Posts tagged Money in the Bank
First Black Champ - They Fawk With Us But They Don't Fawk With Us!

Money In The Bank happened and well...Bayley tried to save it. We talk about what really matters as far as that pay per view and what to expect next.

Then Bang breaks down AEW's first pay per view, Double or Nothing and what it means moving forward. Then we talk Fans, Cody and what this really is vs what people are making it.

We close with celebrating two new historical black champions and the fact we can not forget about the Universal Title on this week's #FirstBlackChamppodcast!

CHICAGO! Come out and hang with The Barber's Chair Thursday, May 30th for Game One of the NBA Finals! The Golden State Warriors will face off against the Eastern Conference Champion at 8:00 p.m. Fall through for drinks and the big game and meet Scott, Flows and Pierce. 3439 N. Sheffield

As Justin Bieber readies to drop much anticipated new music, enjoy this Barber's Chair playlist of the best hits in Bieberveli's arsenal! 
Apple Music: https://apple.co/2HdG2yN
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2HbTcME
Tidal: http://bit.ly/bieberveli

Throw your diamonds up for more than a decade of heat with the new TIDAL-exclusive Roc La Familia playlist from The Barber's Chair! The greatest hits from the most prolific label in hip hop history.
Listen here: https://tidal.com/playlist/dfcd8a98-7eb0-473e-8666-170acc564443

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

Becky might no longer have two belts but you can still get your #FreeTheMan tee on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair
or
teespring.com/freetheman

Ruthless Aggression - Money In The Bank 2019 Predictions, Judgment Day 2003

It's Money in the Bank weekend! We give our predictions for the big show and which two superstars we think will leave Hartford with the briefcases. Plus, remembering Ashley Massaro, AEW's deal with TNT, and a trip back to 2003 for Judgment Day 2003!

Ruthless Aggression recap:
RAW 520
Smackdown 195

As Justin Bieber readies to drop much anticipated new music, enjoy this Barber's Chair playlist of the best hits in Bieberveli's arsenal! 
Apple Music: https://apple.co/2HdG2yN
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2HbTcME
Tidal: http://bit.ly/bieberveli

Throw your diamonds up for more than a decade of heat with the new TIDAL-exclusive Roc La Familia playlist from The Barber's Chair! The greatest hits from the most prolific label in hip hop history.
Listen here: https://tidal.com/playlist/dfcd8a98-7eb0-473e-8666-170acc564443

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

WrestleMania might be over but you can still rep Becky Two Belts with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair
or
teespring.com/freetheman

This Week in WWE: Money in the Bank becomes much, much clearer
Raw logo.png

Robert O’Neill: We open Raw with a bang as Alexa Bliss is here to tell us who will be in the Men’s and Women’s Money in the Bank matches!

Chris Novak: So the men’s participants wind up being Baron Corbin, Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre and Ricochet. Allow me to take a little issue here. On one hand, I understand why these guys are in. On the other hand, I have no idea why these guys are in. Ricochet is fine. He’s the least of my gripes here. He’ll do some awesome aerial acrobatics that will make everyone’s heads turn. And I guess I understand Drew being in it as well, as they’re intent on heating him up. But can we please move on at some point?

Every other division seems to be intent on trying to move on from the past except upper card on Raw. I don’t get why some of the new blood on the show couldn’t be in this match. Which begs the question of why a lot of these guys stayed on Raw in the first place. It’s not that I think the match is going to be bad, because it’s not. It’s just the fact that I think they could’ve been better served by putting some fresher names in this match.

Anyways we got a tag team match afterwards. It was fine. The babyfaces won. Good stuff here, I suppose. Good stuff. But again, my rant still holds true.

Robert O’Neill: I think your rant really summed it up for me. We don’t need Braun/Corbin/Drew still around the top. Let others be in it and shine. You can elevate them even if they don’t win. The tag match was pretty enjoyable though.

Chris Novak: The Usos are out next. They’re facing The Good Brothers, who are now apparently on Raw I guess? The Shakeup ended two weeks ago, guys. Don’t know why this movement is still continuing here. The Usos won the match, which lasted about 10 minutes. Naturally, it was pretty good.

Robert O’Neill: Well, that was fun. It’s two good tag teams. Perhaps The Good Brothers can be used more or perhaps they can realign with AJ Styles again at some point or something. I don’t know. They’re leaving soon apparently.

Chris Novak: Afterwards they played a video of Dash and Dawson shaving each other’s backs in the bathroom. Okay? I guess? I have no idea what the point of this all is, but sure? This is going to lead to good matches at least, but this is a weird way to contrive all of that.

Robert O’Neill: There are so many directions they can take, and this is the one they choose. That’s wild.

Chris Novak: MizTV with Bobby Lashley and not, conspicuous by his absence, Lio Rush. Hey, remember how 10+ years ago these two were on the same brand? Weird, but true! For some reason, Bobby Lashley was talking about himself in 3rd person. Lashley made fun of Miz’s dad, and that spins itself into a match.

This was a quick one. Shane McMahon interfered on more than one occasion and Miz lost. Shane got in a beatdown after the match and choked Miz out. I guess we’re intent on keeping this feud going. Sure. Sure… sure.

Robert O’Neill: Shane is feuding with two future hall of famers at the same time in Miz and Roman. HIS POWER.

Chris Novak: The Viking Raiders pretty much squashed Gran Metalik and Kalisto. They’re not surprisingly getting over right now because they’re gigantic ass kickers. I want more out of these guys going forward, and hopefully they proceed with that.

Robert O’Neill: That’s fine with me. Keep building them up.

Chris Novak: Our second edition of A Moment of Bliss of the night goes down, as we find out who the Raw Women’s MITB competitors are. They are NATALYA... DANA BROOKE… NAOMI… and, of course, ALEXA BLISS.

Such is life right now with Raw. I can understand and rationalize every pick here. Dana might be a wild card here, but it’s cool, I suppose, that they’re giving her a PPV check and an opportunity. Ideally you would’ve liked to have seen Ruby Riott be in it, but I’d rather they flesh her out again as she’s probably going to be on her own.

Alexa and Naomi get in some verbal jousts after AMOB, and that leads to a match. The match was… completely fine and inoffensive. Naomi beat Alexa, which is the norm, pretty much, as she pretty much has owned her from Day 1 (one of the only to do so). My only advice for Bliss after this match? Invest in Nikes! They won’t let you down like your Converses did.

Robert O’Neill: I’m fine with the participants. I think it could make someone like Dana look good but the winner should probably be someone like Bayley. The match was fine.

Chris Novak: Another WILD ass Firefly Fun House vignette aired in between here. And I mean wild. This stuff is just hilarious and is, arguably, the best part of Raw. Whatever that says about the brand right now… well, yeah.

Robert O’Neill: I’m sold. These are awesome.

Chris Novak: Rey Mysterio got interviewed backstage by Chuck Caruso. His son Dominick is here too! Mysterio said he’s ready to get back up after being knocked down the past few weeks.

Becky Lynch got into a war of words with Lacey Evans. Long story short, Becky wants to go double duty because this eventually led to a big pull-apart brawl between the two of them. Which, to be honest, was one of the highlights of the show. Loved this segment, quite frankly.

Robert O’Neill: This was great. Becky brought the fire and shied away from some of the other stuff she’s been doing on the mic lately. Really looking forward to this match.  

Chris Novak: The Revival lost to Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder again. Rob is probably mad about this.

Robert O’Neill: I’m mad because it’s stupid. They have a good tag division now and they’re gonna keep having the belts on the comedy act. I don’t get it.

Chris Novak: Sami Zayn cut another one of his promos, dragging the fans. I wonder what this is eventually going to lead to. At some point, I mean, as entertaining as it is, SOMEONE has to interrupt him and inject themselves into this, right?

Robert O’Neill: I would imagine, but I have no idea who!

Chris Novak: Rey Mysterio defeated Samoa Joe, which means he’ll probably get another United States Championship opportunity. Probably at MITB, since they’re both not booked for it. Or it’ll happen next week or something! Who knows? Who’s to say?

Robert O’Neill: It’s neat that they’re bringing Dominic back in the fold, though. That was clearly the direction during Wrestlemania if Rey didn’t get hurt. This match was pretty good for two old guys who aren’t quite what they used to be.

Chris Novak: AJ Styles and Seth Rollins are here to sign the contract for their MITB Universal Championship match. As far as contract signings go, this was pretty run of the mill. Brawl at the end of it and all. I’m still predicting Styles is going to turn at some point in this feud, and this interaction did nothing to change my position on that.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: This was a… fine show that was bogged down just by some weird decision making. The choices to keep certain wrestlers on this brand and not send them for others seems to be hurting this brand right now. They could certainly use some more depth and some repositioning for some people. All in all though, this show was… fine. C+ worthy, as there were no real standout matches or anything, but it wasn’t the worst show either.

Robert O’Neill: This is the first Raw in a while that I didn’t enjoy. Some of the matches were good, but the segments were kinda bad and pointless. There’s nowhere to go but up on the road to Money in the Bank, and it wasn’t as bad as some Raws from last fall, so I’ll give it a C.

Smackdown Live logo.png

Chris Novak: The road to Money in the Bank continues in Columbus. Becky Lynch vs. Bayley for the first time EVER in WWE proper is set to happen tonight, which should no doubt be a lot of fun.

Robert O’Neill: But first, Kofi Kingston is here! He’s in seemingly high spirits despite Kevin Owens turning on him last week.

Chris Novak: Some (looks at J.R.) might critique that but it fits him, no? It fits the gimmick? I don’t mind it. Kofi’s here with Michael Cole, who’s interviewing him in the ring. Cole being here to portray a level of seriousness is a good move.

Robert O’Neill: Kofi and Cole are talking about Kofi finally winning the title, but now he has a big target on his back, and Kevin Owens came at him. Kofi said if Owens wanted to challenge him, all he had to do is ask. Kofi would have given him the opportunity. Owens is out now and says it’s great that he got his moment, but moments are fleeting. But Xavier Woods comes out from behind and attacks Owens!

Chris Novak: An effective segment to be sure here. I feel like they could’ve done this a while back and still been fine? But better late than never, I suppose. I suspect we’ll get Owens vs. Woods later on in the show.

It’s now time for Becky Lynch vs. Bayley. This should be a doozy. Hey, surprisingly enough this match was really good. Becky got the win over Bayley after she maneuvered her way out of the Elbow Drop, and then put Bayley in the Dis-Arm-Her. Becky and Bayley then both got attacked by Charlotte Flair afterwards. All in all, terrific couple segments here between the match and the post-match beatdown. You have to set up the post-Becky Lynch life on SDL, and you get the sense that that’s exactly what’s going to be the case here.

Robert O’Neill: Yup. I’m sure plenty of people are mad about Bayley losing to Becky and Charlotte in back to back weeks, but in the big picture, they’re positioning her to be in a big program over the summer and that’s good news for us all.

Chris Novak: Another Aleister Black vignette aired. Not sure where all this is going but, we’ll see!

The Hardys are here, but not for good reason. Jeff is on crutches and they’re addressing their future as Tag Team Champions. It seems inevitable that they’re going to drop them, but we’ll see what happens.

Sure enough, that’s what happened. They’re blaming Jeff’s injury on Lars Sullivan. Which, like Lars or not, is a smart and savvy move for them to give him heat and gain sympathy for The Hardys. Lars then comes on out afterwards, and Matt’s ready to fight him. Lars throws Matt out of the ring, Lars goes after Jeff but Lars beats Matt up as he looked to save his brother. Jeff still wanted to fight, even as he hopped on crutches. R-Truth then came in with a chair to the back, but Lars was unaffected. Truth kept fighting on but he was planted down as well.

Robert O’Neill: Asuka and Kairi defeat a couple jobbers as Peyton Royce and Billie Kay are on commentary. That got the job done, because The IIconics are very entertaining.

