Money in the Bank is a concept that started thirteen years ago when Chris Jericho brought the concept to WWE at WrestleMania 21. The idea was very simple: win a multi-man ladder match and earn the right to challenge for a World Title shot at any point you wanted in the next calendar year. The first cash-in went fine, with Edge shocking the world by challenging a bloodied John Cena seconds after he won the Elimination Chamber to retain his title. The next year Rob Van Dam won the title (again from Cena) in a scheduled match at One Night Stand 2006.
Then….hang on a second as I need to look it up. That right there is what I want to talk about today. The problem is that after those first two, the concept got stale in a hurry. Why was that the case? Well mainly because almost nothing ever changed. After the first surprise cash-in and then a scheduled match with the contract being used, the next nine were used in the exact same fashion: someone is beaten down, the briefcase is cashed in, the title always changed hands.
This one will never be topped and it still works today.
It took seven years before someone didn’t successfully cash in the briefcase when Cena won his match against CM Punk via disqualification at Raw 1000. Keep in mind that this was after the ladder matches were split between the brands, meaning that there were now two a year (three in 2010). Not only was the result getting repetitive, but it was happening more frequently, and often at a faster pace. Until Dolph Ziggler in 2012, no one other than Edge held onto the briefcase for more than about five months, with three hold it for less than a week.
What once was a shocking surprise where you never knew when it was going to happen is now a situation where you sit around waiting for it. On top of that, it’s just a wild card that messes with everything else going on. Who might be winning the title? Well it doesn’t really matter, because you have to look over your shoulder for someone running at you with a briefcase. How many times have you seen a big pay per view finish and then waited for the potential cash-in? That’s all well and good for a big surprise, but when it happens at several shows every year, it gets repetitive and loses its interest.
So what can be done to fix things? Money in the Bank is still a useful concept, but it needs to be adjusted to make it feel big again. Just having someone do the same pattern (win the briefcase, brag about it, lay low for a bit, tease cashing in for a few weeks, lay low a bit more, then cash in a few months later, which has been done multiple times) isn’t working anymore. Coming into this Sunday, there have been nineteen Money in the Bank contracts won with numbers twenty and twenty one coming up, I’d think it’s time for something fresh to change things up a bit.
First up: cut back on the surprise factor. If you’re sitting around waiting on a surprise (everyone and their mother knew that Carmella was coming down as soon as the Iconics beat Charlotte up on the SmackDown after WrestleMania in New Orleans), it’s no longer a surprise. If you’ve watched WWE for more than a few years, most of the time you can guess when a cash-in is coming at least a few minutes (if not weeks or months) in advance. Therefore, it’s time to take away the “anyplace anytime” aspect.
They’re not exactly hiding anything here, though at least it was fun.
I would go with the Lucha Underground method. They have a similar concept called the Gift of the Gods Title but there are a few catches. The one that sticks out to me the most though is a requirement of announcing your intention of cashing in a week in advance. While still a bit of a surprise, it allows for some drama and suspense for a change. That’s a lot more than you get from the “will they cash in”, or at least a very different kind of drama.
If nothing else, throw in some drama. Say you have a World Title match set up on a certain show. Well what if someone says they’re cashing in right after and gets the winner of the previous title match? It allows fans to sit around and wonder who is going to walk out of the show with the title and build up some questions in their head while also avoiding having another triple threat match. You also have the drama of “will it be this week” and can add in a little build to get things more interesting.
Another thing that would help things a little bit is having the briefcase defended. It’s another aspect of the Gift of the Gods Title, plus the briefcase for the title shot at Wrestle Kingdom, plus it’s been done in WWE history when Mr. Kennedy (who was injured) lost his case to Edge back in 2007. Now though it’s win one ladder match and you have the ace for the next year.
In other words, and in something that WWE likes to use more often than not, your wins and losses don’t mean a thing because you could still walk out a World Champion a year later. Look at Carmella this year. Did she win a single important match between the ladder match and cashing in on Carmella in New Orleans? Maybe one or two here or there, but for the most part she was just sitting around with the briefcase until someone else did the work and she stole the title.
Now yes, that does make her a dastardly villain who doesn’t deserve the title, but how many times has WWE done THAT EXACT SAME THING? It’s been done to death now, with people like Jack Swagger, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio and others. Instead of having yet another cowardly, cheating heel, build someone up by having them win matches and then get a title shot.
Yeah, this one wasn’t one of the better ones.
You could even do a face version of the same idea. Have a heel World Champion and build up a face by having him run through some opponents. The heel won’t give them a title shot, but the face could win Money in the Bank and get a shot (with a week’s notice) at any time. While he’s waiting to cash in, he can win some more matches defending the case to build himself up and then cash the thing in at the end in a pay per view main event. That’s a story that has been done for years with a twist yet it’s never been done in nineteen briefcase runs.
Finally, move it to a different part of the year. The story that I just put together sounds a lot like the Royal Rumble. Well that’s because it’s rather similar, with the winner getting a guaranteed title shot. The problem is the same thing is true of the Elimination Chamber in February, which is a month after the Royal Rumble. Then you have WrestleMania and just two months later, it’s Money in the Bank time again. That’s three things for guaranteed title shots, all in the first six months of the year.
Move Money in the Bank to Summerslam or Clash of Champions or some other show in the fall that needs might need some extra build. I understand the idea of the pay per view being built around it, but you don’t have to have it in June every single year. If nothing else, do it at Summerslam and have it be for a title shot at any pay per view you choose until WrestleMania. There are tons of ways to go with it and you don’t have to do it in the first half of the year.
The key to the whole thing is versatility and having some options. It doesn’t have to be the same thing year in and year out but that’s what we get. In addition to the same kind of setup each year, we have the same payoff almost every year. All I want is for things to feel a little more fresh while not beating the same concept further into the ground. Money in the Bank is a good idea, but after thirteen years, it’s ok to shake things up a little bit every now and then before it goes bankrupt.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 27 wrestling books. His latest book is the NXT: The Full Sail Years Volume III: From Dallas To New Orleans.
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