'Money in the Bank' Takeaways: Big E Victorious, John Cena Returns to WWE Ring

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The right guy won.

Big E is the new Mr. Money in the Bank, winning a sensational multi-man, multi-ladder match, climbing one step closer to his first-ever run as WWE champion. Nikki A.S.H. was a surprise winner of the women’s Money in the Bank match, and there is plenty of potential for her to have a career-defining feud against Charlotte Flair, who regained the Raw women’s title in an exceptionally captivating match against Rhea Ripley.

The night also featured the return of John Cena, who was met with thunderous applause, setting up for an iconic meeting between Cena and Roman Reigns at SummerSlam.

WWE is riding a hot streak, and the matches delivered, though the night was not perfect. Technical difficulties were a problem for a chunk of time following the Flair-Ripley match straight through the introductions for the men’s Money in the Bank match. This was a horrible look for both WWE and Peacock, but fortunately, it was resolved in enough time not to interfere with the match.

Money in the Bank was WWE’s first pay-per-view since WrestleMania 37 that featured an actual audience. With a live crowd, reactions were once again organic. This was on full display during a phenomenal tag match pitting AJ Styles and Omos against The Viking Raiders, which saw the heels—Styles and Omos—receive babyface reactions throughout the encounter.

Here are the results from Money in the Bank, which currently stands alone as the top pay-per-view of 2021:

-- The Usos defeated Rey and Dominik Mysterio on the pre-show to win the SmackDown tag titles

-- Nikki A.S.H. won the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match

-- Raw tag team champions AJ Styles and Omos defeated The Viking Raiders

-- WWE champion Bobby Lashley defeated Kofi Kingston

-- Charlotte Flair defeated Rhea Ripley to win the Raw women’s championship

-- Big E won the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match

-- Universal champion Roman Reigns defeated Edge

And, along with some first-hand perspective from Charlotte Flair and Edge, here are my takeaways from the show:

****

Big E is the new Mr. Money in the Bank, and there isn’t a better choice on the WWE roster.

Big E celebrates after winning Money in the Bank

There is so much potential for what comes next, including a potential matchup against Roman Reigns. But with Bobby Lashley dismantling Kofi Kingston earlier in the show, the possibility now exists that Big E challenges Lashley. But before we look too far forward, it is worth revisiting this match.

Ricochet was spectacular and put together his own highlight reel. His spot off the ladder, onto the top rope, with a flip outside the ring, was breathtaking. He repeatedly put his body on the line, and there were moments where it felt like this was his reminder to the decision-makers in WWE that he is a talent that simply should not be forgotten about. I sincerely hope Vince McMahon took note.

Seth Rollins also hit a wild powerbomb on Kevin Owens, dropping him outside the ring and onto a ladder. There were highlights from John Morrison (who the crowd particularly enjoyed), Matt Riddle, and Shinsuke Nakamura, as well as Drew McIntyre before he was beaten down and taken away by Jinder Mahal, Veer, and Shanky.

As Rollins was about to claim the briefcase, Big E interfered. He scooped up Rollins off one of the two ladders in the ring, then hit a very big ending that dropped them both down onto the mat. E then climbed his way up the ladder, and the crowd exploded as he grabbed the briefcase.

Big E’s ascent to the world title picture is long overdue, and the timing here at Money in the Bank was perfect.

****

Nikki Cross, who is now Nikki A.S.H., picked up a surprise victory in the women’s Money in the Bank match.

Too often, Cross has been overlooked and underutilized in WWE. Her victory was a wonderful moment, and the pure emotion on her face was clearly visible as she celebrated the victory. The finish saw her outclimb every opponent, who were all fighting atop three ladders, and grab the briefcase.

There is just enough truth embedded in that storyline. Cross has made a career out of exceeding expectations, which she will do again as Ms. Money in the Bank—and hopefully as Raw women’s champion. She also has a perfect opponent in former tag partner Alexa Bliss, which will be further enhanced by Cross’ support from the crowd, which was loud in its approval when she grabbed hold of the briefcase.

Now that she has the briefcase, she can also challenge new Raw women’s champion, Charlotte Flair. In a recent conversation with Sports Illustrated, Flair shared her admiration for Cross.

