Previously on the Best and Worst of Money in the Bank: AJ Styles competed in a championship match in the middle of the card, the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match went on last, and the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match winner cashed in on the same show to become Women’s Champion. This year, things are completely different!
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Money in the Bank for May 19, 2019.
Best: The Reheating Of Bayley
There’s so much to love about the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match that opened the show, including:
- Naomi dressing like Bumblebee from Teen Titans
- Sonya Deville, who really should’ve gotten Carmella’s spot in the match when Carmella went out, looking super strong and like the good friend she is
- everyone getting a moment to shine, and Dana Brooke continuing to prove that she belongs
- that absolutely absurd Eclipse from the ladder over the ropes into the ring from Ember Moon that looked like something you could only pull off in a video game
In fact, the only bad or questionable moment of the match was the Carmella injury bit, where it looked like she got hurt by accident and broke the fourth wall to push Mandy Rose away, only to eventually come back out and do a big return spot. If it was a work, they shouldn’t have done a lame late-WCW-esque “everything else is fake but THIS part is real” bit, and if it was a shoot, Carmella looked bad getting carried to the back for a tweaked knee when everyone else in the ladder matches was crashing and burning.
Regardless, the best moment of the match, and of the night, is the ascent of Bayley from also-ran to Smackdown Women’s Champion. With what’s been going on with Sasha Banks behind the scenes and Bayley’s entire run on Raw, it’d be easy to believe that even with a move to Smackdown in the Superstar Shake-up she’d be quickly forgotten and overshadowed. Instead, Money in the Bank happened. Bayley wins the Money in the Bank briefcase on a night when the “two belts” Women’s Champion is wrestling back-to-back matches against two of the most opportunistic women on the roster. It couldn’t have been a clearer path for her.
Becky Lynch’s first match is against Lacey Evans — what GOP senators think a woman is supposed to be — in a sparkly green burlesque sailor suit, brandishing money guns. They’re Lacey Evans “Bison bucks,” to make it even worse. Lacey puts up a good fight for her first main roster pay-per-view match, aside from the wonky finish (which we’ll get to in a minute). As soon as that’s over, opportunistic-ass entitled-ass Charlotte Flair shows up representing the other half of the Dollywood Blondes and demands the Smackdown Women’s Championship match start right now.
To paraphrase Scott Keith paraphrasing Mel Brooks, Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair is like pizza. Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. The key aspect of the match, though, is that Flair has specifically befriended Evans and engineered the placement of the matches to benefit herself, because she’s a goddamn Flair, and they’re the dirtiest players in the game. Even with the timing advantage and starting off 100% fresh against a woman who just wrestled for 10 minutes, Flair can’t pull the trigger. Lynch is too scrappy for her, and she can’t finisher her off.
Lacey Evans, who has fallen for the “be a Flair’s willing subordinate” gambit like so many Blanchards and Andersons before her, shows up to sucker punch Becky on Charlotte’s behalf. Even THAT’S not enough, and it takes a big boot to the face to finally put Lynch down. The quality of these matches is irrelevant, honestly, because the story, for once, isn’t about Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair. It’s not even about Golden Age Charlotte Flair Lacey Evans. It’s about Bayley.
This couldn’t have been laid out better. Charlotte Flair is the ultimate opportunist, and she’s pulled the strings perfectly to make sure Lynch is tired for their championship match, gain a completely unnecessary 2-on-1 advantage on top of that, and win the Smackdown Women’s Championship in the dirtiest way possible. Lynch is rightfully pissed at Lacey for interfering after she’d tapped out and lost her opportunity fair and square, so she jumps her. Charlotte, who is a sore winner if she’s anything, jumps Lynch from behind. Then, instead of just letting it be, Lynch gets rolled back into the ring so Charlotte can not only attack her 2-on-1, but be IN CHARGE of the 2-on-1 attack. Charlotte’s the one ordering Lacey around, telling her how and when to hold Becky.
The crowd is chanting for Bayley, and sure enough, she shows up to make the save. She easily dispatches Lacey, so Charlotte attacks her from behind. Charlotte then completely abandons Bayley after like one shot to go back to beating down Becky, because, as we’ve seen for years and years, Charlotte doesn’t think Bayley’s worth her time. When the attack is over and Charlotte can just leave the ring triumphantly, she notices that Bayley’s still in the ring … and that’s the only thing that makes her want to attack Bayley more. She’s taking up The Queen’s valuable victory space.
