The Big Takeaway: It was a night of Money in the Bank qualfiers, returns and breakups. Of course, the big news was the return of Seth Rollins. Despite the wishes of the fans, he’s going to be a heel in his program with Roman Reigns. Those two will be facing each other in the main event of the Money in the Bank PPV for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Enzo Amore also returned. Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, and Sami Zayn all qualified for the Money in the Bank match at MITB. Charlotte broke up with Ric Flair, saying that he had been living in her spotlight for months. It was an angle that hit on various points very close to home, but Flair’s performance was fantastic. A.J. Styles also split up with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Shane and Stephanie McMahon were limited to cameos, which was a welcome change.
Seth Rollins started the show getting a huge ovation, though there were some scattered boos. He was playing up to the crowd as a babyface and got “Welcome back” chants. Rollins said he’s waited 200 days to step inside his ring once again and he’s back. He’s waited for seven months to take back the title he never lost and he fired the first shot last night when he gave Roman Reigns the Pedigree. Crowd chanted “Thank you, Rollins.” Rollins asked if the fans missed him? That got “Yes” chants. Rollins said that was interesting because when he put a chair against Reigns’ back, the fans booed him. Then when he captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, fans said he was the weakest champion in history.
Then something profound happened: his knee buckled from carrying the company for so long. That was supposed to get boos. It got cheers instead. Rollins said he got so much fan mail he didn’t know what to do with it, so he put it all in the garbage can and lit it on fire. So Rollins went heel in the interview, saying he never needed the fans when he was going after the World Championship, and he doesn’t need them now. He said there was only room on the Seth Rollins bandwagon for one dude, and it was him. Rollins claimed the fans were never with him during the process to rehab his knee for seven months, which was harder work than the fans have ever put in in their entire lives.
Rollins said he, and he alone, would take back the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That got a mixed response. Reigns’ music hit. Suddenly Rollins’ response seemed like Ric Flair in Charlotte by comparison. Booed beyond belief.
Rollins acted like he wanted to fight, but when Reigns got in the ring, Rollins left, saying he was going to fight on his time. Shane McMahon showed up. Rollins reluctantly got back in the ring and Shane’s request so they could have a conversation. Shane brought up Rollins has had several defining moments, including breaking up the Shield and winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 32. Shane said Reigns would defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Rollins at Money in the Bank. Both men were content with that announcement. Reigns held up his title to get booed some more.
Later tonight, a series of Money in the Bank qualifying matches: The Miz vs. Cesaro; Chris Jericho vs. Apollo Crews; A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens along with Sheamus vs. Sami Zayn.
Renee Young did an interview with Sheamus, who denounced the “new era” in the WWE. He made fun of Zayn’s name and the fact he was form Canada. That was a weird thing to say since Canadians have been carrying a good portion of the company’s workrate lately. Young started to mention she was from Canada before Sheamus interupted her and instructed parents to get their children out of the room because what he would do to Zayne wouldn’t be suitable for all ages. They brought up Sheamus winning Money in the Bank last year, then cashed it in at the Survivor Series and defeated Reigns for the title after Reigns had just defeated Dean Ambrose in a tournament final.
Sami Zayn defeated Sheamus in a Money in the Bank Qualifying match (10:02)
Zayn won with the Helluva Kick, moments after attempting a tope which Sheamus blocked with a right hand. Lots of selling by Zayn, but the two didn’t click as well as you would think. The announcers played the result up like an upset, explaining Sheamus didn’t even qualify for Money in the Bank one year after winning it. I credit it to lousy booking last June. Sheamus was furious after the match. At one point, Zayn did satellite head scissors, which Michael Cole called a huracanrana.
Crews did an interview with Young. She asked him if he felt like he had an advantage after the damage Jericho suffered against Ambrose last night. For some reason, Sheamus jumped Crews from behind. Sheamus screamed about the new era as he rammed Crews’ head into a truck case.
The New Day came out. They’re up to 274 days as tag team champions. There was a Happy Birthday cake in the ring. Kofi Kingston said the cake was there to celebrate Raw’s 1,200th episode. Xavier Woods said Raw is over 23 years old. Big E. said a WWE ring is never safe from a cake, so they decided to take the cake out of the ring. Woods said they would never want the cake to wind up in anyone’s face. Big E. teased throwing it in someone’s face at ringside, then JBL, then Byron Saxton. Then Social Outcasts (sans Adam Rose, of course) jumped Woods and Kingston. The Vaudevillains are out of a tag team title program after one PPV.
The New Day defeated Social Outcasts (1:50)
Kingston pinned Heath Slater after the Midnight Hour. Highlight was Slater taking the Unicorn Stampede. He rolled out of the ring barely able to stand, so Bo Dallas called for a Bo Train. Slater made it about three steps before collapsing. Of course, the cake had to end up in somebody’s face before the segment could end. So Kingston and Woods threw Slater into the cake, which splattered everywhere. They showed three highlights of the cake spot.
