WWE's annual Money In The Bank pay per view (apparently we're still calling them that even though you know… you can just watch them on the WWE Network) is an opportunity for some of their most popular wrestlers to hurl themselves off of ladders.
This year there were actually two ladder matches on the card, the first what they are referring to as the traditional (well it's been 10 years apparently) Money In the Bank match where the winner gets a contract for a title match and the second being for the actual WWE title which sadly has been vacated due to Daniel Bryan's ongoing and apparently not healing neck injury.
There were a few other matches on the card too, but to be honest this is a PPV that's sold on one thing.
Lots and lots and lots of ladders.
Because the WWE has never been subtle and having established that first of all the Ladder match is a big deal, they're not going to be satisfied with just one ladder when they can get a half dozen in the ring.
But let's go through the card in order and see what it had to offer.
Tag Team Championship Match — The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family
I honestly wasn't expecting to enjoy this nearly as much as I actually did. We've seen versions of this match a few times on tv now. But of course they save the big stuff for the PPVs. I thought it would be decent, but it was actually really good. The Usos have got their routine down and they do what they do well, but the surpise here (for me) was Harper and Rowan who are both big guys and normally booked to move like big wrestlers. Here they really pushed out the boat and the result was a hot opening to the show.
Diva's Championship Match — Paige vs. Naomi
Well both of these women can wrestle (not guaranteed in the Diva's division sadly) and despite one botched move where they slipped off the ropes they gave us an athletic match. The problem here is almost entirely down to the booking. We did get a little build up to this in last couple of weeks, but not a lot and Paige spends all her time getting beaten up before getting what looks like a fluke win at the end. That's not the best way to get people to invest in her.
Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett vs. Jack Swagger
Barrett was intended to be in the match but due to an injury this last week actually had to be removed. Which may have been a good thing. Not for him obviously, but it did give the other wrestlers plenty of time to each get their own spots in. And this was easily the match of the night.
Ladder matches tend to be very very gimmicky. You can create some really cool imagery with those ladders, but you have to be so careful in doing it. There were certainly some crazy spots in this one including Kofi Kingston falling from the ladder only to bounce off the top rope and knock over the other wrestlers. But, and this is a critical point, they didn't forget the story they were telling.
While all the wrestlers got their moment to shine, this was about Ambrose and Rollins. Having Ambrose forced to leave part way through with an apparent injury only to return later and attack Rollins again was a great moment. I'm actually okay with the screwy ending too because this particular feud is clearly not done yet.
Goldust & Stardust vs. Rybaxel
I'm liking Cody Rhodes Stardust persona. It does seem to be breathing new life into their tag team. On the other hand… could we see them wrestle someone other than Ryback and Curtis Axel. No matter how many times the announcers tell me that team is great… they just bore me.
Rusev vs. Big E
I said after the last PPV that I wished these two had gotten a little more time because there was potential in the matchup. Here we got to see that potential.
With Rusev's anti-American push in full swing, naturally Big E got all patriotic on us. That rang false quite frankly. Big E doesn't have much of a character and that definitely hurts him. However when looking purely at the in ring action, Big E was a guy who could credibly stand toe to toe with Rusev. This wasn't a squash match in any way and that made it so much more entertaining to watch.
Summer Raye vs. Layla
Fandango was guest referee for this one and I'm having trouble coming up with words for how little I cared. To be fair this feud was given plenty of TV time but even so.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match: Kane vs. Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Cesaro vs. Roman Reigns vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Remember how I said earlier that Barret being taken out of the Money In The Bank match may have been a good thing? Here's why. This match had 8 participants (plus Triple H and Stephanie watching from ringside) and that was definitely too many. In fact the opening segment looked more like a Battle Royal than a ladder match.
Don't get me wrong, all the wrestlers worked hard and hit their spots, it just lacked the flow and as a result the excitement of the earlier match. Randy Orton took what looked like a really nasty gash to his head too. It's rare these days to see that amount of blood flowing on WWE television.
So who came out of Money In The Bank 2014 looking good? Well All the participants in the Money in the Bank match looked great. Granted Kofi Kingston is still not going to get a major push, but Rollins and Ambrose are all set for a major feud and Dolph Ziggler proved (again) that the company really ought to give him a bit more to do. The Wyatt family deserve another tag title shot, they might even deserve a win if they can keep performing like they did on Sunday. Roman Reigns looked like a champion in waiting (which he basically is) and John Cena… well the internet hates him, but he makes WWE a lot of money. With Daniel Bryan injured and out indefinitely Cena is the right person for now as they adjust to the changing landscape.