Missed Potential Inside a Briefcase
– Chris O’Mealy 6/1/17 – 7:59Pm
Making Money in the Bank a Smackdown-only PPV is a lost opportunity.
On Sunday, June 18, WWE will once again air their Money in the Bank pay-per-view event. The original concept for the Money in the Bank ladder match happened at WrestleMania 21. Six top superstars – Chris Jericho, Kane, Chris Benoit, Edge, Christian, and Shelton Benjamin – competed to win a briefcase containing within it a contract good for a shot at WWE’s top championship belt, anytime, anywhere, the superstar saw fit. It was an ingenious concept that created many memorable bouts, and dozens of memorable championship switches, which have been etched as some of WWE’s greatest historic highlights.
The event began as an annual spectacular for WrestleMania during the first six years of its inception. Whoever won the briefcase could cash it in on the world champion of their show for the first two years, and then whichever champion they wanted for the next four. In 2010, it was given its very own PPV concept, and the match evolved into two separate ladder matches, with each brand getting their own contract holder to cash in on the brand’s respective world champion.
In 2014, the titles were unified and the brand extension was lifted, which meant only one ladder match and one contract holder was needed. In 2016 however, the roster split returned, and the concept of two world champions was brought back. Money in the Bank remained a pay-per-view event on the WWE Network, but for the first time since it was created, it would now be a single branded PPV event only. Specifically, for the Smackdown brand and the WWE Championship title belt (the one that Bruno Sammartino held).
Not only that, but for the first time ever, the women of WWE will get to compete in their very own Money in the Bank ladder match! This is an exciting and historic event for the WWE, and the women’s division as a whole, which has been given a serious shot in the arm in the past few years and been taken quite seriously since AJ Lee became the WWE Women’s Champion.
So why is such an important landmark match in WWE, one that created so many exciting and shocking moments, and one that is literally making history for the first time ever, being secluded to only one WWE branded show and one specific crop of WWE talents? In my opinion, this is a serious missed opportunity.
First off, the Money in the Bank ladder match itself is something of a gala event for WWE. In previous years, it was often as anticipated as an event like Survivor Series of even SummerSlam was. Many fans even said the event was as important, or even more important, than the Royal Rumble event! This is because you were almost guaranteed a new world champion and new top talent after the cash-in moment went down. Much like the excitement of seeing who will enter the Royal Rumble match next, a lot of the suspense built around the briefcase holder is that they can literally cash in anywhere, anytime. Edge’s first world title run happened after he cashed in on a bloody and battered John Cena following an Elimination Chamber match. Dolph Ziggler cashed in on a prone Alberto Del Rio, getting one of the single biggest pops in the history of the company, one that is still talked about to this day. Seth Rollins cashed his briefcase in during the main event of WrestleMania 31, inserting himself into the match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns and didn’t even pin the champion to do so! Even when the briefcase holder picked their spot, like Rob Van Dam did, the match generated so much buzz that the atmosphere itself made it a must-see. Why then, would you want to restrict that to half of your talent roster?
Now don’t get me wrong. AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin, and Shinsuke Nakamura are great choices. They will undoubtedly have a match filled with drama, nail-biting action, and edge-of-your-seat excitement and suspense. The winner of the match will be someone well deserving, as all six men are, and I have little doubt that this will only enhance the championship run of Jinder Mahal in a positive way.
On the Raw side, there are five men vying for a shot at Brock Lesnar. Imagine though, if you could pay one ticket, and see those five men also compete in a ladder match for a briefcase. Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, and Roman Reigns could only add to the entire Money in the Bank experience with their own briefcase holder and eventual cash-in contender.
Even worse is that the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match featuring the women of the WWE will only have five Smackdown girls competing for that honor. Again, excellent choices, and Becky Lynch, Nattie Neidhart, Tamina Snuka, Carmella, and Charlotte Flair absolutely deserve to be part of such a history making event. Imagine if Bayley, Nia Jax, or Sasha Banks were also part of it too. For these girls to take part in history, are they going to have to wish to be traded to Smackdown? Will the PPV switch brands for fairness each year? And if it does, does that mean that any girl who then gets traded could miss out twice?
Why does the Money in the Bank PPV have to be a single-branded PPV? We have the true successor to King of the Ring to give WWE their Big 5 events again, and we’re restricting it to only Smackdown.
In my opinion, it’s lost potential, and a lot of it.
I think the event as a whole will be excellent. The ladder matches will steal the show, and the superstars involved will all take another step towards greatness in their careers. However, if the event incorporated the entire roster in the company, then we could actually have a true, blue, major PPV event that would tear the house down every year and create countless superstars time and time again. Sure, having too many ladder matches on one show could actually hurt the concept as a whole. I wouldn’t disagree with that. But since it hasn’t stopped WWE from overkilling TLC and Hell in a Cell matches – making them not so special anymore – why not just go for broke on something a majority of fans I’ve spoken to would actually want to see?
