SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bludgeon Brothers def. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows (Kickoff Match)
For full disclosure, I went to the concession stand during this match and saw none of it in person, but I did catch most of it on my phone while waiting in line. What I did watch was totally fine and no different than your typical Kickoff match. The pace picked up a bit down the stretch and it was refreshing that the challengers for The Bludgeon Brothers actually received a measure of offense for a change. That said, the titles were never in jeopardy of changing hands.
Daniel Bryan def. Big Cass
I honestly wasn't expecting this match to open the event going in, but in retrospect, I'm happy it did. I really don't care too much about this feud, but Bryan is so over with the audience that he was the reason this was as enjoyable as it was. Granted, it was far from great, but as a basic showcase for Bryan, it served its purpose well. With Bryan once again winning decisively, here's hoping this marks the end of the line for this rivalry.
Bobby Lashley def. Sami Zayn
Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this match whatsoever because this angle has been atrocious so far, but at least this was exactly what it needed to be: short and (relatively) sweet. It wasn't incredibly competitive, but I wasn't expecting it to be and thus I wasn't disappointed. It could have benefited from being even shorter than it was. The Chicago crowd acting indifferently toward Lashley was no shocker considering how badly he has been booked since his return. A heel turn would do him a world of good.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins def. Elias
Each of Rollins' Intercontinental title defenses have been entertaining in their own way and this continued that trend. There wasn't anything too out of the ordinary about it early on, but Elias battling back toward the end and nearly capturing the championship caused the crowd to come alive. It was easily Elias' best in-ring performance to date and I appreciated Elias being protected in defeat.
Alexa Bliss def. Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Natalya, Charlotte Flair, Lana, Naomi and Ember Moon in a Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match
I wasn't overly enthused by last year's women's Money in the Bank Ladder match (and no, not just because of the lame finish), so I found this to be a vast improvement with an exceptional effort from all involved. Hell, even Lana didn't embarrass herself I thought. Everything flowed very well with each competitor getting their time to shine. Lynch was beloved by the Chicago crowd, so Bliss screwing her out of the briefcase generated genuine heat and was a way better route for WWE to take than Natalya winning in predictable fashion.
Roman Reigns def. Jinder Mahal
Anyone blaming the fans for "ruining" this match needs to get their head checked, because the company should be blamed for giving us a matchup no one asked for. All right, so this wasn't all awful, but the crowd had zero reason to care and we let them know it by chanting for literally anything else. It went way too long as well, so you'd think officials would have cut it short after they realized it wouldn't go over well. It was a treat to be in the audience for this, but otherwise, it was a waste of time.
SmackDown Women's Champion Carmella def. Asuka
Carmella's Backlash bout against Charlotte Flair was extremely abysmal, and while this was one of the weaker matches on the show (with a dumb finish to boot), it was a bit better on the whole. The crowd was quiet because they don't want to see Asuka sell for someone like Asuka, but Carmella held her own the best she could. James Ellsworth returning was heavily rumored going in, so him helping Carmella retain her title wasn't a huge shocker, but I don't understand why WWE bother splitting them up in the first place if they were going to be put back together all these months later.
WWE Champion AJ Styles def. Shinsuke Nakamura in a Last Man Standing Match
Admittedly, I was slightly underwhelmed by the early goings of this match. Then again, I understand that is the cast with most Last Man Standing matches. It took time for them to find their footing and capture the crowd's attention, and once they did, it was above-average. The second half was strong and there were plenty of points where it could have ended, and therefore the suspense kept the audience engaged. It's a shame Nakamura never received a run with the WWE title during this lengthy program, but sticking with Styles as champion isn't a terrible idea, either. We'll see where they go from here.
Ronda Rousey def. Raw Women's Champion Nia Jax by Disqualification; Alexa Bliss Cashed in Her Money in the Bank Contract on Jax to Win the Raw Women's Championship
Let's face it, this was waaaaay better than it had any right to be considering how inexperienced Rousey is at wrestling and Jax, well, just not being that skilled between the ropes. Rousey's WrestleMania match had tons of bells and whistles, but this was a straight-up fight that told a stellar story and never lost the crowd. Everyone desperately wanted Rousey to win, and when she was about to, Bliss decided to cash in her Money in the Bank briefcase. She annihilated Rousey at ringside and even beat Jax down a few times to ensure she would win, so both Jax and Rousey lost nothing from this excellently executed angle. As previously noted, WWE made a smart choice by going with Bliss in this spot instead of Natalya.
Braun Strowman def. The Miz, Rusev, Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor and Kofi Kingston in a Men's Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Although this was far from the most amazing Money in the Bank Ladder match I've ever seen, it was a blast from start to finish and featured a handful of chaotic spots. As has been the story with Owens for weeks, he tried his hardest to prevent Strowman from reigning supreme, ultimately to no avail. In fact, he was tossed off the top of a ladder for his efforts. The rest of the match was terrific too and very crowd-pleasing, especially the outcome with Strowman pulling down the briefcase. Yes, you can argue that he doesn't necessarily need the contract, but who cares? He should be in title contention right now anyway, and at least this gives him a sense of direction at long last.
This was my first Money in the Bank pay-per-view (seven years removed from one of my favorite pay-per-views of all-time, the 2011 installment in the very same venue) and it was an awesome experience (aside from how hot it was inside the Allstate Arena). WWE programming has been mediocre since before Backlash and due to that, I didn't have high hopes for this show. It ended up exceeding my expectations and the top four matches (the Ladder matchups, Styles vs. Nakamura and Jax vs. Rousey) all delivered. Throw in a title change and Ellsworth's comeback and I'd chalk it up to a newsworthy night that left fans more satisfied than angry or confused.