WWE Money in the Bank 2014 Report: Cena is champion (again) and it made total sense


At this point, I can’t help but laugh when John Cena “overcomes the odds” for the millionth time. Cena winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was the most predictable of all possible results at Money in the Bank and for many WWE fans, probably the most infuriating.

This time, though, I would recommend saving the usual “lol Cena wins” rage for another day. Unlike other Cena title reigns, the WWE is in much better shape top to bottom than they have been for a long time. At this point, I fear too many WWE fans are conditioned to immediately hate every Cena win and do not see the bigger picture.

And the bigger picture is what these reports are all about. So let’s go through this PPV from top to bottom to see if I can’t quell a bit of the Cena anger.

The pre-show continues to improve.

Before we get too far into this report, I want to give some major props to what the WWE is doing with the pre-show. Rene sliding into the main booth, I think, was a great move. There was more actual content about the upcoming evening than the WWE simply rolling out pre-packaged video promos. There wasn’t even a pre-show match this month and it was great.

By the time the thirty minutes was up, I was all-in and ready to go. Compare what the pre-show is now to what it was pre-WWE network. There was one analyst talking to a camera on an isolated set, running the same videos over and over. Now, it has the feel of a pre-game show–live promos from WWE superstars, and “analysis” from commentary to set up the matches.

I hope we continue on this path. Even with Alex Riley in the booth, I’m enjoying this every month.

Daniel Bryan warms and breaks my heart all at the same time.

Here was the big flashing sign #1 that John Cena was going to win the belts: Daniel Bryan announced he was out indefinitely. Any hopes of a D-Bry return at SummerSlam were immediately crushed. It sucks. I’m sad about it. But at the same time I want Bryan to come back full strength. I don’t want him to rush it and by all appearances, it’s clear the WWE doesn’t want to risk one of their biggest assets in that manner either.

Bryan continues to be incredibly over, despite not being on TV in nearly a month. And make no mistake about it, Cena victories aside, the WWE realizes this and is trying to find spots to get him out in front of an audience whenever possible. Seeing him was great, even though he delivered some devastating news.

Watching his interactions with Bo Dallas was equally incredible. As Bo came out to talk, Bryan couldn’t help but smile at laugh at the gimmick. It was genuine, fun, and made me miss those organic moments from Bryan in the ring. The “BO-ner” joke, while horribly juvenile, was delivered with such a buddy-buddy joking attitude that I couldn’t help but laugh at it. The “BO, leave” line slayed me. Bo was smiling, the crowd was laughing, and it was great.

Isn’t this a lot more fun when the tag team titles are defended?

I’m so happy that the tag belts were on the line at Money in the Bank. Those belts take a back seat far too often and when matches like this are the result, it’s a crime that they don’t get this kind of time more often.

I loved the ending too. I couldn’t see how the WWE could keep the Usos as champs without making Harper and Rowan look weak. Because of this, I came into the match fully expecting a Wyatt Family victory because I couldn’t get “how do two smaller high flyers beat a bigger, stronger team?” out of my head.

Well, a superplex, requiring both Usos, followed by two Superfly Splashes to Rowan will do the trick.

It makes it look like the Usos had to pull everything out of the bag to just barely hold on. Harper and Rowan come out still looking strong and, most likely, hungry for a rematch. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Well, perhaps I can ask for one thing: what the hell happened to the awesomely haunting zydeco reprise of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”? I have no idea what that rock thing was that Harper and Rowan came out too, but it was completely terrible in comparison. Trash that immediately, please.

Isn’t this a lot more fun when the divas are given time to have a full match?

Far too often, the divas are thrown in the middle of a PPV as, quite frankly, a bathroom break or beer run for the crowd. On top of that, they usually have to follow hot matches that lasted for about 20-30 minutes and then their match is shortened to a five minute at best affair. Because of this, their matches never get to develop and are generally underwhelming.

I know that, no matter what the WWE does, there will still be people that, sadly, will never take divas matches seriously. However, there is an even larger part of the fanbase that hasn’t been exposed to NXT, the TNA Knockouts division in its heyday a few years back, or various independent promotions that have kick-ass women’s matches on a regular basis. Those are the hearts and minds you need to win and to do that, the WWE needs to put on solid divas matches on a regular basis.

