Late last year, CNN and many other media outlets predicted that 2018 would be the Year of the Women. Well, if Sunday night’s WWE Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View event is any indication, that may very well be true. Because the women simply stole the show. Both in terms of their ladder match, which was better than the men’s match. And in the resulting aftermath, which saw Alexa Bliss – the smallest woman on the roster – standing head and shoulders above the others when it was all said and done.
The women’s ladder match started off quickly and full of action, with ladders coming into play very early on. Bliss actually was the first one to taste the steel, courtesy of Becky Lynch, who then The first scary-looking move of the night came when Ember Moon hit a springboard flying body press onto Sasha Banks who fell – with Ember’s full weight on her – right onto a ladder – damn! Then Lana and Naomi both got slammed on ladders, courtesy of Natalya. A cool sequence saw Becky and Charlotte playing tug-of-war with the ladder, which Naomi used as a springboard for a flying dive on Natalya before turning the tables on Becky and Charlotte, and dropkicking the ladders right back into them. There was a cool visual about five minutes in, when the camera panned around ringside and it looked like a war zone, with bodies strewn about everywhere. At one point, Ember and Naomi were holding a ladder upright, arguing about which one would climb it – as they argued, Becky tried to scramble to the top, but they caught her, dumped her in the corner, and then dropped the ladder right on top of her. Later on, Sasha stacked up Lana and Ember on a ladder in the corner and Sasha hit her double knees on both of them. Another scary-looking spot saw Nattie eat Sasha’s knee as Sasha got pulled down from the ladder. Near the end of the match, there were two ladders set up in the ring right beside one another, and all of the women were scaling them at the same time, each one of them falling at some point or another as they battled it out in front of the appreciative Chicago crowd. At one point, Lana and Bliss started fighting, leading to Lana putting Alexa in the Accolade. Later, Naomi did a Spider-Man leap to the ladder and nearly got the case, but Becky stopped her as she was unhooking it. In the end, Becky seemed poised to win, as she had reached the briefcase and just had to pull it down, when Alexa tossed her off the ladder, scrambled up to the top and unhooked the briefcase for the win. There appeared to be some mistiming, as Becky was waiting for a while for Alexa to get to her, but even that quibble can’t detract from how good the match was.
Besides, that match set up for the show’s other highlight, Alexa’s interruption of the RAW Women’s Championship match between Nia Jax and challenger Ronda Rousey, and subsequent cashing in of the briefcase for a title opportunity.
Nia started her title defense by squashing Rousey in the corner, and heaving her several times across the ring. Ronda tried to punch her way out of trouble, but a headbutt by Nia backed her up into the corner where she ended up on the wrong end of an Avalanche. Nia was going to put things away with a Samoan Drop, but Ronda escaped and tried to clamp on a submission lock. Nia picked up Ronda out of the armbar attempt and hit a one-armed Powerbomb. In a great-looking spot, Ronda tried to get to her feet, but fell backwards through the ropes and to the floor. There, Jax got hold of her and swung her hard into the ringside barrier. Back in the ring, Jax dropped Ronda with an overhead press and then continued to lay on a beating, first bouncing Ronda’s head off the canvas after blocking a roll-up attempt, and then squeezing Rousey with a tight bearhug before dropping her in a huge Samoan Drop. Nia tried to finish things with a Legdrop, but Ronda moved. Ronda moved again when Nia went for a shoulder block, and then locked on a hanging armbar, which hurt Nia, but Ronda had to release the hold because Nia got to the rope. As Nia recovered, Ronda psyched herself up and climbed up the rope, and surprised Nia with a flying body press for a 2-count. She then remarkably flipped Nia with a judo throw, and then another. After the second one, she had Nia’s arm exposed and vulnerable, and it looked like things were going to come to an end. But out of nowhere, Alexa came to the ring and clubbered Ronda with briefcase, getting Nia disqualified and saving her title.
