It's time to step into WWE territory once again as we take a look at their latest pay per view offering, Money in the Bank, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Sports here in Britain.
The show began with the Smackdown Money in the Bank match featuring Fandango, Dean Ambrose, Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes, Damian Sandow and Wade Barrett.
This certainly was an action packed start to the show, and with it being heel heavy it gave us a few unique sights as well. The bodies were flying from the moment the bell sounded, and with two teams involved it meant that the team work from the likes of the Real Americans and the Rhodes Scholars was guaranteed.
Perhaps the most unique sight was the moment when Barrett broke off one of the rungs and used it as a weapon when he clobbered Sandow. It was enough to send Sandow scurrying for cover moments later.
At one point Ambrose looked like a sure-fire winner until Rhodes stopped him from claiming the prize. This brought his Shield buddies, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, into the action as they cleaned house. But just as they were about to give their man a leg up the Usos ran in and attacked their rivals, thus beginning a mass brawl that spilled out to ringside.
While all of this was going on Ambrose climbed to the top of the ladder, but a few moments later Rhodes toppled the ladder and sent him crashing into the brawlers at ringside. But just as he was about to grab the case Sandow emerged from hiding, completely refreshed. He pushed Rhodes off the ladder before claiming the briefcase for himself. Needless to say that Rhodes wasn't too happy with the situation.
After an in-ring promo from new Raw boss Brad Maddox it was on to title action as Paul Heyman's guy Curtis Axel defended the Intercontinental title against the Miz.
After the excitement of the opener this was the perfect come-down match. Both guys put in good performances here. The opening exchanges were great, and a few moments in, after Miz confronted Heyman at ringside, he dropped to the floor, claiming that Heyman had slapped him. The referee, who had been checking on Axel at the time, fell for this Guerrero-like trick and promptly banished Heyman to the backstage area.
So with the playing filed now a little more even the match continued. Axel looked like he was going to take the win with the Perfectplex until Miz kicked out. A few minutes later Miz applied the figure four for a second time until Axel stopped him before planting him with what could be described as a neck breaker into a DDT for the pin.
The title action continued with Big E. Langston accompanying A.J. Lee as she defended the Divas title against Kaitlyn, who had Layla along for company.
It's nice to see the creatives continuing to put some thought into this division. This was a quality encounter and a nice continuation of their storyline. Kaitlyn began with some strong offence, but it wasn't long before Lee took control, capitalising on her challenger's elbow injury. From there the action flowed along nicely with several pin attempts added to the mix.
The challenger came closest to getting the win when she took the champion down with a spear, but it wasn't long before Lee applied her Black Widow submission hold. Kaitlyn held out for as long as she could until the inevitable happened and she tapped out to give Lee the submission win.
The non-title action resumed with Chris Jericho taking on Ryback.
Now this was a great piece of storytelling. You had the skilful and cunning veteran taking on the brooding powerhouse, and everything they did just made sense. From the beginning Jericho used his experience to out-smart the big man, and even though Ryback used his size and power advantage to throw his man around the ring Jericho kept coming back, frustrating Ryback at every turn as he targeted the monster's one weak spot, his injured leg.
All of this made for some great back and forth sequences in what could be Ryback's best match to date, and with each man countering the other's big finisher the end made sense when Ryback rolled up his man after a missed Lionsault a move which didn't exactly sit too well with some observers from what I've heard.
The Smackdown main event saw Dolph Ziggler challenging Alberto Del Rio for the World title.
This proved to be a very enjoyable encounter, and with both men without their ringside supporters for various reasons it was also the chance to see how they matched up on a more level playing field.
It began with Ziggler rolling up the champion as soon as the bell sounded, and from there it developed into a great back and forth encounter in which both men gave a good account of themselves as they took turns in controlling the action.
It looked like the action could go either way. ADR did a good job of targeting Ziggler's head again, although he didn't have the same amount of success he did last time around, while the challenger looked great, especially when he was taking Del Rio down with a face buster from the top rope. In fact that move was so good we were treated to three replays.
