While this site deliberately tries to stick to independent wrestling discussion, there’s no shame in occasionally bringing up big brother WWE.
Truth be told, Huracanrana and I wrote a fair number of pieces on the shortcomings of the world’s most famous professional wrestling promotion. Critiques on body type, gender presentation, financials, and the ‘jobbing’ concept within developmental. This is not, however, one of those instances.
This weekend brings with it the 12th iteration of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, one we were blessed to see in person last year in Columbus, OH. (This may also stand as one of the more creative anniversary gifts of all time.) Seeing it in person – and via subsequent reflection – produced an epiphany that this arguably the best storytelling format in all of pro wrestling.
To explain, the Money in the Bank concept is a double swerve by design: the briefcase holder’s plight a second poker hand to the ongoing saga that is the heavyweight championship horserace. Both typically exist in parallel but rarely intertwining storylines and matches. This affords creative enormous flexibility in determining where these two eventually intersect.
The Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV) match itself – typically a (thankful) culmination of several struggling midcard storyline ends – rarely disappoints. Participants are selected both by storyline and body type, the result an emotional connection plus wrestling style disparity that combines toward a beautiful marriage. Moreover, almost every match carries with it a daring crescendo moment, where the seeming favorite is displaced by the 2nd…or even 3rd individual predicted to win. (Go get em, Sheamus!)
Grabbing that briefcase is where the fun begins. Timeline discrepancies in cashing in ensures it a ticking storyline time bomb. Kane cashed in the same night. Edge ¾ of a year later. Seth Rollins was the first to cash in at a WrestleMania.
That briefcase – be it that night or almost a full year later – stands a constant and welcome reminder that a dominant storyline is living on borrowed time. Even a failed cash-in throws the whole roster a curveball, as a new top contender must emerge from within the roster. Heck, even John Cena lost his briefcase via failed cash in a mere 8 days later after winning it!
Post PPV and from a viewer perspective, the briefcase holder – Rollins arguably executed this to perfection – is a welcome disruption to weekly show flow. As the heavyweight champion is typically featured on RAW, one can never tell when a swerve ending is in store. Watching the current champ doing his thing is now an entrée to a potential cash-in, main course. Sadly, the WWE seems hell bent on limiting title changes to PPV events. While logical financially (to increase viewership and network subscriptions), this does detract from what could be a wonderful, ongoing saga.
Sadly and for independent promotions, the Money in the Bank concept will rarely work. While the match can take place (and determine a champion then and there), rosters are too unstable to enable a cash-in even a month later. Maxwell Chicago’s retirement (we miss you, buddy!) serves as a constant reminder that signing with NXT isn’t the only reason for poor continuity in indy wrestling title storylines.
Still, Ring of Honor’s exclusive talent offers a unique opportunity to give this (or a similar concept) a go. The handful of individuals and/or tag teams native to the promotion ensures continuity to see a sustained title contingency match type through.