Paige and Naomi did just that.

Those two worked a great match (one botched superplex spot aside). My only real complaint was that Naomi busted out the Rear View once again, aka the “run into my ass” finishing move that drives me insane (seriously, how is that a believable finisher?); however, she immediately made up for it by putting Paige in an absolutely wicked submission that I had never seen from her. Paige busted out a new move herself while bringing the match home. Well, at least new to her time on the main roster, but the Ram-Paige DDT looked absolutely vicious and a hell of a lot better than the Paige Turner which hasn’t really looked good since her RAW debut.

This match should serve as proof the divas can put on solid matches. Now, if we can only give them a solid story to back it up, I’ll be thrilled.

Biggest surprise of the match: After Paige and Naomi took a tumble on the superplex botch, JBL covered for their mistake with actual color commentary. Instead of his usual awful commentary during divas matches, he pointed out that Harper and Rowan were two huge, sweaty guys that likely slicked up the ropes while leaning on them during the tag match. It was a temporary flashback to when JBL first came back and appeared to be the only commentator trying to do his job right.

More of that and less of the terrible JBL, please.

It’s time to come to terms with Sandow’s cosplay gimmick.

I still don’t particularly like it, but I think I’m at the point in which I’m able to tolerate it a bit more. What I think is helping more than anything is the fact that Sandow is being allowed to work the mic again. The result is a delicious blend of his own original character and whoever he is dressed up as.

I cracked up at Sandow’s take on Paul Revere that managed to insult the entire city of Boston. When he screamed “THE ELBOW IS COMING! THE ELBOW IS COMING!” during his match, I immediately burst out laughing.

I fully believe Sandow has a lot more to offer than this, but I’ll take what I can get. It is much better than not seeing him on TV at all. As far as the actual match, it was fine for what it was. The match itself was preceded by the pre-show basically getting a summary replay for the live crowd. That, plus this gimmick/comedy match served as a good cool-down for the crowd before the Money in the Bank contract match kicked off.

A couple laughs and a chance for me to grab a beer during a serviceable match–it could be a lot worse.

Get hyped for Seth Rollins as Mr. Money in the Bank.

For me, the only acceptable outcomes for this match were the following:

  1. Dolph Ziggler gets a second chance at a Money in the Bank run after his last one was ruined with a concussion.
  2. Dean Ambrose wins because that dose of crazy running around with a briefcase would be glorious.
  3. Seth Rollins snakes his way into a win.

Basically, I believe that the briefcase works best in the hands of a heel or, in the case of Ambrose and Ziggler, a lovable jerk. When that contract is in the hands of those types of characters, you are always on edge as a fan as a cash-in is always in the back of your mind.

True babyfaces don’t do the surprise cash-in (and when they have in the past, it hasn’t worked so well, e.g. CM Punk’s first cash-in) unless they are going to make a heel turn off of it (CM Punk’s second cash-in, Daniel Bryan’s cash-in). So for their cash-in to work, they tend to announce their matches well ahead of time (Cena, RVD) which completely ruins the surprise element.

With Seth Rollins holding the briefcase, The Authority now effectively holds a future trump card get the title back under their control. With Rollins’ on-going feud with Ambrose, we could very well see a series of failed attempted cash-ins as I am sure Dean will be more than happy to ruin each and every chance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Roman Reigns jump back into the picture as well at some point. It’s going to be great drama and I can’t wait for it to unfold.

As far as the match itself, it stole the show. Kofi’s spot of turning a fall off the ladder into a springboard dive to the outside was jaw dropping. Of course, you had your usual fare of power bombs and superplexes off the ladder. However, the most insane of the spots came from Seth Rollins who took a bump that no human should ever take:

The storytelling elements of this match were top notch as well. At one point, Dean Ambrose had doctors remove him from the match because he kayfabe dislocated his shoulder. Ambrose, ever the psychopath, begged for his shoulder to be popped back into place right then and there so he could continue the fight. Eventually, he went backstage demanding they hurry up and pop it back so he could return.

And return he did, just in time to spoil Rollins’ victory. When it looked like our favorite unhinged lunatic was going to win, out came Kane to do the Authority’s bidding as the “Plan B” that Rollins foreshadowed before the match.

