Bang For Your Buck PPV Review: Money in the Bank 2013

Last night was the Money in the Bank PPV, where careers are made, bodies are broken, and we spend the entire night worrying whether or not wrestlers have legitimately blown out their knees or are just pretending they did. It’s also been the best  Bang for Your Buck PPV over the last few years, and 2011’s edition is in fact the highest rated in our system (read: on the list in my head).

For those who missed the Extreme Rules PPV review, or forgot because I spent last month reviewing Payback for With Leather (sorry for the humblebrag), the criteria for these is simply: “Did I get my money’s worth?” in terms of the individual matches and the PPV as a whole, using the tried and true “what was this trying to do, and how well did it succeed” rubric.

Each match is rated plus or minus on a sliding scale between 1 and -1, with matches worth multiple rewatches worth 1, a just-quite-PPV quality match being 0,  and things that make me reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The higher the number, the better Bang For Your Buck on the PPV. We’ll (eventually) keep a running tally for each PPV, and a handy list of PPVs we review to give you (and us) a better idea of what we thought was worth the time to check out in terms of matches and PPVs. As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match average):

We will also divide the final total by the number of matches, so you get an idea of the overall show AND the average quality of each match. We hope you like it, but if you have any tweaks or things you’d like to see us add, leave it in the comments. Check it out, tell us what you think and, you know, enjoy the show or whatever.

Oh, and to mix it up, I’m using things I said yesterday from the “What’s the Worst That Could Happen: Money in the Bank edition”. This won’t be the rating necessarily, but we thought it would be a fun way to see how the show matched up to my expectations.

***

WWE Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. The Usos (Kickoff Match)

What Nick Wants to Happen: I remember that you can only see the pre-show online, instead of completely missing it like I did with Payback.

I didn’t completely miss this because they put it on the live preview, but it felt weird to include this in the rating and I didn’t want it clouding my judgement for the rest of the show. Also, there were reruns of late-period How I Met Your Mother episodes that I don’t totally remember every line from on at the same time, so I’m not saying I wasn’t paying attention, but I now will always remember that Barney Stinson can’t take a bad picture.

World Heavyweight Championship Contract Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Fandango vs. Jack Swagger vs. Antonio Cesaro

“Best Case Scenario: Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow win the Money in the Bank contract at the same time, decided to have a Best-of-7 series to determine true victor. Remain best friends.”

With all due respect to the totally enjoyable All-Stars match, the Money in the Bank contract is supposed to be about up-and-coming guys breaking through the mid-card glass ceiling, even if only for a brief period. The contract is a star maker, pushing guys like Edge and CM Punk into the Hall of Fame and allowing guys like Daniel Bryan and the Miz to get a taste of top-tier belts and main events early in their careers without blowing their load on a big run. This match not only gave that opportunity to Cody and Damien with a completely-unexpected-until-it-was clearly-inevitable-twist that split Team Rhodes Scholars in as quick and messy a way possible, it laid the groundwork for a potentially transcendent feud during one of the best multi-man matches since War Games. We saw Fandango powerbomb someone off a ladder, Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger do their Xenophobic Old-Timey Strongmen gimmick to perfection, Dean Ambrose use We The People as a platform to try to reach the briefcase, then the Shield as a way to prevent Cody Rhodes for winning and using that to reinvigorate the Tag Team division in one fell swoop — by having the Usos/We The People and The Shield: Operation Long Hair brawling break the match wide open to allow for the ending — is why people pay money to watch wrestling. That and the look of disappointment on Cody Rhodes face at the end of the match.

Match +/-: +1.0

PPV total: 1.0

The Miz vs. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel

“What Nick Wants to Happen: Joe Hennig looks like the talented worker and storyteller he really is, Miz doesn’t get in the way *too* much, Paul Heyman continues to be the best character in the history of professional wrestling who doesn’t scream “THAT’S WHAT I DO!””

So, Paul Heyman leaving was a bummer, but it was necessary given the feelings that Philly has toward him, and how important it was for Joe to show how good he can be. This match allowed him to do that, at least a little bit, which was nice. This match wasn’t anything to write home about, but Miz getting over on Heyman, and Joe looking great and finishing the match WONDERFULLY with that “I’m going to MacGyver this win because I am injured right now” lead into his new finisher — that because Daron “Action” Jackson is my best friend, I’m going to call a Reverse McGuillicutter — is the type of stuff that makes matches memorable enough to not be a disappointment and show the flashes that explains why guys like Joe get the chances they do.

Match +/-: .4

PPV Total: 1.4

Divas Champion AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn

“What Nick Wants to Happen: A really good wrestling match between very talented workers that have a GREAT storyline and wonderful chemistry.”

I can’t say I’d pay to see these two wrestle against each other anymore but AJ Lee is one of heck of a professional wrestler and Kaitlyn was a solid foil to start off what should be a long run as Diva’s champ. I wouldn’t show this match to someone who I wanted to get into wrestling, but matches like this are  precisely the thing that can be used to shut people up who say women can’t wrestle. And that’s all I can really ask for.