Smackdown already gets the Elimination Chamber PPV, which is another misstep in both brand restrictions and event timing, but that’s an argument for a different article. Same with any arguments for or against the brand extension as a whole. I’ll get to those another time.
Hey, maybe this means we’ll finally get the all-women’s Royal Rumble match I’ve been pushing for, for nearly ten years now! Please, WWE? With all the talents you have now, there’s really no excuse for this one.
Question and Answer
As always, time to answer some questions from my awesome readers! 3-5 each week.
Q: Had Hulk Hogan decided to stay with the AWA instead of defecting and signing with the WWE at the end of ’83, how do you see the wrestling landscape turning out, and why? (Via Randy on Facebook)
A: It’s hard to imagine what could have been, but Vince McMahon seemed to be looking for his “chosen one” to lead the company into a new era. The most logical secondary choice would have been “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Like Hogan, he was full of presence and charisma, with the added bonus of being an excellent worker too. I think Macho Mania would’ve been running wild in the WWF, and the AWA would’ve easily remained competition for a number of years. Of course, this is also assuming that Verne Gagne would’ve booked the Hulkster properly, as he was well known for pushing him and his buddies for too hard, too long. That’s why he lost Hogan in the first place. I think eventually Hulk would’ve seen the writing on the wall, and wound up in the WWF before long. Vince just had a better grasp on the business at that time than Verne did.
Q: Who do you feel is the most under-used talent in the industry right now who deserves a higher spot, if not a genuine Championship run? (Via Allan on Facebook)
A: Singling out the entire industry makes this a loaded question. In WWE, the answer is still Zack Ryder – a self-made talent with a hard work ethic who has been overlooked so many times that it almost physically hurts to watch anymore. In the whole wrestling business, I think that Cody Rhodes is my answer. I am hoping we get to see Cody get a run as Ring of Honor champion after the Best in the World event. It’s almost mind-boggling to me how good Cody is, both in and out of the ring, and yet he’s clearly never been used to his fullest potential. That seems to be a mistake a lot of indy promoters are correcting, and I think the sky’s the limit for him now. I’m rooting for you, Cody!
Q: WWE seems to be on the verge of breaking up Enzo and Cass. Good move? (Via @thedynamicuno on Twitter)
A: Eventually, yes. Right now? No. They are hugely popular and still haven’t gotten a proper run as tag team champions! Give them maybe three months or so as the champs, and have the turn come after the belts are dropped. Big Cass will almost certainly end up being the heel, and WWE officials will likely give him a big push afterwards, with Enzo keeping his niche as a genuine comedy gold babyface, a modern day Santino Marella if you will. It isn’t asking a lot to see them at least get ONE run as tag champs!
Q: Do you think NXT should have a secondary title, maybe a TV title to help fill out the show and give guys another championship to go after? (Via Chris on Facebook)
A: I think that would be a good idea, but first they need to shore up their talent roster a little bit. While they have three good divisions built around their title belts, NXT really doesn’t have much of a mid-card division, and I’d chalk that up to roster depth. Get a few more established wrestlers in there, guys with good character names and gimmicks, and a TV title would be a perfect addition.
Q: With NJPW USA shows looming, do you believe they are going to (a) get a foothold in the USA, and (b) can they be a threat to WWE (Japanese vs US wrestling culture)? (Via @drkphoenix6913 on Twitter).
A: It’s hard to say. NJPW clearly has a strong following in the States, as evidenced by the success of their Wrestle Kingdom international buyrates and their own network subscriptions. I think if they got a good TV deal, they could be a threat, as long as they have a good consistent American commentary team that can help hook the casual fans and introduce them to Japanese Strong Style. I also think WWE will be smart enough to try and partner with them, rather than compete with them (as long as bucky teeth Kevin Dunn isn’t involved of course) as they already have a good relationship currently with Ring of Honor. Imagine a wrestling superpower of WWE, ROH, NJPW, and then bring in Lucha Underground too? You almost wouldn’t need any other wrestling product. R.I.P. Impact. 1 like = 1 prayer.
Chris O’Mealy is a former indy wrestling promoter, ring announcer, manager and referee. He is the founder and moderator of the Club Kayfabe Creative Community (http://www.ckcconline.com) and currently hosts three podcasts and writes for his own blog (http://comealy17.wordpress.com). He can be reached on Twitter @chrisomealy or emailed directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact him on Facebook, but if you wish to be his Facebook friend, you must ask him first.