This match alone was worth the price of admission by a landslide.

I don’t care if this was a cool-down match. Stardust was on PPV.

As of now, I’m in a place to where I’m going to be automatically happy anytime Stardust is on my TV. Cody Rhodes has new life and Goldust hasn’t looked this comfortable, from a character perspective, in years.

Cody’s new alter ego has brought back the “old” Goldust–the wacky, hilarious, and deviant creature. Cody’s own antics as Stardust now amplify that. This is the best possible incarnation of the Rhodes brothers tag team and I’m more than happy to ride along until the inevitable breakup.

I’ve wished upon a star and all my dreams have indeed come true.

Finally, some forward movement for both Rusev and Big E.

This match was a straight-up hoss fight between two guys that have desperately needed some kind of forward progression for both of their characters.

For Rusev, he needed to have a match that showed he wasn’t 100% invincible. This match did that. Big E brought a real fight to him and not just a quick burst of offense repelled in a couple of minutes. When Big E teased breaking out of the Accolade, both Rusev and Lana sold the best shocked looks on their faces.

The only thing that would have made it better would have been Big E actually breaking out of the hold. However, it’s clear we aren’t quite there yet. Big E is finally getting a chance to remind crowds that he can put a beating on someone. He looked great in this match and not just “Rusev crushed me part 1000″.

My only complaint with Big E right now is that I’m not sold on his preacher/patriot combo gimmick. The guy is a lot funnier and more charismatic naturally so this whole angle feels incredibly forced and awkward. However, progress is progress so I will take it.

I’m hoping that the next logical step is taken at SummerSlam and Rusev finally loses. If I’m diving into the realm of fantasy booking, I want Big E to be the one to do it. Further, I want him to win via 5-count pinfall like he did in NXT. I think it’s a great gimmick for a big bruiser like Big E and it’s in his freakin’ entrance song so I’m unsure of why it it went by the wayside.

Could you imagine the pop that gimmick would get against a seemingly unbeatable guy like Rusev? Add on the USA v. Russia angle and the USA chants alone would shot that gimmick over the moon.

“We gave you one good divas match, so here’s our usual steaming pile of crap to even it out” – WWE creative, probably.

The English language does contain words about how I feel about the entire Layla/Summer Rae/Fandango love triangle story. Unfortunately, most of them contain four letters and I’m not allowed to use them here on FanSided.

The love triangle trope rarely ever ends in a way that doesn’t end up completely terrible in the end. Cena/Zack Ryder/Eve should be exhibits A-Z for that. The top male and female stars coupled with an internet darling couldn’t even save that from being a complete and total disaster.

What angers me the most about this entire angle is just how dumb and petty it makes Summer Rae look (and she’s the babyface!). I can understand Summer having some anger towards Layla. She stole her man and delivering a beating to her would probably be cathartic. It’s not the best angle in the world, but it makes a bit of sense. Fandango is still the king jerk, but perhaps winning a match against Layla would be a “you blew it and threw away the better girl” type of message–in the wrestling world at least.

Instead, Summer Rae becomes a jealous ex-girlfriend and just can’t let Fandango go. So instead of just fighting Layla and being done with it, she instead decides to start competing for Fandango’s affection. You know, that same guy that dumped her on Twitter and then immediately made out with his new squeeze right in front of her to piss her off. She turns her anger on Layla, not because she wants to feel a bit better about the whole situation, but because if she wasn’t in existence, Summer would’ve never lost the role as Ms. Fandango.

Forget about the guy that was the huge asshole. Blame the other woman. That makes sense.

So those two are going to have a cat fight. Because dumb metaphors are apparently funnier when completely explicit, Summer Rae pours milk on Layla and then Layla retaliates by attacking with kitty litter. Cat fight. GET IT?!

The two have a throw-away match which Layla wins. To rub it in Summer’s face, she makes out with Fandango again, leaving Summer Rae a crying mess in the ring. Apparently, she still can’t get over Fandango even though he’s been nothing but a complete ass to her post-breakup.

