The fallout from WWE’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view continued to permeate and reshape both Raw and SmackDown. On Friday, Otis settled nicely into his role as the new Mr. Money in the Bank and even teased a little bit of gamesmanship with Braun Strowman.
A pair of disappointing developments hung over the tournament to crown a new Intercontinental champion — first and foremost, the decision to strip Sami Zayn and hold the tournament at all. There’s also the apparent end of Drew Gulak’s run with WWE after his loss to Daniel Bryan in the first round of the tournament. Gulak’s profile was moved to the alumni section of WWE.com over the weekend, although there was no official word from WWE on the matter.
Charlotte Flair continued to make her presence felt on all three of WWE’s weekly shows, first attempting to play a key role in stirring things up between Bayley and Sasha Banks, and then in another showcase match on Monday against Ruby Riott. The Street Profits and Viking Raiders engaged in another mindless, non-wrestling battle that proved Vikings are bad at social distancing, and police-induced fear is a great motivator for Angelo Dawkins.
The main focus of Raw was the shifting sands of alliances and influence, as Zelina Vega unceremoniously evicted a member of her crew and Seth Rollins snatched him right up. MVP also looked to expand his sphere of power on Monday nights.
Before we can think too deeply about the despair that would come with the IIconics actually breaking up, let’s dig into the biggest moments from Raw and SmackDown.
Otis’ briefcase carries more than smoked meats
When the Money in the Bank briefcase literally fell into Otis’ lap as he stood beneath the ladder King Corbin and AJ Styles were fighting on, nobody knew what to expect next. He teased trying to cash the briefcase in for a tag team title shot for himself and Heavy Machinery teammate Tucker, but on Friday night, it appeared the Otis singles train was full speed ahead.
Despite finding his way into a tag team match against The Miz and John Morrison, Tucker wasn’t in the building. On the recommendations of Mandy Rose, Otis sought out Universal champion Braun Strowman as his tag team partner — despite Strowman’s understanding the potential risks of close proximity to someone who could snatch the title away at any moment.
Otis’ purity of heart seemed intact throughout Friday’s main event, even as Strowman earned the team a victory over the former tag champs. But as Rose’s music hit and she strolled to the ring, Otis held the briefcase in his hands and briefly teased an instant doublecross before playing it all off as a joke.
As charismatic as he’s been, Otis as a singles performer is a virtual blank slate to work with. He could be the simpleton corrupted by the temptations of having it all, or an unexpected genius behind the facade of simplicity who has been unleashed on an unsuspecting world. As strange as an Otis win seemed on paper on the night of his Money in the Bank victory, SmackDown might have something potent on its hands if the story plays out right.
WWE’s women’s divisions is in flux but full of potential
The news of Becky Lynch’s pregnancy shocked the wrestling world, and it will likely take months for all of the unintended consequences of that announcement to play out in the on-screen world of WWE.
For now, Flair has become the workhorse of three different divisions. In recent weeks, she has had entertaining matches with Mia Yim and Io Shirai on NXT, she set up a champion versus champion battle (and more) with Bayley on SmackDown and wrestled Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott on Raw. There’s definitely room for detractors to talk about how WWE going back to the well with wrestlers crossing over between brands is a tenuous idea, but at least as far as Flair goes, it has worked in the short term.
On the Raw side of things, the post-Lynch world is starting to take shape. Asuka was immediately challenged by Nia Jax, and Jax naturally attacked a lonesome Kairi Sane to get Asuka mad. That didn’t pay off in the short term, but Asuka’s new title reign vs. Jax’s dominance since returning offers up something fresh and unpredictable, which is a nice change of pace. Although Lynch’s year as Raw women’s champion as a whole will go down in the history books, the past few months including WrestleMania had the division as a whole feeling a bit stagnant.
It’s also the right kind of environment to bring Shayna Baszler up slowly and build her back into the type of dominant champion she was in NXT. No one knows what everything will look like in a month let alone a year, but if WWE is fortunate enough to have a Lynch return line up with a Baszler title reign, there would be a fitting balance to it all.
Seth Rollins’ expands his congregation
After Zelina Vega’s trio of wrestlers teased tensions last week on Raw, everything boiled over Monday night. During a segment of the Kevin Owens Show, a newly returned Owens used his platform as a means for (an also returning) Apollo Crews to blindside Andrade and set the stage for a tag team match.
When Austin Theory’s attempted interference accidentally struck Angel Garza rather than Crews, the mutiny was on. Theory was physically destroyed by Garza, Vega and Andrade and left to sit at ringside as a match between Murphy and Aleister Black got underway. Theory immediately grabbed Rollins’ attention, and in an almost identical scenario to how he recruited Murphy, Rollins offered his hand to Theory and brought the lost lamb into his flock.
Rollins, ever the charismatic leader, saved Murphy from the damage of a Black Mass kick by immediately prompting Theory to attack Black. Minus his power in the form of AOP, Rollins increasing his numbers offers some interesting possibilities for the future, and WWE could do some interesting, fresh things with faction battles moving forward.
MVP inspires Bobby Lashley
Speaking of charismatic figures increasing their spheres of influence, MVP creeped back into the picture and inspired an unleashed Bobby Lashley to beat R-Truth (or was it Pretty Ricky?) with a vicious-looking full nelson submission. After talking about Lashley pushing himself to his first WWE title shot in 13 years earlier in the night, MVP accompanied Lashley onto the ramp as they watched the main event between Drew McIntyre and King Corbin.
McIntyre, the WWE champion, predictably won the cross-branded match, and rather than a physical confrontation, simply beckoned Lashley to challenge him. McIntyre wanted “this” Lashley, as both McIntyre and MVP put it — a motivated, boundaryless monster. While he might just end up another monster of the week, MVP building out a trio that also includes the Australian team of Brandon Vink and Shane Thorne offers some variety.
Edge and Randy Orton defy silliness in mic mastery
Despite the hyper-forced tagline of “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” — used in both interviewer taglines and actual match promotion, when Randy Orton and Edge stand opposite one another in most any wrestling context — it’s magic that sucks any audience right in. From Edge’s assertion that wrestling was always Orton’s backup plan and just a paycheck, to Orton’s death grip on the concept that he’s the better technical wrestler, the chemistry between the longtime friends and rivals overflows.
If you have five minutes, enjoy the extended version of the promo.