Chris Novak: The IIconics are hilarious. End of story.

Mandy and Sonya banter backstage about who should be in MITB between the two of them. Eventually, Sonya tells Mandy that it should be her, so she’s going to be in the match. Hey, that’s fine with me.

Big Dog’s coming and he’s coming up next. But first, we learn that Finn Balor, Ali, Andrade and Randy Orton are going to be in the men’s MITB Ladder Match. Before the night’s over, we’re going to get Finn and Ali vs. Orton and Andrade in a tag match. Sounds very, VERY good to me to be honest.

Robert O’Neill: Roman is here to explain himself. Naturally, Shane McMahon comes out! And while Shane would love to fight Roman tonight, he’s not going to do that. Instead The B Team will both be taking on Roman and Elias will be the “special guest referee enforcer”. Alright then! Away we go.

Chris Novak: That match was super overbooked fun nonsense. Reigns won after hitting Curtis Axel with the Spear. Bit of a throwback type match, as I’d probably predict that type of thing to happen more in the year 2000 than now. Reigns looked REALLY sharp in this one, and I have to give it up to Axel and Dallas for playing their roles well here. Good stuff.

Robert O’Neill: Strong Bruce Prichard vibes on that one. All hail.

It’s time for the main event!

Chris Novak: Ali and Finn won after Ali got the pin. Match was really fun! Though that’s not surprising. A couple blows were traded after the matchup. Really looking forward to the SmackDown side of MITB, to be perfectly honest. Really digging this match on the whole, aside from the Baron and Braun factor. But that’s to be expected, really.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah, the MITB match should be a real hoot like usual. After the match, we see the final two Women’s MITB participants get revealed: Ember Moon and Carmella.

Chris Novak: The KO Show with Xavier Woods is next. Well it IS with Xavier Woods but… an ACTION FIGURE of Xavier Woods. An action figure of Big E also made an appearance. Eventually, Kofi came out and beat the holy hell out of Owens on the outside. But Owens eventually got the upper hand momentarily, before Kingston threw him over the announce table. Owens scurried away and Kingston, still in the ring, taunted him. A real good show of fire on his behalf here.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robert O’Neill: Well, Smackdown was good again! It wasn’t great like it has been, but it was very good. Everything served a purpose and the road to MITB is looking good. Excited for next week. B

Chris Novak: Good show, not a great show. Going to give this a B as well. They did all they needed to do here to keep my attention. All I can ask for really.

First Black Champ podcast - Drew McIntyre's sick of your shit

Money In The Bank happened and Braun didn't need to win. We tell you why and run the list of past MITB Winners.

We also talk Big Cass, his departure and if he really does have a future in the world of Pro Wrestling. Dolph winning the IC Title was Bullshit to Cam but Bang ties into one damn good GuaranDAMNTee on this week's #FirstBlackChamp podcast!

RIP Big Van Vader

Follow Cam: @ImCamQuotes
Follow JR Bang: @JRBang

This Week in WWE: Ronda goes Stone Cold on 'em, Bayley and Sasha are DONE, and the GREATEST Rusev Day EVER

Robert O’Neill: After seven good hours of wrestling this weekend, we’re loaded up for five more! It’s time for Raw, and I’m really looking forward to it, honestly. I think Money in the Bank did a good job getting things set up for the road to Summerslam.

Chris Novak: Indeed, you’re right about that, Rob. Let’s hope the first night after continues that trend.

Robert O’Neill: Alright! We’re opening with Kurt Angle. He’s pleased with Raw’s performance at Money in the Bank. And now Alexa is here! She’s getting a YOU DESERVE IT chant, because she does deserve it.

Uh oh, Ronda Rousey is here and she’s none too pleased. But Alexa’s not backing down. She’s telling Ronda how it is. Surely this won’t end poorly for her. Ronda went after Alexa and then Kurt Angle tried to break it up and Ronda took him down! And then Ronda put Alexa through a table. That was one hell of a segment.

Kurt’s not pleased with Ronda backstage. He suspended her for 30 days for attacking him. Let’s see if that sticks!

Chris Novak: Overall, just an extremely well done opening segment. Everyone played their parts well. Alexa was her usual great self on the mic, and will be a great foil for Ronda. She took a huge table bump (so much for those folks who say she’s scared to) and Ronda looked like a total badass.

Robert O’Neill: *grabs large megaphone* BURN IT DOOOOOWWWWNNNNN!

Seth Rollins is here to discuss his match last night, which was quite good. Starting with back to back segments is interesting, but given the length and intensity of the matches last night it might be a light night for actual in-ring stuff.

Chris Novak: And now we get an IC Title Open Challenge. Answering the call is… ugh, Dolph Ziggler.

Robert O’Neill: The storytelling was really good where Rollins continued to sell the fact that his knee got messed up against Elias and he took all he could last night to win, but good lord did they really have to have Ziggler win the Intercontinental Title? Couldn’t it have been McIntyre? I hope this is the start of something bigger and better for Seth.

Chris Novak: Ugh. Like you said, did it REALLY have to be Dolph? Hopefully this really is the start of something bigger and better for Seth. Otherwise… gross.

Robert O’Neill: “You can cry online or write a blog about it, but this is our show now”

Good advice, Dolph. I WILL cry online about it.

Chris Novak: Dolph sucks.

Robert O’Neill: Curt Hawkins is in action against Bob Roode! Maybe this will be the night the losing streak ends! Nope. It was not the night. 203 in a row.

Chris Novak: I am liking that this is now a weekly fixture, honestly. It might actually be a legit good moment when he finally wins, to be honest. Here comes Braun, who’s the “Monster in the Bank” now. He says he’s going to be the next Universal Champion and The Beast is gonna get these hands. Welp, here comes Kevin Owens. Owens is selling like a MF, as usual. KO is here to be man enough to congratulate him. He says he deserves it as well, and he has an incredible opportunity, but he has to be smart and have a strategy. So, essentially, KO is offering his services up for Strowman. Braun… well, he responded as you would expect them to.

Robert O’Neill: I’m on the record as loving Owens/Strowman interactions so I’m here for a mini program between the two.

Chris Novak: Hmmmm. Interesting. So, next, they recap what happened last week with the Riott Squad and Bayley. Then we go to the back and Bayley’s now with… Sasha Banks. The two “friends” hash things out and seem to be on the up and up. But how long is this going to last?

Next come the Deleters of Worlds. They face Heath Slater and Rhyno and… oh, here’s the B-Team, and THEY’RE DRESSED UP LIKE THE DELETERS OF WORLDS! HAHAHAHA, BO IS DRESSED UP LIKE HIS BROTHER, BRAY! CURTIS IS DRESSED UP AS WOKEN MATT! This is actually hilarious. They parodied them and parodied them well, honest to God.

Robert O’Neill: That was absolutely hilarious.

Chris Novak: Slater and Rhyno go off on the sneak attack from behind afterwards. Eventually, Deleters of Worlds win. I’ll admit, this was a good segment for the tag division in a comedic way. Let’s get away from these squash matches though. Geez.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah it would be ideal to get something of substance going with the Raw tag team.

Chris Novak: You said it, not me.

Robert O’Neill: Jinder is facing Chad Gable, which is good. The more Chad Gable matches, the better.

Chris Novak: That was pretty fun. Jinder won the match. I think we should see more of Gable on Raw, tbh. And now… now, it’s time for Bayley-Sasha vs. Riott Squad.

Robert O’Neill: Hearing reports that It’s Boss Time.

Chris Novak: So, dissension is the name of the game here. Sasha insists that she’s “fine” after Bayley was concerned for her. Eventually, more miscues led to the Riott Squad winning. Bayley and Sasha had a confrontation in the ring, and that led to Sasha shoving Bayley to the ground and then walking away.

Robert O’Neill: After the commercial break things turned into a pull apart brawl! Neat.

Chris Novak: Bayley hit her with a freaking trashcan lid AND fired the first shot. Unfortunately, she got smoked afterwards. Honestly, people can say whatever they want about this. They devoted THREE segments to this feud. It’s clear that they give a shit about it. I’m expecting this to proceed going forward.

Robert O’Neill: Kurt Angle is back out for a big announcement! He knows who Brock Lesnar is facing at Summerslam. It’ll be the winner of a to be announced multi-man match at Extreme Rules. Roman Reigns would like to be in the match. So would Bob Lashley. In the midst of the bickering The Revival came out, and they have a match against Reigns and Lashley and pull off a stunning vic-

They lost. Of course they lost. They’re The Revival.

Chris Novak: Lashley was just… uh, well, Lashley in that final segment. No idea why they’re dragging out the participants but whew, hopefully someone who isn’t Roman (or Lashley, for that matter) wins that match at Extreme Rules. All I have to say. Anyways, you can be sad all you want Rob. That match was REAL good. Backstage we go. Finn says he’ll do what it takes to be in the multi-man #1 contender’s match. Constable Corbin puts him down, and KO comes in and agrees with him. Naturally… Strowman is RIGHT behind him. So, after a bit of interaction, we now have a tag team main event. Dead at Kurt saying “this is a runaway train” and abruptly leaving. My dude has to get control of this show, hahahahaha.

Robert O’Neill: Hey it’s Mojo Rawley! He took down No Way Jose and then cut a promo afterwards. Neat.

Chris Novak: Sasha is about to leave the arena. But, here’s Bayley again. Sasha reiterates that she’s done with her and done being her friend. Bayley tries to get her before she drives away. Alas… she is unsuccessful. Four segments devoted to this feud tonight. At least we finally got some action out of it.

Robert O’Neill: We got a full song by Elias, and it was an absolute banger.

Chris Novak: Why do we keep getting screwed over, Rob? We’ve been to two shows and Elias performed in neither!

Robert O’Neill: It’s just not right!

Time for the main event! Braun Strowman and Finn Balor are teaming up again to face Constable Corbin and Kevin Owens. It’s pretty cool that Balor and Strowman are kind of a full-time tag team these days. Bet they could fix the Raw tag division. Regardless, Corbin and Owens get the win, and, honestly, it was a bit surprising to me. But I like it.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: WWE’s really good week keeps rolling along. I particularly like the Alexa/Ronda and Bayley/Sasha stuff, and I’ll never complain about a title change on “free TV” even if it’s Dolph Ziggler winning the title. This show tied up all the loose ends from Money in the Bank and got us on the road to Summerslam, which is all you can hope for. A

Chris Novak: I felt like this was a very positive step in the right direction after MITB. Like Rob said, the women’s segments were all very good. Dolph winning wasn’t my cup of tea at all, but everything else was good to very good to great. A for me, as well.

Smackdown.png

Chris Novak: SmackDown Live begins with the announcement of a 5-man Gauntlet Match to determine the next #1 Contender for the WWE Title. The participants? Big E, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Rusev and Samoa Joe. Sounds like a certified banger. The show itself begins with the appearance of Women’s Champion, Carmella, who has emerged as the lone member of the old Enzo/Cass/Carmella act after Cass’ release. Pretty extraordinary, no?

Robert O’Neill: Honestly, people joke about it, but Carmella is excellent. She’s kind of like Alexa Bliss in that her excellence on the microphone covers up for her average ring work (which is getting better). And, yeah, I’m thrilled she outlasted those other two goons. Anyways, Carmella’s talking about how great she is, and now Asuka is coming out, but…. It’s not actually Asuka. It’s your boy Jimmy Dream! But then the real Asuka came out and she was none too pleased with JayMella.

Chris Novak: SMH, get your ships right Rob. It’s Carmellsworth. Anyways, wasn’t really a fan of how Alexa and Carmella cut what was essentially the same promo, but it was still effective. On to the next segment: Billie Kay vs. Becky Lynch. The IIconics take the mics when they come out and start mocking Toledo and then Becky.

Robert O’Neill: It seems like people don’t like The IIconics (Twitter people, at least), and I don’t really get why. They’re fine.

