2022 Money In The Bank Review, Grades: Theory, Liv Morgan Win Big

Is the concept tired out?

by

July 4, 2022

Money in the Bank brought the plunder, but the concept may have worn itself out.

The 2022 edition of the premium live event took place in MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas — a much smaller venue than the originally planned Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. The change in venue was due to a lack of ticket demand, and after watching this show, its easy to see why.

I’ll dive into this further when discussing the ladder matches, but Money in the Bank has lost its luster as a concept throughout the years.

One reason is oversaturation. What was once a special match held at WrestleMania is now its own annual premium live event. Ideally, WWE would spend a year to build up at least six title contenders for the match, but instead, fans are left with two or three picks, which leaves the rest of the competitors to come up with an intricate high-spot.

I will always commend the talent for putting their bodies on the line and willing get slammed onto a ladder — something I have zero desire of doing in life. But when you’ve watched enough wrestling, the impact losses its value, especially since WWE continues to have other match types like Hell in a Cell and Tables, Ladders and Chairs as their own premium live events. Rather than matches focusing on story, half the match is dedicated to setting up a spot that ultimately doesn’t add much to the match.

I’ll get into the more important problem later, but as for the matches, they will be graded on a 1-to-5 scale — one being bad to five being great. The show as a whole will get a letter grade. Let’s get into the show — (c) denotes champion heading into the match:

Women’s Money in the Bank: Liv Morgan defeats Asuka, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Lacey Evans, Raquel Rodriguez and Shotzi
I penned Rodriguez as the winner in my preview because she was a rising star from NXT and seemed like someone who could be built up into a future champion, like she was in NXT. Lynch was the obvious pick going in, but I felt she didn’t need the briefcase and could have gotten a title shot without much question.

Morgan came out the winner and knocked Lynch off the ladder in the process, and she received a huge pop for the win. The former tag team champion was a fan pick going in, but I was pessimistic WWE would actually push Morgan after past stop-start attempts. But WWE actually did it, and Morgan fared well in the match, especially her sunset flip powerbomb on Evans.

The other competitors didn’t do much to boost their stock. Bliss is the only one you can make a case for, but she is more re-raising her stock after her character change due to disassociation with Bray Wyatt. Asuka and Lynch are still title contenders in the division, but for Evans, Rodriguez, and Shotzi, they were fine in the match, but they remain in their lower mid-card, mid-card levels.

Grade: 3.25-out-5

United States Championship: Bobby Lashley defeats Theory (c)
This match was simply just there. The crowd was moderately into the match, but the build was weak heading into July 2. When Theory came out first, it was a clear signal he would be losing the title — traditionally, the champion enters the match last. Lashley and Theory are good workers and brought the match to a baseline level. Lashley won the match, and he is now United States Champion.

Grade: 3-out-5

Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (c) defeats Carmella
This match had very little heat. The crowd had very little reason to boo Carmella, even during her many attempts to get heel heat. There were also few believable moments during the build of this feud and during the match where you thought Carmella would actually win the title. Belair is an extremely talented in-ring performer, which helped save the match.

Grade: 2.75-out-5

Undisputed Tag Team Championship: The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) (c) defeats The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford)
This match was easily match of the night — incredible tag team action and some great near falls. The one big knock on the match was the finish. Ford’s shoulder was obviously up — it was pointed out by Ford and the broadcast after the match — during Jimmy’s pin, so a rematch at SummerSlam is likely.

The combo blockbuster was a fantastic near fall sold very well by Dawkins. But the story of the match was The Usos. They have shown time and time again in big matches why they are one of the best tags teams of their generation — The New Day and current AEW Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks are in the conversation, in terms of U.S. talent.

Unfortunately, this could be the beginning of the end of The Street Profits. There are reportedly plans to split up Dawkins and Ford in order to make Ford a singles star, via The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. The Usos bringing it up on the July 1 episode of SmackDown and commentary’s hype of Ford’s physique are part of this push. If this does happen, it would be a shame, but it would not be surprising because Vince McMahon famously hates tag teams and very few tag teams stay together for very long.

