Well, it’s time for WWE’s fifth biggest PPV of the year (unless you class MITB as bigger than Survivor series) and WWE had seemed a bit lethargic in the promotion and construction of this card. It wasn’t very hyped up, didn’t have the most intense build and overall seemed to be an obligation rather than a big deal PPV. Thankfully, that attitude changed once the show actually began. We had excellent matches and some pleasant (and unpleasant) shocks as the show went on. Let’s stop stalling and get into it.
As always, I’ll start with the Kick Off show. For once it wasn’t the cruiserweights who were side lined to the pre PPV show with a tag team grudge match taking the often-maligned spot instead. The match was a fun little tag bout between RAW wildcards The Usos and the current Smackdown Tag Team Champions Rowan and Daniel Bryan. The match wasn’t for the titles but it may end up seeing another match between the pair of teams soon as the Usos hold a pin fall victory over the champions. The Usos went over with a Double Uce to Bryan. It was a bit of an odd victory but it’s good to see the Usos aren’t afraid to help keep the SmackDown Live tag division alive. The pair of teams have great chemistry so it’ll be nice to see if a title match does happen. Either way it was a fun match for the pre-show despite being interrupted twice by adverts.
Women’s MITB Kills
The first match of the card did an excellent job of getting the crowd fired up. The women’s MITB ladder match had everything you could want from this type of match. Everyone looked good here. Nikki Cross was added at the last second but got to look strong and the crowd rallied behind her as she took a ladder to everyone. Mandy Rose was a conniving heel who took Carmella out early on only to suffer for her deeds when Mella came back out and murdered Rose. They even showcased more of Sonya and Mandy’s friendship as Deville nearly carried Rose all the way up the ladder to win her the match. Naomi got some excellent ducking and dodging spots, especially one where she did the splits under two ladders. Ember Moon hit an absolutely mental Eclipse of a ladder and Dana Brooke finally got to prove she can hang with the big girls. In the end it would be Bayley who won after pushing the Sonya and Mandy dream team of the ladder. It was a big feel good win to end a big, chaotic mess of a match. Absolutely killed it this year ladies.
Okay, take this one with a pinch of salt. The match was good. Ignore all the shenanigans and dodgy officiating and you have a fun grudge match that used the cage and offered a unique ending. Miz held nothing back fighting Shane. When a chair was brought into the match, you bet that Miz used it to pepper Shane with chair shot after chair shot. Shane took the punishment like a champ and would slyly get his own offense in fairly often. He even took his trademark fall back into the cage. In the end he actually won by wiggling out of his shirt and falling to the floor leaving a stunned Miz at the top of the cage holding nothing but a jersey. It was a really creative finish to a match that seemed to feature a lot of brawling and a lot of Shane either taking a beating or running. The only thing that would have made it better was if George Mizanin had come into the cage and beat up Shane again.
Cruiserweights Manage Main Card
Look, the cruiserweights made it onto the main card for once. This could be a plus just for that but it helps that the match was actually really damn good. A lot of people online were complaining that Buddy Murphy never made it to the main card but hey the cruiserweights made it and that’s all that matters in the end. Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari put on an excellent little match that had no shenanigans, proper officiating and a nice heel/face dynamic with some hyper athleticism thrown in for good measure. It was everything you needed in a cruiserweight match. Hopefully more of them start making it to the main card.
The Gauntlet Works/Bayley in the Bank
Becky Lynch doesn’t know how to take the easy road apparently. She became Becky Two Belts now she had to defend them both. Her first match saw her take on Lacey Evans in a competitive bout that allowed Lacey to show off her match control and arsenal as she went to work on Becky Lynch. She was dominant for a large part of that match before falling victim to bad officiating when she had a three count roll up and being reversed into the Disarm-Her. Lacey was forced to tap but she looked strong in defeat and certainly didn’t just take the loss and leave.
