WWE Money in the Bank 2023 will surely go down in history. For starters, it's directly tied to the United Kingdom, and being the first...premium live event (still getting used to that phrase) since Summerslam 92, it'll carry that cache.
The other reasons are tied to the fact that it was just a really entertaining event.
WWE has been absolutely crushing it in 2023. After many years of being disgruntled with the product, and oftentimes feeling insulted by the booking and the creative, the overall feeling as a fan I now get from the WWE really mirrors sentiments of being a kid again. Sure, it's not Steve Austin stunning Mr. McMahon heights or Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith, but it is genuine interest in what is going on with the characters, and the desire to want to know what will come next.
Yes, so much of that is attributed to Roman Reigns and the Bloodline storyline. The Bloodline story is everything right now. Everything. So good.
The WWE legit moved me to get my errands completed - or paused for the day - to carve out three and a half hours to watch MITB. That's a simple, yet, major fan behavioral investment that we often overlook in our overanalysis of how professional wrestling companies are doing.
With that said, here are some quick thoughts in my review of MITB 2023:
- I've given up on the days of different PLE sets returning. Not just in the WWE, but in pro wrestling overall. Production is now such a critical discussion among fan bases that staying the course to ensure a certain value of presentation seems to be the standard for all. Especially when sets are becoming more dynamic with video boards and screens and no longer scaffolds, props, and stage builds, I completely understand the move.
With that said, I thoroughly enjoy the simpler approach to the stadium shows. It's a great touch to add extra seats. And there is just something about that long, often angled, aisle that makes it all feel special. I'm always picturing The Ultimate Warrior whenever I see that.
I wouldn't mind seeing other companies still try for a change to their bigger events. At least, try.
- I found the Money in the Bank Ladder match participants to be VERY interesting. I wasn't a huge fan of Logan Paul just entering the match (what's the point of qualifying matches?), but I understand the star power and the attraction.
I'm still concerned for Logan Paul and Ricochet after the Spanish fly into the tables.
The match was very good and Damian Priest's win was unexpected. The Judgement Day surely has some serious legs in the WWE's future and Priest holding the case makes for curious forward-thinking.
As for LA Knight, for this longtime Impact fan, I've been a fan since those days (yeaaaaaah!). I thought the company had a gem then, and I'm glad he's found his way to a bigger stage. The WWE does have a way of oftentimes not going with the popular (or hot) pick, and sometimes even running that momentum into the ground on purpose (ala Fandango, anyone?).
Knight has charisma. And his finisher is super cool. Yes, there lots of comparisons to Rock and Austin, and others, but that's the business. Learning from the greats, why not?
- The Shayna Bazler turn on Ronda Rousey felt as random as random gets. In many ways it was nice, in some ways, it's extremely head-scratching and rushed. I'm looking forward to the feud, but I'm also wondering why we got here, and in some ways, why we're here?
All I can summarize from this is that Bazler and Rousey somehow have greatly lost the luster that made them badasses. Especially Rousey who went from attraction to non-interest. Give me them in a match at Summerslam and have them destroy each other.
- Gunther remains one of my favorite wrestlers right now. The due is just so believable. In a world where high spots have become overdone, that smashmouth old-school bruiser is refreshing.
- I didn't expect much from Dominick Mysterio to do well, anything, against Cody Rhodes. Dom Dom, Dirty Dom, the son of the deadbeat father, all of it, the dude gets heat.
Cody still feels like a big deal. It's hard to imagine that he was in AEW at this point.
- It's safe to say that PLEs are now just constant in-ring matches that feel more like the days of older pay-per-views with a sequence of matches rather than the modern era period where they felt like more produced for television with backstage interviews, segments, and other tv-style approaches. I do like it.
- I miss John Cena. I have no idea what the program we watched was for, but him clearly interacting with Grayson Waller is yet another rub to an up-and-coming talent.
I don't get the Grayson Waller hype. It's early, but I just don't get it - more importantly, I don't feel it. He's in the category with Austin Theory for me - clearly talented guys where I'm just not buying the character or feeling any kind of connection with what they are portraying and presenting. It feels forced. I don't buy it.
- The women's Money in the Bank ladder match had one of the most creative finishes for a ladder match ever, which says quite a bit as the gimmick has been overdone over the years.
The Zelina Vega and Zoey Stark sunset powerbomb was absolutely insane.
Iyo Sky with the win should provide some interesting development as I think the women's division - on both shows - needs some freshening up or, at least, something new.
The UK continuing to sing for Bayley is tremendous. Bayley is a consummate pro. She's not as athletic as Charlotte Flair, but I find her to be more entertaining in the character department - hot take, I guess?
- Seth Rollins is a machine. The guy really is on a high level that you know you're bound to get a quality match whenever he's on your television. It might be me, but I'm still just not into the "freakin" character that's Joker meets Riddler meets something else (?), I guess. I get it, but, well, I don't.
- And of course, there is the Bloodline Civil War match. What I've enjoyed the most about the entire ordeal is the pace, the nuance, and the overall detail in everything. The unintentional (or was it?) low blow was super creative and gives another aspect to the defeat of Roman. However, what grabbed me was Solo's facial expressions and body language after the Usos kicked out after being "stacked". Solo's disbelief toward Reigns said so much, like a soldier who suddenly lost respect for his leader who clearly lost command and faith in the moment.
Then there is Jimmy's body language in the corner as the three-count is in process, moving from adrenaline to hope, to disbelief, to relief, to celebration.
And of course, every move that Paul Heyman does.
All of it is great stuff. Tremendous.
The defeat felt special and added another step in what is clearly the best thing in pro wrestling.
I know we're off the heels of an amazing Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay match at AEW Forbidden Door - and it was pro wrestling art.
But yo, I'll continue with more hot takes - Roman Reigns is the best wrestler in the world, period.
The complete package.
I'm looking forward to Summerslam (why is it so early?). I've already booked it on the calendar.
Again, I can't remember the last time WWE had me like this.
Photos: Courtesy of WWE.com