A decade ago, the Money In The Bank concept was the most exciting gimmick in wrestling. Initially created for 2005’s WrestleMania 21, inaugural winner Edge had to be persuaded to agree to take part in that first ladder match, so annoyed was he at being fobbed off with yet another ladder match instead of a legitimate opportunity.
Thank God he did take part, because the WWE had no idea what to do with the briefcase once he won it (hence the reason why he held it for a record-setting 280 days). It was Adam Copeland’s groundbreaking idea to cash in the briefcase so opportunistically against John Cena, and that blueprint has marked the Money In The Bank concept ever since.
That used to make it unpredictable, and made for dynamic storytelling. But WWE’s insistence on picking winners without an endgame in mind has removed all the unpredictability from the equation, rendering the Money In The Bank winner a victim to WWE’s notoriously unreliable booking.
For every Seth Rollins, cashing in with a game-changing, thrilling moment, there’s Jack Swagger, Kane, Damien Sandow, Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus.
With the Money In The Bank annual event making the gimmick even more predictable, and the now-annual Intercontinental Championship ladder match at WrestleMania stealing its thunder, Money In The Bank has never been so boring.
Luckily, the ecstatic reaction to Seth Rollins’ cash-in last year proves that there’s still time to save the gimmick, provided WWE are prepared to think outside of the box...
10. The Free Agent Gimmick
With the new brand extension due to take place in a matter of weeks, it only makes sense that the WWE will need to figure out how the Money In The Bank winner’s potential cash-in will work with rosters split between Smackdown and RAW.
Is there going to be a new World title for the brand that doesn’t have the WWE World Heavyweight Champion on the roster? If so, how will that work with the briefcase holder and their championship match contract?
Personally, I think splitting the top title (or worse, creating a new World title out of thin air, or bringing back the Big Gold Belt yet again) devalues the WWE World Heavyweight Championship without putting over the new title - it dilutes the importance of each.
For the same reason, one of the major mistakes they made with the brand split before was to give each brand a Money In The Bank ladder match and briefcase. It didn’t make the gimmick any more important, and having two men wandering around with briefcases actually dissipated any interest people had in the outcome of any cash-in.
Why not have the WWE World Heavyweight Champion a free agent, able to travel between brands? It worked for decades with the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion - top guys like Ric Flair and Harley Race would travel between the territories taking on the local NWA promotion’s top guy, making them look like contenders and then retaining on a (usually heelish) technicality to ensure they left with the title again.
With the guy with the gold a free agent, it only makes sense that the Money In The Bank winner would also become a free agent for the length of time he had the briefcase. The Money In The Bank winner has always been a kind of floating number one contender anyway, able to insert himself into the championship conversation at a moment’s notice - it’s part of the fun of the gimmick.
Have the man with the briefcase able to travel between brands: it allows for that extra little unpredictability again. You never know when he might turn up.