Saturday, July 16, 2011

Insufficient Funds: MITB Opinions

Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Since Sunday is the second annual Money in the Bank pay per view, I decided now is as good a time as any to share my thoughts on past MITB matches.  The idea originated at Wrestlemania 21, and featured six guys: Christian, Edge, Shelton Benjamin, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Chris Benoit.

That first match was the best of the series in my opinion.  I could have seen any six of those guys winning and cashing in to face the champion.  At the time of the match in 2005, there were three former world champs in it (Kane, Jericho, and Benoit).  All three of those guys had short runs as champion, so it wouldn't have been a bad thing for any of them to win.

Jim Ross described the match as a human demolition derby.  There were a lot of exciting spots in it and all six guys did a great job telling a story in the ring.  Highlights include (I just watched it again last night), Shelton Benjamin doing the T Bone to Edge off the top of the ladder, and Chris Benoit climbing the top of a ladder and doing a diving headbutt from the top and hitting Kane.  Like I said anyone could have won that match and I would have been fine with it.  Clearly, this was the event that put Edge's main event status career into motion.  I liked how the match played out with all the spots and the drama involved.  Then of course, Edge finally snatching that briefcase and clutching it for dear life afterward.  I also loved the way Edge kept it for almost a year before cashing it in.  The whole angle played out well and elevated Edge to the next level.  That's what MITB is supposed to do.

Flair goes for it...
Unfortunately, I think that's the ONLY time MITB did that for the winner.  I was at Wrestlemania 22 in Chicago for the second version of the match.  This one featured Rob Van Dam, Ric Flair, Finlay, Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin, and Matt Hardy.  This one was obviously no where near as good as the first.  I knew there was little chance that Hardy, Finlay, or Flair would win.  However, in my (and maybe Chad's too, I don't remember) dream scenario, I had Flair winning that match.  Triple H winning the title from Cena in the main event, and Flair immediately cashing in to have one more run as the champ.  It would have been the "Wrestlemania moment"that Flair never got.

Wishful thinking, I know.  Of course RVD did win the match and eventually the title.  But if you recall, he was busted for marijuana use and his time as champ was brief.  He kinda bounced around the midcard after that before finally leaving the company.

The WWE added more superstars to the third MITB match at Wrestlemania 23.  And in a surprise win, Mr. Kennedy beat out the others, including Randy Orton, Edge, Jeff Hardy, CM Punk, and Booker T among others.  My memory of that match it was pretty good too.  Better than the previous year, but still not as good as the first year.

From WWE
The one big spot that sticks out to me was Jeff Hardy doing the Swanton Bomb onto Edge as he was laid across another ladder.  I think that move took them both out of the match.  Ouch!

Kennedy won the match as I mentioned, and is the only superstar to date to not win the title as a result.  In fact, he lost the case in a match against Edge.  Story has it that Kennedy was hurt and facing a long time on the sidelines, so the company decided to have him drop the case and go with Edge again.  Turns out, Kennedy's injury wasn't as bad as they thought it was.  Unfortunately for him (and the fans) this was the beginning of the end for him.  I don't feel like he ever rebounded from that and ended up being released a few years later.

In the following years, the competitors and it became more of a match to see how many superstars they could get on the Wrestlemania card.  Who really thought Mark Henry would win?  Or Matt Hardy?  Or even Evan Bourne at Wrestlemania 26?

From WWE
In 2010 the WWE started the MITB ppv.  Two ladder matches were featured, one for SmackDown! and one for Raw.  I was surprised by the results of both matches.  I didn't figure Kane would get another run as champion.  But the Miz's win was an even bigger surprise for me.  A good surprise though.  I was glad to see him win and eventually become champion, despite the fact that he's back to the midcard.

Now we're preparing for another MITB and it's anything goes again.  It's hard to pick a winner.  My hope is that it's a couple of guys who haven't been champion yet.   And will they eventually have someone win the match and not the title?  It's happened with the Royal Rumble-Wrestlemania main event scenario.  One idea I've seen bounced around is the Raw winner cashes in tomorrow night, only to lose to CM Punk and before he gets out of the ring with the WWE title forever, the SmackDown! winner rushes the ring and cashes in for the win.  An interesting option indeed.

My original point for this post is that I'm not a huge fan of the speciality pay per view.  I think they should have kept Money in the Bank on the Wrestlemania card and not created a separate event for it.  The same can be said for the Hell in the Cell and Tables, Ladders, and Chairs PPV with more than one of these kinds of matches, it takes away from the uniqueness of the match.  I remember when the first HITC match happened in 1997 and how they were used very sparingly for the next several years.

I may be wrong here, but I think the original idea of MITB was to create new main event level superstars.  It worked in 2005 with Edge.  It could have worked with RVD the next year, but his personal life got in the way.  Kennedy was sure to be a champion, but he was injury prone and that took him out.  The idea was successful for CM Punk who won the MITB twice and became champion two times.  But after losing the belt, he seemed to falter in the midcard.  It wasn't until earlier this year that the company pushed him again and put him in the spotlight.  I just hope this momentum continues for him.

Swagger wins MITB at Wrestlemania 26
Now look at Jack Swagger and the Miz.  Swagger was not ready to be the champion.  I don't know why they hot shotted that angle.  They could have let him develop more and cash in later in the year.  Instead, his run as world champion was barely memorable.  The Miz was ready I thought.  But I think the company went to their backup plan and put the title back on Cena like they always do.  Now Miz is Alex Riley's whipping boy.

No matter who wins the MITB matches on July 17th, I hope they are guys who the company puts some faith in and support not just while they're pursuing the champion, but into their title reign as well.  This event could elevate the game again.  I just hope the WWE is ready.

What do you think?  Leave your thoughts here, or on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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