Chris Novak: I suppose I can see why (their comedy bits may be a bit forced at times). Can’t please anyone. Anyways, Becky and Billie fought in what was a solid, competitive match. Not too shabby. Becky picks up the win, as she tapped Billie out with the Dis-Arm-Her.

Jeff Hardy cut a promo on Nakamura, as it appears that’s where they’re headed next for these two. Hardy then showed off some 2009-style facepaint, which was white and black, that also had his eyes colored white. It was… terrifying. Oh, hey, cool: SAnitY is here, and they’re going to face The Usos.

Robert O’Neill: Jeff Hardy looks terrifying! So SAnitY vs. The Usos was more just a beatdown by the newcomers, which was actually pretty cool and smart.

Chris Novak:Honestly, much smarter than an actual match. Speaking of tag teams, we’re about to get a Tag Team Titles rematch between The Good Brothers and The Bludgeon Brothers. So, that’s fun.

Robert O’Neill: The Bludgeon Brothers retained, of course. It’s time for the gauntlet match!

Chris Novak: We are starting with… Bryan vs. Big E. Bryan is the #1 entrant, so this should prove interesting.

Robert O’Neill: After 15-20 minutes, Bryan got the upper hand on Big E (who looked good throughout) and then Samoa Joe was next! Bryan got the victory over Joe via countout, which was smart, but the Bludgeon Brothers, who stared Bryan down on his way to the ring, came out and beat him down after Joe left. Miz came out and took advantage and hit Bryan with the Skull Crushing Finale! But Rusev is here to try and take The Miz down, and he does! Miz taps to the Accolade and we have a Happy Rusev Day as the big man will be in his first ever WWE title match at Extreme Rules!

Chris Novak: Stellar showings for just about everyone here. They handled Bryan and Miz’s parts EXTREMELY well. I don’t know where they’re going with Bryan vs. The Bludgeon Bros. and I’m not sure who Bryan’s partner will be in the eventual Tag Team Championships Match. But it’s intriguing nonetheless. Rusev/Styles is going to be great, and it’s awesome that they went with Rusev.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: What a week for WWE. Four straight days of shows that I really enjoyed watching. Obviously, the gauntlet match was always going to be great, but I was a fan of everything on this show and am super intrigued with Jeff Hardy reverting to 2009-10 Jeff Hardy. I think SAnitY being up and wrecking shop is pretty cool too. A

Chris Novak: Another A for me here. SmackDown Live hit every right note possible here. This was an exceptional show.

Ruthless Aggression EP 22 - King of the Ring

This week the boys review RAW 473, Smackdown 148 and King of the Ring 2002! Plus our thoughts on Money in the Bank and NXT Takeover: Chicago, Big Cass' release, NXT UK and WWE's working relationship with Pro Wrestling NOAH, the possibility of WWE & NJPW working together, and the life of "Vader", Leon White.

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Chris: @ChrisMNovak
Follow Rob: @RobertONeill31

Embed Block
Add an embed URL or code. Learn more
Money in the Bank 2018 results, recap: Alexa Bliss, Braun Strowman and AJ Styles stand tall
mitb.gif

Robert O’Neill: What a damn weekend of wrestling. Your boys Rob and Chris did the Takeover/MITB combo at the Rosemont Horizon, and whew buddy it was. We’re gonna keep it exclusively on Money in the Bank in this recap though, and there’s a lot to get to so let’s dive in.

Chris Novak: Gonna structure this about as well as we can here since we were with the live crowd. So, let’s see what we can do!

Robert O’Neill: I thought Bryan/Cass was pretty much a perfect opener for this show. Obviously Daniel Bryan was going to get a massive reaction no matter where he was on the card, so why not put him out first? I also really enjoyed this match, which I didn’t expect to do with a Big Cass match. Bryan winning was probably the right call, and I’m interested in seeing what happens next. Also Daniel Bryan is still more over than anyone on the WWE roster with live crowds.

Chris Novak: The sample size is small, but this was Big Cass’ best singles match ever. Point blank. He did a very good job in this match and having Bryan around him obviously didn’t help. Bryan, who by the way, still is fantastic at this pro wrestling thing. Bryan made Cass tap out eventually to pick up the W, and it was certainly the right call. I do wonder what this means going forward for both. Pulling a 3rd match out of these two with how decisive it’s been would probably be a mistake. So what’s next for these two? Time will tell, I suppose.

Robert O’Neill: So, Bobby Lashley and Sami Zayn had a match. It was early in the night and over quickly and Lashley won and now we can all move on, right?

Chris Novak: I hope so. The match accomplished what it sought out to accomplish. Let’s move on.

Robert O’Neill: I’ve been to two shows with Elias this year and I’ve seen a grand total of ZERO performances. It’s just not right, I gotta say. But the match between him and Seth Rollins was absolutely insane and it furthered the gap between Seth Rollins and every other pro wrestler not named Johnny Gargano for me. I think Elias has quickly become a top 10 guy, as well, and I think it’s just a matter of time before he gets the IC title and has an excellent reign with it.

Chris Novak: I’m intrigued at the fact that Rollins had to use a hook of the olive pants to beat Elias. But, “by any means necessary” is a fine way to do things and makes Elias look good himself. In that, Seth was pushed to the limit and had to go to those lengths to defeat him. It also extends this feud out longer, which is great, because I was really enjoying it.

Robert O’Neill: Right off the bat here, I want to say that the Women’s MITB was so much better than either of the two they did last year. They stopped being timid and did cool and unique spots we’ve never seen before, including a few insane things by (who else?) Sasha Banks.

Chris Novak: It was outstanding, and probably the best match on the card. Just about everyone took a bump in the match and everyone looked good and had their shine. Alexa Bliss won the match, which teed a few folks off. Listen, I will sit here and entertain your conversations about Bliss’ push and how it might be overdoing it. That’s fine, you’re allowed to think that. You’re allowed to think that there were some better options on the table. I said as much on the podcast this weekend that I think she was on the tier of people who shouldn’t be anywhere near it.

That being said, I’m gonna take a moment to look at things realistically. A great deal of the contenders here didn’t stand much a chance of winning. What it really boiled down to was that Natalya seemed like the favorite here. God bless her, Natalya isn’t the one who should’ve walked away with the briefcase. I know that, from a storyline perspective, it would’ve worked. But at this stage of her career, giving the briefcase (and eventually the championship) to someone of her age and skillset would be the wrong decision. Especially because she would turn up as the #1 heel on Raw.

And if you look at it from THAT way? There ain’t nobody on the roster right now who can play the #1 heel role as EFFECTIVELY as Alexa Bliss (Yes, I know, Sasha Banks is also a great heel. It’s also been three years now. We can keep waiting for that to happen or think the ship’s sailed). So when you take it from that perspective? I have ZERO issue with this decision. It’s far better than Charlotte adding the only freaking accolade left besides a Rumble win. Far better than someone like Lana winning, and far better than Natalya winning. Ember was never winning (it’s far too early for her). Measuring it up with Naomi, Becky or Sasha will probably only get you angry. But this wasn’t a bad move, or nearly as bad a move as some think.

Robert O’Neill: Also, if I may, Alexa Bliss is fantastic and I’ve been with her since day one, so it was a big night for me personally.

Chris Novak: We know, Rob. We know. Okay… Jinder-Roman happened next and the crowd trolled their asses off for almost the entire match. Don’t know what really happened here, but Roman won after a Spear. Let’s move forward again.

Robert O’Neill: The crowd was bad and that’s pretty inexcusable, but also I don’t know what WWE was thinking would happen putting Roman and Jinder in a match in Rosemont in 2018. For as much as Vince seems to think Roman is still THE GUY, he sure sets him up to fail as often as possible.

Carmella-Asuka time. Carmella played the perfect chickenshit heel in her match against Asuka, and that’s really what she was going to have to do the whole time. She went for the champions’ advantage countout before Asuka dragged her back in and kicked her for a while, and then when it looked like Asuka was going to win, another Asuka appeared at ringside, and the other Asuka removed their mask to show that it was JAMES ELLSWORTH! Asuka was stunned and Carmella picked up the victory. This was awesome.

Chris Novak: I’m here for The Big Hog being back, baby. The match itself was pretty good! Much better than the disaster that was Charlotte-Carmella at Backlash. Some very good stuff here.

Robert O’Neill: Alright. Let’s talk about Styles vs. Nakamura. I think it was the best match of the ones they’ve had in WWE and it was violent and action-packed like a Last Man Standing match should be, but the wrong guy won. The problem with Nakamura losing is he’s now lost to Styles three times and logically shouldn’t get another title match. PLUS he turned heel and named his own stipulation for this match and still lost. Combine this with Shinsuke’s losses to Jinder Mahal last year for the title and it becomes very murky to see what exactly WWE is doing with him

Chris Novak: At the same time, it’s not like he isn’t super over still. I think he’ll be fine. It’s weird, but I think he’ll be fine. The two had the best match of their entire series of matches this spring so that was a nice, positive takeaway here.

Robert O’Neill: Now that she’s had two matches and they’ve both been above average, are we ready to say Ronda Rousey actually does deserve to be here? I mean, credit to Nia Jax as well, she controlled the match and has shown a ton of improvement in what was likely her best main roster match to date, but Ronda was excellent. And of course the ending was absolutely perfect as Alexa Bliss got her revenge on Nia and won the title again and all is right in the world.

Chris Novak: I think we can be ready to say that about Ronda. She was very good last night in just about every aspect. A couple things she might need to improve on, but all in all, it was a fantastic performance. Credit to Nia as well who stepped her game up in a big, big way.

WWE

WWE

Alexa’s cash-in was done extraordinarily well, and the crowd was hot as ALL hell for it. I look forward to the eventual Alexa-Ronda program. Bliss is probably going to die.

Also, imagine that scenario happening, only with Natalya instead of Alexa. LOL.

Robert O’Neill: God, that would have been awful. Would have made me check out for the Men’s MITB match which was unsurprisingly very good. I think the thing I’ll remember most from a live perspective is how loud the crowd was for all eight entrances. I’m not sure it came across on TV  because I haven’t rewatched the show yet, but all eight guys got a massive pop and people were scream-singing Bobby Roode’s theme song and the New Day intro. It was awesome. Also Aiden English’s “Go Cubs Go” riff in his Rusev rap was phenomenal.

(Editors note: MAJOR love to Columbia Chicago alum Aiden English for repping Englewood on the front of his jeans Sunday night.)

As for the match, it was what you think it would be with these eight dudes. Chaotic and excellent. I loved the fact that Kofi was the New Day’s pick, I loved Braun getting buried by all the ladders on the set early in the match, I loved Miz’s facial expressions whenever he was confronted by Braun, it goes on an on. They also didn’t do a bunch of insane spots like they did in last year’s match, which was nice to see.

Chris Novak: Braun winning legit shocked me, to be honest. I thought this was Miz’s briefcase to lose, but the right guy still won. Braun is obviously over like rover, and the eventual Braun-Brock confrontation should hopefully be great stuff this time unlike No Mercy last year. Owens bumped like a freaking madman (like always) and had a huge spot where he got thrown off a ladder through a table. Say what you want about the dude, but he ALWAYS goes hard in these matches. Everyone looked great in this match, to be honest. Really enjoyed it.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: What a show. What a weekend. Roman/Jinder aside, the crowd was amazing and engaged all weekend and we were rewarded with a pair of excellent shows. Money in the Bank was a blast and definitely didn’t feel like a four-hour show. I look forward to seeing what WWE has in store for us going forward. A

Chris Novak: I’m going to give Money in the Bank a solid A-. Probably the best main roster show this year other than the Royal Rumble, in my humble opinion. Only down parts were the Lashley-Zayn match and the Roman-Jinder one, and the latter is probably best viewed with the crowd muted, anyways. Other than that, a super fun show.