The second match happened straight after as Charlotte’s music hit and she goaded Becky into having their match then and there. Becky wouldn’t turn down the fight so an exhausted and damaged Becky took on her second title match of the night. Again, this was fun if a little short as the two got pretty physical with the strikes and yet again displayed the chemistry that makes them excellent rivals. We may have seen the match countless times before but it’s hard to deny that the pair work together exceptionally well. Lacey interfered hitting Becky with the Women’s Right whilst Charlotte was distracting the ref on the outside and Charlotte won with a botched Big Boot to get the Smackdown Women’s title and enter her ninth title reign.
However, in a shock many people hoped would happen, Bayley cashed in. Lacey and Charlotte were beating down Becky when Bayley ran out to make the save and took advantage of a downed Charlotte. She hit the Elbow Drop and took the SmackDown Women’s title for herself. This is a big chance for Bayley to properly get over as a champ. The crowd were wild for her and it’s hard not to deny that the attitude she was showing before MITB was slowly giving her a new edge. She can be more than just the hugger and I hope this new title reign gives us the chance to see that.
They Burnt it Down
Usually when WWE promotes a dream match it falls a bit flat. It’s usually good but there’s something missing or it’s just not as good as it could be. This is one of those times where a dream match is actually a dream match. Everything worked here. Seth and AJ have unbelievable chemistry. They smoothly transitioned between moves, holds, strikes and match control in a lengthy and enjoyable bout that offered a fair amount of shocks. Both men pulled out their whole bag of tricks to put the other down. Seth did an Inverted Superplex and Reverse DDT combo whilst AJ did a Moonsault/Reverse DDT combo. Throw in some insane reversals, false finishes and exceptional tension and you have the ingredients that went into this match. From a pure wrestling standpoint this was the peak of the show. I just hope this isn’t the last time these two fight. Seth won this round with the Stomp. Post-match, AJ grudgingly offered respect and the pair had a tense hand shake that ended their segment of the show. Please gives us more of these two as the match quality can only continue to get better.
The second big title match continued the momentum as Kevin Owens and Kofi Kingston also put on an amazing bout that was propelled by the level of hatred both men had for one another. KO seemed content to destroy Kofi with a whole assortment of targeted attacks to the back and mid-section and applying the Boston Crab (or Walls of JeriKO) to try and submit Kofi. He destroyed him with a Frog Splash off the Apron and a Stunner but Kofi was always able to stay in the match. Kofi also showed fire as he would get hit and keeping coming back, even after Owens removed his boots for no apparent reason. In the end it took a Trouble in Paradise to win the match and KO Owens. KofiMania continues for now but who could be coming for him next?
Men’s MITB kills
The event took the usual MITB and amplified it to break as many body parts as humanly possible. Every man in this match seemed to be out to legitimately kill either their opponent or in some cases themselves. The spot of the match happened when Andrade delivered a Sunset Flip Powerbomb off of the top of a ladder onto another ladder below to Finn Balor. It was a brutal spot that looked like it could have crippled both men. Balor would suffer several more back targeted attacks too, one of which being a vicious Chokeslam onto the edge of a ladder from Corbin. There was also Drew and Corbin throwing Ali and Ricochet into ladders, Andrade using a ladder as a spear and Ricochet being put through a ladder. Even Orton surprised with an exciting RKO to Drew. It was a massively exciting spotfest that ended up being overshadowed by the fact a man was taken out of the match leaving an ominous open spot.
So, the referees looked massively incompetent for a large portion of this show. They messed up in the US title match, the Cage match and the RAW women’s match. It made half the show seem unnecessarily screwy. How does a ref not see someone’s shoulders a mile of the ground? Inversely how do a ref ignore a blatant pin attempt that achieved an over three count whilst the ref was bumbling like an idiot? The biggest idiocy came in the Cage match where the ref forgot that rope breaks don’t count in a Cage match. It just added a wonky feel to the whole show. One screwy finish or action is forgivable. Three is not.
