Money in the Bank is this Sunday and has essentially become the fifth pay-per-view in a new “Big 5” for the WWE, which also includes the traditional four of Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series. The Money in the Bank matches themselves will have a large impact on storylines moving forward and the perceived intended futures of the winners, but perhaps the most intriguing match when it comes to the question of “where are they going with this” is the RAW Women’s Championship match between Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey.
The storyline that brought us to Jax vs Rousey has been disjointed at best, and many critics pose the usual questions of “Does Ronda deserve the title this soon,” “Should she be in a title match for her first singles match,” “Will she be the female Brock Lesnar,” etc. However, the fact is that we are here, the match is happening, and despite the lackluster build up, it certainly has piqued interest and conversation, which is what WWE wanted.
The bigger questions surrounding this match, if we assume that Rousey does indeed win the title, are ones such as “Where does Nia go from here?” “Who does Rousey feud with?” “Will she be a full-time participant from this point forward?” “Will she be given true angles and storylines, or be given the Brock Lesnar push and run through all comers?” These are the true, wrestling-based questions that will need to be answered moving forward. So in that vein, here is how I would book Ronda Rousey at Money in the Bank.
In her match with Nia, I would tell the story of Ronda constantly trying to apply the armbar, but Nia’s size and power thwart her each time. I think Ronda needs to take a few bumps to keep Nia over as a legit threat, and possibly even cover Rousey for her first two count, until ultimately Rousey finds a way to lock in the armbar and Nia taps out. Ronda Rousey is the new RAW Women’s Champion!
Ronda is celebrating her win in the ring with the fans, taking in the moment, until BAM! She is nailed from behind by the Women’s Money in the Bank winner with the briefcase. Ms. MITB lays her out with a few more shots from the briefcase and is then calling for a referee to cash in her title shot. We then see Stephanie McMahon coming down the aisle with an official, hustling him to the ring to start the match. Stephanie orders the timekeeper to ring the bell, Ms. MITB covers Rousey, and we get a 1..2..3! We now have a NEW RAW Women’s Champion and it’s Ms. Money in the Bank- Sasha Banks.
“The Boss Laides” stand tall over Rousey with the Women’s Title held high to close the segment.
This scenario does a couple of positive things. First of all, it allows for the inevitbale to happen, which is Rousey getting the title. Yes, this match has been rushed, and it has stopped Nia Jax in her tracks, but at this point, I don’t think there is any way they can keep the title on her and continue this fued. It has no heat, the storyline has been confusing, and it might be best to simply get the title onto Rousey and start fresh, again, with Nia. Seems unfair to Nia, but I think this while sitution has really screwed with her character development and short circuited her run as champion before it really had a chance to begin, which is unfortunate, but it is what it is.
Secondly, it then immediately takes the title off of Rousey and puts her in a logical feud and storyline for the title with her as the chasing babyface. It continues to play on the WWE vs UFC plot point that they have been emphasizing (there are no surprise Money in the Bank cash-ins in the UFC, which can help explain her loss and make it believable) and continues her storyline issues with Stephanie McMahon. WWE booked themselves into a corner here where they almost have to put the title on Rousey, but by then having her screwed out of the champiomnship the same night, it adds heat to a logical storyline that will put the fans in a position to want to see Rousey rip someone’s arm off and reclaim the title and claim revenge, instead of feeling like she was thrown into a rushed match before it made sense to do so.
Third, and perhaps most importantly in my opinion, it turns Sasha Banks heel. Banks’ “Boss” persona is a natural heel, and she pulled it off so well in NXT and early in her main roster run. There have been hints dropping for several months now that Sasha was due for a turn anyway, and giving her the briefcase, then the title, and aligning her with Stephanie McMahon would cement her as the top female feel on RAW and could allow her to take the “Boss” character to a new level. I would really play up the relationship with Stephanie and her new position as the chosen champion. Show her on RAW arriving in limos, getting her own personal dressing room, not having to listen to Kurt Angle, having the odds constantly stacked in her favor, etc. Play up the angle that Stephanie has gotten into her head with promises of truly being treated like “The Boss” that she is, and that the promise of even bigger fortune and fame convinced Sasah to aling with the enemy.
