Let me preface what I’m about to write about with this: Money In The Bank was on Sunday night, it’s now Wednesday morning and I still don’t 100% have my thoughts fully organized for this column, so please just bear with me as I put it all out here…
Money In The Bank is the WWE‘s yearly pay per view in which they promote ladder matches for shots at the top title(s). This year, since the WWE Championship & World Heavyweight Championship have been combined, there was to be one ladder match for a shot at that title. Problem was the current champion, Daniel Bryan just had surgery on his injured neck and is taking longer to return than had been hoped. So WWE decided to strip Bryan of the title and make this ladder match for the title, then throw together a second ladder match and make it for a shot at the title down the line.
I like all that, it all made sense…you can’t wait out a guy’s return from injury indefinitely…it helps to have a champion on TV every week. So what was done really did follow along with storylines, having Triple H & Stephanie strip the title from a guy they never wanted to have it and fought tooth and nail to stop from getting it. The problem was that one week, you have Bryan on TV saying how he won’t forfeit the titles and that they’d have to physically take them from him. The next week, the belts are hanging above the ring and Triple H & Stephanie are saying how they’ve stripped Bryan of the titles…and nothing was shown or said as to how they acquired said title belts.
Also, while I’m going through missteps in storytelling here…let’s talk about The Shield. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose arrived on the scene in WWE in 2012 when they helped CM Punk retain his WWE Championship at the Survivor Series pay per view. In the months & years since, they’ve laid waste to everyone who has gotten in their way. Numerous groups of top level talent have grouped together in 6-man tag format matches and have lost to them. As a unit, there haven’t been many stronger in WWE history. They’ve also flipped sides from being heels, saving CM Punk‘s WWE Championship on a few occasions to now defying Triple H and The Authority, sparking Triple H to reassemble Evolution. This was all terrific storytelling here and the elimination match at Payback against Evolution was AMAZING! You had this band of young guys outlasting and knocking off three major players in WWE for the last decade one by one. It wasn’t quick or easy…Reigns, Rollins & Ambrose got their asses beat in, however they also fought back enough to make it competitive for the whole match. These three just survived this war of attrition against some fierce competitors in Triple H, Randy Orton & Batista. Then, the following night on Raw, Batista quits and Rollins just turns on his compadres out of nowhere. Again, WWE had a really great story running and just ran it off the rails. I have no problem with them breaking these guys up and trying them out as singles guys, but this isn’t the way to do it. It’s just completely nonsensical Vince Russo-esque booking. Let’s just turn a guy for the hell of it.
In the lead up for the ladder match for the briefcase with the title match contract inside, Rollins & Ambrose really made that ladder match all about them and their hatred for eachother. Ambrose has really been a breath of fresh air as far as his character is concerned. He’s a babyface who they allow to say he’s going to do heinous things to his opponents, he’s not cutesy in any way with anything he says. He’s serious, he doesn’t joke around like John Cena does, he’s not one to kiss babies, he’s not selling t-shirts, he’s there to kick ass and isn’t afraid to tell you so. Meanwhile, Roman Reigns has seemingly just plain forgotten about his buddy Seth Rollins turning on him. I just don’t get this. I like that they’re pushing him towards main eventing with Cena, Orton & the rest of the top talent in WWE, but to have your buddy turn on you & just move on like it never happened and you just don’t care isn’t the way to handle this.
So on Sunday, I watched the show on the WWE Network as part of my $9.99 monthly subscription. A great price for all the current pay per views. I do however miss going to Buffalo Wild Wings with the guys on pay per view nights, but in the end I’m saving money, so it’s cool. If I didn’t get the shows all included in that $9.99, I can tell you right now that I wouldn’t be buying them every month. Also coming up in August, I have a decision to make…whether to renew my 6-month subscription to the WWE Network. For me, it’s a no-brainer, but to a lot of other people, I don’t think it is. I’m going to keep it going forward until they make it where it’s no longer a good deal to me to pay for each month. The problem is that while WWE was putting out to their investors that they were expecting a much larger initial sign up figure than the 667k they ended up getting. Plus, along with a lot of those 667k had to be independent wrestling fans who had followed Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) throughout his career who were excited about him finally making it to the top of WWE. So now that he’s out of the picture, they really needed to put out there someone who was fresh to the scene, who could grab all those Daniel Bryan fans and keep them interested enough to renew their WWE Network subscription when it comes up within the next month or so.
