WWE Money in the Bank 2014 Matches: Best Finishes for Each Match on the Card
The finish is the most important part of any match. It is the exclamation point on the action that came before it. In many ways, it lets the audience know if investing time and energy into the contest was worth it or not.
Anytime championships or other valuables such as a guaranteed title opportunity are on the line, the finish becomes that much more important. A good one can legitimize a title reign, while a bad one can doom it right out of the gate.
Sunday night at Money in the Bank, the finishes of the much-anticipated ladder matches are of the utmost importance. With injury sidelining Daniel Bryan and recent booking decisions creating three new stars, the future of the company could depend on them.
The finishes will have to put one man over but, at the same time, protect those the company has big plans for in the near and long-term future.
What is the best way to do that? Who will benefit immediately?
Take a look for yourself.
Money in the Bank Contract Match
The majority of the hype for the Money in the Bank Contract match has centered on the heated, personal rivalry between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, and rightfully so. It is a program that, if handled correctly, can be a moneymaker for WWE.
Ambrose has been spectacular in his role as the Lunatic Fringe, while Rollins has been solid as the ruthless, selfish backstabber. Their brawls have injected some energy into Raw and SmackDown, and the unpredictability of Ambrose has really helped him get over in a post-Shield WWE.
Considering that both were groomed for greatness as members of the Hounds of Justice and look to be well on their way to significant roles with the company for years to come, neither really needs the Money in the Bank briefcase at this point.
Both will get to experience championship glory at some point, so giving them the guaranteed title shot and forcing a title reign before they are ready for it would be detrimental to their development.
Bad News Barrett would be the perfect choice to capture the briefcase and finally take the leap back into the main event scene, but the report of a shoulder injury by WWE.com suggests that his availability for the match remains up in the air.
With Kofi Kingston and Rob Van Dam guaranteed to make fans' jaws drop with high-risk maneuvers and displays of unparalleled athleticism and Jack Swagger likely just a name to fill out the remaining spots in the match, that leaves Dolph Ziggler.
Late in the match, Ambrose and Rollins scale the ladder as the crowd in Boston comes to its feet. They exchange hard rights and lefts, each trying to knock the other to the ground below. Their mutual hatred overwhelms them, and they lose track of the fact that Jack Swagger has entered the ring. He tips the ladder over, and both men crash and burn on the arena floor.
Swagger climbs the ladder and looks to be well on his way to his second Money in the Bank briefcase when Dolph Ziggler cuts him off. With both men at the top of the ladder, Ziggler grabs hold of the briefcase, bashes Swagger in the head with it and retrieves it.
A bit of poetic justice, if you will.
Ziggler becomes the first Superstar since CM Punk to win two Money in the Bank briefcases.
Big E vs. Rusev
In the 1980s, the feud between Big E and Rusev would have headlined house shows all over the country. Big E would be the biggest babyface on the planet, and Vince McMahon would be planning a major supercard with them on top. The pro- and anti-American promos alone would be a license to print money.
The wrestling industry has changed over the last 30 years, and in 2014, the feud makes for an entertaining little midcard program.
Rusev is an unstoppable force that is finally connecting with fans. Anyone doubting it should look no further than the Battle Royal to determine the last participant in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match. The crowd erupted at the sight of Rusev standing across the ring from Roman Reigns, implying that they see him as suitable competition.
Big E has been lost in the shuffle thus far in 2014, but his recent performances on the mic may be the emphasis for a renewed push in the post-Money in the Bank WWE. A talented wrestler whose size and power are not indicative of his speed and agility, Big E has a bright future ahead of him if he can recapture the attention of WWE Creative.
Big E puts up another strong fight against the Bulgarian Brute, but Rusev fights out of an attempt at the Big Ending and delivers one of his impressive side kicks. Moments later, Big E is forced to tap out to the Accolade.
Rusev scores another impressive pay-per-view victory and prepares to move on to bigger and better things.