Then, after Ziggler took his man down with a dropkick as he came off the top rope Divas champ A.J. Lee came skipping down to the ring to support her man. Ziggler ordered her to leave, but Miss Lee was having none of it.
Her presence proved to be a big distraction as Del Rio came back into the match as he targeted the head once more. But when he removed his knee pad, exposing his knee brace, Ziggler managed to avoid the strike to the skull. It was then that Lee climbed into the ring and clobbered Del Rio with her title belt. The referee called for the bell immediately, giving Del Rio the disqualification win and costing her man the title. Needless to say that Ziggler was none too happy with his woman.
The Raw main event saw Mark Henry challenging John Cena for the WWE title.
The slow and methodical approach was the order of the day in this one. Mind you, considering who was involved that was only to be expected. Cena looked somewhat reticent when the match began, and it wasn't long before Henry took control of the action as he tossed Cena around like an old rag.
I never thought I'd say this, but Henry looked pretty impressive. He played his role perfectly as he took the champion down with an array of power moves. Cena proved to be his perfect foil, the champion who knew that he was up against it, a man who knew he'd have to go that bit further to get the job.
As the match went on both men became more and more frustrated. Cena kicked out of the World's Strongest Slam and a low blow, while Henry survived the Attitude Adjuster and the STF. Then, when Henry went to whip Cena into the turnbuckle bolts that he'd exposed the champion reversed the positions and sent the big man into the corner. He then applied the STF for the second time, and even though Henry almost made it to the ropes Cena dragged him back into the middle and re-applied the hold. This time around Henry had no choice but to tap out, giving Cena the submission win.
The final match of the night was the Raw Money in the Bank match featuring Rob Van Dam, Christian, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Sheamus and C.M. Punk.
As the old saying goes, they save the best for last, because as good as the Smackdown version was this was just that much more better, and a hell of a lot more dramatic.
It began with all six men standing in the ring eyeing each other up, and in the next few moments they took out RVD and Sheamus before the four remaining began to beat the hell out of each other. From there the action moved along at almost break-neck speed. The aforementioned Van Dam quickly returned to the action and rolled back the years when he took everyone out with his impressive array of kicks in what was the first of many highlight reel moments.
As the match progressed everyone had a chance to grab the big prize, and it really looked like this night could belong to anyone as the bodies flew all over the place. There were quite a few holy you know what moments, the most holy probably being when Sheamus was sent flying from the top rope, crashing through a ladder that he himself had perched between the ring and one of the commentary tables. And folks, this didn't look like the wooden kind of ladder that Sin Cara was power bombed on a few years ago.
Later, when Bryan was atop the ladder and about to grab the case Curtis Axel suddenly appeared and attacked him. After he'd taken the world's toughest vegan out he found himself confronted by Punk, who quickly took him out with the GTS. It was then that Paul Heyman arrived on the scene to berate his charge. He then encouraged his best mate to climb the ladder and claim the prize.
Some best mate he turned out to be. As Punk struggled to climb to the top Heyman got into the ring. It looked like he was trying to offer his guy some encouragement until he grabbed another ladder and rammed it into Punk. A few more shots saw him crashing down to the canvas, and a final shot busted him open. His work done, Heyman took off his jacket and marched backstage.
This left the way open for RVD to mount another challenge, but this time around he was foiled by Orton. In one fluid moment the Viper pulled him down from the ladder and took him out with the RKO. He then climbed the ladder himself, and after making sure that the others were out for the proverbial count he reached up, grabbed the case, and guaranteed himself a shot at the title.
In conclusion - once again various circumstances led to me watching the show a few days after it happened. However, I'm glad I managed to catch up with these events.
Overall this year's Money in the Bank delivered big time. Every single match delivered in spades. The undercard was particularly strong, the two main title matches ticked all the right boxes, and the two ladder matches were the definite highlights of the night for me.
Which made choosing the winner of my match of the night no-prize was that much more difficult. But if you've been reading carefully you've probably already deduced that the award is going to the Raw Money in the Bank match.
So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give this show the big thumbs up.