You know what would’ve worked better here to save this mess? Summer Rae winning, Fandango acting all interested again and Summer slapping him right across the face. Or, if Layla absolutely has to win, Summer gets the mic after the match is over and Fandango’s tongue is down Layla’s throat and just goes off on him and states she’s done with him for good.

Something, anything to empower her and make her look like, oh, I don’t know, a competent, tough wrestler that isn’t in a glass case of emotion because of a breakup.

Bonus (and the only redeeming part of this mess): Fandango’s bedazzled referee shirt–the lone stroke of genius in this steaming pile of garbage.

Before we talk Cena, let’s talk about the title match overall.

Any feelings about the ending aside, there is no doubt that this was one hell of an end to the PPV.

There were plenty of insane spots–perhaps a bit toned-down in comparison to the insanity of Ambrose and Rollins, but insane nonetheless. Serious props should be given to whoever came up with this leaning tower of ladders idea:

I can’t ever remember seeing anything like that in a ladder match before. Not only was it creative, but even when those two ladders went back to their original position, the ladder placed in the middle of the main ladder was used repeatedly for spots immediately after.

Everyone got to look like a million bucks in this match and everyone got to tease winning the belts at some point as well. Some highlights that stuck out to me (in no particular order):

But then there was the finish that drove a lot of people crazy…

Calm down, Cena winning was the WWE’s only logical move here.

Here’s the problem with Cena overcoming the odds: fans have seen it so much that now there is an automatic reaction to get pissed off when it happens. Previously, there was a lot of good reason for that kind of anger. The WWE continued to go with the gravy train that was John Cena and didn’t seem to take any risks with other superstars.

That isn’t the case today.

Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture, a picture that involves Brock Lesnar coming back for SummerSlam. Before Brock took his most recent hiatus, he declared himself the number one contender for the belt and after beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, he kayfabe deserves nothing less.

So with Brock coming back for a title match, that takes all heels out of contention. That means Bray Wyatt, Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton, and Kane now all make zero sense.

Cesaro is in a gray area between babyface and heel, but he’s a Paul Heyman guy. Paul’s not going to let his clients destroy each other. That’s terrible business.

Sheamus is an absolutely terrible babyface, especially on the mic. He is too goofy as a good guy to sell a match against Lesnar. If he was to be pushed into the main event picture, he would need to go heel which, again, causes the same problem that we started with before.

Roman Reigns against Lesnar might sound like a great idea in your head, but Reigns is not ready quite yet to carry a main event match on his own. Reigns excels at being the closer and having the one minute burst of destruction like he had in this match. That’s what gets crowds to go nuts for him right now. His time will come, but the WWE is smart to hold back the big push right now.

That leaves John Cena, a guy that can sell PPVs on his own. Cena also had an absolutely incredible match against Lesnar at Extreme Rules in 2012, leaving little doubt in the WWE’s mind that the pair can do it again.

I understand the desire to push someone like Roman Reigns, Cesaro, or Bray Wyatt as champion right now. However, the reality is that they aren’t yet the big name and big draw for one of the WWE’s biggest PPVs. The only other person at the needed level that Cena is right now is Daniel Bryan and he’s on the shelf.

That means that if one of the “new” pushes like Reigns, Cesaro, or Wyatt grabbed the belt at Money in the Bank, they would immediately have to drop it within a month to Cena anyways, effectively killing all their momentum. Not only would they lose their title, but they would be out of the championship picture for at least a month while Lesnar gets his shot. After that’s done, they might as well be forgotten in the title hunt.

Plus, there is the other angle that the WWE has most certainly considered: they are working every last person that is angered by Cena’s win. If you are mad about this, I have a feeling that Cena taking a severe ass-kicking would make you very happy right now. You know who the WWE has coming back that loves to deliver some serious ass-kickings? Brock Lesnar.

Yes, the WWE will sell SummerSlam purely on Cena hate. They are more than happy with that and will welcome it. So be angry all you like; however, this was the only result that made any kind of sense.

Wishing for someone else to take the title would be a wish for that same person to get buried as soon as Brock Lesnar walks through the door.

No one was buried in this match. Everyone looked great. There are so many different angles for people like Reigns, Wyatt, and Cesaro and those angles will certainly do more for them in the future than a quick, one month title reign.