Money in the Bank guide: previews, predictions for NXT Takeover & MITB

What started as a unique concept for Wrestlemania has turned into the fifth of WWE's new "Big Five" pay per views: Money in the Bank! The big event returns to the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, but this time bringing its indie darling, NXT, along with it for a stacked card on Saturday night. Of course, the main course will be not one, but TWO Money in the Bank ladder matches - one for the men and one for the ladies. The Barber's Chair has your guide to all of the matches this weekend, including who we think will leave Chicagoland victorious.

nxt takeover chicago.png

Ricochet v. Velveteen Dream

Pierce: This is a Dream match, no pun. Not because I've wanted to see it for years, but because I didn't know I wanted to see it this badly. This should open Takeover, and could attempt to steal the show just like the ladder match did in New Orleans. Dream has his sights set on one of two things: an NXT title or a WWE call-up. A win furthers both objectives.
Prediction: Velveteen Dream

T.C.: I didn't care for Dream's whole schtick when he first debuted, but his match with Aleister Black at War Games completely changed my opinion of him. I think he's an easy choice to face Black in a rematch in Brooklyn, so it'll be smart to keep his momentum going into SummerSlam weekend.
Prediction: Velveteen Dream

Markus Howell: Let me be the first to tell you that I might be the biggest Velveteen Dream fan just because of everything he represents and how damn good he is. Dude is a MEGASTAR. That being said, this match is a MOTY candidate for sure. Ricochet is proven between those ropes and Dream ain't too bad himself. Dream needs a win here though before he enters "Bray Wyatt" range.            Prediction: Velveteen Dream

Chris Novak: This match really fascinates me. I think it has major steal-the-show potential and will probably end up kicking things off on Saturday night. I get the sense that Velveteen Dream is going to win. Ricochet may have only started a couple months ago, but he's a big star. He can afford the loss, and can afford to put Dream over. You can easily slide Ricochet into a feud with Adam Cole for the NA Championship or even have him in a side feud with Aleister Black on the road to Brooklyn, and nobody would really bat an eye. Speaking of which, I think this Dream win will tee up Dream/Black II in Brooklyn, like T.C. said. 
Prediction: Velveteen Dream

Robert O'Neill: The first of two MOTN candidates, I really can't wait to watch these guys in person. They were the high points of the best multi-man ladder match of all time at Takeover NOLA and there's no reason to believe this match won't be awesome. Dream wins though because I think he's going to be the next #1 contender for the title and this is your start of that.

Prediction: Velveteen Dream

NXT Women's Championship - Shayna Baszler (c) v. Nikki Cross

Pierce: Shayna is mid to me, but they're running with her as long as they can. Nikki Cross belongs up top anyway.
Prediction: Shayna Baszler

T.C.: What the hell happened to SAnitY debuting on the main roster? I'd assume they're holding off until Nikki is done in NXT, but I can see them trying to distance her from the group at this point as she gets a run with the Women's title down in Orlando.
Prediction: Nikki Cross

Markus Howell: Seems like this match was thrown together randomly. But hey, whatever. This has all the components of a filler match until Bianca Belair is done smoking everybody else in the division.   
Prediction: Shayna Baszler

Chris Novak: Haven't minded the build to this. Nikki is crazy as hell and I think her finally getting a 1-on-1 TakeOver opportunity rules. I don't see her winning the belt though. She'll fall to Shayna, but this match should be real good.
Prediction: Shayna Baszler

Robert O'Neill: It's really hard to get a read on this because Cross is probably overdue for a title shot and Shayna really hasn't done much as champion, but they likely won't have her lose yet. Baszler retains.

Prediction: Shayna Baszler

NXT Tag Team Championship - Undisputed Era (c) v. Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan

Pierce: Burch and Lorcan are good hands but they have no business winning the tag titles over Undisputed Era.
Prediction: Undisputed Era

T.C.: Undisputed Era are flaming hot right now, and things are only looking up for the group. Burch and Lorcan have had the Undisputed Era's number the last few weeks, but it's not their time yet.
Prediction: Undisputed Era

Markus Howell: Undisputed Era > nWo. Kyle O'Reilly air guitar with the title > Hollywood Hulk Hogan air guitar with the title. Do I need to say anything else?
Prediction: Undisputed Era

Chris Novak: Markus, I completely agree about KOR's air guitar being better than The Hulkster's. This match is going to surprise a lot of people who may not be familiar with Lorcan and Burch. Then again, if you watch NXT, you probably are anyway.
Prediction: Undisputed Era

Robert O'Neill: While a lot of people were surprised that Lorcan and Burch got the title shot, I think it’s it’s pretty cool. However, I think Undisputed Era retains because they have the numbers in their favor provided Adam Cole goes to the ring with KOR and Roddy Strong.  

Prediction: Undisputed Era

NXT Championship - Aleister Black (c) v. Lars Sullivan

Pierce: Ion really fuck with Lars.
Prediction: Aleister Black

T.C.: Aleister Black hasn't really had a chance to show off as champion since winning the belt back during WrestleMania weekend, and I can't see him losing here. Lars Sullivan has laid the champion out multiple weeks now, and looks stronger than ever heading into Chicago, but Black will finally overcome the thorn in his side.
Prediction: Aleister Black

Markus Howell: This match here has seemingly gotten overshadowed with the Ricochet/Dream and Gargano/Ciampa feuds. LARS (Yes we capitalize that man name around here) has looked great in the past few months. Black has been relatively quiet waiting on this new challenger to appear and boy has LARS appeared. It's a bit too early for Black to drop the title though so look for him to hold on the strap a while longer.
Prediction: Aleister Black

Chris Novak: I'm not surprised that this match has gotten a second- or third-billing deal. This feels like Roode/Itami from last year in Chicago, in that it's a transition feud where the challenger doesn't stand much a chance. I like Lars a lot but putting Black over is the easiest choice of the night. 
Prediction: Aleister Black

Robert O'Neill: The NXT Title match is the third most hyped match on a five match card, which is odd, but also perfectly fine. This will be a good match that a lot of people will sleep on. Black retains.

Prediction: Aleister Black

Chicago Street Fight - Johnny Gargano v. Tommaso Ciampa

Pierce: This rivalry is destined to end in Brooklyn, so it's only right Tommaso wins, probably through some fuckery involving Candice Lerae. These two put on the match of Wrestlemania weekend and could do the same in Chicago.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

T.C.: Usually when someone's wife or girlfriend gets injured in a personal storyline, that's a red alert to me that they'll be turning on their partner down the line. Ciampa wins after interference from Candice LeRae, setting up a Hell in a Cell battle in Brooklyn.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

Markus Howell.: Ciampa is the best heel in the business and possibly the best heel we have seen in YEARS. Everything about this man just oozes evil and he does not care one bit. Using simple wrestling logic here though, it says he will pull out the win in a brutal, yet satisfying match and set up the final installment in this epic rivalry at Brooklyn.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa      

Chris Novak: Ciampa wins because Candice LeRae incidentally costs her husband, Johnny Gargano, the victory. No heel turn here, but she'll try to save Gargano from himself and he'll pay for it. Hell in a Cell cometh in Brooklyn.
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

Robert O'Neill: How poetic. It all comes back to Rosemont, where Ciampa turned on Gargano in the first place. It kills me to say it, but I think Ciampa wins and sets up a rubber match with all the stakes in Brooklyn.

Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

mitb.gif

Women's Money in the Bank
Charlotte v. Sasha Banks v. Natalya v. Ember Moon v. Becky Lynch v. Alexa Bliss v. Naomi v. Lana

Pierce: Booking history tells me Natalya wins & probably cashes in on Ronda, but the superstar who needs the briefcase the most is Becky. She talked on Smackdown about falling to the back of the pack since being the first SDL Women's Champion. She needs something to reinvigorate her character, so give her the briefcase and let her have fun with it.
Prediction: Becky Lynch

T.C.: If Natalya doesn't win this, then I don't see the point in them making her a focal point with the biggest star in the division the past few weeks.
Prediction: Natalya

Markus Howell.: Okay so look, I think everybody knows I'm not a fan of this person but I'd be hard pressed to find someone who is a more "That's so WWE" pick to win this match than Ember Moon. Yes, they are setting Natalya up for another turn (she's like the female Big Show when it comes to that I swear), but Ember just screams "safe pick".                                                                Prediction: Ember Moon

Chris Novak: Have to agree with T.C. here. The obvious choice based on EVERYTHING they have put out there is Natalya, as terrible a wrestler and performer that I find her. Alexa and Charlotte have no business winning this, and neither does Lana. Ember hasn't been here long enough. And while Becky, Sasha and/or Naomi would be great choices because of the kinds of performers they are, well... it wouldn't be the first time or the last time they overlooked ability.
Prediction: Natalya

Robert O'Neill: This one certainly has me more hyped than last year’s version. I really want to see Sasha or Becky win, but it will likely be Natalya which will be dumb.  

Men's Money in the Bank
Braun Strowman v. The Miz v. Finn Balor v. Samoa Joe v. Kevin Owens v. Rusev v. Bobby Roode v. Big E/Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods

Pierce: All of these guys would make for a great winner besides Bobby Roode, but the Awesome one has killed it the last two years and will get his long-deserved second run with the belt in due time.
Prediction: The Miz

T.C.: My head says Samoa Joe, but I'm selecting my choice with full stan mode enabled: The Miz wins. 
Prediction: The Miz

Markus Howell: Ahem. Click here
Prediction: Samoa Joe

Chris Novak: Mike "The Miz" Mizanin wins MITB for the second time in his career. I would say that he'd cash in later in the night, but this match will probably main event the show. 
Prediction: The Miz

Robert O'Neill: This is probably the hardest match of the night to pick because I could see any of the eight men winning. If I had to pick one, it would be The Miz, and I'm not even super sold/confident on that.  

Daniel Bryan v. Big Cass

Pierce: Daniel doesn't need a win here. He made Cass submit last month. I hate even steven booking but if Daniel wins here, what am I supposed to make of Cass?
Prediction: Big Cass

T.C.: Part of me wants to think they'll give Daniel Bryan the win again (especially if there's still some backstage heat on Cass as reported a few weeks back), but I'm gonna assume there's a swerve in the making with Cass evening the score against his tiny foe.
Prediction: Big Cass

Markus Howell: Outside of not giving two shits about this feud.......yeah that's all I got man. It's a warmup feud for the both of them returning from their respective injuries so whatever. Prediction: Daniel Bryan

Chris Novak: I didn't think Bryan needed the win over Cass at Backlash. But they gave him it in emphatic fashion. I don't think he needs the win here at MTIB either. But Cass has been written as kind of a dickheaded goof. So maybe Bryan will make him tap out anyway. I gave Cass a chance, and he hasn't exactly been great. Just put Bryan over again.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan

Robert O'Neill: I guess Cass could use a win over Bryan, but I'm also not sure Cass can be saved at this point. He just doesn't have "it". Whatever happens, I hope this is the last match these two have.

Prediction: Big Cass

Roman Reigns v. Jinder Mahal

Pierce: Is it fine to say I just don't care where they go with Roman anymore?
Prediction: Roman Reigns

T.C.: Contrary to public opinion of these two, I actually think they're really good workers. But the chemistry between the two isn't working for me as a fan. Hope this is a one and done and they both move on to something else next month. 
Prediction: Roman Reigns

Markus Howell: NOW THIS IS WHY IM HERE BABY. CONTENT. THE MAHARAJA HIVE IS HERE. DON'T HINDER JINDER. I DON'T GET WHY PEOPLE HATE JINDER. THE MAN HAS DONE NOTHING BUT WORK HIS ASS OFF TO GET BETTER AND PEOPLE HATE HIM. The Maharaja ain't losing to no dude who wear Brett Favre wranglers in his downtime man. Hell no. Prediction: Jinder Mahal

Chris Novak: This will be a better match than the crowd gives it a chance to be. I will side with Markus here and say that the Maharajah is successful.
Prediction: Jinder Mahal

Robert O'Neill: Contrary to what the likely crowd reactions will lead you to believe, this should be a perfectly fine match. Each man cost the other a spot in the MITB match, so the motivation for this match is clear and smart. I think Jinder wins with underhanded tactics and Roman gets him back at Extreme Rules.

