WWE Money in the Bank 2014: Most Memorable Moments from PPV Event
Matches and stories attract an audience, but the individual moments are what fans remember forever.
Hogan slamming Andre, Mankind's first title win and "the Austin era has begun!" are all images from shows that were very good as a whole but whose moments shine brighter.
While none were as poignant or historical as any of the three mentioned above, Sunday night's Money in the Bank pay-per-view featured several great moments that fans will be able to look back on years from now with great fondness and instantly recall what show they are from.
Some featured young stars making names for themselves in the most dangerous of matches. Others saw veterans once again proving why they have achieved the success that they have and remained on top for nearly a decade.
It is too early to tell which, if any, of the moments have a lasting effect on the careers of those involved, but one thing is certain: They left fans with jaws dropped and, in one case, ready to riot.
The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family
The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family was the perfect way to kick off a wild and chaotic night of action.
An energetic, fast-paced match that saw Jimmy and Jey improbably retain their titles over the brutal, barbaric Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, the bout got the Boston fans invested in the action early and set the stage for what would be a very good pay-per-view extravaganza.
Outside of the champions and Harper's displays of athleticism, the best moment of the match came when the usually straight-faced Rowan climbed the ropes and appeared to have a smile on his face. The big man has never been up top before, so to see him attempt it did more to put over the importance of the tag titles than anything WWE Creative has done in years.
Whether The Usos retaining the titles was the right choice or not is a question for another time, but as an opening contest, fans could not have had a more perfect bout than what they got Sunday night.
Ambrose Shakes Off Shoulder Injury, Returns to MITB
Dean Ambrose was the unquestioned star of Sunday's Money in the Bank Ladder match, and his performance may lead to a much bigger push than was originally in the cards.
In a moment that could define him before all is said and done, Ambrose appeared to reaggravate a fictional injury suffered to his shoulder during a match with Bray Wyatt a few weeks back on SmackDown. Trainers and referees hit the ring and ordered Ambrose to the back, clearing the way for Seth Rollins to focus on obtaining the Money in the Bank briefcase.
As he appeared poised to do so, the crowd erupted and Ambrose hit the ring. He repeatedly bashed Rollins with a chair and began his own climb up the ladder as chants of "Ambrose" broke out.
Unfortunately, his heroic return does not have a happy ending. Kane made his way to the ring and ended Ambrose's night with a chokeslam and Tombstone piledriver.
The whole sequence was a brilliant bit of booking. Ambrose looks like a world-beater who overcame injury to return to the ring, take out his villainous ex-partner and appear well on his way to winning the Money in the Bank briefcase before The Authority had to resort to sending Kane out to stop him.
In the long run, Ambrose may benefit more from his booking Sunday night than Rollins will for actually having won the match.
Rollins Crashes and Burns
One of the most breathtaking moments of the night came during the traditional Money in the Bank match and featured The Authority's new golden boy, Seth Rollins, and Ladder match veteran Kofi Kingston.
With a ladder forming a bridge between the ropes and another ladder, Kingston delivered a back body drop to Rollins off a 15-foot ladder. He crashed and burned on the bridging ladder and the crowd in Boston came unglued. It was a legitimate jaw-dropping moment, and one that reminded fans of just how dangerous matches of this type can be.
That the ladder became dislodged and Rollins slid down it, his back scraping each rung before landing head first on the mat, only made it that much more painful and dangerous.
Of course, Rollins recovered nicely, capitalizing on interference from the Demon Kane to retrieve the briefcase and earn himself a future WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, so the pain and suffering proved to be worth it in the end.
Big E Spears Rusev
Any time two guys wrestle each other multiple times and revisit spots from prior bouts, it is automatically a good thing. Sunday night, Big E and Rusev crafted a superb heavyweight battle that not only continued the strong push for the Bulgarian Brute but reminded fans of just how good Big E can be when given the opportunity.
The defining moment of the match, and one of the best of the night, came when Big E delivered a spear through the ropes that sent both he and his opponent crashing to the arena floor. Rusev looked legitimately hurt, perhaps suffering from a rib injury, following the spot, while Big E was lucky to not have been seriously injured after his head smacked off the arena floor.
From a story perspective, the spot was perfect. Earlier in the match, Rusev had blocked the same move with a knee to the head. Now wobbling and woozy, he did not have the wherewithal to do it again, and he fell victim to the high-impact move this time.
Rusev recovered and won the hardest-fought match of his young career. It is the type of win that will propel him to the top sooner than later if WWE Creative can resist the urge to book him in more tired squash matches.
Cesaro Monkeys Around
One of the staples of modern-day Money in the Bank matches are ladder contraptions that look more like something a kid with an Erector Set would build than anything a handful of pro wrestlers could concoct. Sunday night, one of those contraptions led to the best, most original spot of the entire Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
As you can see from the picture above, the contraption led to Sheamus and Cesaro hanging from a ladder in midair, a violent fall and crash awaiting them if they let go or lost their grip.
Always one to show off his unmatched power and athleticism, Cesaro took the opportunity to use the ladder as a set of monkey bars, climbing from one side to the other, where he brawled with the United States champion in an attempt to retrieve the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
He was unsuccessful in doing so, but the fans had yet another reason to cheer the man affectionately known as the King of Swing.
The danger and injury that could have resulted had the ladder used as a prop slid out of place or dislodged is scary to think about. While it may not be worth attempting again, it gave the audience something they had never seen before, and that is a rarity.
Orton Bleeds for His Craft
With all of the dazzling spots and high-flying acts of athleticism, sometimes it is easy to forget just how dangerous a ladder match is. Unfortunately for Randy Orton, he found out firsthand.
The Viper was climbing the ladder toward the titles he held just a few months ago, seemingly poised to regain them, when Roman Reigns entered the ring and shoved the ladder over. Orton fell off of it and hit the ropes. As he turned around, the falling ladder hit him in the head, splitting him open.
Ringside medical staff immediately tended to the wound, getting it stopped for the most part, but one could not help but notice that Orton seemed a bit rubber-legged the rest of the night, as if he may have suffered a more serious head injury.
Still, he soldiered on, delivering one of the best and most aggressive performances of the entire match. His sequence with Roman Reigns, in which he exchanged headbutts with the second-generation star and split himself open to the point that he was wearing the proverbial crimson mask, was phenomenal.
The sight of the bloodied star climbing the ladder in hopes of retrieving the prize that awaited him only increased the drama and helped make for a better ending.
It was a great performance from someone who is not likely to get the recognition he deserves coming out of the show.
There is a lot of venom being hurled in John Cena and his employer's direction following the conclusion of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match Sunday night and, for the most part, it is unwarranted.
Yes, John Cena winning the title may not be the freshest of concepts and the general laziness with which they booked his latest win may not have been ideal, but Cena was the best choice of those available.
Daniel Bryan's neck injury has completely changed the booking plans WWE had laid out leading into SummerSlam. It split The Shield on a whim and is trying to cover months of plans because the guy it had built itself around is suddenly unavailable for an undetermined amount of time.
When the company finds itself in that position, overreacting can do more harm than good. Putting the title on Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt or Cesaro may have been a newer, more exciting approach to take, but rushing a run with the belts for any one of them could irreparably damage them.
Cena is old reliable. He sells a boatload of merchandise and is still the biggest draw in sports entertainment. Giving him another run with the belt while the company tries to figure out what to do next is not a bad thing. Get the ducks in a row, then take risks with new talent.
Cena's victory was largely anticlimactic, but years from now, when fans look back at the 2014 edition of Money in the Bank, it will be one of the moments indelibly etched in their minds.