It’s a shame because The Street Profits work so well together, and Dawkins has improved so much since his move to Raw in 2019. However, their post-match argument signals a rift incoming. Ford is 32-years-old, so perhaps WWE feels the pressure — self-imposed pressure — to build up a new babyface.

Grade: 4.25-out-5

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) defeats Natalya
Similar to the Raw Women’s Title match, Natalya is not an effective heel — even her telling Pat McAfee to shut up was met with indifference. While her run as tag team champion brought some momentum, her status as a singles star has been lacking for the past few years. Rousey continues to receive mixed reactions from the crowd, and while the in-ring work was good, the result was expected.

Grade: 2-out-5

The highlight for the SmackDown Women’s Title was Morgan’s Money in the Bank cash-in. While the moment was great for Morgan — winning a world title for the first time in her career — it marks a stark shift in WWE’s star-building model. Morgan is not the first WWE talent to win their first title through a Money in the Bank cash-in — Big E did the same last year. The first title win is meant to be a culmination of all the hard work the wrestler put in for months or a year.

But for Morgan, the fan hype for her has been built through social media, especially after her WWE documentary came out documenting her journey to the company. It appears now fan expectation is not dependent on what happens on television but just general hype. This is not necessarily a big problem — Morgan has a grassroots following — but it allows WWE to be apathetic toward how they build stars on their on-screen programming.

It’s a great moment for Morgan, but as I mentioned in my preview, the way WWE builds off stars winning Money in the Bank has a bad track record. The company views winning Money in the Bank as an accomplishment in of itself and feels no work needs to be done after. This is a misguided view. Money in the Bank should be the start of a wrestler’s journey onto their path to legit main event status.

I would love to be wrong. Morgan is an extremely likeable person, but she and Rousey appear to be set up for a match at SummerSlam, according to Meltzer. While it is not the expected Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair match, it does feel like Morgan is only a transitional champion for Flair when she comes back from her break — Flair has been out since WrestleMania Backlash on May 8 where she, in storyline, suffered a “fracture of the radius.”

Men’s Money in the Bank: Theory defeats Drew McIntyre, Madcap Moss, Omos, Riddle, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins and Sheamus
This match delivered the high spots and big moments fans come to expect with Money in the Bank ladder matches. Poor Zayn still has to eat ladder bombs, and Drew McIntyre got to show how much of a man he is when he lifted up the ladder he was pinned down under. Omos got his moments and was the obligatory big guy everyone gangs up on.

Theory, after being a last-second inclusion in the match and doing very little in it, is your new “Mr. Money in the Bank.” While the idea of putting the briefcase on a star who will turn 25 on Aug. 2 is a good idea in theory (see what I did there), the execution was lacking. Theory lost his U.S. Title earlier in the night, and yes, the goal was to put the briefcase on him, but the Miami Heat didn’t earn an NBA Finals berth after losing the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Celtics.

People root for or boo winners. The Sacramento Kings are the laughing stock of the NBA because of how bad they have been over the past decade, and Tom Brady is hated because he’s appeared in nearly half of the Super Bowls over the past two decades.

Is Theory a realistic competitor for Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar? No. You may say it doesn’t matter because he can pull off a dastardly cash-in, but what happens after that? He is still a wrestler who is constantly beatdown to the point where he was a footnote in his own WrestleMania match.

Conclusion
Money in the Bank was a good encapsulation of what WWE is nowadays: bring the big moment without much forward thinking. It’s why the company relies on celebrity signings like Logan Paul. They want the illusion they are doing big things, but once you start watching, you realize there are only a handful of meaningful things going on.

In a vacuum, this was a fun show. The tag match championship and Money in the Bank ladder matches had some good spots, and Morgan winning the women’s ladder match and cashing in was a heartfelt moment to see, especially with the view of her sister in the crowd.

Final Grade: B-

Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
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