It's the go-home Main Event before Money in the Bank 2014, and all the wrestling on the show sucks! Read more after the break.
Best, somehow: Dolph Ziggler's First Good Promo In a Year
WWE loves their "A Ladder match is coming up. Have someone cut a promo on a ladder" bits, and Dolph is no stranger to them. But the last time he climbed up one to cut a promo, it was a far different time. He was feuding with John goddamn Cena, and was the hottest rising heel in the company. Nowadays he's a babyface jobber to the stars, and he's been stuck in that position since his program with Alberto Del Rio ended. At last year's Money in the Bank, no less. Since then he's had only a handful of pay-per-view appearances outside the Kickoff match, and most of them have been in battle royals. The only reason he's on the card at all now is because there's this second ladder match. So when he went up on the ladder this time around, I fully expected him to cut the most unconvincing promo in the world about how he was going to win the match. Which he's not going to, let's be real here. What we got instead was a very raw, somewhat rambling and incoherent, but overall pretty emotional story about how much winning the briefcase and becoming World Heavyweight Champion had meant to him. He stopped short of saying "But then Swagger gave me a concussion and everything fell apart," but the look of frustration and regret on his face kind of tells you all you need to know. It's a promo that works for people who don't pay attention to anything but what's right in front of them, because he does the standard "Because of you, the fans," schilling, but it also works for nerds who pay attention to recent wrestling history and backstage goings on and stuff. It's not a shoot, because of course it fucking isn't, but it's an effective, very understated reference to real-life happenings to help his point hit home, and he did it without stepping on anyone's toes or going so far as to seem whiny and unprofessional.
Worst: I'm Very Uncomfortable About Barrett and Swagger Being Anywhere Near Each Other Now
The seven participants in the traditional Money in the Bank match squared off in a three faces vs three heels tag team match to start the show. I basically spent the entire waiting for Dean Ambrose to come in and attack Seth Rollins, so when the match instead ended with Rollins pinning Kofi Kingston clean, I figured Ambrose would come in and attack after the match. Instead, Rollins walked up the ramp and the other five guys brawled until Bad News Barrett was the last man standing, which unfortunately meant that on SmackDown! Swagger attacked him to get his revenge, and he ended up legitimately separating Barrett's shoulder, leaving his status for the show in jeopardy. It's not a good feeling to have watching a match when every time two men so much as slap hands, you cringe a little bit, and it didn't help that the match wasn't very good either. The bar for six-man tag matches has been raised considerably in the past two years, and this was not a great example of one. Plus two thirds of one team do the exact same thing every single goddamn time they wrestle, and they handled the lion's share of the match. Not great.
Worst: Wrestling Love Triangles
This might just be because I'm fresh off reviewing Armageddon 2004, in which Charlie Haas resolved a love triangle by saying he was breaking it off with both his love interests by saying one was terrible in bed and the other was too good in bed. But I think that, generally speaking, wrestling love triangles tend to be pretty bad. Especially when you consider that the already normally distasteful gender double standard that characterizes most of WWE is really accentuated by the different ways that love triangles are handled. Two women fighting over a man are crazy and childish. Two men fighting over a woman is inevitably about a hero trying to save a helpless damsel from a dastardly villain, unless it turns out that the woman was really a manipulative witch the whole time. The next time two guys fight over a girl in WWE, I hope she ends up the special guest referee between them, and they spend the whole match pulling each other's hair, slapping each other, and rolling around on the ground, prompting her to look up at the camera with an expression of "Pfft, men be crazy, right?"
Bo Dallas took advantage of Fandango being involved in this whole stupid storyline to hit his best Running Bo-Dog yet for the easy victory. Amazingly, Bo Dallas is just getting better and better as time goes by. He was already pretty good at playing the character, but he's very quickly filling it out as well. Extra points for being the guy to shrug his shoulders and go "Women!" Because seriously, nobody else on the roster should be doing that. Only Bo comes across as being corny and stupid enough to pull it off without me wanting to punch them in the face.