So to recap, the possibility of a cash-in is set up by:
- Bayley overcoming the awkward breaking-up of the Boss-n-Hug Connection and the switch to Smackdown to triumph over both Raw and Smackdown Superstars to win the Money in the Bank briefcase
- Charlotte Flair capitalizing on the fact that Becky Lynch has to wrestle two matches in one night by making her wrestle them back-to-back, when she’s not scheduled to
- Charlotte Flair only winning that opportunistic second match with help from the loser of the first
- Charlotte being a sore winner and attacking Lynch from behind, then spearheading a 2-on-1 beatdown
- ANOTHER shot from behind on Bayley for making the save
- A second instance of Charlotte being a sore winner and wanting to do more damage to Bayley for literally no reason
It’s like an entire cycle of build in a single night. Charlotte’s hubris gets the best of her and she goes for a spear, but Bayley’s only been hit like, once, and has the wherewithal to get out of the way and toss Charlotte into the corner. Bayley’s not sure that’s enough to validate a cash-in, but fuck it, she’s going for it. The same warrior spirit we know Bayley has from her NXT days, the spirit that won her the Money in the Bank briefcase earlier in the night but has been sadly missing from so much of her Raw content, lets her know she can do it. She cashes in, drops a big elbow on Charlotte’s chest, and wins the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
The Eddie Guerrero-esque celebration in the crowd really caps it. This is the Bayley we know. This is the Bayley we believe in. Becky Lynch is still the Raw Women’s Champion and will be able to take out her aggression on Lacey Evans for her role in this, and Bayley will get to prove herself on a level playing field when Charlotte Flair gets hot and realizes she got hoist by her own sparkly petard. Bayley gets completely rehabilitated and reheated in a single night, because bless their hearts, Smackdown is the one main roster brand that still sometimes remembers why we like the wrestlers we like.
Worst: Shane McMahon’s Gotta Look Strong
From our Money in the Bank predictions:
Miz needs to win. If he doesn’t, he’s going to look like a real dipshit.
Anyway, here’s The Miz — the guy who lost to Shane McMahon at WrestleMania when he failed to suplex correctly — losing to Shane McMahon at Money in the Bank via wardrobe malfunction.
I don’t know. I don’t know why we’re still having to watch 15-minute Shane McMahon pay-per-view matches in 2019, why Shane keeps winning all of them, why The Miz can’t seem to get a leg up on a visibly dying 49-year old non-wrestler, or why a feud that at best should’ve blown off at WrestleMania is about to enter its fourth month and third pay-per-view match in a row. Did Shane really need somebody to wrestle in Saudi Arabia? Do they think the Saudi crowd’s going to show up expecting a payoff to the “best in the world” angle from Crown Jewel? Woof.
Worst: A Night Of Horrible, Horrible Referees
You might think that Thanos in sandwich shorts winning the men’s Money in the Bank briefcase was the worst moment of the night, but that award goes to the entire team of WWE officials making sure everything in the first hour of the show felt dumb as shit.
Firstly you had Rey Mysterio pinning Samoa Joe to win the United States Championship with Joe’s shoulder a full head above the mat. Seriously, look at this, they even show a replay of it in slow motion and talk at length about how the referee somehow missed the shoulder being up, even though he’s looking directly at it.
Secondly, you had a moment in the Miz vs. Shane McMahon cage match (pictured above) where the referee stops counting a pin because Shane’s foot is on the rope. In a cage match. WWE’s been wishy-washy about the role of rope breaks in cage matches before, so this one probably could’ve slid under the radar if they hadn’t had Michael Cole of all people SHOUTING on commentary about how the ref messed up and there are no rope breaks in cage matches. MICHAEL COLE is pointing out how the people in the wrestling match aren’t following the rules of wrestling. How low do you have to sink when bored-ass tenured Yes Man Michael Cole knows you’re doing a bad job and screams about it to anyone who’ll listen?
Thirdly there was this moment at the end of the Raw Women’s Championship match, when Lacey Evans hits a chop block on Becky Lynch and rolls her up. I guess Becky was waiting to hear the “one, two” before she reversed into the Disarmer, but the referee just kinda wanders around them like he’s bad video game AI, and Becky’s pinned for like a seven count.
Again, the announce team points this out on the replay. Corey Graves even counts out a generous four-count for Evans while the referee stammers around, and Cole says something about how he guesses the ref didn’t think the shoulder was down. Even though it totally was, and the ref had just counted a championship match pinfall with the shoulder way, way up.
