Wrasslin’ Recap: Money in the Bank Stirs Controversy, Enzo and Cass Split on RAW and Lucha Underground Returns Strong
Behind Every Strong Woman…
Man, that was a long hiatus. I’d lucked out in that the lull between WrestleMania and SummerSlam was especially lull some this year with the Universal Champion not really on TV and no major feuds kicking off. If only there were some sort of holdover, tournament based PPV they could roll out. Something that had a legacy of importance while not really shaking up the world too much. Sultan of the Squared Circle as it were. If only….Anywho, Money in the Bank was Sunday, and the show was fairly “okay” overall. Way too many swerve and non-endings, and the only happy moment came after Naomi defeated Lana to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship. What could have easily been yet another jab at the live crowd served as the break between disappointments. Not that all heel wins are bad for business, just that the show overall felt dour. The most solemn going to Carmella “winning” the Money in the Bank briefcase with a little help from her chinless man servant, James Ellsworth. The match that had two weeks of historic build, showcasing how for the first time, a woman would hoist the Money in the Bank briefcase, was technically won by a man, and I was mostly okay with it. Mostly.
There are clearly levels to this outcome and that colors where people are falling in their response to it. EYE, looking at it from mostly a story standpoint, love the idea of the underhanded victory. I had Carmella winning the damn match beforehand, since MITB is used best as a stepping stone for heels. It embraces the need to do whatever it takes to win in a way that other ladder matches tend not to. A Carmella win also made it fairly obvious that Ellsworth would be involved in some capacity. Maybe not necessarily grabbing the case himself, but aiding Carmella in eventually grabbing it. And that seems to be what’s grinding most people’s gears; HE grabbed the case. A man “won” the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank match. Robbing not only Carmella, but the rest of the women for their rightful chance at history, which, again, i’m okay with in story, and that is what makes the other side of this so hard to ignore.
WWE can’t outrun their past. There’s a reason these matches have so many historic implications. While other promotions were elevating their Women’s Divisions past the eye-candy and bathroom break spots during a given show, WWE still very much treated their female superstars as a lesser than. That stink is still there. Evident anytime they have to try and come up with storylines for multiple female feuds, typically leading to group clashes of little to no consequence until the title is on the line. That said, it felt like WWE was pouring on the pomp sauce extra heavy this time around, as if they wanted to create the fervor, but weren’t fully prepared for it. Leading to Tuesday night, where the decision was essentially reversed, and a rematch created for next week. Cutting Carmella off at the knees no matter what the outcome is later. If she wins, she deserved the intial victory, if she loses, it makes her somewhat sympathetic. Neither of which fit the heel that she is, and the promo that she cut to open Smackdown Live. There were ways to fix the perception going forward, but trying to retcon what happened Sunday night was not one of them.
I Want To Break Free
It finally happened. The creative team finally pulled the trigger on the breakup we all knew was coming. After a few weeks of speculation and mystery, Big Cass was finally outed as the man behind the sneak attacks on Enzo. The theory had been floating around pretty much since the attacks happened, but no one was ready to stand firm on that outcome. In the end, it was the obvious story beat that caused the rift; Cass just got sick of fighting Enzo’s battles. Enzo was always that friend who talked a big game, and could take something of a lickin, but knew he had backup. He’s the reason for every bar fight you’ve ever been in and thought the night went great while you were estimating how long it’ll be before your teeth stop swaying in the breeze. Had Enzo & Cass actually won the tag titles at any point, i’m sure this split would have been postponed a bit more, but as it stands, there was nothing else for them to do if they weren’t going to have the straps put on them. Cass got the singles rub a bit while Enzo was hurt late last year, and Enzo’s promo work will carry him pretty far, but he’ll eventually need another heavy lest he be relegated to manager status.
The split itself was a little clunky in that both Angle and Corey Graves both knew that Big Show and The Revival were innocent, so that whole lead in portion didn’t really work. It wasn’t until Enzo just stood there, tears slowly trickling down the realest cheek in the room that the segment started to work, and before Enzo could get a word in, he took a boot to the face. Bada Boom indeed.
I’m Not Finished With You
Braun is BACK! The oddly babyfaced giant we’ve all come to love (mostly due to hating Roman) has returned to scream, spit and smash and I for one couldn’t be happier. I don’t even hate on Roman Reigns all that much, he just needs an actually follies since everyone else is already paired off for the most part. He can’t travel back down the card, and he pulled a Cena by just inserting himself into the title picture at SummerSlam. Sure, he can rattle off the names of guys he’s beaten, but all those guys have beaten him too, he just got to decide when the feuds were over. In this case, Brauny Boy wants the last word, and i’m soooo okay with that.
I guess i’m just rubbed the wrong way by people just being able to decide they can have title shots while others have to work so damn hard for them. Reigns just gets to decide he’s in the picture but the Hype Bros. have to defeat the tag champs for the chance to beat them at a later point, because, wrasslin’. It’s all so oddly confusing.
Eye. Oh. You.
Lost in all the doldrums and kerfuffle, Baron Corbin won the Mens MITB ladder match. It was a solid spot fest with everyone getting their big moments in leading to a heel unbuckling the big, gawdy briefcase. After the obligatory struggle of course. Corbin was the obvious choice here, much like Carmella was for the women. A younger, heel, superstart that hasn’t held any gold as of yet. None of the other participants really fit the roll. Now the Lone Wolf can lurk in the shadows, ready to pounce on whatever unlucky bastard calls himself the champ. I doubt he’ll cash in anytime soon. The Jinder Mahal story, while uninspired is still something different, and i’ll take that over another Randy Orton run. Corbin can hold onto that thing as long as he needs to, he’ll never go broke.
Again, the match itself was booked well. While other moments in the show could feel placeholder or even cookie cutter, this match lived up to its potential, and even gave us peeks of what’s to come. Seeing AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura face-off, even for a moment, was worth the price of admission, and maybe a tip of the cap that we’ll see the former New Japan rivals in a match sooner rather than later.
Stuff and Thangs
Ugh, i’m running long and i’ve barely touched on the Women’s Division of either show. Which is exactly how RAW treated them this week. Squeezing them in last minute for a cluster-eff of a match that had no connective tissue to anything else. Just a bunch of bodies to say they actually got TV time. Again, WWE can’t outrun that stink, no matter how they try.
Away from WWE, Lucha Underground made its return a couple weeks back after almost five months off air. Still technically season 3, they held an All Night Long match between John Morrison and The Mack fr the Lucha Underground championship. After such a long hiatus, it was the perfect way to ease people back into the style of the show if they were new, and almost a one-off for those who may have caught up on Netflix. The next three shows brought back the more intricate stories and worked more of the performers in with the beginning of the Cuerto Cup. Lucha Underground may never be a direct rival to WWE programming, but it’s just different and stylish enough to scratch an old-school itch while feeling like something entirely different. What i’m saying is, get your eyeballs near it, damnit.
Okay, that’s enough from me. These will be back an a medium pace going forward, so slightly less cramming. If I missed something you hold dear to your heart, let me know on the Twittah Machine, then we can talk about which album is actually Jay-Z’s best *whispers* it’s American Gangster. Till then….