Miz and Maryse came out. Miz said he was still the Intercontinential Champion and a future Money in the Bank winner. He compared himself to the movie “Rudy” by overcoming overwhelming odds to retain the championship at Extreme Rules against Zayne, Owens and Cesaro. He wondered who could play him in an underdog movie, and brought up Brad Pitt and Dwayne Johnson. Maryse pulled in for a kiss, but Cesaro came out before they could get it on. Saxton said Cesaro looked like someone from “The Professional,” a weird reference to a 1994 film featuring a 12-year-old Natalie Portman. JBL then compared Cesaro to Roger Federer because they both have genetic superiority. Roger Federer pulled out of the French Open last week because of injuries.
Cesaro defeated the Miz (C) in a Money in the Bank Qualifying match, as well as a nontitle match (11:16)
Another solid match with these two, ending when Miz jumped off the top rope into a Cesaro uppercut, leading to the Gotch Neutralizer. Miz did the usual spots working over Cesaro’s injured left shoulder. Cesaro tried the Giant Swing, but couldn’t complete it because of the shoulder. Maryse has totally revitalized Miz’s career. He’s working better than he has in years, his promos are entertaining, and it has even helped the Intercontinental Championship, which really seemed on the backburner again after WrestleMania.
Rollins did an interview with Young. He said it would be fitting if he defeated Reigns for the Money in the Bank championship since he won it 2 years ago, leading to him cashing it in. Rollins walked up to Stephanie McMahon. Rollins wanted to hug her, but she said things have changed around here. She just wanted a handshake, and a confused Rollins complied.
Chris Jericho defeated Apollo Crews in a Money in the Bank Qualifying match (7:37)
There was a mixup near the finish. Jericho went for the Lionsault. Crews did a nip-up while Jericho was in midair, but didn’t get out of the way. Jericho’s knees hit Crews on the head and they both fell to the mat. Looked like the rest of the match had to be ad-libbed from that point. Jericho won with a codebreaker. Finish kind of buried Crews since Jericho was supposed to be less than 100% after the Ambrose match last night. Jericho was all taped up from last night’s thumbtacks bump. Crews came out without selling anything from the Sheamus beating. Crews didn’t get much of a reaction and looked disappointed.
The latest from Darren Young and Bob Backlund, who chastized Young for taking notes. Then Backlund ordered him to recite all the presidents in honor. Young said he couldn’t do that. Backlund started to do it, and Young said “Damn, coach!” in a way to put Backlund over. Backlund got mad at him for swearing and ordered him to do 100 jumping jacks.
Baron Corbin did an interview with JoJo. They showed Corbin delivering a Draymond Green-caliber low blow to beat Dolph Ziggler last night. Ziggler walked in and said Corbin couldn’t beat him in a technical wrestling match. Corbin said he wasn’t worried about technical wrestling, he was worried about handing out beatings. You haven’t heard mechanical delivery of promos until you’ve heard Corbin. Ziggler said he was going to face Ambrose tonight and do something Corbin could never do: steal the show.
Big Cass came out. Then he waved toward the entrance and Enzo Amore made his return to a huge pop. They did the usual routine with the fans singing along. Amore had Michael Jackson’s jacket from the Thriller video on. Amore claimed he forgot to pay his electric bill and they cut his lights out. The doctors diagnosed him with a concussion, which he calls a hard sneeze. Amore said if he had a dime for every time he got knocked down and didn’t get back up, he would have ZERO DIMES! Amore said as for Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley, “do us a favor and don’t do us no favors.” Cass said throwing his size-17 boot was going to be like throwing a basketball into a swimming pool, because he wasn’t going to miss. If 10% of Amore’s interview ability could somehow transform over to Crews, he’d headline WrestleMania before 2020.
Big Cass defeated Bubba Ray Dudley (2:46)
Devon hit Amore from behind at ringside. This led to Cass’ comeback, which spilled out on the floor. Cass threw Amore into Devon. In the ring, Bubba Ray took the Ric Flair slam off the top rope, and Cass pinned him after the Empire Elbow.
Charlotte, Dana Brooke and Ric Flair came out for a “State of the WWE Women’s Championship Address.” JBL talked about how the Fabulous Moolah started her championship reign in 1956 in Baltimore. Flair took the mic and how proud he was of her. Flair looked emotional, which signaled something was up since this was suppsed to be a heel promo. Some fans started to chant boring. Flair compared Brooke to “Charlotte’s Uncle Arn.” Charlotte said she wanted to thank one person, “and it was obviously me.” She also thanked Brooke, who thanked Charlotte and put over Flair as the “dirtiest player in the game.” Charlotte brought up what she remembered growing up. She remembered various holidays and birthdays where her father wasn’t around for her. She had to watch him on television. Fans chanted “What” at Charlotte and she was getting really mad and appeared to lose her train of thought. Charlotte said she understood why her father missed those holidays because she was the champion. She then turned to her father and ordered him to get out of her ring. Flair didn’t understand what she was talking about. Charlotte said everyone from Flair’s generation was the same because they never wanted to leave the spotlight. Charlotte said Flair never understood how it felt to walk into a room and hear people say “There’s Ric Flair’s daughter.” She said now Flair was Charlotte’s father. Flair started to cry. Charlotte said Flair was “the 2nd dirtiest player in the game” and she doesn’t have time for people who come in 2nd place. She said she doesn’t need him anymore.
