I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment with WWE. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, because the rock and the hard place are both strong, sturdy places to be, but as with any journey I take with a TV programme I’m waiting to see what’s next and at the moment I feel like I’m at the side of their road on that journey, with my thumb out, waiting for announcements about the brand extension to pick me up.
Money In The Bank is one of my favourite PPVs of the year (I’m a gimmick PPV junkie) because along with how the Royal Rumble used to be, it’s one of the few PPVs where you really don’t know for sure which way they’re going to go with the big match. Not only that, whichever way they end up going, it’s going to be something that has a lasting and significant impact on WWE programming for the coming months.
The winner of the Money In The Bank match is almost as significant a person as the title holder, if they’re booked correctly and it elevates someone straight away to be that ‘threat to win’ that 50-50 booking always seems to detract from. There’s no 50-50 with the Money In The Bank winner, again, if booked correctly – they just automatically cement their significance.
I’m not even talking about the potential title win – they’re significant even to the extent that the role they play in the storyline for the title can never be ignored. You can get months of significant build and get a guy really over, without having to give them a title to do it. They’re the champion-elect, the mother of all number one contenders. It’s one of the things that at the turn of the year you look out for and try to predict. Who’s going to headline ‘Mania. Who’s going to win the Rumble. And who’s going to win Money In The Bank this year.
Only the WWE has gone and gazumped the excitement that’s attached to the Money In The Bank winner already by announcing a brand extension.
Instead of feeling safe in the passenger seat of WWE after being picked up, I’m now an example of the very real dangers of hitch-hiking because I’m not sure where my driver is taking me.
On the one hand I’m really excited to see the Money In The Bank ladder match itself. It’s a match made up of some of the best the WWE has to offer, not just people there to fulfil a spot-fest role like Calisto’s Elimination Chamber appearance or Shelton Benjamin’s appearances in TLC matches. Every one of the guys in that match seems like they deserve to be there, there’s a great mix of veteran, rookie (in WWE terms) and frustrated mid-carder and each of them have good chemistry with each other.
This is what I mean when I talk in my articles about the WWE being so great right now – having these six guys involved in a match like this is great – just as the four guys who contested the IC title match at Extreme Rules was.
I can’t help but think that on the other hand, there’s the question of what happens after the brand extension. Will there be two titles? Will there be two Money In The Bank winners next year and does the six guys in one of the Money In The Bank matches would include R-Truth or Kalisto and be weaker for it – not because those guys aren’t good workers, but because they’re not the threat to win that each of these six guys are?
In all likelihood there’d only be one Money In The Bank match anyway, it completely devalued it to have two, so the question is moot in that sense. What isn’t moot is that one of the things I really love about WWE right now is how strong the undercard is – how great it is to have so many great workers not only in the one match, but on the sidelines and fighting for the other titles. I really don’t want to go back to the days when instead of building up talent as threats to win, we just had a constant cycle of Nathan Joneses, Heidenreichs and Great Khalis. Talent that wasn’t quite as good as it should have been being pushed into places it didn’t really belong.
Now, maybe, the WWE roster is a lot stronger and there’s enough depth to cope with having just as much quality as they do now, from top to bottom, with that roster split in two, but taking a quick look at the women’s division and tag team divisions doesn’t really support that.
I think everyone who’s positive about the brand extension hopes it will be the case that there’s enough to carry it, but I just worry that some of WWE is so good right now, with the IC title picture, a fantastic title picture with almost endless possibilities for different contenders and situations, and a resurgent tag team division, that breaking it all up for the sake of saving a B show doesn’t seem worth it to me.
Of all the matches I’ve enjoyed the most in the past few months, it’s the IC Title match at Extreme Rules that stands out for me because of the amount of great workers we had in the match for a mid card title and also the ones waiting in the wings. There were a ton of great matches waiting for whichever one of them won the title and there still are waiting for the Miz. The roster being so stacked is great for that because it means you have something different to tell each month, if you want, without it getting stale.
That’s before we even get to mentioning Orton, Neville and Wyatt coming back too.
Of course, it’s not all perfect. We do tend to see a lot of the same matches in WWE again and again, but that’s not because of the roster being deep, it’s because the writers can’t think of enough different things to do. There is, indeed, no need to repeat matches on SmackDown, or even have the same feuds on them – but that’s no reason to completely split the rosters. Just write better. Write around it.
Another argument against the deep roster is that it somehow buries talent, that it’s harder for new starts to come through. Only I think, again, that the emergence on WWE TV of AJ Styles, The Club, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, etc is proof that talent will always rise to the top. Why didn’t Zack Ryder really make it? Because, actually, he’s fairly limited, as is his character. As have all of Cody’s characters been. Sandow, like it or not, was seen as a comedy act by the powers that be. When wrestlers of real talent come through, they get given a chance and they succeed. So to be honest, unless WWE hires or promotes 10 or 20 new wrestlers from the ranks of the same or greater quality than they have, I don’t see a brand split improving the quality of things either, because there aren’t that many guys who aren’t getting loads of TV time who really need to be.
Even if there were…it’s them all being on the same roster that excites me, the possibility of any match up at any point and I think I’m going to miss that aspect of what the WWE is now when it’s gone.
What do you guys think? Am I overplaying having everyone on one card? Does my way cut out the opportunities for new and lesser talent to shine?