So let’s see what happened on Sunday, shall we?
Most of the undercard was what you would expect: Russev beat Big E in a decent match, pitting two 300+ lb guys against each other, a decent tag match between Goldust & Cody Rhodes as Stardust vs. RybAxel, a Divas title match between Paige and Naomi of the Funkadactyls, a complete waste of time match between Adam Rose and Damien Sandow dressed up as Paul Revere, and a terrific Tag Team Titles match between the Usos and Luke Harper & Erick Rowan that opened the show.
It was in the main event, the ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that I really have a problem with this show. It’s announced that going in, if Randy Orton wins, he’ll be a 13-time World Champion and that should John Cena win, he’ll be a 15-time World Champion. So naturally, you’re starting to worry about either of those two guys getting the nod to win this thing. On the flip side of things, you have newcomers Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt & Cesaro in this match vying for their first World Championship in WWE. Rounding out the group are former champions-turned-midcard talent, the United States Champion, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and Kane. The reason I worry about those two winning this thing is because with numbers like those, they’re nearing the mark that Ric Flair has set at being a 16-time World Champion. Now granted, this era vs. the era in which Flair held the titles he did are vastly different, but WWE doesn’t tell you that…in fact, they try to bury that fact under the carpet. In the end, John Cena wins the title and is heralded by Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & JBL as being the greatest champion in WWE history. Ugh!
Now I’m not gonna say that John Cena‘s a piece of crap or anything…the man is a great humanitarian with all the good he does with Make-A-Wish, Susan G. Komen, the armed forces and everyone else, but please come on already. He’s capable of having good matches and giving good promos, except a lot of the time he chooses not to. Over the course of his career, he’s had very-good-to-great matches with Umaga, Great Khali, CM Punk, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Daniel Bryan, Batista…the list goes on. And while you can make an argument when it comes to the likes of Punk, Michaels & Bryan, that it took an exceptional talent to pull a good match out of him, he was an equal participant in those matches and went the distance to give the fans a good show. He’s also capable of very good promos, but constantly makes that conscious decision to take the promo into poopyville, by poking fun at his opponents and making everything one big joke. This doesn’t sell pay per views. It may sell t-shirts and other merchandise to kids, but this is also the reason why so many adults can’t stand the guy. And when it comes to renewing subscriptions for the WWE Network over the next few weeks, having him with the title does nothing to say to those fans on the fence who haven’t liked the product over the last 10+ years that we’re heading into a different era, where there will be new, fresh talents elevated to the top of the card. It just says to the audience that we’re in for more of the same. Which makes those people on the fence about renewing not want to renew, which will reduce the number of subscriptions to the Network for the next quarterly investor call.
Now what really scares the crap out of me is the fact that Amazon leaked a pay per view poster early for Summer Slam, with Cena and Brock Lesnar‘s faces on it, pointing to that being the top match at the Pay Per View. So now that Cena has the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, they’re gonna give Brock Lesnar a match for the title at the show? Which naturally, you have to agree he earned by knocking off Undertaker at WrestleMania. And with Lesnar‘s contract being structured as it is, with him being limited to a specific number of appearances per year, you have to believe that Cena‘s going to retain. So the guy who defeated Undertaker for the FIRST TIME EVER at WrestleMania is going to lose to John Cena, thus giving that rub to THE ONE GUY IN THE ENTIRE F’N COMPANY WHO DOESN’T NEED IT! I swear my head’s about to explode after typing that.
On the bright side of things, Seth Rollins has the briefcase with the title shot in it and Ambrose has vowed to ruin any cash in he decides to try…so that makes for a fresh situation as far as the Money In The Bank briefcase is concerned. I really am loving everything Ambrose is tied to as his character is truly fresh and different from everyone else in WWE. Hopefully they’ll see that, let it continue and maybe even let the guy have a run at the top. Because if you want fresh & different, Dean Ambrose is where that is!