Worst: Ariya Kidding Me
I’m happy that the Cruiserweight Championship match made it onto the actual pay-per-view — the rumor is that they were planning to run a Women’s Tag Team Championship match before that cross-promotional non-title loss on the kickoff show but the only title they care about less than the Cruiserweight is the Women’s Tag Team — but I don’t think I’m out of bounds to say Ariya Daivari is a terrible challenger. Tony Nese is doing a surprisingly good job as a fightin’ babyface champion, but Daivari in his white slacks looks like a guy you wouldn’t buy on Impact! Xplosion. He’s not a bad wrestler, he’s just not the guy to anchor the “sports entertainment” side of whitebread-ass Tony Nese.
Ah well, they’re both doing better than Buddy Murphy right now. Remember Buddy Murphy?
Worst: That’s What You Get For Not Liking Racists
In other “why the hell is this on the pay-per-view” news, Lucha House Party randomly shows up and cuts a promo for a supposed six-man tag team match that never happens because they’ve got to put over Lars Sullivan. Hey, want to know what’s super depressing? Having one of the guys who spoke out against Lars Sullivan’s racist past get his ass kicked by Lars for no reason. Or “for speaking Spanish on the pay-per-view,” one or the other.
At least he took a chunk of Lars’ scalp with him. Y’all couldn’t have given Styles vs. Rollins two more minutes and left this shit on Main Event?
Worst: “What’s As Good, Or Better, Than WrestleMania?”
Best: The Championship Matches
The best match of the night in a leisurely walk was Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles for the Universal Championship. The Universal Championship is a cursed title, so Rollins DESPERATELY needed a long, thrilling, successful defense to begin his reign, and he got it. This is the best AJ Styles match since TLC back in December and the best Seth Rollins match in a hot minute, as he’d kinda cooled off from that epic run of great bouts last year. It did everybody a favor, including the Universal Championship. Especially that.
I think what I loved so much about it was the sense of urgency. The strikes, the big moves, and especially the counters felt like they were and actually could be happening, and weren’t just two sports-entertainers cooperating to do the next move. Does that make sense? Even in good wrestling sometimes you can obviously see the other guy helping have a move done to him, or setting up for something, and this match didn’t have any of that. They struggled for holds, responded with quickness and intensity, and countered with ingenuity. I especially loved the inverted superplex/Falcon arrow combo and the Stomp countered in the Styles Clash. And what I might’ve loved most of all is that they didn’t give us everything in the first match; they clearly left something on the table for a rematch, and if they can get another pay-per-view match or two this year and build on what they did here, they could go to some truly incredible places.
Plus, it’s just nice to see AJ Styles wrestling again. I complain about him a lot, but it’s mostly born from the frustration of knowing how good he is in the ring and seeing how WWE interprets him as champion. His pay-per-view matches have more often than not left a lot to be desired for me, because they felt like he was going through the well-performed but ultimately meaningless motions to get to whatever dumb finish they’d scripted. This felt like the good AJ Styles again, and the best Seth Rollins, and I hope we get to see them go at it again. That’s the best compliment I can give WWE these days, when you know everyone’s going to fight the same person six more times until you’re tired of it.
The WWE Championship match between Kofi Kingston and Kevin Owens was nowhere near as good, possibly because it happened so close to the Universal Championship match, but it still accomplished some positive things. If we’re going to buy Kofi Kingston as a WWE Champion, he’s going to have to defeat a few top-level opponents. Kevin Owens is one of those, and Owens has lost enough at this point that you aren’t even really bummed to see it happen. It’s the Cesaro thing. You’ve lost the initial hope the character gave you that they’d be something special, and you’re resigned to them just being the best possible available hand until someone comes up with something better for them to do. I promise that’s not as backhanded a compliment as it sounds, I’m just trying to measure my expectations here.
Kofi winning clean was good, as Sami Zayn got written out via annoying backstage bullshit and Xavier Woods stayed in the back. That gave them a completely level playing field, and Kingston was able to use his WrestleMania momentum and champions advantage to counter a big move and land his most powerful strike to retain. It’s very by-the-numbers, but it works.
Also, Roman Reigns Beat Elias In Like 10 Seconds
Eh, what’re you gonna do? At least Elias had a match on this pay-per-view, and wasn’t just getting beaten up as a musical guest. I guess Reigns wanted to finish up early and watch Game of Thrones like everybody else.