After smashing Nia with the case for good measures, Alexa resumed her beatdown of Ronda. She beat her up and sent her to the floor, where she threw her into the timekeeper’s table to take her out of play. Alexa then got back in the ring and swung the briefcase hard into Nia’s hurting arm. With Nia in pain, Alexa cashed in her briefcase. She immediately attacked Nia’s arm again, hit a DDT in the corner, and followed that up with Twisted Bliss for the pin and the championship.
Money in the Bank – Other Results
Pre-Show Match 1: Gallows & Anderson vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (c) – for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
This one started off very slobberknockerly, with both teams beating the heck out of each other. When the match spilled to the floor, the Bludgeon Brothers took over, delivering a Karachi Krunch type move and then following it up with stereo dropkicks. After a short commercial break, the beatings continued, and Anderson was in big trouble. Eventually, Anderson was able to avoid a running shoulder, and Harper ate the post. Gallows finally got the hot tag and took control with a series of kicks. The Good Brothers had Harper up for the Magic Killer, but a desperation spear by Rowan broke it up and sent Anderson to the floor. This left Gallows vulnerable to the Bludgeon Bomb and the pin.
Winners and still Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The Bludgeon Brothers
Match Rating: 610
Daniel Bryan gets a high knee into Big Cass.
Match 1: Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
This was a classic story of smaller and scrappier little guy against a big guy who doesn’t have the technique, but certainly has the muscle. The first sign of that muscle showed when Daniel was standing on the apron after having conducted a patented Ric Flair corner filp – Cass charged at him and sent him flying hard into the ringside barrier. Then, Cass took over, hitting a bunch of power moves, including a huge spinning Boss Man Slam. Daniel reached into his bag of tricks several times to escape Cass’ clutches and land kicks on Corbin’s legs whenever he could. Eventually, all those kicks proved worthwhile – after escaping yet another power move, Daniel surprised Cass with a Flying Goat Knee. That put Cass down on the mat and prone for a heel hook. After the punishment his knee had taken all match, the pain was too much for Cass, and he tapped out.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Match Rating: 7/10
Backstage, the New Day were strategizing over which one of them would participate in the Money in the BAnk match, when they were interrupted by Kevin Owens bearing gifts in the form of a bunch of pancakes and Canadian maple syrup. He asked them if the two of them who weren’t in the match would take out Braun Strowman in exchange for his gifts. They refused, and he got mad, insulting them, Chicago, and all breakfast foods. They kicked him out of their locker room, but not before grabbing all the syrup bottles.
Bobby Lashley pins Sami Zayn.
Match 2: Sami Zayn vs. Bobby Lashley
Zayn must have studied his Larry Zybyszko tapes, because for the first few minutes, he avoided any contact with Lashley, rolling out of the ring several times. A frustrated Lashley went after him, and Sami was able to surprise him with a running kick to the face, stunning the big man. Sami used some dirty tactics to keep Lashley down, but Bobby’s strength was too much for him. He caught Zayn in a flying boy press attempt, and then hit a huge twisted backslam for good measure. Lashley then hit a few vertical suplexes in a row and pinned Sami with one hand, hopefully putting this pointless feud to bed for good.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
Match Rating: 6/10
Elias performs before his bout.
Elias was in the ring and strummed a few bars before advising Seth Rollins to simply lay down for him to avoid getting beat. He then insulted the Chicago crowd before starting a new song. They wouldn’t shut their stupid scumbag mouths, so he refused to play. Seth Rollins then came to the ring. The ovation for both these guys was huge.
Match 3: Elias vs. Seth Rollins (c) – for the Intercontinental Championship
This one started off a little more strategically, with neither man going for broke early. Rollins hit the first high-impact move with a flying leap to the ground that hurt Elias, and then followed that up with a springboard elbow back in the ring. But as Seth was going for another attack from the apron, Elias hit a vicious lariat clothesline, dropping Rollins onto the back of his head and neck on the ring apron. Elias then took over, punishing Rollins with a headlock, a neck crank, among other moves. Rollins was able to fight back and regain control, until he landed hard on an aerial attack and tweaked his knee. As he recovered, Elias clobbered him from behind and nearly stole a pin. An exchange of punches and kicks later let Seth get a temporary edge, but Elias got his knees up on a Frog Splash attempt and injured Seth’s ribs. Elias tried for a top rope move of his own, but got caught, and Rollins turned up the heat with a superplex rolled into a Falcon Arrow, which looked great, because Seth did it while on one leg to sell the knee injury. The action then get too quick to call, with Seth missing a Curb Stomp, Elias matadoring Rollins into the ringside barrier on yet another flying dive attempt, and Elias nearly getting a pin after a flying elbowdrop. This sequence got the night’s first “This is awesome” chants, and they were well-deserved. Seth tried for a running powerbomb, but his knee wouldn’t support him. This led to a series of rollups and reversals, with Seth ultimately getting the rollup and pin – but had to pull the tights to take Elias down and keep him down for the three.
