WWE Money in the Bank 2021: Highlights and Low Points

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    Credit: WWE.com

    After last year’s battle at WWE Headquarters, Money in the Bank returned to a more traditional setup and with fans in attendance.

    Sunday, 16 Superstars attempted to climb the ladder of success to retrieve the men’s and women’s briefcases with future title opportunities at stake. On top of that, many of the top titles on both brands were on the line in matches of their own.

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    Events like this—especially with what was supposed to be a hot crowd excited to revel in the live action for the first time in over a year—feel guaranteed to succeed, but that’s not always the case.

    With that in mind, what were the best and worst parts of this pay-per-view? Presented in order of appearance, here are the highlights and low points from WWE Money in the Bank 2021.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    This has been said many times, it bears repeating: There shouldn’t have been any issues with WWE programming on Peacock TV from the very start, as that should have been settled ahead of time.

    Any issues certainly should have been hammered out by now, though.

    However, the rewind function was still completely disabled on web browsers and elsewhere, despite being active during Hell in a Cell. Even worse, the feed went haywire after the Raw Women’s Championship match and cut out every half-second.

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    What happened during the backstage segment with the Money in the Bank competitors? Nobody knows, because we couldn’t see it and nor could we rewind the feed to see what we missed.

    Despite cracking down on people viewing the functioning WWE Network with a VPN, the only way to watch some of this live was to check it out on an illegal stream.

    These problems have long overstayed their welcome, and it’s a shame WWE and Peacock don’t seem to care enough to prevent them from happening. It’s a bad look for something that is already struggling with a poor image right now.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Just like WrestleMania 37, one of the biggest positives of this show was being able to hear a live crowd in the arena once more.

    The ThunderDome setup was a significant upgrade over the empty Performance Center shows, but there is no substitute for the real thing. Fans are an essential element to sports entertainment as they help to illustrate the passion behind what’s happening in the ring.

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    Sunday, instead of piped-in noises that were manufactured to WWE’s specifications, there was a genuine energy expressing both the good and the bad, which is as it should be.

    Here’s hoping there will never be another time when the business is deprived of its most precious resource.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Starting off with a hot match was a necessity, and it was the responsibility of The Usos and the Mysterios to deliver. Thankfully, they did just that.

    This was a rock-solid opener that kept the audience invested every step of the way. Near-falls were met with shock, heel tactics were booed, babyface comebacks were cheered and a rookie like Dominik was met with positivity.

    The title change via a bit of cheating was a great way to finish it, too. That gives the former champions the chance to say it wasn’t a completely clean win.

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    Switching the titles to The Usos was the right call. New titleholders being crowned is a great way to pop the crowd and keep the momentum rolling.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Ladder matches are some of the most entertaining types of fights in professional wrestling. It’s hard not to have a fun segment with this formula, especially with a lot of talented Superstars in the mix.

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    The beginning of this saw Alexa Bliss standing perfectly still on the turnbuckle for every entrance, just to try to retrieve the briefcase through telekinesis. Character moments like that go a long way in keeping things interesting.

    Of course, people want to see the dangerous spots, too. It was far from the most brutal match in history, but these women ate their fair share of metal in their own right.

    Tamina filled her role as the power player and Nikki A.S.H. showed off her superheroism by flying off a ladder into her opponents, and the crowd ate it all up.

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    Having six women fighting for the briefcase at the end felt like it was setting up something other than the actual conclusion, which meant it came as a surprise when Nikki claimed the win.

    It’s great to see her get another accolade and the crowd’s pop reflects that this was a feel-good moment and a success.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Raw Tag Team Championship match was just the right breather it needed to be. It was a solid segment that still allowed the audience some time to recalibrate.

    Omos isn’t the smoothest in the ring, but he’s still learning. What he did here was the best work we’ve seen from him so far, and that’s all you can ask for.

    AJ Styles proved, as always, that he is indeed The Phenomenal One. He held down the fort for the majority of the action.

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    Erik and Ivar had their moments to shine and look strong, too. The Viking Raiders are far from pushovers and even in a match they were guaranteed to lose, it’s important to not book them as losers.

    All in all, this was another good match, with the right team coming out victorious and all parties doing their jobs well.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The WWE Championship match went down as it should have, with Bobby Lashley establishing his dominance.

    Kofi Kingston is fantastic in his own right, so he had a few shots here and there by being able to utilize his agility and speed. However, he was fighting a brick wall in a lot of ways.

    The All Mighty tossed him around like a practice mannequin. Even the referee was trying to convince him to go for a pin and put The Dreadlocked Dynamo out of his misery.

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    That’s how you remind the WWE Universe that Lashley holds the gold for good reason. It’s also how to properly set him up for an imposing challenger like Goldberg for SummerSlam, if WWE goes that route.

    As sad as it is to see Kingston come up short, this is how it needed to be.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Rhea Ripley was lighting up NXT in the fall of 2019. How did WWE manage to screw that up and also spend the next year and a half failing to get her back on track?

    The Nightmare begged and pestered Charlotte Flair for a match at WrestleMania 36 only to lose the title, tap out and cry about it. She then popped up here and there for the next year, mostly losing, before randomly winning the title from Asuka at WrestleMania 37 in a lackluster no-build scenario.

    The halfhearted push Ripley has had on Raw is why the fans were more concerned with chanting “We want Becky” than getting behind her in opposition to The Queen.

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    After a fantastic match that is worthy of being called a highlight, featuring great near-falls and reversals (such as Flair countering the Riptide into a DDT), the end result is another black mark on Ripley’s career.

    It’s more than established now that Flair is the better wrestler of the two after making the Australian tap out twice. But WWE clearly thinks the damage it will do to Ripley’s mystique is worth it to give another title reign to a woman who’s held the belt more than anyone else.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    From what was actually watchable due to issues with the Peacock feed, this was an extremely fun match.

    Watching Ricochet alone is a highlight. How he’s able to run and bounce along the ropes and fly through the air as he does is amazing.

    Seth Rollins powerbombing Kevin Owens out of the ring through a ladder was a moment that caused the crowd to erupt with a “This is awesome” chant. But that was far from the only time people were on their feet.

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    Jinder Mahal’s interference, along with Veer and Shanky, was a justifiable means to take Drew McIntyre out of the match so he stays strong.

    Shinsuke Nakamura, Riddle, John Morrison and all parties had their moments to shine, with each Superstar looking like he could get the big win for at least a few seconds.

    But it was Big E standing tall with the briefcase that blew the roof off Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The excitement and positivity in the conclusion here was just what the doctor ordered for a massive morale boost.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    There were some moments when the main event felt like it wasn’t going to live up to snuff, but everything came together in the end to get another “This is awesome” chant going.

    If there was a checklist of what to do, WWE crossed everything off.

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    Edge had his moments when he arguably had the title won, and Roman Reigns wasn’t weak but did show some moments of vulnerability.

    The interference from The Usos was cut off by the Mysterios, only for Rollins to cost The Rated-R Superstar the victory. That will undoubtedly set up a match between the two for SummerSlam.

    At the end of the night, it was Reigns standing tall as champion, just as it should have been.

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    The cherry on top, though, was the return of John Cena. After so many years of these two being booed relentlessly against WWE’s narrative, it was refreshing to see the veteran return to massive cheers to offset the jeers aimed at the universal champion.

                      

    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.

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