Now you have a ready-made storyline going into SummerSlam for Banks vs Rousey. Or even better yet, put some obstacles in Rousey’s way by virtue of Stephanie’s influence that she has to overcome first and stretch the inevitable Banks/Rousey match until Survivor Series. In the meantime, you could have Banks vs Bayley at SummerSlam for the title and wrap up that long simmering angle (and give Banks a legit win as champion) until Rousey finally earns her shot. If done right and given time, it could possibly even harken back to the Steve Austin vs The Rock feud in 1999, with Rousey playing the no nonsense face constantly fighting from underneath and overcoming the odds stacked against her by the Authority until she finally gets her shot at the cocky champion and takes the title.
I know the WWE is a business, but the business is stll wrestling, and in wrestling stories matter. Stories that make sense matter even more. The interest and more impprtanlty the emotion they can illicit is what hooks the fans and causes them to invest in what’s being presented to them. Obviously, it has been proven that today the WWE doesnt necessarily NEED great creative to make crazy money, but as a wrestling fan, it definitely enhances my enjoyment of the product. No matter what they do with Rousey in the coming months, I hope the WWE can throw us fans a bone and at least try to write something compelling for her, and the product as a whole, this summer.
Cheap Plug- If you’d like to know how I would book the rest of the Money in the Bank card, check out this week’s episode of my podcast, Kentucky Wrestle Report, on Audioboom.
#RAWisDVR: Greg DeMarco’s ACCELERATED Look At WWE Raw for 2/18
How much of Raw was Fast Forward worthy on Monday? (A lot.)
Greg DeMarco watches WWE RAW on DVR, and you get to see how much time he saved! In the process, he’s highly entertaining, because it’s Greg DeMarco!
Triple H is in entering the ring
- Raw is weird again–not showing entrances
- Promo in a nutshell: this is a holiday Raw, and nothing of consequence will happen–but we will try to make you think it is!
- FAST FORWARD some talking
- Having Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa appear on Raw is great, but it immediately makes the 6 stars awaiting assignment look small time
- No Velveteen Dream? I wonder if this is a set-up?
FAST FORWARD the entrances
Braun Noveltyman vs. Baron Corbin Sucks in a Tables Match
- I FAST FORWARDed it, but they spent WAY too much time on Corbin walking.
- He sucks at walking, too.
- Corbin also sucks at sliding tables under rings.
- Why would he do that, anyway? He needs a table to win!
- The flaw in a Tables Match, at least for this experiment, is that you can FAST FORWARD when a table isn’t involved.
- FAST FORWARD commercials, we’re already saving tons of time tonight!
- I wonder if Abyss is the agent for Baron Corbin’s matches? I mean, that’s the Vortex Of Suck!
- Strowman wins. You’re shocked, I know.
- Paul Heyman is on the stage, as WWE tries to keep you from changing the channel.
FAST FORWARD the commercials
Timestamp 15:39 (Show time: 35:43)
Paul Heyman is on the stage
- Heyman didn’t give us the proper intro, and it hurt the segment.
- FAST FORWARD the video
- Heyman is right, Brock Lesnar is a force of nature that we can’t do anything about. That’s why him as champion works so well.
- This crowd doesn’t really seem to care all that much about Seth Rollins
- ANOTHER INTERRUPTION – #FinnBalorsDick is out and dressed to fight
Alternate Names For This:
FAST FORWARD the commercials and video
Finn Balor & Ricochet vs. Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush
- “One of these championships” isn’t a great way to describe everyone’s favorite title
- Lio Rush is here, presumably to distract Balor so Lashley can attack him (because WWE)
- And there he is!
- BTW, you don’t FAST FORWARD when Lio Rush is talking
- Which NXT star saves Balor? Ricochet? Black?
- Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand it’s Ricochet.
- FAST FORWARD the commercials
- Ricochet really needed an introduction for this audience
- Evan Bourne mention by Renee Young?
- Renee is basically telling us that no one watches NXT.
- This crowd could give a shit about Ricochet.
- Four amazing athletes and there’s enough stalling for me to FAST FORWARD?
- FAST FORWARD the commercials, again?
- If you’re worried about Ricochet on the main roster…your fear is warranted.
- FAST FORWARD the talking, but I stopped to see what Drew McIntyre was
FAST FORWARD so much stuff!
Timestamp: 33:45 (Real time: 1:23:05)
The Major Brothers (Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins) vs. Lucha House Party’s Gran Metallik & Lince Dorado
- This isn’t where Hawkins wins, right? A throw away Raw match?
- “Tans don’t win championships, ask Eric Bischoff!”
- BTW, if Corey Graves is going through personal strife, he’s BURYING himself in his work, because he’s on fire tonight!