Best, Then OH NO: Menny In The Bank
There is no better symbolic representation of the current state of WWE than seven regulars busting their asses, destroying their bodies, and nearly killing themselves for our enjoyment for 20 minutes, only for a part-timer who wasn’t even announced for the show to stroll out, do nothing, and win the match. It’s everything. It’s how WWE treats their most loyal talents, how beholden they are to perceived “star power” and mainstream attention over anything they actually create and control, how they relate to the fans they pretend to listen to, and how they book and prioritize shows. Guys like Ali and Finn Bálor ate shit so Brock Lesnar could do nothing and win. Money in the Bank is just a half-assed stepping stone while they try to figure out how to please the dictator they’re running a blood money show for next month. It’s depressing as hell, and so far above our pay-grade as fans that even complaining about it feels exhausting.
Anyway, the first 19 minutes and 30 seconds of this 19-minute 55-second match were bonkers and awesome. It felt dangerous and chaotic, which ladder matches don’t always accomplish — usually they feel like awkward set-ups of spots without a lot of payoff, unless you like seeing the same five ladder spots they’ve done for the past 20 years — and to say everyone had a moment to “shine” is undercutting it. Hell, BARON CORBIN was out here tearing it up. The chokeslam he hit on Ali through the table was Lance Archer-quality. You know when Baron Corbin’s firing on all cylinders you’re doing something right.
Plus, this might be the most bad-ass and horrifically dangerous looking spot WWE’s done in years:
I said it on Twitter last night, but I’ll say it again: Finn deserves a raise and possibly sainthood for the ass-kicking he took in this match. Everybody deserves a gentle hug (as to not hurt them more), a Monday or Tuesday off, and maybe an Edible Arrangement to tell them how much you appreciate them falling from tall places onto spray-painted wooden ladders.
As for Brock … you know, in the moment, I liked it. It was legitimately surprising, which is something they also don’t do very often. Usually things get leaked and you expect the unexpected, but Lesnar showing up from out of nowhere to ruin Ali’s beautiful face and win the match without breaking a sweat was the last thing on our minds. Plus, it’s perfectly in line with who Brock is as a character. He’s entitled, and feels like he’s above all this … and WWE agrees, so if Paul Heyman showed up mid-way through the show and said “hey evil GM character, put me in the match,” they’d do it. It’s even more Brock and Heyman if Brock’s the one that attacked Sami Zayn, which got Strowman out of the building and completely cleared his way to an easy, opportunistic victory.
And honestly, do we think Lesnar’s going to win in Saudi Arabia? If anything, it gets the marquee rematch with Rollins out of the way on a show we don’t have to watch, removes the Money in the Bank briefcases from the next year of booking entirely (which would be nice), and Rollins gets another strong defense to be our first good Universal Champion ever.
Or … you know, Lesnar wins it back like it’s nothing and we spend another year in Hell World.
Ah well, it’s still better than season eight of Game of Thrones.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Cole: “How do you stop Lars Sullivan.”
Just give him Internet access and wait?
It’s kind of amazing what AJ can do when the finish of the match doesn’t involve him getting hit in the face with a pie.
know your role
Bayley is Ms. Money Without Banks!!
Lacey Evans supports legislation that prevents her from using the Women’s Right after six minutes into the match.
I am not exaggerating when I say, out of every timeline in the theoretical omniverse, this was the absolute dumbest possible ending. I could put monkeys on typewriters for the next ten decades and they would not come up with something worse. Linda McMahon could’ve shown up riding the Silver Surfer board and hit a Double Rotation Moonsault on Baron Corbin and I wouldn’t have been this flummoxed.
“I don’t think Styles knows what planet he’s on.”
AJ: The flat one, right?
Ricochet’s theme sounds like every Trans-Siberian Orchestra song played at once.
Not A Crook
obviously there’s no tape for Becky to study on Lacey Evans because she also cancelled the WWE Network
No shock that a Southern Republican has a concealed carry permit
Climbing that ladder is the most work Lesnar has put in a match this year.
And that does it for Money in the Bank 2019. Thanks for being around to watch it instead of the dragon show, and/or for skipping it entirely and still taking the time to come to our site and read about it. We really do appreciate that.
As always, drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the show, and share the column on social to keep us in the business of being disappointed by the 3-hour wrestling thing. Hey, some of it was great! And join us next month for literally anything in wrestling that happens besides WWE Super Showdown.