Winner, and still Intercontinental Champion: Seth Rollins
Match Rating: 8/10
The briefcase high above the ring in the women’s Money in the Bank match.
Match 4: Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Ember Moon vs. Lana vs. Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Charlotte Flair – Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Match Rating: 9/10 (botched ending notwithstanding, this was great)
Backstage, Kurt Angle celebrated his brand’s win, but Paige told him that she was optimistic that one of her roster would win the men’s briefcase. Baron Corbin then interrupted and told Kurt that if a “RAW” guy didn’t win, Stephanie McMahon would be upset.
Match 5: Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal (w/ Sunil Singh)
Jinder Mahal headlocks Roman Reigns.
This wasn’t so much a fight between Mahal and Reigns, but rather those two taking on the Chicago crowd – who dumped all over this one from bell to bell. At least Singh was funny, playing a pathetic-looking figure in a wheelchair and wearing various casts. Reigns started off hitting some power moves on Mahal, including a big Samoan Drop. The crowd chanted “Boring” and for “NXT”. Mahal avoided a Drive-By attempt and then distracted the ref. While he did, Sunil leapt out of his wheelchair and clubbed Reigns from behind, then jumped back into the chair before the ref saw him. This was hilarious, but the crowd thought it was “awful”, based on their chants. At this point, the crowd had lost all interest in the match, likely watching some beach ball shenanigans or something else going on in the stands. Mahal tried for a flying axehandle, but Reigns hit him with an uppercut on the way down. But a big knee to the chin put Reigns down again. At this point, Mahal was cut open, which prompted a hopeful “End this match” chant from the crowd, perhaps to keep the content TV-PG.They hated these guys so much that even Reign’s “Oooowah” thing got booed. After Mahal got hit with a Drive-By, Sunil went for another posting of Reigns, but Roman blocked it. And then clocked Sunil with a Superman Punch, and gave another to Mahal for good measure. Reigns delivered a Spear to Singh on the floor and a Spear to Mahal in the ring and got the pin.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Match Rating: 5/10 (2 of those points are for the crowd and 1 is for Sunil Singh, because they were the most entertaining things about the match)
James Ellsworth returns to help Carmella beat Asuka.
Match 6: Asuka vs. Carmella (c) – for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
On paper, this one should have been short and sweet – something like: kick by Asuka, Asuka Lock, tapout, and new champ. Instead, Carmella avoided some big shots, and then yanked Asuka face-first into the corner post to slow things down. She kept avoiding Asuka’s moves, until Asuka finally had enough. Before she could get the win, though, someone dressed exactly like Asuka – mask and robe and everything – came to the ring and jumped on the apron, distracting the challenger. The mysterious figure unmasked and it turned out to be James Ellsworth, Carmella’s ex-boytoy. Surprised and angry with this turn of events, Asuka didn’t see Carmella come up behind her and so fell prey to a spinning roundhouse kick to the head and a pin.
Winner, and still WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion: Carmella
Match Rating: 5/10
Shinsuke Nakamura begs for mercy from AJ Styles.
