WWE Money in the Bank 2018 Results: Alexa Bliss Shocks and Top Takeaways
The WWE Universe was treated to an explosive, newsworthy Money in the Bank pay-per-view Sunday night that saw championships change hands, rivalries come to fitting conclusions and Superstars secure future title opportunities in grueling ladder matches.
It featured performances far and above what fans expected and some competitors' flirtations with the main event come to a screeching halt.
After six weeks of disappointing and lethargic build, and a Backlash pay-per-view that failed to inspire anything in the way of gleeful excitement for the product, WWE presented a show where things actually happened and the future of the promotion got a little brighter.
What were the night's biggest takeaways and which performers were at the center of them?
Take a look for yourself.
Alexa Bliss Steals the Show, Ruins Superb Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey Bout
Alexa Bliss had spent most of the post-WrestleMania 34 stretch in the background of the Raw women's division, cooling down after a lengthy run as the brand's champion. So much so that she was almost an afterthought heading into Sunday's Money in the Bank ladder match.
That is until she upset seven other women and emerged from the bout just the second woman to take home the briefcase. As it turned out, she would not even leave the arena with it, interfering in the night's Raw Women's Championship match between Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax.
Like a snake in the grass, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike, she waited until her former friend Jax was trapped in the clutches of Rousey's vaunted armbar and pounced, attacking both beaten and exhausted women with her newly won briefcase.
From there, she cashed it in, delivered Twisted Bliss and won her fifth women's title.
Her appearance in the title bout represented layered storytelling the likes of which fans are not familiar with from WWE.
Bliss had a long and storied history with Jax so it made sense that she would want to interrupt her most significant match and title defense ever. As Miss Money in the Bank, it also made sense that she would do whatever it took to ensure Rousey did not win the title because there is no way Little Miss Bliss wants to try and dethrone someone like the former UFC champion.
Throw in the fact that Bliss now as two ongoing rivalries to keep her busy and ensure she remains the face of the division on Raw and you have a brilliantly executed cash-in that should spawn several entertaining championship clashes over the next few months.
If not some downright awesome exchanges with Rousey.
Ronda Rousey Exceeds Expectations (Again) and Nia Jax Proves Her Worth
There were plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the quality of Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women's Championship Sunday night, not the least of which was the inexperience of both women.
For as many matches as she has wrestled, Jax has only been an active in-ring competitor for four years. Rousey? Less than one.
Fans had every reason to believe their match at Money in the Bank would be a short one that accentuated positives, hid negatives and did not expose either performer.
Instead, Rousey and Jax far exceeded even the loftiest of expectations, working an exciting and entertaining match that had fans in Chicago on their feet and this writer, in particular, arguing that it should have been the main event of the entire show.
Rousey was phenomenal, selflessly bumping all over the ring to put over Jax as the true Irresistible Force that WWE has been championing her as. The former UFC star was dynamic, explosive and when it came time to make her babyface comeback, had the fans in the palm of her hand, a sign that she will be just fine in this new world of sports entertainment.
While it is easy to praise Rousey's performance, it is absolutely essential to credit Jax for the overall quality of the match.
The champion was the glue that held the match together. If she had stumbled or faltered, had an off night or proved incapable of performing up to the moment, the entire thing would have been a colossal disaster. Instead, she picked the single biggest match of her career to deliver one of her finest performances.
Jax was simply outstanding as she ferociously took the fight to Rousey, looking to prove that she was every bit the dangerous competitor in the ring that the celebrated athlete was. She succeeded and the result was an in-ring narrative that was simple, understandable and incredibly effective.
Some will argue that the ladder matches were better or the Last Man Standing match was the night's top bout but from the perspective of crowd heat, storytelling and genuine excitement, no match did good, old-fashioned pro wrestling better than Rousey vs. Jax and both women deserve kudos for making that happen against all doubts.
Shinsuke Nakamura's Run as a Main Event Superstar Is over
The second AJ Styles kicked Shinsuke Nakamura low, leading to his breathtaking Phenomenal Forearm from the ring, through the announce table, The Artist's run as a top babyface came to an end.
Nakamura lost his latest attempt to dethrone Styles Sunday night, bringing a months-long program to a satisfying conclusion and ensuring the King of Strong Style would descend the ranks and settle nicely into the midcard for the foreseeable future.
What does that position on the card hold for Nakamura, though?
Daniel Bryan, the most logical next opponent for him, is currently engaged in a rivalry with Big Cass that, despite another clean submission victory Sunday night, does not appear to be over.
