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The 2017 Money in the Bank pay-per-view broke the monotony, delivering an entertaining event at a time when writing across both WWE brands has been creatively bankrupt.
Solid in-ring product, storyline advancement, insane ladder bumps and a notable debut would have been enough to generate excitement and provide fans with several unforgettable moments to look back fondly on. The controversial conclusion to Sunday night’s most anticipated match only enhanced the buzz surrounding the event exponentially.
With Raw building to an extraordinarily badass main event between Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar for Great Balls of Fire July 9, SmackDown Live was feeling the pressure to deliver a memorable event that featured moments that created buzz, inspired excitement and proved memorable.
They did just that with these five occurrences.
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Without a doubt, the most memorable and buzzed about moment from Sunday’s pay-per-view was James Ellsworth climbing the ladder and retrieving the Money in the Bank briefcase before dropping it down to the waiting arms of Carmella, thus giving her a tainted victory in the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank match.
Outrage, frustration and fury persisted in the hours and days following the outcome, while some were adamant in their insistence that the angle was a fantastic way to generate legitimate heel heat for the pairing.
Regardless of which side of the aisle one falls on, the finish has fans talking about a storyline centered on the women.
Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya and Tamina will be seeking revenge against Carmella while manager Ellsworth stalks around ringside, undoubtedly taking bumps for any and all who oppose The Princess of Staten Island.
The match itself was well wrestled and expertly laid out. The high spots were built to, and Tamina was allowed to shine for the first time in years. Charlotte soared through the air with reckless abandon, and Lynch was the clear favorite up to the moment Ellsworth reared his chinless head and prevented The Lass Kicker from achieving victory.
While the finish may not have lived up to fans’ expectations, the match was still every bit as historic as the hype suggested and laid the groundwork for similar women’s offerings to come.
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The men’s Money in the Bank ladder match that headlined the show featured some truly extraordinary spots. Sami Zayn, in particular, stood out for the intensity and raw emotion he brought to the match, while Kevin Owens’ bumping brought an air of fright and concern for his well-being.
Perhaps no moment popped the crowd more, though, than the showdown between Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles that led to the finish.
The former New Japan Pro-Wrestling stars stared through a ladder at one another before setting the weapon aside and renewing their rivalry to the delight of the audience.
They unloaded on each other with stiff, hard-hitting strikes before taking their fight to the rungs of the ladder, where they continued to plaster each other with hard rights and lefts.
Ultimately, Baron Corbin tipped the ladder, sending both men to the mat before retrieving the briefcase, but that brief tease had fans salivating at the idea of a feature bout between the longtime rivals.
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As he made his entrance for the Money in the Bank ladder match, Shinsuke Nakamura was brutally attacked by Baron Corbin, who left The Artist lying on the stage and in need of medical assistance.
It appeared as though WWE Creative had devised a not-so-clever way to get Nakamura out of the match, preserving his undefeated record in the process. As it turned out, it was the ignition of a fire inside of The Artist that would consume the bout’s final third.
With Corbin in position to win the match, Nakamura’s music played and The King of Strong Style hit the ring, tearing through The Lone Wolf with a series of strikes and kicks that put the former Arizona Cardinal down.
For the first time since his arrival, Nakamura was treated like a legitimate star rather than just another one of the immensely talented stars on the roster. He was spotlighted, the entire final third of the contest built around him and whoever he was working with.
Having overcome injury to reappear, hit the ring and kick some ass, Nakamura was highlighted in a way that will lead to him becoming the biggest star on SmackDown Live if management can maintain the momentum he built for himself Sunday night.
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For better or worse, Maria and Mike Kanellis debuted Sunday night during the Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
Yes, he took her name, as John Bradshaw Layfield was quick to point out disgustedly on commentary.
The husband and wife, utterly obnoxious in their love for one another, promised to show the WWE Universe the true meaning of love.
Their theme music, almost as nerve-wracking as their personalities, announced the arrival of a new act that will either sink or swim on Tuesday nights.
Despite the questionable creative, Maria commanded the attention of the audience. She spoke with authority and got the heart of the act across to fans. Whether she can overcome what is sure to be some putrid writing in the coming weeks and months remains to be seen.
As it stands, though, Maria and Mike Kanellis’ debut was one of the most memorable moments of a newsworthy show.
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Sunday was not only a homecoming for Randy Orton, who challenged Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship in St. Louis, it was also Father’s Day, and seated at ringside for the bout was his father, Hall of Famer “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr.
Late in the 21-minute match between The Viper and The Modern Day Maharaja, The Singh Brothers were ejected for interfering in the proceedings. On their way out, they stopped by ringside and grabbed hold of daddy Orton, threatening him with bodily harm.
Randy unloaded with a furious vengeance on the brothers, laying waste to them at ringside but ultimately falling prey to the Khallas by Mahal, who retained his title.
The finish may have been eerily similar to last month’s Backlash match, but the incorporation of Bob into the finish, on Father’s Day and in a city in which he was made famous, was a nice touch and a memorable moment from an otherwise forgettable bout.