Since 2005, Money in the Bank has captivated the WWE Universe. From a spectating standpoint, the appeal is easy to see. It’s the match that has the biggest spots, the most OMG moments, and is always drenched in suspense. And even long after the outcome, fans are always agog for that moment when the superstar with the briefcase cashes in the MITB contract to, almost always, receive the ultimate payout of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The most exhilarating cash-ins have been when the fans were not expecting it. These moments certainly create an electric buzz in the audience that explodes the instant it happens, and continues into the days long after. But when is enough enough? With the athletic talent on the WWE roster being as great as it has ever been, the MITB ladder match still has plenty of juice left to be squeezed out. But as impressive and enthralling all the high spots and athletic feats always found in this match may be, when do the “Oh my Gods” of the cash-ins become “Oh God, not this again”? At what point is MITB limited to just the physicality of the match and no longer the larger purpose behind it? Money in the Bank has spent up its value and needs to learn when it’s time to cash out all its winnings over the past ten years…before, not after, it is the investment of the viewers that goes belly up.
There have been 15 Money in the Bank winners, and 13 of them used the same sneak-attack approach to cashing in. When Edge cashed in his briefcase at New Year’s Resolution 2006, his career was permanently catapulted to main-event status. His moniker of “The Ultimate Opportunist” would become more than a catchy nickname, but a branch of philosophy for future bankers to follow: Ultimate Opportunism. Indeed, just as Ultimate Opportunism helped Edge become a main eventer and eventually a legend, it did the same for CM Punk, and also provided the same opportunity for superstars like Jack Swagger and The Miz. Swagger and Miz may not have had as long a run as A-listers, but they both spiced up the title picture—with Miz even going on to headline and win a Wrestlemania main event. When you look at the success the MITB match has had on both the career front and storyline front, the benefit of the match is clear: It makes stars in ways no other concept has ever done. Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio are three other bankers who enjoyed success at the top at varying durations. What each of the Ultimate Opportunists have in common is that they all shocked the world…not with their victories, but with their timing. They shook the wrestling world with a title change at the most unexpected times. But the shock has worn off. When is the time to say, “OK. Enough already”? The MITB concept could not end without a Wrestlemania cash-in. Well, that has happened. And we’ve had enough shockers in the past decade to last us a lifetime. Money in the Bank’s time is up and the time is now, so if no one else will say it, I will: Enough already.
Call me old school, but can we just have big-fight-feel matches that won’t get ruined by a shock that has now lost its jolt? When you have the biggest match of the year at ’Mania disrupted by a cash-in, and you rob the fans of a Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar ending…then what should result is the culmination of the MITB concept. After seeing how this cash-in has helped Seth Rollins’ career, it’s easy to see a different point of view; but there is a way to continue MITB without it being at the expense of classic moments/matches. And one man has been in the only two cash-ins that demonstrate how it can be done.
There have only been three full-blown matches for a World title after a MITB cash-in. John Cena has been in all three. Once as a challenger, and twice as a champion. Rob Van Dam announced that he would cash-in his MITB briefcase at Extreme Rules 2006…and it only helped the build-up to the match. The same can be said for John Cena’s challenging of CM Punk on Raw 1,000. The loss of the surprise component did not depreciate the value of the briefcase…in fact, it lifted it…because a big build-up developed from the announcement. In the case of Damien Sandow, although he tried the “Ultimate Opportunist” route, a full match also resulted from it. What the fans got was an unexpected classic with a heightened suspense that would not have been there if Sandow faced Cena in any other environment. So perhaps the solution isn’t to eliminate Money in the Bank but to change the terms of the contract. Vince McMahon could announce that he is tired of superstars taking the cowardly path to the WWE Championship. That he has worked for everything that he has and superstars should do the same instead of exploiting the MITB contract as an easy way to the top. From now on, superstars must give no less than 24 hours’ notice of when they are cashing in their Money in the Bank contract. Advance notice is what happened with Cena/RVD and Cena/Punk, and both matches were enhanced by the build-up with MITB laying the appreciated groundwork. With this prior notice, the shock factor will leave, but after ten years, isn’t it gone already? It is time for the Money in the Bank cash-in to accrue interest, instead of splurging it in a few seconds.
The truth is, the Money in the Bank match reduces the value of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This has been a justifiable sacrifice since it has created bona fide main eventers in the process. But much like The King of the Ring tournament (and I’m going to ignore the sad attempt at reviving the tournament last year), which was also known to help raise superstars to the next level, it has run its course. Can we really imagine a WWE where superstars are still doing surprise cash-ins yet another ten years from now? It is time for the WWE to withdraw the Money in the Bank…or convert the contract to terms that raise the value not only of the superstar…but of the superstar, the MITB-produced championship match, and the world title itself. Why increase the value of just one element when you can do so on three different fronts? From an economic standpoint, a pre-announced cash-in will draw intrigue into the anticipated event; and if the current contract holder is one the brass finds deserving of a world title run, they could still have him win in a fluky fashion if the superstar is not ready to win cleanly. This way, the company would have capitalized on the interest that led up to the match, instead of repeating the same formula that will inevitably lose as much money as it has already the trembling flow the bank once held.