I’ve been watching wrestling for nearly thirty years now. In my time, I’ve watched the NWA, the WWF/E, WCW, ECW, TNA and countless smaller promotions. I’ve seen wrestling from as far back as the early 1960s and as recent as the “Smackdown Live” that wrapped up about two and a half hours before I started writing this out. Over that time, I’ve watched wrestling promotions do a lot of things, ranging from outstanding to horrible to forgettable and all points in between. Out of everything I’ve watched though, I don’t think anything makes me as miserable as the annual build to Money in the Bank.
First of all, the 2017 edition will be the seventh straight year with the exact same theme song: “Money” by Jim Johnston. You know the one. It’s the song where they say money OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER with nothing else in the whole song. Out of all the songs in the world about money, is WWE really that incapable of picking ANYTHING else? If nothing else, pick a Ted DiBiase song (Junior or Senior) for the sake of some nostalgia. Just find another song for the sake of breaking up the same cycle of music that plays every year.
Now on to the more important issue: how badly the wrestlers come off during the build. This year, much like any other year, has been built around the same concept: putting the wrestlers against each other in various singles matches and tag matches. This is often done in the name of “building momentum”, which, as John Bradshaw Layfield put it earlier tonight, has very little effect when it comes to climbing a ladder.
Yes that’s right. A WWE commentator and therefore basically WWE itself is saying NONE OF THIS MEANS A THING. Why is that the case you ask? It’s just like JBL said: pinning someone has nothing to do with climbing a ladder to pull something down. For example, prior to winning the Intercontinental Title at “Wrestlemania XXXII”, Zack Ryder’s record on “Monday Night Raw” and “Smackdown Live” was 1-2-1 and he lost the title the night after he won it.
So where does that put us? We’re now in a place where wins and losses don’t matter and stuck in the same pattern that happens every year. Let’s take a look at the specifics of what this can do to the participants and how much damage it can actually do. That’s what WWE tends to forget: after this month is over, the accumulated losses really do actually mean something for the wrestlers.
If you need a good example this year, just look at Kevin Owens. The reigning United States Champion has lost three straight times Shinsuke Nakamura, all via pinfall. The first two came in tag matches but the third was in a singles match, again clean off Nakamura’s Kinshasa finisher. Now this was done in the name of giving Nakamura momentum as he heads towards the pay per view, but a lot of that momentum was taken away when Baron Corbin laid Nakamura out as soon as the singles match ended.
Now where does that leave Owens, and more importantly Owens’ title? That would be nowhere, as the title hasn’t even been mentioned. Owens hasn’t talked about it and neither has Nakamura. It’s almost as if the title means nothing to him because he hasn’t even brought it up. If Owens is going to lose so often, the person beating him should at least MENTION wanting the title.
But no, that’s not what we’re going to do because instead, the best option is to have them completely forget that Owens, who was in the middle of a feud over the title with AJ Styles, is champion in the first place. Instead we have him losing over and over to build up other people, none of whom have the slightest interest in becoming United States Champion. I know it’s not a nearly guaranteed World Title run, but it’s not something that should be completely ignored.
The build to the ladder match is something that takes a lot of time and causes a lot more problems than it really solves. What might be most annoying about the whole thing is the fact that it’s a problem that could be solved without nearly as much damage being done. Very simply put, it should be as simple as finding a way to not have these guys (or women in this year’s (no pun intended) case) trade wins and losses all over the place. In other words, maybe the brilliant creative team could come up with something instead of doing the same tactic over and over.
Since that’s not likely to happen though, here are a few suggestions for how to set this match up without damaging the wrestlers nearly as much.
1. Wait a bit longer to announce the participants. Why in the world do we need to set these things up and then start the build? The pay per view is sold on the fact that there’s going to be a ladder match for the briefcase, not for the participants in the match itself. It’s not going to cause any problems to wait and announce the participants over the course of time, thereby not allowing them to beat each other back and forth until it’s hard to imagine any of them as a World Title contender.
2. So how do you go about doing this without leaving people out in the cold? Again, the answer comes down to mixing things up a bit. Instead of just announcing the names all at once, hold some qualifying matches over the course of a few weeks. Now, the key here is to keep things from getting too predictable, so go with a few different methods of selecting people instead of “star beats midcard jobber” over and over again. Here are a few examples.
A. Triple threat match where whoever takes the fall it out, thereby allowing for a bit more of a surprise.
B. Tag match where the winning team gets in.
C. Battle royal with the winner getting in.
These are three options that I came up with in about thirty seconds and are far from the best possibilities. However, those are three of a multitude of options that could keep the matches from getting repetitive. It keeps people guessing a bit and offers something a little bit different.
If nothing else, allow people to try to qualify more than once. Using the above options, let’s say AJ Styles pins Sami Zayn in a triple threat match also involving Dolph Ziggler. That puts Ziggler and Styles in and leaves Zayn trying to get in. Maybe he could be in the tag match or in the battle royal (or even both). It adds another story (Zayn fighting to get in) while also keeping Styles and Ziggler, the people who won on their first attempt, from having to trade wins like they’ve been doing over the last two weeks.
The key to the whole thing though is just mixing it up a little. No one is gaining anything using the method they’ve done forever and WWE is flat out saying that none of this matters. If WWE says none of it matters, why in the world would I need to be sitting here watching the matches? Considering they’re building to a match that is only for a future title shot, it’s a fairly skippable show in the first place. Do you really have to make the buildup that dull?
As I’ve said, the build to “Money in the Bank 2017” is one of the worst things WWE has done since….oh well since the build to “Money in the Bank 2016”. It’s the same schtick year after year and it’s not like there aren’t other options out there to make it work far better. Announce the participants over time instead of all at once, don’t have them trade wins back and forth and CHANGE THE STUPID SONG! Is that really too much to ask?
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