Prediction: Jinder Mahal

Bobby Lashley v. Sami Zayn

Pierce: This is my piss break.
Prediction: Bobby Lashley

T.C.: Absolutely pointless and terrible feud. Hopefully this doesn't go more than 7 minutes.
Prediction: Bobby Lashley

Markus Howell: #FreeElGenerico
Prediction: Sami Zayn

Chris Novak: God, this feud sucks.
Prediction: Bobby Lashley

Robert O'Neill: Lashley wins and we never have to think about this feud again.

Prediction: Bobby Lashley

Smackdown Tag Team Championship - The Bludgeon Brothers (c) v. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows

Pierce: The Bludgeon Brothers finally got some competition in Anderson and Gallows, and while I think the Good Brothers will get the strap eventually, now's not the time.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

T.C.: Harper and Rowan have been built up as THE guys in the Smackdown Tag Team title division (rightfully so, they're the champs), and it doesn't seem like the Good Brothers have enough momentum right now to start another reign right now.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

Markus Howell.: The Good Brothers and The Bludgeon Brothers. The Brothers against The Brothers. Which sounds better? Good or Bludgeon? Cool hand gestures and a dude with a nickname like Machine Gun or dudes with fake ass mallets and horrible ring gear? Yeah, exactly. Prediction: Anderson and Gallows

Chris Novak: SmackDown Live's tag division is not nearly as dead as Raw's is, but for a division that has Bludgeon Brothers, Good Brothers, The Usos, The New Day AND The Bar as well as Rusev Day, this should be a hell of a lot better than it is. I digress. The Bludgeon Brothers will likely win on the kickoff show.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

Robert O'Neill: There's been a surprising lack of build to this match, but it should be pretty solid provided you enjoy watching four big dudes beat each other up. If you don't, well, it's not for you. Bludgeon Brothers retain.

Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

RAW Women's Championship - Nia Jax (c) v. Ronda Rousey

Pierce: I was back and forth on this until Ronda's UFC Hall of Fame induction was announced. WWE would be smart to flex her as their champion at the event.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey

T.C.: I'm sure WWE caught some early rumblings about Ronda Rousey getting inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame next month, and decided to hot shot her into the title picture ahead of the time they wanted to. Always thirsty for mainstream attention, they'll slap the belt on Ronda, get some press the following Monday, and then have Natalya cash in the following night.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey

Markus Howell: This match gonna be trash. Nia, as fine as she is, aint that good in the ring and Ronda just too green in the ring. Ronda can legitimately beat Nia ass so idk man. Having Ronda win is a real slap in the face. To who? Take your pick. Also kinda dumb how they just randomly made Nia a heel in this feud. Also dumb how much Rousey smiles and taps hands with the fans. It's annoying. Idk who wins here but for kicks and giggles.......
Prediction: Nia Jax

Chris Novak: I still don't understand why this match is happening so early but, like T.C. said, this probably has a lot to do with fishing for mainstream press. Ronda wins, but I don't think she makes it out of Rosemont with the championship. Nattie's going to cash in and win it, meaning Natalya vs. Ronda Rousey will be the summer women's program. God help us all.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey

Robert O'Neill:  Well, Ronda certainly isn't going to lose her first singles match. The big thing to watch is if there's a cash in after.

Prediction: Ronda Rousey

Smackdown Women's Championship - Carmella (c) v. Asuka

Pierce: Carmella has no business losing the belt two months in, no matter how good Asuka is.
Prediction: Carmella

T.C.: I have no idea what is going to happen here. When Carmella had the MITB briefcase, I always looked at her as a transitional champion and nothing more than that. However, she's GOLD as a character, and the belt only enhances that. I'll be safe here and say Asuka comes out with the W.
Prediction: Asuka

Markus Howell: I. Love. Carmella. As. Champ. There I said it. She's been looking better. Her mic skills are gold. Her character has improved. And her in ring skills....well......she don't need to show them because of her heel work. I love it. Asuka has lost her aura since losing at Mania and I just don't get what the payoff was for that. Not sure what's gonna happen here but Asuka aint winning.
Prediction: Carmella

Chris Novak: Carmella wins because James Ellsworth is going to return and help her get the W.
Prediction: Carmella

Robert O'Neill: Carmella’s run has been delightful and I think it continues either by countout, DQ, or underhanded tactics

Prediction: Carmella

Intercontinental Championship - Seth Rollins (c) v. Elias

Pierce: The Walk With Elias Intercontinental Title Tour is about to heat up all summer '18! Elias is crazy over... some times gimmicks don't click in NXT but they work in the Federation, and Elias has made the most of his time up. Rollins is a great guy to take the belt off, and it doesn't hurt him to lose; it only propels him to that inevitable championship match with Brock.
Prediction: Elias

T.C.: I've been huge on Rollins' run as IC Champ thus far, and a huge fan Elias' whole run on the main roster. I feel like it's time for Seth to move on to bigger and better things, but with Extreme Rules a month away, I can see them dragging this feud out until then.
Prediction: Seth Rollins by DQ

Markus Howell: It's Elias' time. Seth doesn't need the title anymore and I'm sure Elias can continue to elevate the IC title. Also, the IC title > Universal title. But anyway, this match should be a great one. I wouldn't be surprised to see Elias win clean, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see a DQ. Prediction: Elias

Chris Novak: It's time for everyone to walk with Intercontinental Champion Elias. Seth won't lose anything by dropping the belt to him. Depending on what you read into with the rumors about Brock, this could free him up for a feud at SummerSlam with him. If not, then we get a summer feud between these two. Either option is OK with me.
Prediction: Elias

Robert O'Neill: If they're going to do Seth/Brock at Summerslam, which seems to be the natural plan, why not have Elias get the win here? He has the fanbase and ability. I would like to see it

Prediction: Elias

Last Man Standing match for the WWE Championship
AJ Styles (c) v. Shinsuke Nakamura

Pierce: Well we know the prediction below won't happen because the men's ladder match will reportedly end the show, but it's Nakamura's time. He's waited long enough, and the heel turn set in motion at Wrestlemania has done well in turning him from one of the most beloved babyfaces to one of the most interesting heels to watch in the company. He'll watch out of Chicago with the championship.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

T.C.: This feud hasn't been nearly half as interesting as I thought it would be, but it's picked up a bit in the past few weeks. Please, no more. AJ Styles gets the W in a hard fought battle, but gets booked in an impromptu match with The Miz. Both MITB briefcase holders cash in within 24 hours, as WWE tries to freshen up the gimmick a bit.
Prediction: AJ Styles, The Miz cashes in and walks out champion

Markus Howell: I'm tired of seeing this. Leave it to WWE to take something good and ruin it. I don't know how they do it but dammit they are talented. Shinsuke should've been champ months ago yet they turned him into a dick punching japanese dude who picks and chooses when to speak english. I hate this company sometimes.
Prediction: Shinsuke after he hits a super kinshasa on AJ's family jewels

Chris Novak: I don't have a clue about this one. I'll say Shinsuke because they've given him enough chances over the last year to win the WWE Title and he hasn't. If not, I have no idea what they do.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Robert O'Neill: I think Shinsuke has to win eventually, so why not this one? He picked the stipulation so it would make sense for him to get the win.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Ranking the best Money in the Bank cash-ins
Courtesy: WWE.com

Courtesy: WWE.com

We are just days away from one of my personal favorite WWE events of the year, and it couldn't come at a better time. WWE has been dragging their feet through the mud creatively since WrestleMania, but things look to pick up at Money in the Bank this Sunday in Chicago.

Introduced back in 2005, winners of the Money in the Bank briefcase have experienced many ups (and a few downs) when it comes time to cashing in their title shot. Here's a ranking of all of the MITB cash-in's so far, from worst to best. I'll also be ranking the significance of each cash-in as well as the quality of the match.

19. Baron Corbin (Smackdown Live, 2017)

Courtesy: WWE Network

Courtesy: WWE Network

Significance of Moment: Meh.
Match Quality: Meh.

Not only was this the worst match, Baron Corbin just might be the worst Mr. Money in the Bank of all time. His one-month run with the briefcase was lackluster, and it's almost like there was no intention of having him win the belt to begin with.

Having interfered in a match John Cena and then-WWE Champion Jinder Mahal on the go-home episode of Smackdown before SummerSlam, Corbin felt that there was no better opportunity to cash in while the champ was still in a daze. However, Cena gained his revenge and interfered shortly after the match began, causing Mahal to roll Corbin up and retain his championship after only 5 seconds.

18. Damien Sandow (Monday Night Raw, 2013)

Significance of Moment: 1/10
Match Quality: 5/10

It never felt as if WWE had a plan with Damien Sandow from the get go, as was evident by his time spent holding the briefcase.

After attacking World Heavyweight Champion John Cena, Sandow announced that he would be cashing in his briefcase. While the match itself was pretty good, Sandow eventually was defeated by Cena and became the first superstar to lose his Money in the Bank cash in match.

17. Jack Swagger (Smackdown, 2010)

Significance of Moment: 3/10
Match Quality: 1/10

Jack Swagger never was able to catch on in WWE despite multiple attempts to get over, and this cash-in was perhaps the peak moment of his career.

After having defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Edge at WrestleMania with some illegal assistance, Chris Jericho came out to gloat on his victory. Having felt cheated, Edge would come out to attack his former partner once again. Out of nowhere, Jack Swagger laid Edge out and announced that he would be “cathing in my Money in the Bank contract”. One Gutwrench Powerbomb later, Swagger would then become the new World Heavyweight Champ.

16. Alberto Del Rio (SummerSlam 2011)

Significance of Moment: 0/10
Match Quality: 1/10

After not having the chance to cash in on CM Punk at Money in the Bank a month prior, WWE decided to permanently put an end to one of the best angles they’ve had in years by having Alberto Del Rio win the WWE title from Punk following an attack from Kevin Nash. The moment itself seemed flat, and the audience never really accepted him as champion in the months following.

15. Kane (Money in the Bank 2010)

Significance of Moment: 5/10
Match Quality: 1/10

Let's recap the beginning of Kane's summer 2010, shall we?: After defeating Rey Mysterio to qualify for a World title shot, The Undertaker was found in a vegetative state, with his brother Kane hell bent on finding out who was to blame. Two of the top suspects on his list just so happened to be Rey Mysterio and Jack Swagger. 

Fast forward a few weeks later at the inaugural Money in the Bank PPV, Mysterio retained his World Heavyweight Championship in a battle with Swagger. Swagger attacked Mysterio after the match in frustration only to be ran off by Kane, who was still on the lookout for who attacked his brother. Mysterio would continue his celebration for a few more seconds, only to be interrupted again by Kane, who pretty much went backstage for one final (and legitimate) deserved reign as world champion. Kane holds the distinction of being the first superstar to win the Money in the Bank ladder match at a non-WrestleMania event, and is also the first to cash in within an hour of winning the briefcase (and on the first Money in the Bank PPV no less).

14. CM Punk (Monday Night Raw, 2008)

Significance of Moment: 5/10
Match Quality: 0/10

Although Punk was merely a transitional champion called upon to bring the World Heavyweight title back to Raw, this was still a cool moment. Edge retained the World Heavyweight title against Batista the night before at Night of Champions (with some outside assistance), meaning the belt would remain Smackdown property. Edge showed up the next night on Raw to gloat about Raw not having a world champion to call their own, only to be attacked by a vengeful Batista. Having twice cashed in on fallen foes, Edge got a taste of his own medicine as CM Punk cashed in for his first world title in WWE. Punk’s underwhelming title reign would last about three months.

