WWE drops ball, and briefcase, at Money in the Bank

Aaron Oster
Contact ReporterFor The Baltimore Sun

The Women's Money in the Bank ladder match was one of, if not the, biggest selling points of the show Sunday night. People couldn't wait to see who would pull down the briefcase in the first-time match. At the end of the match, when everyone expected to get a picture with a woman celebrating at the top of the ladder, instead, it was James Ellsworth who rose above everyone.

The women of SmackDown Live had a heck of a match Sunday night. They took some huge bumps, used the ladders viciously, and had some great spots, including several of the women falling from the top of the ladder. Everything was going well until the final woman fell from the top. Becky Lynch had thrown Carmella from the top with a powerbomb. It looked as if she had a clear path to the top of the ladder, and the briefcase that swayed above it. As she neared the apex, the ladder started to sway, and as the camera panned out, Ellsworth was shown shaking the ladder. Eventually he would tip it, leaving all the women in a heap. He moved to help Carmella up, then thought better of it. He raced up the ladder himself and was the one to unhook the briefcase. With a big grin, he tossed the briefcase down to Carmella, who was sitting on the mat. The bell rang, and even though the refs showed some confusion, Carmella was declared the winner.

In storyline, this makes sense. Carmella shouldn't be winning cleanly; she has Ellsworth to run interference for her. It's part of what makes her a strong heel. But this match wasn't built around storyline. For the past three weeks, all we heard about was how historic this match was. How this match was a chance for the SmackDown women to prove they could hang in a ladder match, the same as the guys. A chance for the women of WWE to literally and figuratively climb the ladder. And instead it's a man who climbs that ladder. Let's say that instead of Ellsworth going up the ladder, Carmella slowly gets up, and she climbs the ladder as he runs interference around the ring, making sure nobody can stop the climb. Wouldn't that be equally heelish, while allowing a woman to actually grab the briefcase? This goes beyond face or heel dynamics. This goes beyond storyline. Simply put: A woman has never successfully climbed the ladder in the WWE.

Is this the end of the world? No. The show will go on, and Carmella with the briefcase already has proved to be a perfect match. But as the WWE continues to promote the women's revolution, Money in the Bank was a horrific misstep as on this night, women weren't allowed to climb as high as a man.

The rest of Money in the Bank:

>> In the men's Money in the Bank ladder match, Baron Corbin came out victorious. He struck the first blow in the match, as he took out Shinsuke Nakamura during the King of Strong Style's entrance, which would keep Nakamura out for most of the match. The match, of course, featured the huge spots we've become accustomed to from Money in the Bank matches, including a really awkward fall from AJ Styles as he hung from the briefcase. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn continued their feud, showing their expertise in ladder matches. And then Nakamura returned. He came in and took out most of the field. Finally, when he went to climb the ladder, who was there to stop him but AJ Styles. The crowd popped, as both men realized the importance of the moment. After pausing to soak it in, the two went at it, dragging people back to Wrestle Kingdom 10, the last time they faced each other in New Japan before coming to WWE. After they went back and forth, they both climbed the ladder, and as they fought at the top, Corbin tipped the ladder, sending both of them crashing down. Corbin fairly quickly made his way up the ladder to earn the briefcase.

>> There was a long-awaited debut and return during Money in the Bank. In between matches, a theme reminiscent of an '80s power ballad played, and Maria Kanellis and her husband, Mike Bennett (now known as Mike Kanellis), made their way out on stage. Maria said the First Lady of WWE was back, and she found her perfect partner, as JBL went apoplectic that Mike took her name. Maria went on to say they would bring the power of love to SmackDown Live. It was a simple promo, but effective. For those of you who haven't seen this pairing in ROH or TNA, Maria has gone a long way on the mic since her WWE days. These two make an excellent heel pair, and they should bring that to WWE.

>> Jinder Mahal successfully defended his title, but once again, it wasn't without a lot of interference. Orton hit the RKO and seemed to be poised to win. The Singh brothers grabbed Jinder's leg and put it on the rope before three. After the ref ejected both, they made their way over to where a row of legends, including Randy Orton's dad, was sitting. They started to talk trash, but Randy Orton was quick to come out and attack both of them. After a thorough dismantling (while the ref didn't count, despite Orton's staying outside the ring for a while) Orton returned to the ring, only to be hit with the Khallas and the pin.

>> Naomi successfully defended her women's title against Lana. Lana certainly showed she had been training, and she looked competent, if fairly unimpressive. The big moment in the match came as Carmella came out toward the end and seemed as if she were going to cash in her briefcase midmatch. However, despite teasing it, she decided against it. Naomi would get the pin, and the two would have a staredown after the match. This showed exactly why Carmella should have the briefcase, as her character is perfect for it.

>> The New Day won their match with The Usos, but it was by count-out, so the Usos remained champs. The match was put together well, with some great spots, but there were a few sloppy moments for both teams. While it was an underwhelming finish, it was a logical finish to extend this feud farther through the summer.

>> The Fashion Police beat The Ascension. Another episode of the Fashion Files -- excuse me, Fashion Vice -- aired, and it continues to be one of the best things going on SmackDown. While the Fashion Police seem to be out of the tag title picture for now, this is keeping them relevant.

>> The Hype Bros won in their return match. Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder looked fairly dominant in their preshow win over The Colons.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout

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