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The Unceremonious Demise of 2018’s WWE Money In The Bank and What Could Have Been by Matthew J. Douglas

Happy Wednesday, TJR Faithful! It’s been a while, I know. It was a long, busy, arduous summer for me with a couple weddings, new jobs, and of course not much of note really happening in the WWE. I’m not going to lie, there were weeks when I wouldn’t even bother to catch up on Raw or Smackdown, because from what I was told: “it’s largely the same show from the week prior”. It didn’t feel like I was missing much.

Last night however, I found myself feeling disgruntled. Not just about the overall malaise that has afflicted the WWE for most of this year, but specifically about what ended up being the fate of one of the WWE’s least creatively utilized tools, the Money In The Bank Contract. I went mild when Braun won the briefcase because I didn’t think he was a great choice for the stories that can be told with it. I understood the win, but it didn’t fill my head with possibilities for the future. I felt like there were more interesting stories to tell in the field of the Money In The Bank Ladder Match this year. Here were my thoughts in the TJRWrestling Money In The Bank Preview:

Following my logic from above, the winner of this match will come from Smackdown Live. Their field is just more interesting and fun. You could have The Miz winning his second Briefcase, eventually cashing in to ruin a Daniel Bryan moment, leading to the two of them having a HUGE Championship match at a later date. You could have Rusev win it and promise to cash it in on Rusev Day! You could have Samoa Joe win it and be one of the most legit and threatening holders of the case in recent memory, waiting in the wings for the right time to strike, or you could go in a whole different direction and have The Briefcase in the hands of The New Day!

All have their strengths and weaknesses. Miz winning it would be a reward for simply extraordinary work over the last couple years and creates a roadmap to a much-anticipated match… but it’s also fairly predictable. Rusev winning would be fun but doesn’t quite feel like a big enough deal. Samoa Joe is amazing and given his promo ability and in ring ability, he could carry it well for some time before cashing in and winning the title, which would be a delight… but I just don’t see him carrying it for that long, nor do I really believe he needs it to get a championship match or to win the title.

For me, the best case scenario is New Day winning it. Not just because I’m a huge New Day fan, but also because I think it makes for the most creative aftermath. First of all, you have the whole mystery as to which member will be competing in the match itself. I think it should be Kofi, given he has the most experience, with the other two helping him finally win the contract. That story in and of itself is a triumph. It’s a shocking moment, and it affords a Championship opportunity to guys that I don’t see getting one otherwise. All the directions you can go from there are bountiful as well. Does the briefcase sow mistrust and dissension in the ranks of New Day? Does it cause their divorce, with each getting custody of the Briefcase (which will, of course, be named) for certain months after weeks of mediation? Will Xavier and Big E rally behind Kofi to drive him to a WWE Championship that has eluded him his whole career? Does this launch Big E on his own as a serious singles competition threat? I could go on and on.

Winner(s): The New Day (because their story is easily the most creatively fertile, which is likely why the WWE will not go in that direction, but I’m picking them still, out of principle)

I was a big supporter of New Day winning the briefcase, because silly me, I like a fun surprise. I like a cinderella tale. I enjoy a solid underdog story here and there. New Day with MITB would have been fun, funny, and compelling. Pretty much they would have been the antidote to Braun’s run with the briefcase. I love Braun, but he did next to nothing of note with the contract in his grasp. He held it for a while and then The Shield returned, and then he lost his opportunity in a no contest inside Hell In A Cell. What a waste and what a joke for the second year in a row.

Now while I never was a supporter of Braun winning the briefcase, I saw an opportunity with him carrying it, to do something that literally hasn’t been done with the briefcase before, centered around Strowman and The Shield. Let’s rewind before Hell In A Cell. Before the atrocity that was committed to simply waste the Money In The Bank. We could have had The Shield re-united to take on Braun, Ziggler and McIntyre (by the way, Dogs Of War is such a dumb name… just call them The War Dogs. It sounds cleaner and less clunky) inside Hell In A Cell as a 6-man match. Brock could still return (much to my chagrin), and you can still do that whole deal leading to a triple threat at Crown Jewel.

The idea would be for these rivalries will get us to Survivor Series with the Money In The Bank Contract still in Braun’s possession. Roman, still Universal Champion will represent Raw against Smackdown’s Champion AJ Styles or Daniel Bryan. Seth Rollins, still Intercontinental Champion will go one on one with United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. And Kurt Angle, wanting the entire Shield represented and leading the charge against Smackdown, will name Dean Ambrose the Captain of Team Raw for Survivor Series… a team that will feature Braun Strowman, who has been asked by both Kurt and Stephanie to halt his pursuit of Roman and The Shield for one night, so Raw can be victorious.

