WWE Money in the Bank 2018 is highlighted by Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal, AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship and two MITB ladder matches featuring names like Braun Strowman, Finn Balor and Charlotte Flair.
The pay-per-view is faced with the tough task of renewing fan interest in the WWE product, which has fallen off considerably since WrestleMania in early April. Perhaps due to both competition from the NBA Playoffs and fan resentment after a Backlash pay-per-view that some critics have considered one of the worst in company history, ratings for both Raw and SmackDown have plummeted to record lows amidst a report that at least one WWE official isn’t sure how the company’s poor programming could lead to such blockbuster TV deals.
Quite simply, WWE’s product has been less than stellar, if not downright awful, in recent weeks, and the company could could use a great showing at Money in the Bank to turn things around as the NBA season comes to a close. There should be some stellar matches, like Styles vs. Nakamura and the MITB bouts, this Sunday, but a series of good bouts isn’t enough. With WWE now building its programming to focus on TV rather than the WWE Network, the happenings at Money in the Bank will lay the foundation for what we see on Raw and SmackDown as we draw closer to SummerSlam.
That’s why Money in the Bank, which in recent years has been one of WWE’s biggest and best PPVs, needs to erase some of the stench from the horrible Backlash PPV, which did not start off WWE’s return to dual-brand PPVs on the right foot. Thus, let’s take a look at five bad booking decisions WWE must avoid at Money in the Bank to avoid another uninspiring showing like what we witnessed at Backlash last month.
A Loss For Ronda Rousey
There is a sharp divide between those who think Ronda Rousey’s Women’s Championship match against Nia Jax is coming far too soon and those who believe it’s a smart move.
The reality, however, is that Rousey’s push should probably somewhere in the middle: Perhaps she shouldn’t be challenging for a title just yet, but she does need to consistently participate in big matches because bouts against lower card women’s performers aren’t going to cut it. WrestleVotes pointed out that WWE is essentially stuck between a rock and a hard place with Rousey because she’s a “full-time star” who will be around more than expected and needs to be featured in a prominent role:
Asked about the Ronda Rousey v Nia Jax rumors happening at MITB & not SummerSlam… Was told, “if they are true, it’s because they can’t ignore Rousey for another PPV, don’t want her in the ladder match, & can’t have her lose a qualifying match so they had no choice.”
— WrestleVotes (@WrestleVotes) May 14, 2018
Like it or not, if WWE doesn’t build the Raw women’s division around Rousey, the company risks ruining her undeniable drawing power, which made her one of the biggest attractions in UFC history. Putting Rousey in a midcard feud with someone like Mickie James is, frankly, a misuse of her incredibly popularity, which is currently peaking and essentially forces WWE’s hand. They have to push her now because there are no guarantees her popularity will last or that her WWE career will be a long one, especially given her recent comments about wanting to start a family soon.
Rousey will be working a busy live event schedule that should give her ample opportunity to improve as an in-ring performer, and with WWE backing itself into a corner with her match against Jax, there really is no other option but for her to win in convincing fashion. Anything different could dramatically reduce Rousey’s appeal and drawing power because Jax, though a very impressive performer, hasn’t been booked well enough in the past to be a serious threat to Rousey, who WWE is still calling “The Baddest Woman On The Planet.”
Jax is someone who’s been soundly defeated by Asuka several times and has been tapped out or pinned by Bayley and Sasha Banks. If Rousey can’t beat her convincingly, what type of that damage will that do to the perception of Rousey as an unstoppable superstar?
Established Stars Win The MITB Briefcase
The entire purpose of the Money in the Bank briefcase is to use it to catapult a rising star to the top of the card. Well, at least it’s supposed to be.
WWE has somewhat gotten away from that in recent years, with names like Baron Corbin and Damiel Sandow losing their cash-ins and established stars like Randy Orton and Sheamus winning the briefcase. But there’s still no doubt that the MITB briefcase has worked wonders for stars like Seth Rollins (who became a top star in large part because of his epic WrestleMania 31 cash-in), Dean Ambrose (who won his first ever WWE title thanks to the briefcase) and Carmella, whose MITB win transformed her into arguably the best heel in the women’s division.
Names like Rollins were able to solidify themselves as main event talents and strong merchandise movers because the MITB briefcase served as the means to an end, that end being a world title win and a chance at full-blown super-stardom. This year’s pair of Money in the Bank matches once again will give WWE the chance to, much like what happened with Rollins, book the next star-making moment for an up-and-coming star rather than to continue the push of an established main event talent.
Both the men’s and women’s MITB matches feature talents who are already firmly entrenched as main event stars, who’ve already been champion or whose characters simply don’t need the MITB briefcase because it doesn’t fit their gimmick. That list includes the likes of Charlotte Flair, Kevin Owens, Natalya and Alexa Bliss, who have all previously held world titles, and Braun Strowman, whose booked as an unstoppable monster who should not need the advantages that come along with the guaranteed world title shot.
On the flip side, there are plenty of rising stars who would benefit tremendously from the massive “rub” of holding that coveted MITB briefcase, ranging from Finn Balor to Samoa Joe to The Miz to Ember Moon to Rusev. Thus, these two decisions at Money in the Bank should be no-brainers: The winners of the respective MITB bouts should be two rising stars, not former multi-time world champions or stars who don’t need it.