After the success of last year’s epic Clash At The Castle in Cardiff, WWE returned to the UK for another Premium Live Event (PLE). This time, it was the turn of a boisterous O2 Arena in London and one of the company’s biggest events, Money In The Bank, to prove to the rest of the world why British fans are some of the best in the world.
Some of the criticisms aimed at last year’s event, was the lack of consequences and meaningful matches. Any fears of a repeat performance were blown out the water from the first match through to the last. Records fell as 2023’s edition of the Premium Live Event became the most-successful and highest-grossing Money In The Bank of all-time. Additionally, Money In The Bank set a new record for highest-grossing arena event in WWE history as fans snapped up every t-shirt, championship belt and briefcase to also set a record for highest-grossing arena event for venue merchandise in WWE history.
With two Money In The Bank matches, three Championship matches and two grudge matches it never seemed likely fans would feel short changed when all was said and done. Sprinkle in some shock appearances and Money In The Bank 2023, will go down as one of the best PLEs this year. Of course our King of the Ring, Andy Spoors was in the O2 and brings us the main talking points on an epic night in the nation’s capital…

Cena Goes Rogue

There was only one thing fans wanted to talk about coming out of the old Millennium Dome. It wasn’t a match, a chant or title change. It was the unexpected appearance of future hall of famer John Cena, in the middle of the show. As if his mere presence wasn’t enough to send shockwaves through the WWE Universe, what he had to say shook the foundations of the company.

From the minute the infamous trumpets signalled his arrival, the O2 went berserk. Astonished fans stood mouth agape as the leader of the Cenation made his way to the ring, but as those in attendance regained their composure the volume simply increased.

Taking to the mic, Cena explained he was here to give London and the rest of the UK what they deserved. A chance to host WWE’s flagship event. An opportunity to bring WrestleMania to the UK. Cue bedlam in the stands. As soon as those worlds left Cena’s mouth the eruption from the audience was incredible. Was this really happening? Was this an official announcement? Where would the event be?

Hundreds of questions seemed to pour out instantly. But the main one, did the decision makers in WWE sign off on this stunning announcement? Ultimately it doesn’t matter. The genie is out of the bottle, the cat is out of the bag and Pandora’s box is well and truly open. This may not have been the first time Mania in the UK has been talked about, but on this stage the ground seemed to shift.

Mainstream media have run with the story and it now seems likely WWE will sit down with the relevant governing bodies and authority figures in the UK to check the feasibility of making it a reality. For what it is worth and announcement aside, the reception afforded to Cena inside the O2 will go down as one of the loudest crowd pops ever and there are very few who have worked harder or deserve it more than John Cena.  

Priest Wins Big But Exorcises A Demon

The titular matches never looked likely to headline their own Premium Live Event. Not because of the lack of quality, but purely down to the potential fallout and drama of having two Superstars carrying a guaranteed title shot backstage.

Opening the night, the men’s ladder match saw seven Superstars that have never won the Money In The Bank match or held a world championship at all in WWE. All the chat outside the arena and indeed all weekend focussed on one name…LA Knight.

On tubes around London and restaurants inside the O2, the word YEAH would be yelled at full volume followed by an identical answer by many in the immediate vicinity. Appearing on Friday’s SmackDown, Knight could have been mistaken for an English native, such was the partisan reaction to his music hitting.

That vociferous support continued into Money In The Bank, almost willing the King of Kavorka up the ladder alone. The only issue? A field of hungry Superstars also looking for their big break in WWE. The beauty of this PLE was the unpredictable nature of almost every match. Each bout harder to call than the last, that capricious climate was perfectly encapsulated by the men’s ladder match.

Logan Paul seemed to be the most marketable decision much to the lament of the WWE Universe. When all was said and done it would be Damien Priest that delivered the heartbreaking blow to LA Knight, sending the fan favourite crashing to the canvas just inches from the briefcase.

Dubbing himself Senor Money In The Bank, Priest took more than a passing interest in fellow Judgement Day teammate Finn Balor’s match with Seth Rollins for the latter’s World Heavyweight Championship. In a rematch seven years in the making Balor looked to change the past and his future by vanquishing Rollins. But it would be Priest that would change the course of this match.

Sensing an opportunity to cash in his newly minted contract, Priest made his way to ringside and just before Balor could land the finishing blow, Priest distracted his teammate just long enough for Rollins to recover and seal a win. The dynamic of Judgement Day has now shifted and after Monday Night Raw, may have issues too big to come back from.  

Skye Scales New Heights

In the second Money In The Bank match of the night, Iyo Skye grabbed the briefcase in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. When your opponents include Hall of Fame entrant Trish Stratus and her student Zoey Stark, half of the infamous Four Horsewomen and the unpredictable Zelina Vega, you know it’s going to be a struggle.

But as Trish and Zoey did everything in their power to stop Becky Lynch from claiming the victory, Skye had her own personal battle with Damage CTRL teammate, Bayley to contend with. Narrowly avoiding being handcuffed to the ring post by Stark, Lynch looked set to capture her first MITB contract. A back and forth battle atop of the ladder with Bayley allowed a quick thinking Skye to use the aforementioned handcuffs to incapacitate both women agonisingly out of reach from the briefcase. As the WWE Universe exploded with noise, Skye scaled the ladder and grabbed her opportunity with both hands.

It is a well deserved victory and chance to skyrocket an incredible talent to the top of the women’s division. After a stellar run in NXT and a successful reign with Dakota Kai as Women’s Tag Team Champions, the Skye really is the limit now for IYO…  

Roman’s Empire Crumbles?

And to the main event. There were questions heading into the PLE, exactly what match would headline the night. In the end, it was never really a question. You’d have to go back to February 2022 to find the last time Roman Reigns was on a card and didn’t close out the night.

Here, Reigns teamed with his cousin Solo Sikoa to face Jimmy and Jey Uso in a Bloodline Civil War match. And a war it was. Starting off at a snail’s pace, the match built into one of the best of the year so far. Perhaps more to do with the excellent storytelling over the last three years that has added layer upon layer with each passing month. Gaslighting, betrayal, drama. This story has been to steal a social media meme…cinema.

As the match temp sped up, the O2 reacted in kind. Before the match, Reigns had called his shot on Twitter, predicting a spear, spike, stack and win result over his cousins. And it looked like that prediction would become a reality until the Usos kicked out much to the astonishment of every single fan inside the arena and watching at home.

It would be a rallying point for The Usos. Outside the ring Jimmy avoided a huge splash from Solo on the announce table while Jey kicked out of a monstrous spear from the Tribal Chief, delivering a low blow in the process. It was a sumptuous call back to the pair’s match at Clash of Champions in 2020. It was those little call backs peppered throughout that amounted to an incredible moment to close out the night.

Delivering a series of Superkicks to their egotistical cousin, Jimmy and Jey called upon every bit of their tag team nous with quick tags to rock the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. Poetically it would be Jey that would land the final blow, ascending the top turnbuckle for a splash for the victory. The result would be Roman Reigns’ first pinfall loss in over three years. The O2 audience delivered one last huge explosion of noise on a night that proved UK fans to be some of the loudest in the world.