- And of course Hawkins loses.
- FAST FORWARD time!
Charly Caruso interviews Heavy Machinery
- TUCKER hits the highlights, OTIS drives it home
- Lacey Evans literally just walks the fuck around! And does nothing else? Lars couldn’t handle this?
- We’re not having matches now, just entrances? And Bushwhacker walking? Missed opportunity for me to FAST FORWARD.
FAST FORWARD the commercials
DIY talks to Bobby Roode & chad Gable
- Johnny Gargano looks like he’s waiting to say his lines, but Tommaso Ciampa is sitting there maintaining his gimmick
- See Renee, The Revival watches NXT!
- And the entrance we do get is The Revival?
- Oh we get Ciampa and Gargano entrances, too
The Revival vs. DIY (non-title assumed)
- The fans in Lafayette have got to feel like they did something wrong, or wonder if they’re still watching dark matches
- Literally 6 people are chanting “NXT!” Somehow I don’t see how this was a good idea.
- While we’re here, anyone want to talk to me about how important it is to have defined Faces and Heels? No? Didn’t think so.
- Classic Gargano? Not Vintage? Maybe Cole really is looking to finish this up.
- FAST FORWARD the commercials and I am 5 minutes short of an hour saved
- A “Saints Got Robbed” sign? Let it go, brother.
- The announcers selling what it would mean if DIY wins has to be foreshadowing, eh?
- This match is proof that you can’t just throw matches out and expect a reaction–you need to build characters first.
- Great match–imagine if the crowd had a reason to be invested in more than the last two minutes!
Charly Caruso talks to Ricochet
- Damn, Ricochet looks nervous
- I hope that was done live, and not the best take in pretapes
FAST FORWARD the commercials
(These Kevin Owens videos are boring–this is supposed to get him over upon return?)
Timestamp: 59:27 (Real time: 2:01:15)
FAST FORWARD the promo, the commentary aside, DX package, commercials, and more entrances
Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre
- Credit to McIntyre for trying to take the referee’s directions off camera, but this was WAY off
- I don’t want to blame Ambrose, but shit this was oddly bad
Timestamp: 1:04:24 (Real time: 2:22:23 )
Seth Rollins Talking to Charly Caruso
- It’s about what you’d expect.
- Whatever they’re doing with Ambrose here, it sucks.
FAST FORWARD the commercials and videos
Elias vs. Aleister Black
- “Hello I am Eliath” Aleister Black here?
- Elias is so good at cheap heat, and I 100% believe in cheap heat
- And we let Aleister cut a promo? That’s totally bad for his character.
- Black trimmed the beard, and it was a smart move
- FAST FORWARD the commercials
- “His tattoos tall a story about his life–dark and mean” yet I see flowers on his arm?
- FAST FORWARD the chinlock
- BLACK MASS is still a great finisher, even if this one was a bit awkward.
- I really wonder if the time these guys have to work on their matches at the PC really is the key to NXT’s success
FAST FORWARD the commercials and entrances
Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott
- Holiday Raw means no Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair?
- Did Ronda borrow shorts from Lacey Evans?
- Someday Ruby Riott is going to be booked like a plucky underdog babyface, and she’s going to flourish
- Even the commentary is off tonight!
- And there’s the “WE WANT BECKY!” chants
- Camera work, anyone? We just saw two different conversations take place in the ring.
- Damn, Ronda took that Riott kick square to the head!
- And Ronda has now kicked out of Ruby’s finisher TWICE. Once off the top!
- Ronda was terrible tonight.
- Raw ends with Ronda standing tall and nothing else.
Final Timestamp: 1:24:44
Real Time: 3:00:00
Time Saved: 1:35:16
Overall, this was just a weird Raw. Nearly everything seemed off, and as we march towards WrestleMania, nothing that happened tonight will be remembered.
The Streak Part 8: Going For the Gold (2007-2008)
The Streak continues against Batista and Edge!
The years of 2007-8 were banner years for the Undertaker at WrestleMania, for the first time ever, he found himself battling for the World Heavyweight Championship in back-to-back WrestleManias when he took on Batista and Edge. 2007 would also mark the first and only time the Undertaker won a Royal Rumble match, eliminating Shawn Michaels after an amazing match, their first encounter since their casket match at the 1998 Royal Rumble.
In 2008, Taker would find himself facing another undefeated WrestleMania Streak when he took on Edge, his former Ministry minion, who had had a career resurgence, bursting back onto the scene as the opportunistic, manipulative, and cunning Rated-R Superstar, who was also undefeated at WrestleMania.