Perhaps the challenges Jeff Hardy for the United States Championship.
The June 13 episode of SmackDown Live saw Nakamura deliver a dreaded low blow to earn him a disqualification against the Charismatic Enigma. Maybe WWE Creative revisits that to spark a rivalry in which Nakamura finally wins gold of some sort on the blue brand.
Whatever the case may be, he had four opportunities to beat Styles for the WWE Championship and failed each time. No matter how great or iconic Nakamura may be, the booking clearly suggests management does not see him as a long-term, valuable main event attraction.
Instead of continuing to kill his credibility with more losses, putting him in the right feud with the right opponent, where he can actually get over and win a title, will help him significantly.
A lot more than losing another high-profile match and earning the label of a loser or choke artist would.
The Demise of Big Cass
Big Cass lost again Sunday night, tapping out to Daniel Bryan's new kneebar submission.
While commentators Tom Phillips and Corey Graves hinted later in the night that the differences between the seven-foot Superstar and his underdog opposition may not be over.
Cue collective groan.
After two straight submission losses to Bryan, Cass really has no reason to have any further issues with Bryan. He got his ass kicked and now, should move onto something else. WWE Creative's insistence on three-match series, though, leads us to the very real possibility that the writers will book one more pay-per-view match between the Superstars and somehow attempt to convince fans that when Cass wins at Extreme Rules, he has won the entire feud.
That simply is not how that works.
Fans already have the image of the seven-foot bad guy meekly tapping out to Bryan's submissions. For better or worse, WWE Creative snapped its fingers and any credibility Cass had as a potential main event attraction blew away in the wind like a Marvel character at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.
Cass has no credibility in the role WWE so desperately wants him to fill and booking him to finally beat Bryan at Extreme Rules is simply a case of too little, too late.
James Ellsworth Instantly Enhances Carmella Character
James Ellsworth returned to a huge ovation Sunday night and suddenly, everything was right with the world again.
The chinless wonder did not have his contract newed by WWE officials last November, despite a spectacular on-screen pairing with Carmella. His presence was absolutely essential to her acceptance by fans in the role of Miss Money in the Bank. He was a male valet, the manager that repeatedly cheated in her favor and earned her victories she otherwise had no business achieving.
When he helped an overmatched Carmella defeat Asuka Sunday night, it became obvious just how much the Carmella character missed her boy toy valet.
Ellsworth helped the then-inexperienced in-ring performer get over with crowds and in the process, they developed an on-screen chemistry that worked above all expectations. When Ellsworth disappeared, Carmella kind of lost her way, appearing on shows but lacking that co-star to play off of.
Now the SmackDown women's champion with a ton of potential to reign over that division as its featured heel for quite some time, Carmella has her heart back in the form of wrestling's most unlikely star.
Braun Strowman Signals the End of Roman Reigns' Run as Raw's Top Dog
Do not look now but Braun Strowman essentially ended Roman Reigns' run as Raw's top dog Sunday night with his victory in the men's Money in the Bank ladder match.
The Monster Among Men has been dishing out those hands to anyone in his path this year, winning the Greatest Royal Rumble in April and guaranteeing himself a championship opportunity anytime, any place over the next year with his win Sunday.
The crowd erupted for every one of the big man's high spots and was wildly receptive of his victory.
Reigns, on the other hand, worked a fine match with Jinder Mahal but was met with chants of everything from "CM Punk" to pro-beach ball nonsense.
The different reactions for two Superstars who will be forever linked by their intense and violent feud from 2017 provide WWE with the answers it is looking for.
Strowman has been the most protected character on the roster while Reigns has struggled with some of the company's booking decisions of late. The Monster Among Men has won more than he has lost while Reigns has lost the high-profile matches to Brock Lesnar.
In Strowman, fans see an organically made megastar while in Reigns, they see the machine's pet project. Strowman, they reason, busted his ass to get in better shape and succeed at the top level in WWE while Reigns was gifted his push.
Regardless of how incredibly flawed that reasoning is, Strowman's win in the Money in the Bank ladder match sets him on a collision course with Lesnar and presents a very strong likelihood that he will do what no one else has been able to: dethrone The Beast Incarnate and take the Universal Championship in the name of full-time Superstars everywhere.
Reigns, again, will miss out on that definitive victory over Lesnar that he seemed destined for, leaving some to wonder if his days as the golden boy in Vince McMahon's traveling circus is over.