WWE Money In The Bank is in the books. WWE’s fourth most important PPV (sorry, Survivor Series) of the year is a SmackDown Live brand-exclusive show this time around, and in traditional SmackDown fashion, it was weird as hell.
The smaller card for this show is something to be taken as a positive with two Money In The Bank ladder matches taking place, and three championships on the line. One thing I’ve brought up in my SmackDown Live recaps is the fact that sometimes the two hour time slot – while it makes for a much easier watch than the three-hour Raw – doesn’t allow for the show to put on a ton of memorable matches. It’s common for even main events to only go ten minutes or less, leading to marquee matchups live Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura being inconsequential throw-away matches. Thankfully, only five scheduled bouts (plus one added) over the course of three hours solved that problem.
With every match on the card carrying high stakes, Money In The Bank was easily one of the most highly-anticipated brand-exclusive PPVs we’ll get all year. Could the Blue Team live up to the expectations? Which men and women would be walking out with the belts and briefcases? And, to pose a question that will undoubtedly come up a few hundred times in the coming months, would we see a cash-in tonight? Read on to find out!
1. Great, You Made Me Hate James Ellsworth, You Bastards
Well, this was something.
The match started off pretty enjoyable, too. Outside of a cringe-worthy moment early on where Natalya climbs the ladder and reaches for the belt as efficiently as a newborn baby trying to dress themselves, everything was going smoothly. They were physical, but not out of control. The Charlotte corkscrew from the top rope to the outside to take out Natty and Tamina was the awesome Charlotte spot we knew we’d get at some point in the night. And really, it was just a cool match to watch. It’s easy to make fun of WWE for shoving the “making history” rhetoric down our throats, but when you remove that part of it, and just focus on the fact that they really are making history, it makes what you’re watching feel like something. If I’d have told you two years ago you’d see an image of Carmella reaching up at the top of a ladder, you’d have thought I had gotten a bad batch.
Anyway, everything goes off the rails when Ellsworth dumps Becky off the ladder while she’s reaching for the briefcase. After trying and failing to bring Carmella to her feet, he decides to take it upon himself to climb the ladder, pull down the briefcase, and toss it to her. Carmella catches it, and the bell rings. Then while referees then have a discussion about whether or not they can allow this, Ellsworth, all-powerful for reasons unclear to everyone, grabs a mic and announces Carmella as the winner.
My take: this is a garbage finish. If you’re WWE and you spend nearly every waking moment preaching “WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT” and spend weeks selling on us this “first-ever” women’s Money In The Bank ladder match being a milestone for women’s wrestling, it is complete horseshit to have James Ellsworth be the person to pull down the briefcase.
The most fascinating part to me was watching the emotional roller coaster that the crowd in St.Louis went on during this whole thing. Ellsworth looking up and contemplating climbing the ladder gets a huge pop and “YES” chant. He climbs the ladder, and it gets a little louder. He grabs the briefcase and throws it down to Carmella, the bell rings, and then…mostly just confused silence it seemed like. Then, Ellsworth makes the announcement, and the crowd starts to boo. I think that’s a process a lot of us went through.
Going in, I was all for a Carmella win. She and Ellsworth had always been the perfect people to spend the next ‘X’ amount of weeks sporting the briefcase and cutting promos with it. But this sucked, man. I really look forward to how they use these two going forward, and I’m sure most of it will be pretty good, but I’m not sure if the route they took to get there was really worth it.
*Side note from this match: a commentary trope they absolutely have to kill immediately is the one where when a wrestler uses a submission move in a match in which you can’t win by submission, the announce team always says something similar to what JBL said tonight. Natty locks in a Sharpshooter, and he explains that she did this because “her instincts took over” or something. They could so very easily explain why it makes sense logically for Natty to do the Sharpshooter here (locking that on is going to put tremendous strain on the lower back, which would effect one of her opponent throughout the rest of the match), but instead, they imply that she did it by accident. They always assume the character did it mistakenly or didn’t know the rules of the match. This is dumb and needs to stop. Moving on…
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