WWE Champions Corner (11-12 Jun): Insert Ladder Pun Here
Money in the Bank had better be bloody excellent at this rate.
This week was the go home show for Money in the Bank. Did the champs send a message to their challengers, or did they come off looking worse for wear?
WWE Raw Champions
The Universal Title
I suppose congratulations are in order. Brock Lesnar now officially holds the record for the longest world championship reign of the modern era. Congratulations, Brock; I’m sure this accolade means a great deal to you. Maybe you can show up next week and give us all a speech (delivered by Paul Heyman, naturally).
The Intercontinental Title
Their collision at Money in the Bank is just days away, so Elias thought he’d take his best shot at getting inside the champion’s head. Did “The Drifter” make Rollins the butt of the joke, or did “The Kingslayer” have the last laugh?
Well, both things happened, actually. Elias absolutely destroyed Seth this week with a song that really made you think about how bad the champ’s nicknames are, and Seth “Freakin’” Rollins was nay too happy about that. As a result, he marched down to the ring, and went on to hit The Stomp on Elias’s custom IC Championship guitar.
Seth Rollins has been an incredible champion. Since his win at WrestleMania, he’s been killing it in every damn match, and he just seems more comfortable on the mic. If his reign ends on Sunday, it’ll be a damn shame, but losing one title would free him up to chase another… just think about it, that’s all I’m saying.
The Raw Women’s Title
Nia Jax had yet another conversation with her MitB opponent, Ronda Rousey, this week because what’s the point in doing anything new?
Jax did her usual shtick of telling Ronda she’s just not ready to become champion, and went on to suggest WWE is more dangerous than the UFC because wrestlers can slap each other and pull hair. Yeah, that really makes wrestling sound legit. “The Baddest Woman on the Planet” then delivered a speech that was actually pretty good. She said no one thought she was ready for all of the big milestones in her career, but she overcame the odds to stand tall.
The Raw Women’s Champ went for a cheap shot, but Rousey caught her arm. “The Irresistible Force” broke Ronda’s grip with a big headbutt. The former UFC champ recovered and finally locked the armbar in on Jax, forcing her to tap out.
I still think this feud has been terrible, but it felt less so this week; some average fighting words and a little scrap go a long way in building interest in a match. Jax’s heelish antics make me think she’s going to get herself DQ’d on Sunday. Ronda wins but doesn’t become champion. It’s not ideal, but it’s probably the only thing WWE can do to get themselves out of this crappy situation.
The Raw Tag Team Titles
The challengers to Matt & Bray’s titles had a match on Raw to warm up for the big clash on Sunday. Once the bout was over, the champions had a few words for Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel.
The match between The B-Team and Heath Slater & Rhyno wasn’t anything special. Dallas & Axel got the win with a backdrop into a neck breaker. Post-match, the champs came out to play on the fear of the challengers. Matt said when all was said and done, he and his partner will delete The B-Team.
Great mic work again from the champs, but I feel the whole thing would’ve been better if Dallas & Axel had a chance to speak up for themselves. Matt & Bray are actually in danger of becoming heels; The B-Team are super over with the crowd, so are fans going to be happy when they get destroyed at MITB? WWE have to play this one carefully but no matter the outcome, I am definitely invested in this match.
The Cruiserweight Title
It looks like everyone is gunning for a shot at the champion these days. After his actions last week, Drake Maverick banned Hideo Itami from 205 Live this time around, but there was still a score to settle between Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy. In the main event, Ali fought Murphy’s training partner, Tony Nese, with the Aussie at ringside. And in Ali’s corner was the Cruiserweight Champion himself, Cedric Alexander.
The champ stayed out of the match for the most part, but after being attacked by Murphy, “The Soul of 205 Live” fought back, battling Murphy out of the ring area and into the back. With the Aussie and Alexander gone, Ali hit a big 054 Splash to win the match against Nese. Post-match, “The Heart of 205 Live” asked Maverick to give everyone what they want: Ali, Murphy, and Itami in a triple threat match next week. The GM agreed, and the match was set.
Alexander didn’t do much this week, but it’s good that he’s still found a way to stay involved. With the big bout next week, it looks like a new no. 1 contender for Alexander’s title will soon be crowned.
WWE SmackDown Live Champions
The WWE & US Titles
Given how closely entwined the two title scenes were this week, I thought I’d combine these sections. AJ Styles cut a promo basically saying he’s still going to be the WWE Champion after MITB; nothing new, nothing special. Later on in the night, AJ’s opponent for the title, Shinsuke Nakamura, battled the US Champion Jeff Hardy.
It was great to see Hardy back in action after a couple of weeks off. He and Nakamura put on a good solid bout, but it’s a shame it was only being used to further hype the last man standing match between “The King of Strong Style” and “The Phenomenal One.” After reversing Hardy’s second Twist of Fate, Nakamura hit the US Champ with a low blow to lose via DQ. The nut shot kept Jeff down, as the challenger to the WWE Title counted to ten; a clear message to AJ.
Nakamura has really made himself look like the smart, dastardly heel. His loss hasn’t harmed him – it’s made him look stronger. Meanwhile, Jeff picks up a win of sorts, and since he hasn’t got an opponent at MITB, looking a bit weak for now isn’t going to do him any harm. Will Shinsuke become the new WWE Champion? It’s looking evermore likely.
The SmackDown Women’s Title
Argggh… WWE made me watch another multi-woman tag match. Carmella teamed up with a bunch of women not good enough to qualify for the MITB ladder match this week, against all the women that were good enough & Asuka. I’ll give you three guesses as to how this match went down.
Look at that, you got it in one. There was a lot of screaming, women not doing a huge amount, and the face team won. Specifically, Asuka won by forcing the champ to tap out. After the match, the women competing for the MITB briefcase circled Asuka to remind her that becoming champion means also becoming a target. Carmella, meanwhile, dragged herself up the ramp to the back to lick her wounds.
I don’t understand how these matches benefit any of the women, and it must really suck for the audience members who can’t even see the match because there are so many bodies on the ring apron. All in all though, Asuka proved she can beat Carmella (like it was even in doubt). Her victory on SmackDown means an almost guaranteed loss on Sunday, and honestly, I don’t have a clue where things are going to go after that. Maybe Carmella vs. Lana? I hope not, but it’s a possibility.
The SmackDown Tag Team Titles
Karl Anderson picked up the surprise victory over Harper last week, and what did WWE do to keep us excited about their match at MITB? Err, nothing.
Neither The Bludgeon Brothers nor Gallows & Anderson appeared on SmackDown this week, and the announce team said their title bout will be on the pre-show. Wow, look how much I care about this match. I can’t even contain my excitement…
This is an absolute shame. I really thought “The Good Brothers” were going to get some great exposure and look like a credible threat to the champions. I guess that’s all out the window. Does anyone see the mighty Bludgeon Brothers getting knocked off their perch on the pre-show? Of course not. If anything, Bryan vs. Cass should be on the pre-show, as no one cares about Cass in the slightest.
And that was the go home shows. No champion looked spectacular this week, but hey, it’s Money in the Bank! No matter what, these ladder matches always deliver, and I’ve got my money on The Miz and Ember Moon taking the briefcases. Let’s hope they can take the titles to new heights.