13. Sheamus (Survivor Series 2015)

Significance of Moment: 3/10
Match Quality: 0/10

After chasing the WWE Championship for the majority of a controversial year, Roman Reigns finally reached the top of the mountaintop after winning the vacant title at Survivor Series. Reigns’ celebration was short-lived however, as Sheamus would hit him with a Brogue Kick out of nowhere. He would then put Reigns away for good with another Brogue Kick, as the crowd erupted due to clear disdain for ‘The Big Dog’. The cash-in, and the timing, was perfect, even if Sheamus' reign as champion wasn't.

12. John Cena (Raw 1000, 2012)

Significance of Moment: 4/10
Match Quality: 6/10

After having won the briefcase at Money in the Bank a week prior, John Cena announced that he would be cashing in on CM Punk at the 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw. What was a decent back and forth battle was ended prematurely following interference from Big Show, who caused Cena to win by disqualification, and ultimately become the first superstar to unsuccessfully cash in their briefcase.

11. Carmella (Smackdown Live, 2018)

Courtesy: WWE.com

Courtesy: WWE.com

Significance of Moment: 6/10
Match Quality: 0/10

"Are you sure?!" - Mike Chioda.

Although Carmella's reign as Ms. Money in the Bank was considerably lackluster, you'd have to figure that they wouldn't have their first Women's Money in the Bank winner lose her cash-in match (especially after the first Women's Royal Rumble winner lost her mandated championship match).

After celebrating her win over the previously undefeated Asuka two nights earlier at WrestleMania, Charlotte Flair would be attacked by the debuting Iconic Duo. After multiple pumpfakes over the previous nine months, Carmella finally waited for the right time to cash in and become Smackdown Women's Champion.

10. Edge (Smackdown 2007)

Significance of Moment: 5/10
Match Quality: 1/10

In what is probably a testament to how great of a worker Adam Copeland was, he was called upon during one of the most injury-ridden weeks in WWE. Edge attacked Mr. Kennedy (...KENNEDY!) prior to their match on RAW for the briefcase and ended up becoming the first multi-time Mr. Money in the Bank.

Later that week, The Undertaker retained his World Heavyweight Championship after drawing Batista in a steel cage. Beaten, bloodied and battered, Undertaker would be laid out and attacked by a returning Mark Henry. Always one to live up to the Ultimate Opportunist label, Edge showed up on Smackdown, made his way down to the ring and successfully cashed in for a second time.

9. CM Punk (Extreme Rules 2009)

Significance of Moment: 6/10
Match Quality: 1/10

As mentioned earlier, Punk's first go with the World title a year prior is seemingly a footnote in history. This time around, he was more of a central figure in the title scene and less than a transitional champion.

Following a grueling ladder match with Edge to claim his second overall world championship in WWE, Jeff Hardy's celebration was cut short immediately as CM Punk would go to cash in again on another debilitated opponent, leading into a more well-deserved championship reign(s) for Punk.

8. The Miz (Monday Night Raw, 2010)

Significance of Moment: 7/10
Match Quality: 4/10

One of my favorite Money in the Bank moments saw The Miz cash in on Randy Orton.

This might be the best match quality wise to occur when blindsiding a fallen champion. Following a successful defense against Wade Barrett in the main event on Raw, Orton's moment was cut short as The Miz took the opportunity to take advantage of an exhausted RKO and won his first WWE Championship (shout out to #AngryMizGirl).

Courtesy: WWE Network

Courtesy: WWE Network

 

7. Daniel Bryan (TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs 2011)

Significance of Moment: 6/10
Match Quality: 0/10

After grinding around the industry for 12 long years, Daniel Bryan finally reached the mountain top in WWE.

At TLC in 2011, Big Show retained his World Heavyweight title against Mark Henry in a Chairs match that was by far one of the worst matches of that year. In typical sore loser Mark Henry fashion, he retaliated against Big Show and DDT'd him onto a pile of steel chairs. In what was a slight shocker, Bryan would simply pin his fallen "friend", and walk away with his championship. Daniel Bryan would be the first NXT star to win a World title in WWE.

6. Randy Orton (SummerSlam 2013)

Courtesy: WWE Network

Courtesy: WWE Network

Significance of Moment: 8/10
Match Quality: 0/10

If you're a Daniel Bryan fan like me, the following eight-month period may have been one of the most frustrating time periods. Making his WrestleMania main card debut the previous year, Bryan's first World title reign ended in 18 FUCKING SECONDS in the opening match. Fans clamored for him to receive another go with a top title for over a year, and seemed to finally get one when John Cena handpicked Bryan as his Summerslam opponent (much to the chagrin of Vince McMahon), with Triple H serving as the guest referee. 

Bryan would go on to defeat John Cena and win his first WWE Championship, making up for how the World Heavyweight title reign ended a year earlier...or so we thought. Following the victory, Mr. Money in the Bank, Randy Orton would tease a cash-in, only to turn around and start walking back to the locker room. However, Bryan was hit by a Pedigree from Triple H, who would count Randy Orton for the victory.

5. Dean Ambrose (Money in the Bank 2016)

Courtesy: WWE.com

Courtesy: WWE.com

Significance of Moment: 8/10
Match Quality: 0/10

This moment was special in its own right, as it saw all three members of The Shield hold the WWE Championship within 5 minutes of each other. Shortly after defeating former champion Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins was attacked from behind by Ambrose, who cashed in his briefcase and celebrated in front of the Sin City crowd. Another former Mr. Money in the Bank getting hit with some well deserved karma.

4. Dolph Ziggler (Monday Night Raw, 2013)

Significance of Moment: 8/10
Match Quality: 3/10

Shout out to Jersey for a moment, as this night was basically the OG "Night After WrestleMania" episode of Raw. After successfully defending the World Heavyweight Championship the night before at 'Mania, Alberto Del Rio faced off against Jack Swagger and his manager Zeb Colter. Swagger worked on Del Rio's injured knee throughout the match, but failed to achieve victory for the second night in a row. While having his knee tended to by officials and medical staff inside the ring, Dolph Ziggler made his way to the ring and successfully cashed with one of the loudest ovations in the last five years to follow.

3. Rob Van Dam (ECW One Night Stand 2006)

Significance of Moment: 10/10

Match Quality: 9/10

As of 2018, RVD is still the only Money in the Bank briefcase holder to challenge for a championship ahead of time AND walk out with the championship. With the impending ECW brand being launched after One Night Stand, Van Dam challenged John Cena for the WWE Championship and announced his intentions to rechristen the title as the ECW Championship. In what was easily the best cash-in match ever, the decidedly pro-ECW crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom gave RVD the homefield advantage, as he would defeat Cena following some interference from Edge to win his first and only WWE Championship.

2. Edge (New Year’s Resolution 2006)

Significance of Moment: 10/10
Match Quality: 1/10

Edge still is the longest-running Mr. Money in the Bank (Carmella surpassed him overall by a whole week in 2018), and he waited until the best possible moment to make the first cash-in.

After defending the WWE Championship in a brutal war inside the Elimination Chamber, John Cena’s celebration was cut short by the boss man Vince McMahon, who came out to let everybody that Edge would be cashing in his briefcase. After losing an Intercontinental title match to Ric Flair earlier in the night, Edge made sure to live up to his Ultimate Opportunist moniker and head for greener pastures: the WWE Championship.

1. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31)

Courtesy: WWE.com

Courtesy: WWE.com

Significance of Moment: 10/10
Match Quality: 7/10*
*Factoring in the match that was already taking place at the time of the cash-in.

I struggled with the top two here, as you could make a case for both being #1. However, there were a few things considered that put this over the top.

First, it was the first (and so far only) cash-in to take place at WrestleMania. Having failed to defeat Randy Orton earlier in the night, Seth Rollins' music crashed Suplex City and became the first Mr. Money in the Bank to cash-in DURING a championship match. After Curb Stomps to first Brock Lesnar and then Roman Reigns, Rollins left Mania as the champion. There are only so many original moments you can create with the briefcase at this point, and this was the first one in nine years.

Ruthless Aggression ep. 21 - Money in the Bank preview
First Black Champ podcast - I need my heel turns with injury
The Danger of Samoa Joe winning MITB

The annual Money In The Bank PPV is rapidly approaching and it is arguably the 4th biggest show of the year, depending on how you view Survivor Series. Few moments within the WWE calendar year give us the "feel" that MITB gives us. 

That being said, one man, and one man ONLY, should walk out of the Allstate Arena on June 17th with that briefcase in tow: 

JOE. JOE. JOE. JOE. JOE. JOE. JOE. JOE. JOE. 

Samoa Joe is the most dangerous man in the company at the moment and with that MITB briefcase in his possession would INSTANTLY bring legitimate concern about the WWE and Universal title holders, but also provide the MITB concept with the authenticity it needs after its last few holders have been....rather lackluster. 

Now a simple examination of the members in this match can show why Samoa Joe is the best option for the MITB briefcase for a variety of reasons. 

Take, for example, The Miz. Now, I can admit that The Miz is on one of the best runs you'll ever see for a heel and there's no doubt in my mind that he would also be a great option to win. There's only one thing stopping this: Daniel Bryan. Miz has some unfinished business with DB, and if Miz were to have the MITB contract, it could prohibit any potential payoff due to Bryan's progression after coming back from such a long time off. I'd much rather see Miz vs DB before I see Miz rightfully win the WWE title again. It's simply not his time. 

Braun Strowman is currently the most dominant man in the company and you could even make a case that he is "The Guy" that old man McMahon wants Diet Tama Tonga.....oh shit I meant to type, Roman Reigns, to be. But MITB winners trend on the side of heel and Braun isn't the type to use shit tactics to win. He's more of the "Run up and punch you in your mouth" type. So he doesn't need to win. 

Bobby Roode, Rusev, and whoever the New Day throw in there are simple fillers for pomp and circumstance to match the match quality a bit more exciting and to give the more important members a rest. 

Now with Balor and Owens, they may have legitimate cases, however, neither needs the MITB contract the way Samoa Joe needs MITB. Balor will always be a major player, especially once someone (Read: Crossfit Jesus) takes the Universal title off of Brock Lesnar. Owens simply has to remember that he never got his rematch from his Universal title loss to Goldberg at Fastlane a while back and, boom, title match. 

Samoa Joe solves so many problems for the WWE. He's a GOD on the mic. He's a GOD in the ring. He's a legitimate badass. His theme is awesome as hell. The fans chant "Joe" like no tomorrow. And he has instant "I'll beat your ass for looking at me wrong" credibility. Joe with the MITB briefcase would instantly rehash Hardcore title 24/7 memories for some of us. Because Joe isn't the type of person to wait for someone to do the work before he comes to cash in. He's a threat to come beat you up himself at any moment and take the title from whoever has it. "The Inevitable" Samoa Joe. 

I'm sure you can argue that he gets hurt too much to have the MITB contract. But alas, that's what also makes him winning so perfect. Even if he gets hurt again and is out a few months, there's an INSTANT button for WWE to push with him. 

Samoa Joe isn't just the best option to win the match. He's the ONLY option. 

This Week in WWE: Money in the Banks

This edition of This Week in WWE will be done a little differently than normal. Chris was the only one able to watch RAW this week, as Rob was out of commission on Memorial Day. Both Rob and Chris were able to watch SmackDown Live, however, so that recap will be done in its usual fashion. 

MONEY IN THE BANKS

WWE

WWE

Sasha Banks became the final entrant in this year's Women's MITB Ladder Match on Monday. Banks entered the Last Chance Gauntlet Match and submitted Ruby Riott to earn her way into the match after Riott had eliminated Bayley, Dana Brooke and Mickie James consecutively. Here are a few thoughts on all this. 