Match +/-: .25

PPV Total: 1.65

Chris Jericho vs. Ryback

“Best Case Scenario: After coaching him to defeat Chris Jericho through superior wit and guile, Vickie and Ryback become the E’s Platonic Ideal of the Punk/Heyman partnership, repeatedly break “This is Your Life” Rock-and-Sock-Connection quarter-hour ratings record for next six months on RAW.”

The Ryback beat The Cool Dad using superior wit and guile in a match that was well-paced, fun and devoid of interference or help from Vickie. That last part is why this made me sad and question everything I thought I knew. I don’t want Ryback turning face, but I don’t see how he can continue to be a heel with wins like this. What are they going to say “Oh, that Ryback is a real pain, winning matches fairly by doing whatever it takes to win legally! Uh, Ryback Rules is a weird catchphrase! He’s a stupid faced wuss!”? I like Ryback as heel, as I think we all do, and I think this match hurts that narrative. So, I guess I didn’t pay to see this match, per se? But if all his matches were like this, nothing would make me happier. I’m just confused right now, you guys.

Match +/-: .5

PPV total +/-: 2.15

World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler

I almost got this:

“Best Case Scenario: They recapture the heat from the match at Payback, Alberto Del Rio is finally recognized by white audiences to be the Mexican Bret Hart, Del Rio starts south-of-the-border version of classic Hart “Canadian Hero” run.”

but instead, they did this

“What Will Happen: A match with interference, where Big E. Langston AJ Lee breaks my heart.”

Which was a total bummer, especially if they don’t turn AJ Lee face. Not only does that play into the misogynist bullshit that the E loves to propagate about trusting women and their inability to “be not crazy”, but it would just be a terrible stupid way to end what was to that point, the best match that either of them had so far on such a big stage. I loved the almost all of this match, and if they end up turning AJ face along with Ziggler, then I’d be willing to give this a different rating, but given that they gave me a bullshit finish after a decidely not bulllshit match, I’m pretty sure I could have just watched this on RAW and not been nearly as disappointed. Sorry, two of my five favorite wrestlers, this hurts me more than it hurt you.

Match +/-: .3

PPV total: 2.45

WWE Champion John Cena vs. Mark Henry

“What Will Happen: Valiant John Cena will valiantly defeat the evil, very bad, no good, Mark Henry, valiantly.”

I love John Cena, something I’ve made clear throughout the years, so the reason this match won’t get the perfect score it deserves isn’t about me not appreciating the brilliant work these two did because of some misguided anger towards generic jock characters. It’s a belief that the business — and the viewers — would have been better served with the story that would have been told with a win by Henry. Henry, who I will eventually (but probably not anytime soon) be able to write about and not make it sound like I have a crush on him should have won this match, if for no other reason that it would have set up a rematch for SummerSlam, which I would have definitely spent money on (even if I wasn’t already planning to) because this match was every bit as good as I wanted, if not quite as good as I had hoped. They told a simple story: Valiant John Cena vanquishes Bad Bad Leroy Brown Mark Henry in a well-executed (if predictable) story. That’s what people who pay to see John Cena wrestle pay to see, and I appreciate that as much as anyone, but it wasn’t what I (enough people other than me) wanted, especially the direction they are seemingly going with Daniel Bryan so I’m knocking this down just a wee bit.

Match: .7

PPV Total: 3.15

Money in the Bank All-Stars

CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Christian vs. Rob Van Dam
 

“What Nick Wants to Happen: Daniel Bryan goes into Mario Star mode, sprints to top of ladder to grab briefcase as the entire crowd does the “Yes!” chant in unison.”

It’s hard to say a match this fun, with a full-on screwjob and a surprising winner was a disappointment, even though it was at least on some level. Perhaps disappointment is too harsh. Maybe let down is a better word, as much of the dropoff between this match and my/many people’s expectations was a function of context. While it may have lacked the innovation of the first match, it still brought an appropriate amount of creativity and daring-do to the proceedings even before you factor in the quality of the performers playing the parts. But the let down isn’t just that Daniel Bryan didn’t win, despite going full Mario Star mode, but that he was so clearly slotted — at least in the eyes of the fans — into a feud on the Intercontinental Title-shaped hamster wheel while “Really” Randy “Another Resthold?” Orton has been pushed into another feud with John Cena following the latter’s defeat of Mark Henry in the absolute barnburner of a match that preceded this one. The match proves that status quo isn’t terrible, but it can be disappointing.

Match +/-: .6

PPV total: 3.75

Final PPV Tally: 3.75 | Avg/match: .5357 (.54, if you’re nasty)

Like the Extreme Rules review, I felt like this accurately reflects what this was: a very good PPV worth more than every penny that didn’t quite become a great one (where I felt like I had stolen money) because of one or two booking decisions that prevented it from living up to previous version of this event. Would recommend highly, though. Especially the Mark Henry vs. John Cena and WHC Money in the Bank match.