing the WWE from firing off Kane’s flame pyro, and then a ref had to pull Colter out of the way, letting you know Kane was coming because why else would you pull someone away from the ring post?

Goldust and the Artist Formerly Known as Cody Rhodes took on RybAxel in a completely pointless match. I’m all in for Cody Rhodes but the Stardust persona needs work. The whole key to Goldust’s success back in the day (he pre-dates the Attitude Era, for crying out loud) wasn’t just his in-ring work but the out-of-ring experience, and Stardust needs that, too. There’s never been a problem with Cody’s in-ring abilities, and he’s shown in the past he’s capable slipping into and out of different personas, but this is his biggest change and he needs backstage screen time to make it stick.

DustDust needs someone to feud with, and the WWE has chosen RybAxel, which is a shame, too, because Ryback and Curtis Axel have been getting better and better as a tag team. They should be fighting for the belts, not serving as the backdrop for Cody’s identity crisis. As much as I hated Ryback a year ago, the dude has been putting in good work and has shown a personality that I wish the WWE would let him expand on instead of keeping him as the mostly silent brute. In one of the funnier moments of the night, he did his lame arm pump thing as he waited for Goldust to rise to his feet, and the Boston crowd started chanting, “Feed. Me. More. Feed. Me. More.” Ryback heard them, turned to the audience, and shouted, “I’ve still got it!”

I’d love to see the WWE take an APA approach to Ryaback and Axel – let them be back stage thugs for hire, or revisit Ryback’s bully persona … anything that lets them get their personalities onto TV. Ryback’s time at the commentary table a month or so back when he was talking about his bartender dad was his best moment in the WWE.

Rusev and Big E continued their attempt to revive the Cold War (which has been over for 23 years, WWE! 23 years!) and again, the storytelling just seems off. At no point during this feud has it seemed like Big E has any chance to win, as the company has Rusev on the Goldberg/Ryback undefeated track. This doesn’t do either wrestler any good. No one will take Rusev seriously until he’s more than just a streak, and I still contend that there’s more long-term money for the WWE to make off Big E than Rusev. The two big men put on a solid match despite the obvious outcome, including the move of the night when Big hit a spear on Rusev that carried both of them through the ropes and sent them crashing to the floor.

But again, the match itself was fine but done a disservice by the larger storyline.

Not content to get to the main event, we still had a match between Layla and Summer Rae to sit through. The story here is that Summer and Layla are both in love with Fandango to the point that they’re fighting with one another. Fandango was booked at the special guest referee and he was actually pretty awesome. First, in a backstage interview, he had no problem drinking in both of the women with lecherous eyes and a smug grin. He’s loving that two women are fighting over him and it’s the perfect way for his character to react to the situation. He also delivered the line of the night; when he was asked about the love triangle between the three of them, he answered, “Fandango loves triangles” as if he was a seedy porn producer on an episode of Miami Vice.

As for the match … I don’t see how this helps Summer Rae except that it puts her on TV, and that it shows the company still loves to put the women it believes in through horrible relationships. I suppose Summer should be glad her bad relationship involves Fandango and not Mr. McMahon’s grapefruits.

The night’s main event finally too place and it was a disappointment. It was far from a horrible match but there was frankly too many participants. It came off as a bad demolition derby. There were a few great moments – including Roman Reigns picking up a ladder with Sheamus and Cesaro on it – but the fundamental problem of a Ladder Match for a Championship was in full effect, which is that Ladder Matches are dangerous and a Championship match has your most valuable superstars in it.

That’s likely why there were eight freaking participants: John Cena, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Sheamus, and Kane. Everyone got in a few moves and everyone took a few bumps, but most of the moves were relatively safe.

Most, but not all. Randy Orton’s head was cut open when Roman Reigns slammed a ladder into it early in the match, and Orton was either legitimately pissed or put on a good piece of acting when it looked like he gave Reigns a harder-than-usual ladder shot later on in the match.

John Cena won because John Cena. It’s not surprising, of course. This is his 15th time as the company’s champion and with the uncertain future of Daniel Bryan knocking the WWE’s main storyline off the rails, there’s no safer person to put the belts on than Cena. I’m not looking forward to the Cena/Authority feud because how can Triple H and Stephanie sell a “best for business” angle with the ultimate Company Face. What’s disappointing is that Cena is the safest choice, and wrestling is better when it’s unpredictable. Almost any other participant would have made for a more interesting RAW than what we’re going to get Monday night.

Cena will get a mixed pop tomorrow night because no one gets a more mixed pop than Cena, but his act won’t change and that’s the disappointing part of this. The heel turn he needs to make is a turn he’ll never make, of course, but he’ll come out and give a speech about how you can love him or boo him but he still loves you all the same. He’ll say you can’t deny he always gives his best.

Ugh.

It’s not disappointing because Cena is undeserving; it’s disappointing because the new song is likely to sound just like the old song.

If MONEY IN THE BANK 2014 was judged solely on the main event, it would be a good PPV, but there’s just too much filler in the rest of the event, and even the good matches are hurt by bad storytelling. Very little about this MITB feels like anything more than a placeholder to get us from the last PPV to the next PPV.

__________

Full Results for Money in the Bank 2014

1. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) (c) defeated The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) / Tag Team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
2. Paige (c) defeated Naomi (with Cameron) / Singles match for the WWE Divas Championship
3. Adam Rose defeated Damien Sandow / Singles match
4. Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Rob Van Dam and Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter) / Money in the Bank Ladder Match
5. Goldust and Stardust defeated RybAxel (Ryback and Curtis Axel) / Tag team match
6. Rusev (with Lana) defeated Big E / Singles match
7. Layla defeated Summer Rae / Singles match / Guest Referee: Fandango
8. John Cena defeated Kane, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Cesaro (with Paul Heyman) and Bray Wyatt / Ladder Match for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship

_________

Click here for the Anxiety’s complete index of wrestling reviews.

About these ads

One thought on “MONEY IN THE BANK (2014): Fandango Loves Triangles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s