“Nikki is the perfect good guy,” said Flair, who defeated Rhea Ripley in the match of the night at Money in the Bank. “I adore her, and I’ve always been looking forward to having an opportunity to do something with her on a bigger scale. There is no questioning anything she does, she’s just so good at being the good guy. Her energy, innocence, the way the fans relate to her, she just oozes natural charisma.”

Naomi and Liv Morgan were particularly outstanding in this match. A key for WWE will be giving them time to grow into bigger stars every week on Raw. There was a disappointing part of the match—namely the sequence where Alexa Bliss used hypnosis on Zelina Vega to force her to climb down the ladder. But overall, this was a very good match with an unexpected outcome.

****

The most controversial moment of the evening took place during the pre-show when the Usos defeated Rey and Dominik Mysterio to win the SmackDown tag team titles.

The title reign marks the seventh time Jimmy and Jey Uso have worn WWE tag gold together, so the decision to have them regain the belts, especially considering they’ve been in a program with the Mysterios, is by no means a surprise. But unfortunately, we are less than two weeks removed from Jimmy Uso’s second DUI arrest. The conventional thinking was that he would either be taken off television or used in a diminished role, which has not been the case.

Perhaps the finishing sequence of the match was symbolic, as Jimmy took a 6-1-9 for Jey, then they teamed up together to ensure the victory.

In an interview that took place before Money in the Bank, Adam Copeland was asked about the manner in which The Usos have risen to the occasion while aligned with Roman Reigns. Having known them for over 20 years, Copeland—who is best known in WWE as Edge—shared a unique perspective.

“I met them when they were like 10,” said Adam Copeland, who has also been feuding with The Usos in his program against Reigns. “I was one of the younger guys, and we’d get in the ring, bounce around, and have fun.

“I got to have a singles match with Jey on SmackDown, and he’s just such a talented guy. You can’t teach those instincts. To see where they’re at now, and to have the chance to get in the ring with them, they’re just so good.”

The Usos stake a legitimate claim as one of the greatest tag teams ever in WWE. They have worked the card as babyfaces, and they are now flourishing together as heels.

****

Bobby Lashley cut a promo to close out last week’s Raw that articulated a burning desire to return to a place where he is dominant and feared.

That was the perfect set-up for his match at Money in the Bank, where he obliterated Kofi Kingston.

This was also an important match for representation. WWE does not have the best track record when it comes to diversity amongst its world champions, so there was something greater at play here than just a compelling title match. And this was a very good story that elevated Lashley as world champ, as well as opens the door for Big E and his newly won Money in the Bank contract to add both substance and sizzle to Raw by challenging Lashley.

****

Roman Reigns and Edge had the unenviable task of following the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match.

Their closing sequence started when Reigns hit a superman punch, causing Edge to be driven into referee Charles Robinson. Reigns tried to lock on the Glasgow Grin, but Edge quickly reversed it—and appeared to have the match won after interference from The Usos was stopped by Rey and Dominik Mysterio. That is when Seth Rollins arrived to superkick Edge in the head. Reigns went for a spear, but Edge caught him first. A new referee appeared, and there was an outstanding false finish as Edge got to two-and-three-quarters on the pin attempt before Reigns kicked out.

Rollins came back again, jumping up to the apron, but was booted off by Edge. That opened the door for Reigns to hit Edge with a spear, which was followed by the victory pinfall. Rollins and Reigns had a brief showdown before Edge brawled with Rollins into the crowd, and the show ended with Reigns’s promo interrupted by the surprise return of John Cena.

The last sight of Money in the Bank was Cena celebrating while, only a few feet away, a frustrated, dejected Reigns looked on. Something tells me we’ll see the opposite of that next month at SummerSlam.

****

Where do we go from here?

Following Money in the Bank, Roman Reigns’s run atop the company continues. He has the chance to further cement that with a top-notch performance against John Cena at SummerSlam. And with Charlotte Flair now the new Raw women’s champion, that places her in a position to wrestle eternal foe Becky Lynch, whose return will also inject considerable energy into the product.

The card for SummerSlam should be loaded. Seth Rollins and Edge can now build to their match, and that has the potential to be a very memorable program. If Sasha Banks returns to challenge Bianca Belair, their WrestleMania 37 rematch would help make SummerSlam an even bigger card than we saw over two nights this past April at WrestleMania. And let’s not forget Finn Balor, who just returned this past Friday on SmackDown, or Bray Wyatt, who has been off television since the spring.

After a dull stretch in the ThunderDome, there is new life in the WWE product.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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