Charlotte accused Flair of neglecting her. Flair was in tears. Charlotte said Flair was an immortal to everyone in Baltimore, but to her he was dead. Now, Flair can watch Charlotte on TV just like she watched him through her childhood. She ordered him to leave the ring, which Flair did with remorse. Flair walked to the back and Charlotte crowed about how she was the champ. Flair’s facials were excellent. Charlotte had to work hard to get through this despite al the hecklers, but she’s very skilled on the microphone and did a good job getting this breakup over. JBL, Cole and Saxton sold this heavy, speaking in hushed tones wearing long faces like they had just seen a career-threatening injury angle.
For those who complain that this angle hit too close to home and was uncomfortable to watch, this isn’t the first time Flair’s parenting skills have been used in an angle. One of the few good segments of WCW Thunder in 2000 featured Flair and Arn Anderson in a microphone dual that centered around their personal lives and children. Not to mention Flair wrestling his son David in 1999 & 2000. Granted, that was among the worst booked programs in history, but it was still a subject. Flair himself, as a shoot, called that program “a nightmare.”
Dean Ambrose defeated Dolph Ziggler in a Money in the Bank Qualifying match (12:10)
Ambrose won with Dirty Deeds after blocking the Zig Zag. It was a scientific match to get over Ziggler facing Corbin in a “scientific match” next week. During an Ambrose comeback, JBL said “Can you imagine what it would be like to have two former members of the Shield fight for the championship?” How many times did we see that last year? Then Ambrose did his ricochet off the ropes into the clothesline spot and Cole belted out “How in the world did he do that?” We see that spot every week.
A distraught Flair walked back stage where he came across Arn Anderson, who consoled him and said he was sorry. Young walked up and asked if he had anything he wanted to say. Flair, who tried to smile, declined and left the building.
The Shining Stars put over their debut last week and invited everyone to Puerto Rico, “The Shining Star of the Carribbean.”
Styles came out and said you never know how good someone is until you get in the ring with them. Styles said Reigns is every bit the man he says he is, which got him roundly booed. Styles said Reigns was one of the best he ever got in the ring with, but he still wasn’t phenomenal. Then Styles did another subtle heel dig, saying if it wasn’t for the Usos, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, you would be looking at the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This brought out Anderson and Gallows. Anderson was upset that Styles would say they cost him a chance to beat Reigns. Anderson accused Styles of changing since their days in Japan. Gallows said if he and Anderson hadn’t dropped every person that wanted to fight Styles, there would be a lot of bars that Styles would have never made it out of. Styles tried to be amicable and said they needed to seperate. Styles said, for now, they were done as a team. But nothing can seperate them from being brothers. Gallows wasn’t going for it, saying they weren’t brothers anymore. Anderson said they weren’t friends anymore. Styles said if that’s the case, they don’t need to be in the ring together anymore. He said, as of right now, this was his ring. Anderson and Gallows took the cue to leave and did without shaking hands. Another breakup angle.
Kevin Owens defeated A.J. Styles in a Money in the Bank Qualifying match (16:30)
Owens won with the Pop-Up Power Bomb after Styles attempted a springboard move, but Owens kicked Styles’ legs out from under him. Styles hit the Pele Kick after escaping an attempt at the Pop-Up Power Bomb. Earlier, Owens missed a moonsault and Styles nailed a springboard 450 splash for a near fall. One night after bumping all over the place for Reigns, Styles wasn’t having an off night. Biggest spot came outside the ring when Styles ran up the steps, but Owens caught him over his shoulders and slammed him across the top of the steps. Later, Styles ran towards Owens, who power bombed Styles on the steps, leading to a countout tease. It was like Styles was 30 again and was in TNA putting over Kevin Nash. And yes, that really happened. Clean. Crowd seemed to be waiting for the near falls, but got more involved towards the end. Finish seemed to catch them by surprise.
SUMMARY: Very solid wrestling show. Frankly, this should be a pattern for the summer because the roster is going to be as deep as ever once John Cena, Randy Orton and Neville return. It’s just a question of which programs are made and how to gain the most from them. The Reigns-Rollins program isn’t really unique. Fans have booed Cena for years and cheered various heels against him. Rather than make a new superstar out of Reigns, the WWE has just made him a Cena clone. And the fans will treat him as such, as well as whoever is in a program with him. the good news is there’s plenty of guys he can have quality matches with that won’t expose him.