Money in the bank is dead.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, this isn’t particularly shocking information. Money in the Bank has been dead for 7 years now. It’s wheeled out similarly to every other “big” gimmick match WWE rolls out annually now but we don’t take the time to call this out. Why not? Why are we accepting of the low standard that’s been rolled out these past few years?
In the interest of fairness, let’s address the most creative Money in the Bank in the last few years – 2020s edition. Circumstances aside, WWE attempted something different by having a cinematic chase throughout a building with both the Men and the Women competing for their briefcases simultaneously. We got some innovative spots, we got some laughs with the likes of Vince chewing out guys in the match but where did it get us? The two winners presented were Asuka, a multi time champion who was already established, and Otis. Otis. Asuka would be literally given the championship as a result of winning the match while Otis had an awful stint awkwardly holding the case until Miz could be hot-shotted the briefcase and transition the title for Wrestlemania. 2020 did neither winner any real favours and was very much all sizzle no steak (something creative has relied on for far too long now).
This however is sadly the trend we have with Money in the Bank now. A complete and utter failure to capitalize on a must-see event and establish new stars. In my opinion, there have been only two moments in the past decade where a star could have been made as the result of this gimmick with only one being successful. Two of the 18 winners. 11% of the winners in a decade having the potential of becoming a star. That’s not something to be celebrated when you try and lead the way into building a company but it’s certainly a factor in the declining ratings over the past decade.
Of the five women to win Money in the Bank, none of them really moved up the card to be megastars. The inaugural women’s match up was won by a man who would have to defend claims of sending x-rated pictures to minors…he then gave the prestigious briefcase to Carmella. Great start. The second match was a rematch a few nights later due to fan outrage. Carmella won this and already, the first women’s briefcase was tainted. While we got the “Mella is money” run from this, Carmella was never taken as a serious star and played the chickenshit heel role for the duration of her time with the case and with the belt. It elevated her in terms of card placement but did nothing for her in the long term. She is in the same place now as she was entering the match, albeit with a more entertaining character. Alexa Bliss and Bayley, two fantastic workers, are also prime examples of people winning the briefcase and not being elevated. Bliss was already a multi time champion and while Bayley would have the run of her career with the reign she got as a result of the briefcase, it took months of her having the belt to evolve into the role-model character. Her winning Money in the Bank did nothing for this and her cash in was rushed beyond absurdity. Finally, Asuka’s victory had potential but due to Becky Lynch’s pregnancy, she was simply given the title. The reign was nothing special, being handed the belt was weak and again it’s all just an afterthought. That’s just the women though, surely WWE has had more success with the men’s division?
Did Alberto Del Rio getting a few weeks with the belt build him up as the giant Latino star WWE had hoped? Did John Cena need to win the briefcase to get a title shot? Did Randy Orton? Did Damien Sandow or Baron Corbin come out as more over in the long run when we as fans decided to “see where this goes” after they failed to capture the title? In almost each and every one of these lineups WWE made the wrong decision on who needed to win or failed to capitalize on the talent they put in the spot. Cena and Orton winning were jokes and absolutely spat in the face of what the concept of Money in the Bank was all about. While Corbin is not my kind of wrestler at all, him doing something as a result of the Money in the Bank would have justified the number of hours they pumped into having him on tv. Damien Sandow, while likely in the wrong era, had the potential to be a top tier mid 2010s heel champion but was cut short and turned into a comedy character. On top of all this in recent years we’ve had Brock Lesnar win the match without even being in it and Otis walk around seemingly forgetting he’s Mr Money in the Bank.
But here we are. Again. It’s that time of year where the stipulation is rolled out and “NOTHING IS GOING TO BE THE SAME AFTER THIS. ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN” and we are fed the same bs, the same overpromising and under delivering, the same lies and empty promises that things are going to be shaken up. Why would anybody believe this in 2021? What faith can anyone have in this shocking gimmick anymore? There are no new ideas on how to make this gimmick function. We’ve had cash ins in the same night, mid match at wrestlemania, shocks on different brands and cash ins ahead of time for PPV matches. WWE’s Money in the Bank plans are creatively bankrupt and they have no intention or ideas on how to use this gimmick to create a new star. At a certain point you need to ask why you’re wondering who is going to win but instead ask why should you care? The company clearly doesn’t.
The last time there was potential with this gimmick was with Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan. (I know Dean Ambrose had his time in the sun as a result of this but he held it for under an hour, it was rushed and it was telegraphed). Daniel Bryan became World Heavyweight Champion as a result of his Money in the Bank cash in and in spite of how he dropped the belt, his actions in the build to the cash in and his Wrestlemania entrance alone show that he managed to use the briefcase to win the hearts of the fans. This worked to such an extent that WWE failed to keep him as a heel, forced him into a pairing with Kane that shouldn’t have worked but did and forced the company to rebook its biggest show of the year all around him. Bryan may have had the fan’s behind him for Mania 27, but it took the company 2 and a half more years to fully elevate him properly.
Seth Rollins however, is a different story. It has been 6 years since Seth cashed in at Wrestlemania’s main event and it is the last time we’ve had a new star established, elevated and pushed into the next level as a direct result of Money in the Bank. I mean truly elevated here. Seth Rollins’ cash in at Wrestlemania resulted in him being the talking point of the biggest show of the year and pushed him into the spotlight for the next 4 years. It also stands out as the last time WWE bothered to capitalise on Money in the Bank in a creative way with long term plans in mind. We have put up with 13, 13 matches since then that have just wasted everybody’s time. Nobody comes close to getting moved into the main event like Seth has in the past 10 years and frankly, it’s time to accept that nobody else will. We’re at a point where the Money in the Bank gimmick is so dead, King of the Ring is something the company is considering doing in a more regular way even though the company hates running tournaments. In a universe where Hell in a Cell is “just another gimmick match” it’s time to accept that Money in the Bank is just as bad if not worse. The Cell might have used to stand for ending big feuds but Money in the Bank used to stand for creating new stars and it seems clear we’re not going to get something like that again. Bank on it.
Thank for reading and if you want to share your thoughts or hear about future content from me first, follow me on twitter @IEZephyr