Summer Rae vs. Layla
Summer Rae's refusal to accept that Fandango had dumped her and chosen Layla as his new dance partner has created a heated love triangle that will culminate Sunday night at Money in the Bank when the ladies meet one-on-one and Fandango serves as guest referee.
The general cattiness of the Divas has led to them using milk and kitty litter to humiliate each other. On other occasions, they have opted for good, old-fashioned catfights. That WWE has not exposed their weaknesses in anything resembling a lengthy match has helped the program maintain momentum.
Sunday night at Money in the Bank, it is in the best interest of everyone involved if the match is kept short and sweet. Throwing in a bunch of sports-entertainment spots that accentuate the story will lead to a much better match than if they are thrown to the proverbial wolves.
At this point, it does not matter who wins or which Diva is Fandango's dance partner going forward. The character is an undercard one at best and has been irrelevant throughout most of the year, even if Fandango has turned in some decent in-ring performances.
Summer Rae rolls Layla up, and Fandango delivers a quick three count. Layla, feeling betrayed, gets in her dance partner's face before being attacked from behind by Summer. The former Divas and Women's champion is left lying in a heap, while Fandango and Summer engage in a passionate lip lock.
This allows Summer to resume her role as a heel, which better suits her, and gives Layla the opportunity to be a babyface if the company chooses to her portray her that way.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper
The Usos and the Wyatt Family have been at each other's throats for the better part of two months, ever since Jimmy and Jey began backing John Cena up in his feud with Bray. By doing so, the WWE tag team champions gained the attention of the dangerous Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and now face the biggest threat to the titles since winning them back on March 3 in Chicago.
Harper and Rowan are big, strong, powerful brawlers who perfectly offset the speed and high-flying ability of the champions. Harper and Rowan have proved it several times in both singles and tag team matches. That they have never experienced the glory that comes with holding a championship of any kind and have focused solely on hurting their opponents makes them even more dangerous.
Imagine what they will do to protect their titles, should they win them.
The Usos are great as the face of tag team wrestling in WWE. They do not need the tag titles and may be better suited chasing after the straps for a while. Immensely over with the crowd because of their charisma and electrifying offense, they will be just fine without the gold around their waists.
Jey Uso takes both himself and Erick Rowan over the top rope and to the arena floor, while Jimmy Uso scales the ropes for the big splash. Harper rolls out of the way, and Jimmy crashes to the mat below. Seconds later, Harper finishes him off with the discus clothesline for the pinfall victory.
Harper and Rowan capture their first championships in WWE.
Divas Championship Match: Paige vs. Naomi
Divas champion Paige enters Money in the Bank as a background player in the split of the Funkadactyls.
Cameron has undergone an attitude change of late and is apparently no longer willing to sit back and be wasted in Naomi's shadow. Playing up the persona that fans witnessed during her days on Tough Enough, she has become an egotistical, selfish and annoying heel who denounces the accomplishments of her partner and puts herself over.
That was never more apparent than on the June 23 episode of Raw, when she played her character so well that it legitimately irritated commentator Michael Cole. In many ways, her transition has overshadowed both Naomi and Paige, who will compete over the top prize in women's wrestling.
The only real interaction that champion and challenger have had leading into the pay-per-view came on the June 27 episode of SmackDown, where they engaged in a staredown instigated by the conniving Cameron. How they work together on a major show such as Money in the Bank, where they will likely have more time to put together a match than they would have on Raw or SmackDown, remains to be seen.
Who controls the match could determine the overall quality of the bout.
Cameron is turning heel, and that should be featured heavily in this match.
Late in the bout, Naomi is rolling toward her first Divas Championship, but Cameron distracts her and costs her the title. This leads to a program between the former Funkadactyls, while Paige continues to be caught in the middle, perhaps leading to a Triple Threat match at Battleground.
