The art of professional wrestling is one of the most socially active mediums of entertainment across the world. Millions watch men and women grapple for championships, financial success, accolades, celebrity status, and supposed immortality within the squared circle. The Hype Train provides a glancing review of WWE’s Tuesday night show, SmackDown Live, and their latest pay-per-view of 2017, Money in the Bank, which featured a MITB for both men and women, as well as Jinder Mahal defending his WWE Championship against St Louis's own Randy Orton... In St Louis.
WWE Money in the Bank 2017 Review: 18/06/2017
RAW is established. It's got some of the company's premium assets on its books. Wrestlers like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Finn Balor. You know where these guys will be. They'll be at the top of the card. Established, but not necessarily better than its competition. Whilst the red brand is tailored for a more conventional audience, ones who can feel safe knowing that not very much happens, that all too much stays the same. RAW's been improving lately, but it's like a trusted pillow you can lay on. It comforts you, knowing what you're in for. But next door there's a noisy brother up at all hours in the morning, younger and full of energy, and he doesn't understand the status quo, or how things should be. He picks up one action figure, and that guy is the champion of whatever imagination based game he's playing. The next minute, it all changes. This noisy brother though, for all of his tinkering to the norm, isn't actually hindering the household's overall product. In professional wrestling terms, SmackDown has become this younger brother, that in light of his flaws and his upsides, is going to play how he want to, even if it means not sticking to what is deemed conventional in the wrestling sense.
Money in the Bank's latest edition lives by the above principles, because we're struggling to live in a world where a Canadian born wrestler is hailed as India's first WWE Champion, and a man is Ms. Money in the Bank. The top two talents on the blue brand based on its current predicament is Baron Corbin and Jinder Mahal, the once unloved toys that now have time in the sun, whilst the best selling choices such as AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, are thrown to the waste-side... We as a wrestling fan base are long removed from the days of CM Punk and John Cena starring in five-star matches, but nevertheless our viewing of Money in the Bank was oddly positive, given that there is a lot of widespread criticism circulating online, though we tend to favour our own preferences in these reviews.
Money in the Bank's downfalls were quite clear from the get go. A few screwed finishes in succession, first with James Ellsworth climbing the ladder and retrieving the first ever Women's Money in the Bank briefcase, for on-screen bae Carmella, and secondly a count-out finish in the Tag Team Championship match by the Usos, put a rowdy St Louis crowd in their seats with the thought that tonight just wasn't going to be something to get behind. The Tag Title predicament had a reason to end as it did, i.e. the New Day and The Usos will be going a few more rounds in the futre, but in terms of the Women's MITB, there wasn't any excuse. The image that everyone will remember is that a Man was the only one capable of retrieving a briefcase, designed for a woman to flourish. Not just any man, no. Not Braun Strowman, or a returning Rusev (to hypothetically help his wife Lana retrieve the case), no. Instead we got James Ellsworth, who has had his 15 minutes in the sun, yet continually finds a way to stay relevant, even a year after his debut.
Wrestling fans just won't forgive the transgressions of the Women's match, it'll stain the legacy of the briefcase, forever. We're not dramatic, but this type of thinking lives long in the memory, and it is definitely for the wrong reasons. You can look back on something and view it as the end of something. Look at TNA and January 4th, that infamous date signed, sealed, and delivered, the very end of a once vibrant wrestling promotion, and one that could have gone all the way if its ships masts had settled. The decision to have Ellsworth rise to glory puts a middle finger up to all those females in the wrestling industry that think they're worth a damn. Sure, it's probably been loved backstage by all involved, a new light on the division, no matter how adverse the conditions, but it will be a decision that will haunt the WWE as long as Money in the Bank is still a concept, and not just a match at Wrestlemania. Instead, it is the wrestling fans that have to live with the decision, that on its better brand, they'd stoop to dropping the bar of the Women's division, and then nailing its decision to the wall by having Carmella come out out in the title match later in the night, just to spit the noses of everybody who feels wronged by the decision.
Turning to one another in shock, but not the good kind that gives you the rasslin' tingles, moments like when Dolph Ziggler cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, our pause and reflection was an instantly negative one. Not only will WWE get bad stigma in this gender-equality-driven society, but its fringe decisions like that which make a division lose all credibility. Sure, I've eaten up a tonne of words talking about it, but the scripture here isn't that the WWE have won because the issue is talking about the Women's Division, instead its these sink or swim moments that turn viewers off altogether. If another male had helped, or even walked the steps himself, it wouldn't have the same impact. Take Rusev for example. If he had won the briefcase for Lana (who would have been in the match in this instance), or at least helped his beautiful bride to the top of the ladder, it would have vindicated a long-running (and probably forgotten) storyline that had Rusev feeling neglected because when he asked for opportunity, it wasn't given to him. Lana had to work for her opportunity to be in said ladder match, and in turn he used his anger to aid a cause, and not dent it. Ahead of it all, Rusev's inclusion would have been a spoke on the wheel that would have aided Lana, and put his own career back on track, something the fans in St Louis drastically wanted, hence the chants in the Women's Championship match. But these are all hypothetical, and the WWE doesn't do that in WWE. It doesn't think, it just does. It's part of what makes SmackDown a better brand. It just takes a gamble, even if some don't work out.