WrestleMania 23 – Taming the Animal
The Undertaker vs. Batista
The match against Batista was something of a dream match for a lot of fans. Batista had risen through the ranks of WWE like a rocket as part of the Evolution stable with Triple H, Ric Flair, and Randy Orton. For Taker, this would mark the first time since 1997, that he’d battled for a title at WrestleMania.
For some reason, SmackDown GM, Teddy Long, is playing the ring announcer for this match. Batista comes out first, even though he is the champion and he shows no real intimidation of the Undertaker. The Druids come out first, ready to light the way for the Deadman and there are a LOT of them, lightning strikes and the Deadman cometh.
Batista does the smart thing and goes for Taker before Taker is really ready for him, hoping to get the Deadman off his game and give himself a chance of ending the match quickly and keeping his title. This match quickly degenerated into a brawl, but there was a weird moment when Taker was almost shadow boxing, like he’d gotten his bell rung a little and didn’t know where he was.
Batista really dominated the start of the match, ending the Streak seemed less important than keeping the title, which is how it should be. We’re about halfway into the match before Taker really starts mounting any serious offense, but it was the full Taker treatment. Old School is always cool to see.
I will give Batista his due, he’s never been a refined wrestler and definitely had flaws in his game, but he kept up with Taker step for step and actually seemed to have the Deadman on the ropes a few times. At one point, it looked like the Streak was going to end with a countout after Batista put Taker through the announce table, but Animal didn’t want to win that way and went after the Deadman, tearing apart half of ringside in the process.
The one odd thing about this match is that, despite Taker winning the Royal Rumble, this match was NOT the main event of WrestleMania, that spot was given to the John Cena vs Shawn Michaels WWE Championship match. This dream match was in the mid-card, which has always irritated me. The Deadman would sustain all this punishment and, for the first time in his career, win the World Heavyweight Championship, not the WWE Championship, at WrestleMania. The Streak is 15-0.
- Rating: 8/10 It was a great match, just really bad placement.
- Highlight: Batista not wanting to win on a countout.
WrestleMania 24 – Streak vs Streak
The Undertaker vs. Edge
This was another really interesting feud. Edge had gone from tag team competition to the mid-card before bursting into the main event scene after revamping himself as a manipulative, opportunistic superstar who would stop at nothing to get and retain the World Championship, which lead him to pick a fight with both Batista and the Undertaker, and using his relationship with Vicki Guerrero and her Familia to hang onto the title, but after Taker won at Elimination Chamber, it was time for Edge to pay the piper…or the Reaper. This match would also be a battle of the Streaks as Taker’s 15-0 Streak would be up against Edge’s 5-0 Streak.
Taker comes out first, in one of the rare cases that it happened, faithful Druids on hand to light the way. The fact that WWE was able to make an outdoor arena pitch black for this entrance is really cool. Edge, the champion, is accompanied, at least part of the way, by Vicki and Chavo Guerrero, Vicki in her wheelchair. Edge was actually smirking and cocky…until he got in the ring and what he was about to do fully hit him, then the smirk fell.
This match started with shoving and punching and stayed that way. This was a PHYSICAL match up. Edge actually countered Old School, but paid for it anyway when Taker was able to reverse in mid-air. We had an unintended snafu when Taker hit a Stinger Splash on Edge a little too hard and launched himself out of the ring and landed badly on his hip. Edge tried to take advantage, but Taker battled back, despite a noticeable limp.
Things broke down when the ref got taken out. Edge tried every underhanded trick in the book to win, but Taker sat back up. It looked all over, except for the ref, but Charles Robinson, in the moment that made him a meme, sprinted down to the ring with all his might to make the count.
We also got our first look at Ryder and Hawkins as the Edgeheads, but even they weren’t enough to put away the Deadman. This was an amazing match up, Edge definitely proved that being in the main event was where he belonged and he could hang with anyone, including the Undertaker.
The end was surprise. Edge hit the dreaded Spear but Taker countered it into Hell’s Gate, which was TECHNICALLY illegal, but Robinson okayed it and Edge tapped out, the first time a Streak match ended on a submission. Taker is 16-0 and NEW World Heavyweight Champion!
- Rating: 8/10 A really great match and a surprise ending.
- Highlight: Charles Robinson running. The Edgehead getting their clocks cleaned. Edge tapping out.