It is not an ideal finish for Paige, who retains in a somewhat heelish fashion, but the story involving Naomi and Cameron has clearly taken precedent over the actual title defense.
Goldust and Stardust vs. RybAxel
After Cody Rhodes quit on his brother following a loss to RybAxel on June 1, he did everything in his power to find Goldust a new partner. He recruited Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara and R-Truth, all of whom failed to turn the Bizarre One's fortunes around.
Then, on the June 16 episode of Raw, Rhodes debuted his new character Stardust.
His face caked with gold and black paint, gold gloves with a giant black star in the middle adorning his hands and red contacts created a creepy visual. Dressed in a full gold-and-black bodysuit like his brother, Stardust partnered with Goldust to defeat RybAxel.
Angered and dismayed by what they consider an unacceptable loss, Ryback and Curtis Axel issued a challenge for a rematch on the June 24 episode of Main Event. Goldust and Stardust accepted three days later.
As good as RybAxel has been in 2014, there is no way the team wins here. This match is simply a showcase for Goldust and Stardust as they continue to introduce Rhodes' new gimmick.
Unless, of course, they pull off an unexpected and nonsensical heel turn.
Stardust pins Curtis Axel to continue to gain momentum as a character. At the same time, that finish protects Ryback, who is so much better than he gets credit for and still carries himself like a star.
He deserves another chance at a singles push. Whether he gets one or not is the question.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match
The Ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will pit eight of the top stars in the business against one another for the vacated title. Roman Reigns, John Cena, Sheamus, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro and Alberto Del Rio all earned their way into the match, while Authority associates Randy Orton and Kane were gifted spots in the contest.
It is safe to say that Del Rio, Cesaro and Sheamus have no real chance of leaving Boston with the title. They are great wrestlers who can be counted on to deliver awesome matches but are nowhere near title contention. They shouldn't be considered serious contenders to exit Sunday with the top prize in sports entertainment.
Kane was a late addition to the match and, if the teases on SmackDown are any indication, should serve only to help Randy Orton regain the title he held leading into WrestleMania XXX.
Orton is the dark horse in the match Sunday night. He has done little of note since Payback, thanks in part to an injury, but remains a constant threat to win the championship thanks to his place in the company and the fact that he is the top full-time heel. The potential for the Demon Kane to help ensure his victory only betters his odds.
Bray Wyatt is an interesting case in that his exposure has diminished since losing to John Cena at Payback, but he has remained an integral part of WWE television. It's almost as if he has been downplayed so that, if he wins Sunday, it would be an even bigger surprise.
Roman Reigns will one day wear the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but it will not be Sunday. It's too early, and forcing a title onto him for the sake of popping a TV rating or speeding up his ascent would only do him more harm than good.
John Cena is the face of WWE and never looks out of place with the WWE title.
Daniel Bryan's injury created a mess as far as long-term booking goes. WWE Creative continues to shuffle things around to make up for his absence, and that is apparent in this weekend's two big ladder matches.
Putting the title on Bray Wyatt may have many storyline possibilities, but it would also be a mistake. The same goes for Roman Reigns or the "Swiss Superman" Cesaro. Those three men will get there in time. What WWE needs right now is a reliable champion in order to steady the ship.
Someone who has been there before.
It may not be the most popular idea, but Cena or Orton needs to leave Money in the Bank with the title to give the writing staff a chance to settle down and figure out exactly what it wants to do over the next few months.
It is likely that either one of those men would merely be a placeholder, and at this point, that would not be such a bad thing for the short term.
If Cena wins, he should do it in a fashion that instantly sets up his next rivalry. Given the face-to-face encounters he has had with Reigns and the reaction they drew, maybe heading in that direction would do more for the second-generation star than a feud with Triple H. If not Reigns, then a brief title program with Cesaro would be fun.
If Orton wins, a finish involving Reigns and Kane almost has to happen to set up whatever the company wants to do at Battleground and SummerSlam.