Match 7: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles (c) – Last Man Standing match for the WWE Championship
This one started off a bit slowly, but things picked up a bit when the action went to the floor. At one point, AJ was trying to use a ringside barrier to launch himself for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Nakamura kicked his leg out from under his leg and AJ face-planted – he was up at 7. Back in the ring, AJ recovered enough to dropkick Nakamura during an aerial assault, and both men were down until 6. AJ went for a Styles Clash, and Nakamura blocked it and tried for a low-blow, but AJ moved out of the way. Back on the floor, Nakamura used two announce desks as a runway to hit a knee-strike to AJ who was sitting up on the third – Styles got up at 9. Nakamura then got a table from underneath the ring and whipped AJ through it when AJ got back in the ring. AJ avoided a running knee in the corner, then punished Nakamura in the Calf Crusher. Nakamura actually tapped out in pain, but submissions meant nothing in this kind of match. AJ grabbed a chair and started battering Nakamura’s knee with it, leading to Nakamura hitting a desperate low blow, which put AJ down for 9. Nakamura looked to end it on the announce table, but AJ shoved him down. He hit a Phenomenal Forearm off the table, and followed that up with a Styles Clash off the ring steps to the floor – but, in a great shock, Nakamura got up at 9-and-a-half. Nakamura challenged AJ to “Come on!” and AJ did, with a hard soccer kick to Nak’s nads. AJ then went back into the ring and hit a Phenomenal Forearm all the way to the floor, sending Nakamura through the ring announce table that he was standing in front of. AJ got up, but a battered Nakamura couldn’t get up before the 10-count and the match – and perhaps rivalry – came to a close.
Winner, and still WWE Champion: AJ Styles
Match Rating: 8/10
A true state of (Alexa) Bliss after a championship win.
Match 8: Nia Jax (c) vs. Ronda Rousey – for the RAW Women’s Championship
Winner by disqualification: Ronda Rousey
Match Rating: 8/10
Winner, and new RAW Women’s Champion: Alexa Bliss
Rating (for the whole turn of events): 8/10
Match 9: Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Rusev vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Roode vs. The Miz vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kofi Kingston – Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Aiden English came out to introduce Rusev to great applause, but didn’t come to ringside for the match. The New Day came out together. Big E started down the ramp, but Xavier Woods stopped him. He headed down the ramp, and then tore off his T-shirt Hulk Hogan style, where the word “Kofi” was written on his chest as the big reveal.
The story of this match was that every time Braun was in there, everyone would team up to take him out of play. And when he was gone, it was every man for himself to try to get the win. Right after the match started, everyone ganged up on Braun Strowman, battered him with ladders all the way to the top of the entrance ramp. There, they buried him under a pile of ladders. As this was going on, Miz tried to take advantage of the empty ring and climb the ladder, but Samoa Joe caught and stopped him. At various times, there were a few hard landings on ladders, with everyone getting an opportunity to shine, only to fall onto a ladder at another point. Owens got the better of Balor and put him on the announce table. Joe then climbed up a huge ladder that was set up ringside, with clearly evil intentions for Balor. But before he could finish Balor off, he had to stop Rusev from getting to the briefcase. This led to many other exchanges between the various participants and some neat visuals, like Kofi doing a blind fall onto everyone from the top turnbuckle on the floor, followed by Balor doing a front somersault dive on everyone for good measure. Balor tried to get another ladder into play, but he strayed too close to the top of the ramp and he apparently woke Strowman up from hibernation. One he got involve in the match again, everyone once again teamed up to put him down. At the top of the ramp, Joe and Rusev held Strowman down on a table while Owens climbed a 20-foot ladder to end Strowman’s night. Strowman fought his way out, scrambled up the ladder and threw Owens off the top and onto – and through – some boxes. Strowman then ran through a ladder that a couple of the other guys were holding to try to block his path. At one point, Rusev stacked up Kofi and Roode and locked both of them in a Stack-olade. Later, Balor climbed the 20-footer outside the ring and then jumped into the ring, landing on Bobby Roode with a crazy coup de grace. Strowman recovered by this time and took out Balor and Miz and started his climb up. Kofi jumped onto Strowman’s back on the ladder, so effectively got piggy-backed all the way to the top. He tried to reach the case over Strowman’s head, but STrowman flipped him over his shoulder and hard to the mat. This left Strowman alone on the ladder where he was able to pull down the case.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Match Rating: 7/10
Overall Show Rating: 8/10