WWE's annual "Money in the Bank" event is generally a place where you can count on at least one WWE superstar walking away with a guaranteed spot in the main event within a year's time. From Edge's historic first win and Rob Van Dam's win culminating in a modern iconic match against champion John Cena at "ECW Extreme Rules 2006," the match itself has shifted from being a "WrestleMania" staple to its own standalone pay-per-view event offering a mach for both a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship and WWE Championship. 2013's event would see an eclectic collection of performers going after the former and some huge, household names going after the latter, including the return of previous winner Rob Van Dam, fresh off tenure in TNA. In addition to the two titular matches, the event would host five additional matches that, in the end, bucked the trend of midcard mediocrity on WWE pay-per-views.
The show opens with the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank match featuring Damien Sandow, Wade Barret, Dean Ambrose, Cody Rhodes, Fandango, Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro. Right away, the inclusion of two separate tag teams competing against each other with a shot at the gold added a new dynamic to the match. In all, the match was a solid start to the night's event with Sandow's controversial finish to the match setting in motion a push forward for tag partner Cody Rhodes as a singles competitor. Things unfortunately slowdown from there with an Intercontinental Title match between Curtis Axel and The Miz taking the stage; both performers suffer from a general lack of charisma, with The Miz coming off as stale and even more irritating and Curtis Axel, despite being the son of legend Curt Henig, failing to live up to the hype that propelled him straight into the main event scene a few months prior. Running a very slow nine-odd minutes, the average WWE viewer would think the Diva's match that would follow would be even worse, but the first surprise of the night was yet to come.
Sadly the shortest match on the card, the Diva's Championship bout between AJ Lee and Kaitlyn was a return to form sadly missing from the women's title scene for many years now; both ladies gave it their all and really brought the excitement back to the event, leading into a solid bout between Chris Jericho and Ryback; the biggest letdown is knowing the outcome before both men arrive in the ring, given Chris Jericho was set to leave the WWE yet again for touring obligations with his band, Fozzy. The next surprise of the night comes in the form of arduously dull, nearly 15-minute World Heavyweight Championship match between Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler; one could write at lengths at the frustration that the WWE continues to push a generally stale Del Rio and continue to hold the talented Ziggler back from a long overdue for real main event push. The ending is an equal cop out and leads into another easy to predict match between John Cena and Mark Henry for the WWE Title; to Henry and Cena's credit, they deliver at least a watchable match and build up steam for the true main event.
Running nearly 30-minutes, the Money in the Bank match for the WWE Championship is full of false finishes and memorable spots, with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Christian, Randy Orton, and Rob Van Dam bringing exactly the caliber of performance to the squared circle as one would expect. The match is not without its faults, namely the regular big "wipe out" moment of one superstar taking out the rest, with one ore two competitors taking extended absence from the in-ring action before the process repeats with another competitor in the driver's seat. Ultimately the match would end in an unexpected faction helping cement CM Punk's turn back towards the face side of the spectrum and set into motion a series of events that continues to shape current WWE events as of this writing. It's exactly how a WWE event should end and a quality finish to pretty ‘ok' pay-per-view.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer sports brilliant, rich color reproduction of the event itself. Detail levels are not as strong as something sourced from a modern HD broadcast should be, possibly due to some minor compression artifacts that seems to be the standard for WWE DVD releases (it's much better than a few years back).
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio is a solid, albeit non-mind-blowing experience. Commentary is front and center, but never mixed to overpower the sounds of the arena, nor do the mics focused on the in-ring action feel off-balance. A few matches in, and the sound isn't as immersive as being live (simply due to the constant commentary), but there's nothing to detract from the experience.
The lone extra is a fantastic WWE Tag Team title match between The Shield (Roman Reign and Seth Rollins) and The Usos. Running almost 15-minutes, its criminal this wasn't part of the show itself, perhaps even replacing the Axel/Miz match.
While there are at least two clunkers on the card, the Diva's Championship match and both titular matches are exciting enough on their own to push this into the wholly successful category of WWE pay-per-views. The addition of the pre-show match, which itself is as good as these three highlights if not better in some ways is merely icing on the cake. Highly Recommended.