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.
Stone Cold Fever: Is Kevin Owens the Next Big Thing in WWE?
Is this rendition of KO Mania real?
Kevin Owens is quickly becoming the hottest Superstar in WWE. The former Universal champion is embarking on a war with Shane McMahon and while that war is only just beginning, KO is already reaping the benefits.
Owens is getting over and there’s no denying that. Many fans believe that this is just the beginning of something epic for KO and it’s hard to argue that point. But as with everything in WWE, Owens’ future depends on his booking and how much the company truly wants to invest in him. So will Kevin Owens be the next big thing in WWE?
It’s as if WWE suddenly flipped a switch and activated this new KO. The man that so many felt was on his way to superstardom in the company has always been just on the verge of greatness, but he always seemed to fall just short. It’s been through no fault of his own however as Owens has consistently always delivered, both in the ring and on the mic.
But despite how much he’s accomplished, there always seems to be an asterisk by his name. The same is true of other potential main event stars as well, like Finn Bálor and Braun Strowman. All three men have excelled on the worldwide stage but for whatever reason, none of the three have truly achieved legendary status in WWE.
While the men involved may not be too concerned with such positioning, the fans have been all too consumed with it. In their minds, the time for these talents and many more, is now. Why wait, when the business is experiencing such a resurgence in popularity? The time to strike seems to be now, so why not move ahead and make a massive impact with guys that can handle the pressure?
Perhaps that is exactly what the WWE faithful are seeing right now with Kevin Owens. Owens is capable of rising to the occasion and he’s done it many times before. Maybe there’s no better time for him to prove what he can do and maybe the company finally recognizes that.
But nearly every time fans depend on “maybe,” they wind up disappointed. WWE has not always been the most reliable company when it comes to doing right by hardworking talents, especially those who deserve a shot at the next level. Owens has been counted among those talents for far too long and now he’s getting a chance to finally step up.
The good news is that so far, it’s working. The live crowds are loving what he’s doing and no one can do it quite like he can. The comparisons to Stone Cold Steve Austin are coming like never before and KO, as well as WWE, obviously see that. The fact that Owens uses the Stunner as much as he does is proof that the entire angle is a tip of the cap to The Texas Rattlesnake.
It’s not that Owens needs to use anyone else’s finisher, just as he doesn’t need to mimic anyone else’s gimmick. KO can succeed based on his own merit and everyone knows that. But he’s saluting Austin and in doing so, reminding a legion of fans why they fell in love with WWE in the first place. There is no way to really revive The Attitude Era, but that’s not the point.
Kevin Owens is bringing back a taste of the past and making it relevant to his cause, as well as to the company’s current climate. The Stunner is as much of an anti-authority move as the middle finger, both of which keep Stone Cold on the minds of fans who love him for what he did in the business.
So is WWE truly headed for a new era of relevancy in the industry? Vince McMahon’s company has always been at the forefront of the business and for many fans, they’ve been the only game in town for a very long time. But with the rise of New Japan, Ring of Honor, as well as various promotions around the world, the wrestling world is becoming a much bigger place.
Of course much of the focus on the business right now is due to the birth and evolution of AEW. Cody Rhodes’ fledgling company is making waves and turning heads, just as everyone knew it would. But AEW has also captured WWE’s attention, despite any belief to the contrary. If Owens’ new run is a result of WWE going against the grain and trying something familiar, yet new, then that’s definitely a good thing.
But the bad news is that this is still WWE, which can change plans at a moment’s notice. Things can fluctuate at any time and when they do, an entire storyline can either twist in a different direction, or end altogether. Could this happen with KO versus Shane McMahon?
Much of what happens from here depends on just how long WWE can keep the fans invested in this angle. The live crowds are connected and the same is true of the audience at home. Everyone seems truly intent on following this story and they’re all rooting for Kevin Owens to keep rising higher on the card. If KO continues to get hot and if the company really gets behind him, then the entire landscape of WWE could change.
Kevin Owens is not the next Stone Cold Steve Austin and he surely does not want to be. KO has fought his entire career to be the best he can be and this new storyline is just the latest avenue for him to rise up. Maybe it will only go up from here and maybe Kevin Owens will finally realize his potential in the company that desperately needs the next big thing.
Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 7 A Block
KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?
KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?
Aside from the big names being stuck in the middle of the pack, we’ve got poor little Zack Sabre at zero points. Can he twist Fale into a pretzel and figure it out?
Then we have Okada facing a banged up Ospreay, while KENTA takes on a rising EVIL.
Do we still have any undefeated participants in A Block after today?
- Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino: Shooter wins via Boston Crab @3:55 – ** 1/4
- Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Yuya Uemura: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @8:50 – ***
- Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Jay White vs Jeff Cobb, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare: Chase wins via Package Piledriver @9:50 – ** 1/2
- Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs YOSHI-HASHI, Ren Narita & Tomohiro Ishii: BUSHI wins via MX @7:35 – **
- A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Bad Luck Fale: Sabre wins via Countout @6:30 – ** 1/4
- A Block: Lance Archer vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Victory Roll @12:00 – ** 1/2
- A Block: KENTA vs EVIL: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep @15:05 – *** 1/2
- A Block: Kota Ibushi vs SANADA: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @19:15 – *** 3/4
- A Block: Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Rainmaker @21:55 – **** 1/2
Still a lot of heat from their NXT past and Moxley’s debut match in NJPW. Juice and Mox don’t face each other until the end of their block schedule, but if this needed more heat…well this was gasoline. Juice and Mox stay on each other, brawl to the back while the Young Lions fight, but Mox apparently gets the best of the brawl. He returns to the ring to help Shooter, hit their Hart Attack tandem move and Shooter sinks in the Boston Crab.
There’s history between Taichi and Goto centering around the NEVER Openweight Title, Yano and Suzuki have fun history and it looks like Uemura is stepping up to Suzuki. So there’s a lot of fun moments, Uemura has a death wish trying to fight Suzuki, but it’s still fun. A lot of moving pieces in this one that kept it very entertaining.
Honma got put through the paces, Jay White got tossed around a little bit by Jeff Cobb, but the Bullet Club tag partners proved to be more useful than Cobb’s. Chase has picked up a few wins in the tag matches, so he might get some kind of push coming soon.
BUSHI continues to pick up pinfalls in these tag matches, and this sort of builds for Ishii and Naito, but not a ton happens. YOSHI-HASHI is there, Shingo looks like a million bucks and BUSHI wins the match, LOL. This was very paint by numbers.
Sabre jumps all over Fale at the start and tries a plethora of submissions to no avail. A kendo stick shot from Jado pushes the action to the outside. Fale and Bullet Club look to have an advantage, but Sabre dodges some double team tactics, grounds Fale with a Triangle Arm Bar, and then races to the ring to beat the 20 count. Fale couldn’t make it back fast enough, so Sabre gets the first Countout win of this year’s tournament.
Tanahashi is really showing the age and injuries this year, so all of these flukey wins just come off as forced. The match was slow, had moments of being interesting, but Tanahashi not even being 50% of what he used to be makes these hard to watch at times. Archer is getting over well, but Tanahashi winning at this point does hurt the credibility a little. I get the story they’re telling, but unlike last year where Tanahashi could push through injuries, this year, they are much more obvious, and he’s much more hampered.
EVIL took the fight to KENTA and then they went to the outside. Through the back and then into the crowd area next to the ramp. EVIL went for Darkness Falls on a bunch of a chairs, but KENTA stopped him and suplexed him onto said chairs. When it got back in the ring, EVIL tried to weaken the legs and KENTA went after EVIL’s upper body to mitigate the power advantage. Heavily booed, KENTA played up heel nicely (I guess WWE did help for something), and eventually he gets the best of EVIL and lets him take a nap. KENTA moves to 4-0.
We get a solid match between two guys who are right on the precipice of the Main Event scene. Kota outsmarts SANADA early by not going for the stupid dueling Dropkick spot, and from then on it was an interesting struggle. Between fan support and the general “anything you can do, I can do better” pacing, this was entertaining, yet slow and felt too long in some spots. Both looked pretty good, but this could’ve been told faster and SANADA’s perpetual struggles are a little frustrating for anyone who is a fan of his.
Okada and Ospreay were expected to blow the roof off, and well I’d say this was a damn good shot. Ospreay is obviously dinged up, but he fought through the pain and pulled off numerous flipping counters and found a few different ways to hit the Os-Cutter. They both let their personalities fly and this was a lot of fun to watch. Okada always has this older brother aura since he’s the one that brought Ospreay to New Japan and Chaos, so whenever they get together, it’s very much like two siblings trying to outdo the other. Ospreay had a great flurry at the end, flipping through a Rainmaker attempt, to try his Stormbreaker, but Okada flipped through that and hit a short arm lariat. Rolling Rainmaker and a normal Rainmaker later, Okada edges out the little brother. Great match.
Overall Score: 7/10
Well this night struggled cause the first two Block matches were really weak. The next two amped-up the intensity a little, but fell short of a memorable match. The main event was fantastic, but generally speaking this felt like it was slow, plateau’d for a while and only picked up at the end. Nothing out right awful, but a lot of matches that could’ve been a little better.
Still a solid enough night if you’re following it all, but only the main event is worthy of seeking out individually. It is nice to see that everyone is on the board with some points. So if Okada and KENTA stumble a little, the rest of the block could plausibly catch up.
Block A Standings:
- Kazuchika Okada: 4-0 (8 Points)
- KENTA: 4-0 (8 Points)
- Lance Archer: 2-2 (4 Points)
- EVIL: 2-2 (4 Points)
- Kota Ibushi: 2-2 (4 Points)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: 2-2 (4 Points)
- SANADA: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Will Ospreay: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Bad Luck Fale: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Zack Sabre Jr: 1-3 (2 Points)