On the night of Survivor Series, a member of team Raw is mysteriously taken out. Seth gets banged up in his match with Shinsuke (who attacks him after the match unprovoked), so Dean turns to Roman and asks him if he can fill in on team Raw after his match with Smackdown’s WWE Champion, a request that Roman agrees to fulfill without hesitation, despite having just wrestled a match.

What follows is a standard Survivor Series elimination match. We’ll get down to a point where it’s Roman, Dean and Braun vs. a couple of Smackdown guys (who exactly isn’t that important). Dean will be in the ring in control when he’ll suddenly snap at Braun. He’ll say that he saw Braun eyeing Roman and accuse him of thinking about cashing in. He’ll get in his face and Roman will enter the ring to separate them. Dean will slap Braun, who then punches Ambrose. Roman punches Braun in response. All hell breaks loose with Dean and Roman fighting Braun and getting him eliminated from the match. Braun, rightfully furious takes everyone out from both teams. He grabs his briefcase and he cashes in during the Survivor Series match. There’s more fighting, more pandemonium with the guys from Smackdown out there. The referee is trying to get everything under control and takes a bump. With help from Dean, Roman withstands Braun and ultimately pins him.

Roman and Dean recover from this detour and win the Traditional Survivor Series match for Team Raw. That’s when Dean attacks Roman. He beats him viciously and Roman having defended his title twice as well as having been in the Survivor Series match can’t defend himself. Dirty Deeds! Ambrose pins Roman and yells at the referee to count it. He does. Ambrose picks up the Universal Championship, raises it above his head without his music playing and exits the arena through the crowd as the show closes with mass confusion.

The next night on Raw an understandably upset Roman opens the show and demands Ambrose come to the ring and bring him his title. Ambrose appears on the screen and is cutting a promo with a camcorder, a la The Shield. This’ll be a little unrefined, but what he’d say will go a little like this:

“Sucks doesn’t it Roman? To have all your hard work co-opted and usurped by a brother. Somebody you trusted. Now you know how it feels. Now you know how it felt to watch you take The Shield, something we all built, and make it all about you. I didn’t want to see it, but once I did, I couldn’t see anything else. You took OUR entrance music. You took OUR gear. You took OUR mottos and creeds, and you made them all about YOU! And then when we reunited, you used us like hired security to keep this title safely in your hands. We were meant to sacrifice for you, and nobody was asked to sacrifice more than me. Rollins was allowed to have the Intercontinental Championship… but I was left with nothing. Left to bask in your glory.”

“I got sick of waiting my turn, and I saw an opportunity last night to use your pride against you. I knew you would join Team Raw if I asked last minute, so I made sure a last minute spot was available. I goaded Braun into a melee that I hoped would entice him into cashing in his briefcase. Getting rid of him after that was the tough part, but I knew we were up to it. I also knew that you, the other guys from Smackdown, the referee and these people were all too stupid to realize what had happened. The Money in the Bank contract rules are clear. I took a trip to Stamford to read through them myself. And of course there was the precedent set in 2015 when Seth cashed in during your match with Brock.”

Dean pulls out a torn page from a book and reads.

“When the briefcase is cashed in during a match, the match changes into a WWE Championship match featuring all the competitors in the match prior, plus the Money In The Bank holder. All rules for victory and those pertaining to disqualification from the previous match remain in place, and the winner will be recognized as Champion.”

“So you see Roman, when Braun cashed in, that Survivor Series match became an elimination match for the WWE Universal Championship and I was the last man standing. So… this isn’t your Title anymore. And neither is The Shield!”

Dean drops the camera and walks off. Stephanie and Kurt later confirm Dean’s claims about how the Money in the Bank works and that he is now Universal Champion. Roman is after him for revenge, Braun having been used and played for a fool is also out for blood, and Dean comes across crazy as a fox having outsmarted everyone and used Money In The Bank in a way that has never been seen before. Plus there are several questions that can be drawn out. Where do Seth’s allegiances lie? Does he agree with Dean about Roman using The Shield for his own gain and co-opting the brand? Does agree with Roman that Dean is a snake that needs to be cut down?

Creatively you take the deck of cards you have and you play them to create the most intrigue and storytelling possibilities. You should never willingly punt on your own stories and storytelling tools. That’s what it appears the WWE has done with Money In The Bank this year. They could possibly backtrack on it since Hell in a Cell was no contest, meaning its as though it was never really cashed in, but I doubt very much they will. It’d be cool if they did though if only to put this story, or countless others back in play.

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There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think! Would a Survivor Series cash in shock you? Would Dean orchestrating that event be one of the coolest heel turns of all time? Shouldn’t New Day have just won the briefcase in June? Are there other cool things that can be done with MITB or are we pretty close to it jumping the shark?

Until next time folks, I’m Matthew J. Douglas saying I couldn’t be happier or more excited that the NBA is back tomorrow night! Go Raps! Go Spurs! Have a great week everybody!