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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Money in the Bank 2018


When somebody asks you what big thing happened in pro wrestling in the year 2018, all you should tell them are three things: Daniel Bryan came back, Kenny Omega finally won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and all big events are now more than three hours. WrestleMania who? SummerSlam what?

The monster NJPW created has now made its way to the WWE. Someone must have figured out that with a roster as deep as this, and the willingness of fans to watch around four hours of wrestling action, there's no excuse for the company not to do the same.

It began with Backlash last month, but really got going with this year's Money in the Bank. So, the million-dollar question now: is it all worth it?



If you've been reading or following along to WWE programming and how people have reacted to it, or if you've tried to follow all seven hours of weekly WWE content on TV, you already know the answer to this. No, it's not worth it. Money in the Bank was objectively a solid show, but plain exhausting. There's just too much going on.

NJPW puts out too much wrestling as well, but the difference seems to be that the protracted puroresu action, despite getting repetitive sometimes, still leaves you immensely satisfied. Even if Kazuchika Okada retains his title for the 12th time in a row, you know you'll have witnessed a classic unfold.

WWE's just different. The machine is a constant barrage of noise, from both the company and the crowd. They want to beat you over the head with hype, the crowd wants to take over the show and put themselves over, and in the end you're left with climaxes that either aren't the ones you want or leave something to be desired.

I felt like the company was sprinting on a treadmill—giving their absolute best effort, but not going anywhere far. Money in the Bank was content on keeping the fanbase sated with a level of competence that isn't bad, but not transcendental either. There was something to be had with possibly putting Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey on the main event, or finally allowing Shinsuke Nakamura his moment, or prepping a new star to build with an important Money in the Bank win, among other things. But we're just here. We're all just here.

I guess this is what happens when the art is naught but a show, designed to make money above everything. The wrestling's great, but when the story's penned by someone like Vince McMahon, the machine's full of sound and fury, signifying a whole lot of nothing.

Money in the Bank 2018 Final Grade: B

Match of the Night



The Intercontinental Championship was almost going to get the nod—Elias has proven himself a worthy contender—but I have to give it up for how hard the women worked in their Money in the Bank ladder match. In fact, I'd have made this or the RAW Women's Championship match the show's main event just for how satisfying they are.

Other observations

  • I honestly thought Big Cass was going to beat Daniel Bryan this time around, even after knowing what we know now. I guess that's the end of that (even if Cass wasn't released).
  • Lashley and Zayn was... a match. That's it. Did we really need this on PPV?
  • I love how Elias has blossomed into quite the proper WWE-style wrestler. I feel like this straight-up, no-nonsense brawling/striking-heavy offense was what he should've been doing as the Drifter, but it works just fine and even better now that he's not a drifter—just a guy who plays the blues. He should've won the title.
  • That said, are we headed back toward a Seth Rollins heel turn? Why is pulling the tights the only bag of tricks he has left against a game Elias? I would've liked a plain roll-up finish instead of a face acting like a heel. He didn't even pull out a Phoenix splash, so why is he that desperate?
  • Should Lana have been in the Money in the Bank match? Or Ember Moon? Couldn't either of those women have been Bayley instead, especially knowing what happens on RAW this week?
  • I know we're setting up Roman Reigns to be the guy taking out Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, but I feel like Jinder Mahal really needed a win there. It was a good match—not the best I think these two can do with each other, but something that makes Jinder look decent. Not solid, because Reigns outsmarted him.
  • I feel like the main reason for all this exhaustion is that all the faces seem to be facing the same steep, uphill battle. Or at least, the people the fans are rooting for. Imagine, you've got guys like Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka, and even Roman Reigns chasing titles for what seems to be forever. What's the point of Asuka being foiled again by a returning James Ellsworth? Why couldn't Ellsworth help Carmella win the title back after losing it to Asuka instead?
  • And what do we do with Nakamura now? Is this a case of him preferring a midcard title over a world title and having a dominant reign with it? It was a great Last Man Standing match, but what now?
  • The slower, story-based WWE style actually works for Ronda Rousey. It allows her to pick her spots and hide her weaknesses (which is mostly her still figuring out how to do pro wrestling in the sport's natural rhythm). I like how she's worked so far, especially in this match against Nia Jax—who was wonderful in the role of the bigger heel against the underdog face.
  • I'm also not mad at Alexa Bliss cashing in, as the hot Chicago crowd definitely helped in making it acceptable. Of course, you now have questions as to whether Nia's going back to being a babyface again, and who exactly Ronda is going to feud with now.
  • Is it just me, or did the men's Money in the Bank match feel like it was going in third gear? Apparently it was longer than the women's, but it didn't seem that way with how everyone was trying to cram in their spots. 
  • I also felt that the match was too short at under 20 minutes, which is why I would've rather experimented and tried to have the RAW Women's Championship go on last.
  • Kofi Kingston is the right choice for the New Day guys, but I would've taken Big E as well.
  • TRIPLE ACCOLADE (that doesn't make that much sense)!
  • How much does Braun Strowman really need this win? It's like what Bryan said about Big Cass—why would a seven-footer attack anyone from behind? The only way I'll be fully into this is if Strowman asserts his alpha status, sets a challenge with the briefcase ahead of time, and beats Brock Lesnar. Monster face made.
Photo from WWE


*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.

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