- Sasha winning was the right choice and right decision. While I would've had no problem with Ruby winning, or Bayley, the match is in desperate need of an elite in-ring worker. No disrespect to anybody who was in this Gauntlet, or who's in this match already, but Sasha Banks is so clearly the best in-ring talent on the women's roster. You could probably make the argument that she's Top 5 in the company, as well. So putting her in gets no qualms from me. 

- Had no problem with the booking of both Bayley and Ruby Riott. Riott looked genuinely good at times and this is the second time that her and Sasha have connected well in the ring. Imagine what a title feud would do for both? Bayley, meanwhile, mowed through Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan before Ruby eliminated her. To which I say, about time they threw her a bone in a situation like this. Liv only lasted like 20 seconds against her, to which I say, "Well, they've already embarrassed Bayley enough times. Liv will be fine. Maybe." 

- The qualm I do have with this match was its length. Giving the women 25 minutes for this kind of match was a foolhardy decision. Especially after the men's gauntlet match a couple months ago got so many rave reviews. I'm not saying, "Give the women 106 minutes" like the men got. But at least give them more than 25, for goodness sake. This was the only blemish on this match though. 

NOT A ROUSING START

So, after we had the contract signing last week, the Nia Jax-Ronda Rousey contract signing hit its next stage. And, um, a lot was left to be desired here.

First things first: You have to love the fact that the narrative around Nia Jax inexplicably did a 180º turn out of nowhere. So, for the last two months, she spent time being "anti-bully" in her feud against Alexa Bliss. Now, in her feud with Ronda Rousey for the Women's Title, she's... become the bully, as she chastised Ronda and her jobber opponent. With this and the fact that Nia, last week, didn't try to rebutt anything that Stephanie McMahon was saying, I'm not sure what exactly they're doing here. 

As for Rousey, she was on commentary while Nia was using a mic throughout her match. Whoever decided that should happen... well, let's just say it was ill-advised. Ronda didn't do much here, although she appears to be back to her smiling-and-waving phase, even though it's so obvious that she's so much better when she's just an ass-kicking badass. Not the first time they've missed the mark in that regard, though. Won't be the last, I reckon. 

I'm not sure what this means going forward, but this was a step backward. Adding onto the fact that next week, we have a match between Nia Jax and Natalya, Ronda's "friend" and "ally," I'm not sure what to think here. Will Jax try to take out Nattie? And if that's the case, is Nattie going to be out of MITB? Will they put her in anyway, and go forward with the program they've been teasing between the two of them? I'm not entirely sure here, but I do know that this program hasn't been it so far. Which is something, since it probably shouldn't be happening in the first place

MITB PREVIEWS

So, we got two matches this week featuring the four competitors in the MITB Ladder Match on RAW's side. Bobby Roode faced Kevin Owens, while Finn Bálor faced Braun Strowman in a rematch of last week's epic. 

Finn looked pretty strong in his match against Strowman, and nearly defeated The Monster Among Men. However, Owens came out and caused a DQ to end the match. He wasn't particularly liked by either Bálor OR Strowman, as evident by the fact that Strowman nearly hit him with a ladder he tossed from the ring. 

Owens got the last laugh of sorts later on, when he defeated Bobby Roode to pick up a huge win going into MITB. Quietly, KO has been gaining a lot of momentum on the RAW side of things. I'm not saying he's going to win the MITB Ladder Match. But right now, of the RAW competitors... he kind of looks like the strongest choice right now.

ALL THE REST

- Seth Rollins defeated Jinder Mahal to retain his Intercontinental Title. Honestly thought we'd get some kind of interaction with Roman Reigns here, but it never wound up happening. This was a pretty fun match, and continued Rollins' strong run. He was promptly hit with a guitar by Elias afterward. Later on in the week, we learned Elias vs. Seth for the IC Title will be happening at MITB. Sounds good to me. 

- Sami Zayn issued an "apology" for last week's gutter-trash segment. That brought Lashley out, and the two made themselves a match for MITB. I guess this will be fine, although I will give Sami credit: He did TREMENDOUSLY here and he continues to be a tremendous heel. Remember when everyone thought he should just be a babyface for life? We didn't know you had this in you, Sami.

- I continue to have absolutely no clue what they're doing with the RAW tag team division. But next week's battle royal should clear things up. It seems telegraphed that The B-Team will win, and all credit to Bo and Curtis: They're making the most of this and then some and have provided some extremely entertaining bits and interactions. That being said, Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs. Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel, from a name-brand standpoint is low on the bar, and you could probably do better. Meanwhile, hearing that AoP are being put on milk cartons and we need everyone's help in trying to find them. 

Grade: A C+ for me here. There wasn't anything standout about this RAW, but nothing was terrible. It was just very average. The women's gauntlet had a lot more promise than what was delivered, and if they gave that match more time, I very well could have pushed this up to a B- or even a B or B+ if it really carried through. But its abbreviated form did no one good, the Women's Title segment bombed, and everything else was just... okay. 

Chris Novak: Away we go here for SDLive. Samoa Joe begins the night with a mic in his hand, as well as the MITB briefcase, and a ladder in the ring.

Robert O’Neill: And now Bryan is here because Joe was talking about Brie and Birdie, and they’re ready to fight RIGHT NOW, but instead Big Cass is out here in a suit and on crutches. Cass says he talked to Paige and Joe won’t be facing Bryan tonight, but instead Joe will face Cass!

Chris Novak: Paige is backstage after the break. She talks with Absolution, who say there’s more deserving people out there than Asuka to contend for the title. So,Paige makes a match between Mandy and Asuka. Then, after the chaos that happened before the break, she tells Renee Young that Big Cass vs. Samoa Joe vs. Daniel Bryan for the final MITB spot is the main event. Completely fine with this, to be honest.

Robert O’Neill: Shinsuke Nakamura is facing Tye Dillinger, which I actually really like. Obviously a lot of it comes from Dillinger’s 10 gimmick and Nak being in a last man standing match, and that’s a story they told in the match. Nakamura would try to keep Dillinger down for a 10 count and Tye kept getting up and looked good in getting some offense in. Nakamura obviously won with a Kinshasa (and a 1-2-3, instead of going for 10 that time), but it was a solid match.

Chris Novak: This was a perfect use of Tye Dillinger, to be honest. You have Shinsuke face a guy who’s impressive enough to look good but also take the fall.

Robert O’Neill: Lana and Naomi had a dance off, which is a pretty insulting way to promote women’s wrestling in 2018. I get it, they both have dancing gimmicks, but come on.

Chris Novak: Yeah. Hard pass on that. It sets up a mixed tag next week, featuring Aiden English instead of Rusev. Methinks that means English gets pinned, and Lana uses that as a way to pit Rusev against him. But… we’ll see.

Robert O’Neill: The Bludgeon Brothers said they were going to “liquify” Gallows and Anderson. Gross.

Chris Novak: Yeah, that’s one word for it!

Robert O’Neill: This will shock you (it will not shock you), but The New Day vs. The Bar and Miz was absolutely excellent. When you have six guys who are really good, you’ll get a really good match. We still don’t know which member of the New Day will be in the MITB match, but that’s fine.

Chris Novak: It feels like we’re not going to know until the night of the event. Which is completely fine with me.

Robert O’Neill: Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose beat up Asuka before Mandy’s match with her. Asuka still prevailed, but Mandy looked solid and Carmella was excellent on commentary.

Chris Novak: People were impressed with Mandy, I’m just sitting here, meanwhile, remembering that I’ve been on the bandwagon since late 2016.

Robert O’Neill: Speaking of the women’s division. Becky Lynch (remember her?) was talking to Charlotte backstage and things got a little heated about who was going to win the MITB match and Paige came and set up Becky vs. Charlotte for next week. I’m entirely here for that.

Chris Novak: It’s about damn time. Would be great if Becky showed off her ‘desperation’ in that match somehow, someway. Then we got a backstage segment between Andrade "Cien" Almas and Sin Cara. Allow me to be the one to say it: HERE. FOR. THIS. Sin Cara and Andrade Almas will shoot fight the hell out of each other for about 10-12 minutes at MITB, it looks like. And it will be a thrill. 

Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event. I have a problem with saying you’re going to give us Joe vs. Bryan, a match that hasn’t been seen in a decade, and then adding Cass. I get it, they didn’t know if he was hurt, but that’s pretty much exactly what WCW used to do in terms of false advertising. It was a very good match that Joe won with the Coquina Clutch on Bryan, who passed out instead of submitting, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened had it been a singles match instead.

Chris Novak: I enjoyed that match for what it was. The right guy won and we’ll get Bryan-Cass II at MITB, likely.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Since I missed Raw and have nothing to compare Smackdown to, I guess my grade is a tad harsher than it would normally be. I liked the matches and the content of the show, but not getting the promised main event was a bummer. Regardless this was a solid B.

Chris Novak: SmackDown Live continues to be the better show and brand since WrestleMania, and it gained momentum quite a bit heading into the big show, as well. The matches were all pretty great. Despite the fact that we had that nonsense dance off, the show didn't suffer too greatly from it at all. Going to give this a strong B here, as well. But make no mistake: This is the A-Show. 

What to make of Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey at Money in the Bank

Money in the Bank is five weeks away, and entering Monday, we were certain of a few things. We knew that half of the Men’s MITB field was set, so is a quarter of the Women’s MITB field. Now, as Monday afternoon proceeds, we know something else that’s happening at the upcoming event in the suburbs of Chicago.

At the NBC Upfronts on Monday in New York City, we learned who RAW Women’s Champion Nia Jax would face at MITB. That woman, to the surprise of just about everyone, is none other than Ronda Rousey. Rousey, who has competed in just one match so far in her WWE career, in which she and Kurt Angle defeated Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, was challenged by Jax while the Upfronts event was going on, according to WWE.com.

From WWE.com’s article:

The Irresistible Force revealed she wants to put her title on the line against Rousey at WWE Money in the Bank, much to the surprise of The Baddest Woman on the Planet. Never one to back down from either a challenge or an opportunity, a bewildered Rousey agreed to the match.”

If this sounds like it’s out of nowhere, well, that’s because it is. Let’s digest a few quick reactions, which may or may not turn into overreactions, about this match.

  • First and foremost… putting Ronda Rousey in a Women’s championship match a hearty four months into her WWE career is quite the bold take. Even bolder is that this is the second match of her entire career.
  • Ronda proved a lot of doubters wrong in her WrestleMania match, as it pertains to her in-ring skills and how far along she is. That being said, I do wonder about this match with Nia Jax. While she’s obviously a terrific athlete, she’s still green at this point. That can’t be doubted. There are ways that they can protect her and not expose her, but none of those ideas don’t involve completely nerfing Nia.
  • On the flip side, while Nia is good in some aspects, she’s not an experienced worker or a ring general. Her best matches have involved someone else to carry her (Asuka, Bayley, Sasha Banks). Expecting Ronda to do that at this point in her career would be foolhardy. Nia’s feud with Alexa, from an in-ring standpoint, exposed her a little bit, as the two never quite clicked.
  • From an in-ring standpoint, this match could suffer greatly if they decide to drag it out. If they make it short, and have Ronda win within a few minutes, that would nerf Nia into oblivion and make it look like they completely gave up on her. Based on past proceedings, that would unfortunately not be too surprising.
  • That’s another thing here: They’ve invested a great deal in Nia, but they’ve also invested a great deal in Ronda. Could you really have Ronda lose her second match? Do you want to really sink Nia further down? There’s no real good that comes out of this match for either party that would have it look good.
  • Now, there’s the possibility of Natalya, Ronda’s first “ally” in her WWE career, turning on her and costing her the match. This would set up Ronda vs. Natalya as a feud, likely happening at SummerSlam. This would protect both parties in the match and put the heat back on Nattie. But if you were going to do this match anyway… why have this title match be the thing to set it up?
  • Would there be a fan revolt if Ronda shows up and wins the Women’s Title in her second match? Charlotte’s nonsense, “go over everyone and get everything” booking that’s been going on for three years hasn’t affected her, so I’m not sure it really affects Ronda, to be honest. Unless they go completely overboard with it. I’m not leaving it out of the realm of possibility.