Walk All Over Elias
WWE could mean walk with Elias if they gave a damn about Elias. I mean when you look at what the company does to him on a daily basis despite how over he is, you end up thinking that someone backstage doesn’t like him. SmackDown’s biggest acquisition had his arse handed to him by Roman Reigns after blindsiding him with a guitar and performing a song and promo for the crowd. For once he wasn’t interrupted as he performed and he replaced his broken acoustic with an electric guitar to make sure the audience experienced the full Elias show. He was set to leave when Reigns’ music hit, we get a Superman Punch. Roman gets Elias in the ring, the bell sounds then it’s Spear and three count. Roman won in ten seconds or so whilst ignoring a guitar shot. I know no one was particularly compelled to see the match between the two but come on, anything is better than a burial of that magnitude.
I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this your probably aware of Lars Sullivan and his dodgy past comments on forums. So, then it’s not exactly the smartest move to have the man a lot of the public openly considers a bigot squash three luchadores now is it? From a PR standpoint this is completely bonkers to me. Lars is already publicly trashed and you throw fuel on the fire by doing that. Normally I wouldn’t care too much when it comes to stuff like this but with it being so recent to all the uproar over the comments and punishments and sensitivity training it’s really difficult to ignore. I get it’s safe to have a group like Lucha House Party squashed by a giant but not one with a target painted on his back.
Okay so spoiler alert, Brock Lesnar was the missing eighth man. He hung Sami Zayn up then waited until everyone in the MITB ladder match was exhausted and broken to rush to the ring, knocking a ladder on a bunch of camera crew, and retrieve the MITB briefcase. Now there is a lot of outrage towards this move. I’m not in that category but I do think that everyone but Brock could have benefitted from winning. Brock doesn’t need the briefcase to demand a title match. He already appears threatening and isn’t around enough to make the briefcase feel relevant. Drew, Corbin, Zayn even Braun would have benefitted more from that little metal case than Brock. It’s smart from a shock standpoint as I doubt many people thought of Brock being that mystery man. Even I thought it may have been Bray despite the logistical impossibilities. At this point I don’t get angry at Brock; I just get apathetic.
Talk About Competition
WWE screwed themselves with the timeslot they picked for this PPV. The latter half of the PPV was directly competing with the Game of Thrones finale. That is not something that WWE could have possibly won against. Now I don’t know how WWE events are scheduled so this could have been set way before the Game of Thrones schedule was made but still that’s not something to have as competition. I’m sympathetic to all the performers whose matches were missed due to fans watching Game of Thrones instead of WWE. It’s funny though as both sides probably still had to contend with spoilers.
US Goes 50/50
This one goes in weird because it sucked as a result and it all happened in such an odd fashion. So from what I’ve grasped, the match was called short due to Joe potentially suffering a broken nose and bleeding quite substantially. After about a minute and a half Rey reverses a PowerBomb into a Hurricanrana and pins Joe. Joe’s shoulders are clearly up but since he’s injured the ref counts the pin and the match just ends. Even Rey is shocked. It looks like the finish was always to have Rey win but to have it happen in such an awkward manner is unfortunate. The segment was saved though as Joe being the monster that he is, destroyed Rey in front of his own son Dominick. The whole time Joe made eye contact with Dominick, egging him to try and make a save. This may have been an ugly match but I feel Joe may make this feud even uglier and for that I’m optimistic. This match however was just awkward so it gets the weird section treatment.
So, there you have it, my thoughts on MITB 2019. It was a contentious show that many will feel I was a bit easy on. There were definitely some negatives with the stench of Brock coming back to WWE and the refs making a fool of themselves the whole time but under that were some of the best WWE matches this year. Seth and AJ genuinely put on a must-see match and the MITB matches were the chaotic mix of destruction and carnage that everyone enjoys watching. It was far from stellar but when it delivered, it delivered hard and that is always worth applauding. Now we have to see what Brock does with the briefcase, get some build up to Super Show Down (I can’t believe they recycled the name from the Australia show) and we’ll see what this new belt that Mick Foley is going to unveil on RAW. Yours truly is hoping for the return of the Hardcore Title but I’m not holding my breath. We’ll just have to wait and see.
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