WWE needed a big night from Money in the Bank – it got that and more.
John Cena making a surprise return to confront Roman Reigns to end the pay-per-view from Fort Worth, Texas was the chef’s kiss to a very encouraging night from WWE. Big E winning Money in the Bank, and the huge pop to which only fell second to Cena’s, is a great sign. Nikki “A.S.H.” Cross taking home the women’s briefcase was one of the best options even with many wanting Liv Morgan to win. It showed WWE continues to know how to book the big moment. Now, can they follow through on them in a meaningful way for what’s shaping up to be an epic SummerSlam card?
Here are five takeaways from Money in the Bank.
The threats to Roman Reigns’ Universal championship have never been this plentiful or this challenging. Reigns defeated Edge in a very good main event thanks to help from Seth Rollins, who then rubbed it in his former Shield brother’s face that he’s still champion because of him and said he wants the next crack at the title. Then John Cena arrived, likely being the next person to “cut the line” on Rollins for a big SummerSlam main event with the Tribal Chief. Edge can also stake a claim for a rematch. SummerSlam will likely be Reigns vs. Cena, Edge vs. Rollins and then could get complicated after. Oh, and Big E is running around with the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Reigns, who saw his cousin The Usos become SmackDown tag team championship on the pre-show, had an old-school feeling title match with Edge. The pace was slow early, Edge worked on Reigns’ arm and the match eventually crescendoed late with Reigns going through a barricade twice. The big moves felt more impactful and each one felt like it could bring the match to a conclusion. Reigns hit a spear after a Rollins distraction to end it.
One thing that needs to be explained is why Rollins even got involved twice in the first place – after Rey and Dominik Mysterio thwarted The Usos’ attempt. Did Rollins believe Reigns would owe him a match for helping him? Wouldn’t Edge be an easier opponent should he have won? I guess you can say he didn’t want to wait for Reigns to get another rematch? This certainly wasn’t one of Rollins’ better plans.
A Big Ending
Man, the huge pop for Big E pulling down the Money in the Bank briefcase was validation WWE got it right and will likely lead to a successful cash-in. Whether he takes the Universal championship from Reigns or gets payback on WWE champ Bobby Lashley for what he did to Kofi Kingston, it would be quite a moment when Big E becomes a world champion.
Big E hitting the Big Ending from halfway up the ladder on Rollins to set up his ascent epitomized the big-spot nature for the match. Ricochet had a highlight flip off the rope to the outside, Rollins power bombed Kevin Owens over the ropes through a ladder to the outside, Matt Riddle was putting people down with RKOs and the John Morrison drip stick was of course used. Oh, and Jinder Mahal came out, beat up Drew McIntyre with a chair and dragged him off. Fun match, but too bad Peacock’s stream was having issues in the early portion of it.
Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley delivered a classic in every sense of the word. They shook off chants of “We want Becky!”, grabbed the audience and took them from a ride. That included “this is awesome!” chants and ended with The Queen winning the Raw women’s championship. Flair, who flipped off the crowd at one point, has said she wants to be the best match on a card that includes men. She and Ripley did that.
They wrestled like the powerhouses they are, Ripley lifting Flair up for a suplex out of a sitting position, Flair hitting a Natural Selection from the top rope and her chest being bright red from the slaps she took throughout the match. The finish was a thing of beauty. After Flair smashed Ripley’s legs inside the steel steps, she raced in the ring to apply the Figure Eight and kept increasing the torque until Ripley tapped. Bravo to them, despite WWE really bungling Ripley’s booking throughout her reign.
Flair becoming a 14-time world champion leaves a number of roads WWE can go. The most intriguing is Becky Lynch returns and we get Flair-Lynch at SummerSlam. It’s the biggest match WWE can offer. Maybe you work Ripley in and make it a triple-threat so Lynch can pin her (yes, it’s gotten that bad that quick for her). If Lynch for some reason isn’t ready, maybe it’s Ripley again with a stipulation, and she wins the belt back from Flair. Either way, Flair being champ creates the biggest moment for Lynch or Cross because of how the audience feels about The Queen.
It’s not just that Cross is the new Ms. Money in the Bank, it is how she did it. WWE’s resident Almost Superhero literally was forgotten about by six of the other competitors in the match. She ended up climbing over all of them from the middle of three ladders as they battled to grab the briefcase. The other women, especially Natalya and Asuka, sold the shock beautifully with their faces. Kudos to whoever came up with that finish, likely T.J. Wilson.
It works perfectly with Cross’ new character. The weird kid who thinks they are a superhero is usually overlooked. That’s what happened here, and Cross made them pay. Being Ms. Money in the Bank also means the audience and the rest of the division need to take her seriously, and shows even Almost Superheroes can do great things. Her victory got a good crowd reaction, but far from a big pop. She and WWE still have some work to do getting her fully over with the audience, but it’s hard not to like Cross. The important thing now is not to have her turn into Otis. Make her time with the briefcase and her cash-in mean something.
The match itself was solid because there was a sense of urgency to get the case. Alexa Bliss having mind-control powers continues as she got Zelina Vega to walk down the ladders. Still, WWE needs to do better than having the rest of the women take her out of the match by simply stacking ladders on her.
Lastly, the crowd reaction each time Morgan climbed the ladder confirmed how over she is. Her disappointment was written all over her face when it was over. Bottle that frustration up and use it in her SmackDown storylines moving forward.
People may actually be excited to see Goldberg after the Brock Lesnar-like beatdown Lashley put on Kingston in front of a crowd that desperately wanted a title change. While this booking was likely unpopular for one night and it stinks that it had to happen to Kingston, at least the match lasted more than the seven seconds it took Kofi to lose to Lesnar in 2019. Kingston at least got a few counters into this one.
If you think about it, the story demanded this. Lashley had to prove he was refocused after losing to Xavier Woods last week, and beating a beloved Kingston that way will garner him a next-level of heat. And whether it is Goldberg as rumored or Lesnar himself who becomes Lashley’s opponent at SummerSlam, the audience will be happy to see them because of what he did to Kingston. He’s a monster again, and that’s a good thing. And if Kingston does become WWE champion again, it will mean that much more.
A.J. Styles and Omos defeat The Viking Raiders to retain the Raw tag team championship
Layers keep getting added to Omos each time we see him. The big man is an absolute match wrecker in the best sense. He tossed Styles over the ropes for a hurricanrana on the outside, broke a pin by simply pushing his opponent into the pin to break it up and ended the match by grabbing Erik by his head and slamming him. It’s going to take some team – or the becoming famous WWE rollup – to beat Omos and Styles. The development was good to see. Also, let’s see more of the Viking Raiders, who are one of the company’s most athletic and versatile teams.
Biggest winner: Big E
Biggest loser: Kofi Kingston
Match of the Night: Charlotte Flair vs Rhea Ripley