That moves us on to a more slightly positive note, which was that of the WWE Championship match between Randy Orton and champ Jinder Mahal. A true throwback to a 1990's style main event featuring an absurdly ridiculous heel character against the hometown hero, the pair helped solidify one aspect of Money in the Bank, and that is that Jinder Mahal is here to stay.
By the time the main event had rolled around, the crowd were dead on their feet, but with a hard-hitting encounter between the duo in Orton's hometown, with family and WWE legends all at ringside, it was the perfect storm for Orton to lose in front of his family, and yes it was to to the case, and nearly identical to Jinder's surprise win at Backlash a month ago, but a valuable lesson was taught, even if Orton doesn't get it, and it's real simple. Don't repeat past mistakes, or they come back to haunt you. A brilliant delivered promo package showed what Jinder Mahal has contributed to the feud with Orton, but on the flip-side, all Randy can seem to convey is a few words and an RKO from time to time. There was a lack of emphasis surrounding Orton and this feud, with all eyes rightfully on Jinder, but given his moment in the sun to deliver, aside from produng a near flawless encounter, Orton's missing link is once again is fleeting absence from those killer moments which define you. Orton was just bested, which is a joyous proclamation to make, given that we as WWE fans have been screaming for change like this for years. So many times before in the past, Orton and Cena in particular, have bossed feuds, even when they're victory in said feuds and title matches, was never fully deserved. This time though, at Money in the Bank, history finally righted a long-standing run of letting mediocrity win the day.
Jinder's not been the enemy in this feud, a legacy of wrestling fans being tuned to one channel, is what has been the problem. Jinder might not have been what we envisioned, but for us his ascent to the to summit is the proof that the days of a single person dominating the company is long gone. At last there is a real fighting chance that our favourite wrestlers, the likes of Rusev and Cesaro, can one day bask in the same light, and we just couldn't say this prematurely as the Orton match still lingered in the air. There's just too many fish in this small pond at WWE, and they're all biting to get where they want to go, and where they want to be is in Jinder's position. That is the cold truth of WWE nowadays on the SmackDown brand, and in truth we are often gleeful for it, as we're done with the status quo, the likes of Roman Reigns reigniting the idea of the company being about one person. SmackDown offers true release from the outside world, which at the heart is the meaning of entertainment.
Even if a little predictable, as Money in the Bank was, highlighted by Baron Corbin being the eventual victor in a hotly contested six-person ladder match, we couldn't be happier with the direction of SmackDown, though it is troubling how Shinsuke Nakamura has developed in his short time on TV. Loved in NXT (who isn't?), the Japanese star has found it almost impossible to grind out any momentum on SDLive, even though he has been booked in matches as nothing but special. We were let down by his storyline injury to open the MITB match, especially as his involvement in the later parts of the show justified why he should be pushed to the absolute summit, but only when WWE work out what the hell they're doing with him. We find it almost poetic that Corbin interrupted Nakamure during his entrance. Nakamura's entire gimmick has been based off his entrance, which has spawned god awful nicknames to associate himself with dead celebrities, and for once when taken away, we were asked what Nakamura was aside from a flashy entrance and a sing-along. Then in the final moments Nakamura came to life, but was reduced to a few signature and finishing moves, before ultimately being outgunned in his efforts by the man who attacked him in the first place.
As far as the future goes, SmackDown provides enough twists and turns that we'll tune in without hesitation, but as far as Money in the Bank goes, it's as it was at the summit of this article, a case for insanity. That is, after all, what Money in the Bank is designed to do. Ruffle some feathers, and pet some internet wrestling fans the wrong way.
Money in the Bank 2017 Results: 18/06/2017
Kick-Off: The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley) def. The Colons (Primo and Epico)
Women's Money in the Bank: Carmella (w/ James Ellsworth) def. Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Tamina Snuka, and Becky Lynch
WWE Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions: The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods) def. The Usos (c) via count-out
WWE SmackDown Live Women's Championship: Naomi (c) def. Lana
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal (c) def. Randy Orton
The Fashion Police (Tyler Breeze and Fandango) def. The Ascension
Men's Money in the Bank: Baron Corbin def. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, AJ Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Who’s on SmackDown’s Hype Train?
Jinder Mahal: Our main man Jinder Mahal actually did it again. In an old school title match with ltos of outside interference going on, Jinder capitalised on the chaos to keep the WWE Championship out of the hands of a staling Randy Orton
The Fashion Police: Back on the case, the boys in blue provided much needed comic relief on a show that had some dark moments.
Lana: The Ravishing Russian lived up to her name at Money in the Bank, making you half wonder if she'd ever wrestled before. The outfit alone puts Lana on our list.
Money in the Bank: Observations
The Fashion Police's latest pin up cork board is absolutely stellar viewing. Here's our favourite bits.
- Dusty Rhodes, fashion icon.
- John Cena, July 4th (a return on the cards?)
- Blue Steel, no not Ben Stiller but a steel cage!
- Ted Dibease, bank fraud.
- Tony Chimel, Rated ARGH!
Lana's outfit and ring attire was just 10/10. Rusev is one lucky man.
Talking of Rusev, was he not demanding a WWE Championship match at MITB? Rusev went missing after Jinder won the title.
The AJ Styles falls from the top looked terrifying on first viewing.
Robbing viewers of Shinsuke Nakamura just isn't helping.
That guy with the green shirt was ringside at another PPV. He's beginning to be more recognised than some of the in-ring talent.
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The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015 specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), and professional Wrestling, providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, television, live music, festivals, and any relevant topic in the public eye.
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