Watching WWE programming made even this somewhat jaded fan tear up twice during the weekend of the company’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
A buzzworthy show on Friday kicked off the celebration of the live fans’ return; hearing the crowd go wild for Edge was a genuinely heartwarming moment, but it somewhat paled in comparison to the reaction John Cena got when his music hit and he walked onto the stage on Sunday. The roof practically blew off Dickies Arena, as the crowd was eager to give WWE’s golden boy a hero’s welcome upon his return. That pop is the kind of stuff we live for as wrestling fans, and there’s every reason to hope that there will be more of it in the weeks and months ahead.
??? ?@JohnCena is BACK!!! ? #MITB pic.twitter.com/QsXF8OxDr2
— WWE (@WWE) July 19, 2021
Now that live fans are back, the pandemic era, as it had been known, is seemingly behind WWE and wrestling itself. Wrestling, as we know and love it, is back. WWE might continue to frustrate its fans with some of the decisions it makes, but the sheer joy of hearing live crowds again is a high that should overcome most missteps that could be in store. Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view was a perfect embodiment of this pure excitement, as it offered a wonderful reminder of the importance of live fans.
Every single match on the card was lifted by the crowd. The Kickoff bout between The Usos and The Mysterios, thanks to excellent performances from all four men and energetic responses from the fans, turned the contest into a Match of the Night contender. Likewise, despite his status as major heel, AJ Styles got one of the biggest pops of the night, and the crowd fully invested in his RAW Tag Team Championship match with The Viking Raiders. Up and down the card, the crowd had an immeasurable impact on every near fall and every stunning spot.
The Men’s Money in the Bank bout might be the best example of the crowd’s contribution of the show. The arena went wild when Ricochet hit a breathtaking dive to the outside. Everyone held their breath when Seth Rollins powerbombed Kevin Owens through a ladder. Spot after spot, the fans ate this chaotic match up and turned it into a thrill ride for the fans back at home. Big E’s crowning moment as the victor was an emotional moment that was elevated by a huge pop, as nearly every fan in attendance was utterly happy to see him in the bout. Big E’s overdue crowning moment was the perfect choice, from a booking standpoint, for this monumental show.
#NikkiASH and @WWEBigE are MONEY IN THE BANK! ?#MITB @NikkiCrossWWE pic.twitter.com/FLmBfG8k95
— WWE (@WWE) July 19, 2021
In a similar vein, Nikki A.S.H. got her due when she unhooked the briefcase in her respective Money in the Bank match. Most fans expected Liv Morgan, Alexa Bliss or a potential newcomer to the bout, such as Becky Lynch, to emerge victorious. Instead, A.S.H. swooped in and scored the biggest win of her career. A.S.H., formerly known as Nikki Cross, had gotten lost in the mix as a singles competitor on RAW. But the introduction of her new superhero character breathed new life into her career and, in hindsight, lifted her to new heights. The WWE Universe will have to wait and see how A.S.H.’s run as Ms. Money in the Bank goes, but at least for one night, she was rewarded for her hard work and perseverence.
If there’s any doubt about what the fans brought to WWE Money in the Bank, look no further than Charlotte Flair’s match with Rhea Ripley. Early on in their clash for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship, the crowd made it clear that it wanted to see Lynch. In response, Flair flipped off the crowd and tried to carry on with business as usual. Otherwise, as with other matches on the card, the crowd lifted up what was already a solid bout. Plus, it’s fair to that some fans weren’t thrilled to see Flair win the title, but love her or hate her, she always draws a reaction, and that’s exactly what WWE needs now that live crowds are back in attendance.
Next Page: World Champions Stand Tall, Brace For New Challenge