Worst: *Projectile Vomits*
Without question, the biggest downside to writing up these blogs is that, by its nature as WWE's C-Show, a lot of guys who aren't good enough to show up on either Raw or SmackDown! show up pretty regularly here, and so I keep on having to watch R-Truth's matches and pay attention to them. Every single time I don't think Truth can get any worse, he does something else that makes me hate him more. I thought that being in a tag team with Xavier Woods would limit the damage he could do to my brain cells during this segment, but instead all of his awfulness just got focused and concentrated. Every time he's in the ring, he's doing something stupid. Pelvic thrusts. Circling booty dancing. Selling Curtis Axel's finisher - a hangman's facebuster - on the crown of his head because he flips over too far. And when he's not tagged in, he just shouts "WHAT'S UP!" at the crowd. Over and over again. Because see, that's what you want your partner to be hearing when they're in danger. A crowd of people saying someone else's stupid catchphrase and paying no attention to your plight. Goddamn it, R-Truth. Why the fuck weren't YOU the hip-hop themed African American wearing inappropriate ring attire to get fired?
Worst: Yeah, Let's Just Go Back To the Early 90's, Why Don't We?
I get it, Ryback. You're a bad guy. You're a bully. You're going to say some mean things about your opponents. But calling Goldust and Stardust "Painted-up hermaphrodites," and implying they're not really men because they wear leather and make-up? DUDE. How the hell many times did you wrestle Goldust before Cody got in on his act, and yet you never seemed to have a problem like this back then? I get that in-character, Ryback's probably just talking crap because he's pissed over losing, but I'm just saying, this really approaches some uncomfortable territory. Also, that's some real masculine talk coming from a guy who's wearing a big heart on his unitard tonight.
Best, surprisingly: Roman Reigns' Solo Promo
Roman Reigns has easily been the most protected member of the Shield. Not just in ringwork, but also in promos. He was always the one with the fewest lines and the easiest ones to deliver. The catchphrase. The final word. The badass one-liner. He didn't have to start at point A and work his way to point Z. He just said point Z, and he sounded cool doing it. Talking for a while exposes the fact that Roman Reigns' natural promo voice isn't his badass final word voice. He sounds more nasally, he stumbles on his words more, and it's clear he's trying to take a few cues from the best promo man he's been spending a ton of time around - Dean Ambrose - when that delivery and cadence doesn't really suit him. But those problems CAN be fixed, and honestly, they're not too bad. The best promo men in the world would stumble early on, and some still do. Beneath his occasionally labored delivery, Roman Reigns' character shined through, and he still looked great. The best part of his promo is the way it begins - he turns to Renee Young, and before addressing any of the matters he's out there to talk about, he brings up that he thinks something might happen now that he's in a vulnerable position, and he advises that she take her heels off and be ready to run. It's not an empty statement, either - the very first thing he does when Triple H sends Kane out to attack him is check to see that Renee's heeded his advice. That's a goddamn hero right there.
Best: Money in the Bank
As I'm writing this, it's only a few hours before my favorite annual pay-per-view. The day I watched Money in the Bank 2011, I was doomed to keep following WWE for a long time. I don't even really care much for ladder matches in general, but Money in the Bank is something wonderful in my mind. It is, more than any other event, the one that promises of great things to come. Most of the promises associated with it never come true. Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow didn't become main event stars. CM Punk didn't leave a long, lasting impact on the company. But Daniel Bryan did. And simply knowing that one of the big promises will come true is enough. It's enough to want to know what they promise you next. Maybe nothing they promise this year will work out, but with guys like the former Shield members and Cesaro and Wyatt involved in the ladder matches, you want to see some promises get made anyway. Money in the Bank has disappointed me in the past, but it will always, always, always be the one I look forward to most in the entire year. It's less than three hours away now, and I'm ready for it.