Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rasslin' Ramblings: More Money in the Bank

For a couple of weeks now on my Twitter account, I’ve been bemoaning the lack of the Money in the Bank Ladder match at this year’s WrestleMania. With the event a week away, let me provide a quick breakdown of why I think pulling this annual attraction from ‘Mania is a mistake and why it belongs as a fixture of the Showcase of the Immortals in general and this year’s edition in particular.

First and foremost, I think it’s just cool that WrestleMania had a signature match. One could argue that WrestleMania doesn’t need anything to stand out beyond being WrestleMania—and the celebrities, the Hall of Fame, etc.—and it’s hard to argue against it. Heck, maybe Money in the Bank is a better fit for SummerSlam, which more and more has become just another show with a bunch of regular matches as opposed to the second biggest pay-per-view of the year, but I still contend it belongs at ‘Mania.

Since its inception at WrestleMania 21 (they didn’t use Roman numerals that year), MitB could always be counted on to provide at least one if not several of those coveted “WrestleMania Moments” they love to make highlight reels for. Because it took place at the biggest show of the year, you knew guys would be stepping up their game and looking to stand out. As I just saw said a few times a few different ways on the True Story of WrestleMania documentary and then echoed by former WWE creative team member Dave Lagana, if you have a great match on TV or at another PPV people will talk for a bit, but if you have one at WrestleMania it gets immortalized; that same principle can be applied to MitB. The two matches at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view last summer—which I’ll talk more about later—weren’t bad and I would never accuse anybody in them of sandbagging it, but neither produced a Shelton Benjamin running up the ladder or Kofi Kingston using the “stilts” spot like what we see at ‘Mania.

In this era of a pay-per-view every month and every TV show having at least a couple marquee matches, even—perhaps especially—a show like WrestleMania needs everything it can to stand out and remind people that this one matters more than the rest. Money in the Bank could be counted on to add sizzle to the steak and provide spectacle that keeps the audience going through the dull stretches.

Second, but perhaps even more foremost than my first point, is that Money in the Bank is a great way to assure as many guys get on the WrestleMania card as can logically fit, and if there’s any show where the full roster—or close to it—should be on display, this is it. To WWE’s credit, even without MitB they’ve done a pretty solid job getting just about everybody outside of the Superstars regulars who will hopefully get a dark match battle royal payday involved in something, but there are still a few notable names without anything to do.

Drew McIntyre has improved by leaps and bounds since his initial push and has the look, mic skills and in-ring ability to be credible World title challenger sooner rather than later. Evan Bourne just came back from injury to some impressive pops and then was quickly left to wither in squashes by Sheamus--plus this match is built for guys like him. R-Truth has his flaws, but the guy is perennially over and should be a WrestleMania fixture. Ted DiBiase has sputtered quite a bit since splitting with Legacy, but always seems just one good match away from getting back in at least the U.S. title picture. Mark Henry fits the same niche as R-Truth and has proven to be a solid MitB performer who can be counted on to protect the high flyers. You’ve also got an array of standout young performers like Zack Ryder, Trent Barreta, Tyler Reks, Yoshi Tatsu and so on who could fill a wildcard spot out nicely. Heck, I’d love to see William Regal in there no matter how weird a fit it is.

I’m leaving out Kofi Kingston since the rumors have him getting involved in the Big Show/Kane vs Corre feud somehow, but certainly if anybody has proven to be perfect for MitB in the past it’s him, and after the harsh booking of his Intercontinental title reign—two televised singles wins in three months as champion—the chance to show off in this match would be just what he needs to get his credibility back. I’m also considering it somewhat a foregone conclusion Christian will be tied up with the Edge vs Alberto Del Rio World title match, hopefully as the third competitor, but at the very least in Edge’s corner to turn on him; if he weren’t, he’d be ideal for this match.

So going from what’s available, you could return to the six man roots of MitB with McIntyre, Kingston, Bourne, R-Truth, Henry and DiBiase. Toss in Ryder and Barreta if you want to expand to eight. Add Tatsu and Reks if you feel the need to bump it back to ten (I feel like that’s too many, but whatever). If Kingston is occupied, sub in Regal.

Are any of these guys the next Edge who can use Money in the Bank to cement themselves as fixtures in the main event scene? I’m not sure. I believe McIntyre or Kingston certainly could, while Bourne or one of the others could prove a pleasant surprise. You’ve got to take chances to make new stars, and even if it doesn’t always pay off, MitB is a good way to roll the dice. Sure, Jack Swagger didn’t exactly light the world on fire after he won, but C.M. Punk’s career certainly got a nice boost. Also, eventually one of the guys who win this match needs to not successfully cash in, and I’d argue that just getting a WWE or World title match that they earned and carrying around the briefcase a few months even if they don’t ultimately get the belt is going to help somebody like Ted DiBiase a great deal.

I’m sure the most common internal argument against MitB being a part of WrestleMania at least this year within WWE is that they now have their own Money in the Bank pay-per-view, which the signature match twice already. I certainly don’t have a problem with the Money in the Bank pay-per-view as WWE has gone all in on the gimmick PPV deal and there are far worse themes than MitB. As noted above, I don’t think the matches from last year’s edition quite had the WrestleMania feel—understandably—but they were still good.

That said, it shouldn’t preclude MitB at WrestleMania, and WWE has already written themselves an explanation as to why.

The matches at the Money in the Bank PPV are brand-exclusive, meaning one is all-Raw and the winner can only challenge for the WWE title, whereas the other is all-SmackDown and the winner can only challenge for the World title. I’m not the first guy on the Internet to suggest that you could still have this PPV and those two matches yet keep MitB at WrestleMania special by retaining the stipulation that the winner of that can challenge for either title, choosing to jump brands in the process if they so desire.

Does having a Money in the Bank match on a show that is not called Money in the Bank undermine that pay-per-view? I don’t think so. At the end of the day, wrestling fans are going to pay/tune in to see matches they like and get excited about regardless of how many times you put them on. From a creative standpoint there is certainly something to be said for limiting how many times you trot your signature matches out there regardless of this mentality—I’m sure folks would watch three Royal Rumble matches a year in significant numbers, but that doesn’t mean they should do it—but really Money in the Bank is just a multi-man Ladder match with a cool victory incentive; doing it every month would be overkill, but three a year is fine. It’s not like Breaking Point stopped WWE from using I Quit matches on TV for the rest of the year or like TLC has relegated Tables matches to one PPV, nor should they.

Summary: Money in the Bank adds something special to WrestleMania, it helps get guys who deserve to be on the card in there, it can make stars, and it’s a good enough concept to use more than once a year.

You’ve still got seven days, WWE—let’s see some qualifying matches.


lisamarieelliott said...

It can't work as a matter of fact, that's what I suppose.

fxhawaii said...

This will not work as a matter of fact, that is what I believe.