The pros of this match are simply that Nia gets a high-profile opponent, Ronda gets on a PPV card again, and WWE probably makes a great deal of money and exposure from it (though MITB tickets were, already, by and large sold out at Allstate Arena and she wasn’t announced for a match before Monday).

There are quite a few negatives that come from this match as well. So, the quick reaction is simply this: This feels like a match that shouldn’t be happening at this stage of the game and could hurt both parties in the short and long run.

Ruthless Aggression ep. 17 - the Evolution of Evolution
This Week in WWE: the build to Money in the Bank begins

Robert O’Neill: Welp. Time for Raw! Kurt Angle is in the ring to lead off the show. This should be exciting.

Chris Novak: I imagine some stock, standard, MITB-related announcements will be made. Hopefully this is the start of a needed rebound for WWE programming because the last month has been a trip. Last night was bad. Kurt does in fact make the announcements: Two qualifying matches tonight. Ruby vs. Ember vs. Sasha, and Sami vs. Finn vs. Roman. Both of those matches should own. Out comes Braun Strowman now. Braun tells us a story about destroying a treehouse with people in it. Sounds about right. Kurt says that Braun is as deserving as anybody to be in Money in the Bank.

Robert O’Neill: And now Kevin Owens is here to interrupt!

Chris Novak: Owens says he’s the RAW MVP and that he deserves to be in the MITB Ladder Match. On the contrary, Braun says he deserves to “get these hands.” Kurt made another qualifier, pitting Owens against Strowman. So, we’ll be doing this to start the show.

Robert O’Neill: There will be two MITB matches (one men’s, one women’s) and each will have eight superstars. Four from each show. Neat.

Chris Novak: Anyways, Owens vs. Strowman was pretty great. KO bumping like crazy for Braun has been a fun sight these past few weeks. And he did so even more tonight. Strowman won after a Running Powerslam. Gonna go with a B for that match. Unironically quite good.

Chris Novak: Roman is then interviewed by Mike Rome after we came back from the break, and… they are going with that he’s being screwed over by backstage politics. Yup, THAT’LL go over well. Big shock, big surprise, they’re still trudging on with this.

Robert O’Neill: Good lord they need to give this a rest.

TOP GUYS WATCH! The Revival are in action in a six-man tag against Titus Worldwide and No Way Jose and… GODDAMMIT THEY’RE TEAMING WITH BARON CORBIN. I DON’T WATCH BARON CORBIN MATCHES AND NOW I HAVE TO.

It really is pretty stupid how they continue to treat The Revival though. Not to go on a tangent, but American Alpha, Revival, and Authors of Pain are probably the three best NXT tag teams of all time and WWE has severely mismanaged two of the three. Why should I believe there’s any hope for AOP?

Anyways, Corbin pinned No Way Jose.

Chris Novak: I will only contest with you that at least American Alpha won titles and had good programs with The Wyatt Family and The Usos, and had their fair share of very good tags. The others… well, it’s early on AOP but they have no real place. And The Revival… have been snakebitten, and I don’t know what to make of it. Anyways, looks like a loaded SmackDown Live tomorrow. Miz/Hardy, Bryan/Rusev and Charlotte/Peyton, all in MITB qualifiers.

Robert O’Neill: Alright so Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, and Ruby Riott had a triple-threat qualifying match and it was actually very good! Bayley came out to try and save Sasha from a beatdown from Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan and she did but also Ember was able to win over Ruby Riott in the meantime to qualify for the MITB match.

Chris Novak: Bayley coming out was… odd, but the match itself was very, very good. As expected. Not sure about them seemingly portraying Ember as an “underdog,” but I’ll hold out on it I suppose. Wondering what happens here, because it seems like they’re having Bayley and Sasha tangle with The Riott Squad. And, if that’s the case… where does that leave Nia? Weird stuff here. But nonetheless, away we go.

Robert O’Neill: That was a really good video of Bobby Lashley’s career that got completely wiped away when he started speaking. I really don’t know what they’re planning on doing with him.

Chris Novak: That was ultra-confusing. Didn’t seem like Renee was listening, which… I mean, do I blame her? I don’t know. Next up here, Jinder Mahal vs. Chad Gable. If this is as good as their match in St. Louis was, we’ll be in for a fun little wrestling match here.

Robert O’Neill: That was alright! A lot of people are mad about Jinder winning cancelling out Gable’s win in STL, but 50-50 booking is generally fine.

Chris Novak: Eh… I’m not so annoyed at 50/50 booking as many people are. What’re you going to do? You have to make a heel look credible somehow. Gable will be fine.

Robert O’Neill: So after a Jinder match, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler tagged against Heath Slater and Rhyno. We were SO CLOSE to all of 3MB in the ring at the same time. Ziggler and McIntyre did a Zig-Zag/Claymore combo for the finish. It was fine.

Chris Novak: This tag team division has all the heat of an igloo right now, though. Like, almost at 2009-11 levels. Amazing that this is the same company that has all the great tag teams on SDL.

So here comes the IC Champ, Seth Rollins. Rollins says he wants to be a fighting champ, and starts up an Open Challenge. Who else but Mojo Rawley answers the bell? So, we’re going to have an IC Title Match here. Mojo and Seth had a really fun match here, as Seth’s heater continues. This was a heat check for me. Mojo busted out the POUUUUUUUUUNCE~!!! (Period.) but, to no avail, Seth hit the Superkick, the knee to the face and then the Curb Stomp for the 1-2-3.

Robert O’Neill: Seth Rollins is having the best year of anyone not named Johnny Gargano at this point. This match was excellent, and probably Mojo’s best match in his WWE run. I’m going to keep saying it, Seth Rollins needs to be the guy to beat Brock Lesnar.

Chris Novak: On to… tag team action.

Robert O’Neill: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt beat Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. AOP was left off the show again.

Chris Novak: They were, and that’s a hard feat, as there were three (count ‘em, 3) matches with tag teams on this show. Anyways, decent tag match. At least the champs got on the show. I have zero clue what they do with this division though. Much as the Hardy-Wyatt team is a fun act, they certainly don’t have the… uh, workrate capability of others. Especially on SDL. The tag division is the worst part about Raw right now, and I don’t think that’s a debate.

It’s main event time now!

Robert O’Neill: Alright, well. There’s a lot going on there. Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, and Roman Reigns had a good match, as you would expect. Balor and Zayn double teamed Reigns for a bit of time and took him out of the match. Of course, since you’ve watched a WWE program in the past four years, you know what happened next. Reigns came back from the beatdown and looked like he was going to get the upper hand and win the match, but Jinder Mahal tripped him while he was going for the spear and Balor hit the coup de grace for the win!

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Raw was pretty good! I liked how they’re building up to the Money in the Bank PPV with qualifying matches. If I had to make a small nitpitck, I would say they probably shouldn’t have automatically put Braun in AND had a match tonight. Suddenly two of Raw’s four spots are filled and we’re still five weeks from the PPV. It’ll be fine, but I would have done it differently. Other than that, I was fine with mostly everything. Rollins doing an IC Title open challenge is an excellent idea that I hope they stick with, and while the stuff with the women is confusing (where was Nia?), they can have a pass for this week as they look toward what they want to do next. B

Chris Novak: A strong B- for me for RAW. The qualifiers were all very good matches, even though the women’s match had some weird stuff happen afterwards. And, like Rob said, the lack of Nia Jax was… um, concerning? I wish I knew what they were doing with her (Also, where’s Ronda?). I’m fearful that they’re going to have Reigns beat Jinder next week and put him in the MITB match anyway, even after he lost his opportunity tonight. But anyway, this show was perfectly acceptable and a nice bounce back from the previous night.

Chris Novak: Loaded show going into tonight after Backlash. Bryan vs. Rusev and Miz vs. Jeff Hardy on the men’s side, and Peyton Royce vs. Charlotte for the women’s side. All three are qualifying matches. Here’s hoping for the best here, because those three matches alone can bring some serious noise.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah this should be a lot of fun! We get going with Miz//Hardy, and it’s… very good. Has Jeff Hardy become one of the company’s most underrated workers? After an excellent back and forth, Miz rolled Hardy up after a Swanton Bomb for the win.

Chris Novak: That was yet another excellent match from The Miz. He continues to be on a hell of a roll in 2018. Jeff wasn’t too bad himself in this match, either. Really, really dug this. ANd really liked the finish.

Robert O’Neill: Meanwhile Renee Young tried to interview Shinsuke Nakamura, who, as you may know, does not speak English.

Chris Novak: Alright, on to another qualifier: Peyton Royce vs. Charlotte. This match was something else. Peyton threw the kitchen sink at Charlotte, a Billie distraction included, but Charlotte ‘overcame the odds’ and won the match with the Figure Eight. The match was good, and while Peyton certainly looked capable against Charlotte, the act with Charlotte is getting a touch bit tiresome. I don’t think she had much to lose by taking the fall in that match to elevate Peyton and put her in the MITB match. But, alas, this is where we’re at. Char had a couple bad spots in the match as well. Not the greatest week for her.

Robert O’Neill: Charlotte is awful. It’s hard to deny it at this point.

Chris Novak: I wouldn’t go that far… but her booking is bad, and she can’t elevate talent like someone in her position should while being in the ring. She plays up to her competition and down to her competition.

Chris Novak: Up next, we had Cesaro vs. Xavier Woods. Unsurprisingly, this turned into a pretty good match. Cesaro won with a huge uppercut after Xavier went for his springboard elbow drop. They teased some tension between Cesaro and Sheamus earlier, based on the fact that Sheamus didn’t beat Woods last week, while Cesaro said he could. Since he did… will this further tension between them? I suppose it’s a fine possibility.

Robert O’Neill: More singles matches for Woods please. I say it every week. He’s gotten so good in the ring after being a long-time third option in the New Day.

Chris Novak: On to more women’s action here!

Robert O’Neill: Mandy Rose faced Becky Lynch and got a stern talking to from Paige before the match began. Sonya Deville didn’t get to go to ringside because “Absolution is over”. Mandy won anyway. Good showing. Probably could have been against someone other than Becky though.

Chris Novak: Becky is completely dead in the water and it’s sad to watch. I mean, geez. You have an angle about how Mandy couldn’t have help from Sonya, who she’s been tagging along with for six months. And she wins anyway? Terribly bad booking. I get having hope, but I can’t believe that there are people who think she could win MITB. She’s not doing anything of note. I don’t even know if she’s gonna be in the dang match.

Robert O’Neill: Time for the main event! Rusev and Daniel Bryan had an excellent match that Rusev won to qualify for Money in the Bank, and I’m perfectly fine with that for multiple reasons.

Chris Novak: And clean as a sheet, no less. This decision definitely took many by surprise, but it certainly works for a couple reasons. Firstly, it gives Rusev a HUGE win over an established guy. Secondly, Bryan is not hurt at all by it. Thirdly, it keeps Bryan and Miz apart (again). Fourthly, having Bryan in a multi-man ladder match could be terrifying. This decision works for both sides here, for the greater good.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Like Raw, Smackdown was fine. The Charlotte match was outright bad, but the four other matches made up for it. Keeping the Usos and Bludgeon Brothers off TV for the second straight week was weird, but they seem to be doing something with the tag teams that I can’t quite put my finger on. A tag team Money in the Bank match? Regardless, I enjoyed the show. B.

Chris Novak: I very much enjoyed this episode of SDLive. Apart from Charlotte’s booking, and the nonsense involving Mandy and Becky, Peyton-Charlotte was fine as a match on its own, and everything else on this show hit the right notes. Miz-Hardy was a terrific match, and Bryan-Rusev was a very good one with a shocking finish. I’m going to give this episode of a B+. SDLive has been getting very good, and should only progress upward as time goes on.