From the first episode of OTTB there has been tension between Ricardo and I over this topic. I firmly believe that Money in the Bank is ready to ascend to the status of one of WWE’s “Big Four” pay-per-view events and take the irrelevant Survivor Series’ spot in the hierarchy. Ricardo, for some odd reason, believes that this is sacrilege and can’t fathom the Big Four changing. For those of you unfamiliar, WWE has long considered Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series it’s top events every year. This dates back to the early days of WWE’s ppv lineup. WrestleMania is the top event, nowadays known as the event most geared towards casual fans. SummerSlam is second in the tier, nowadays known as the event for “smart” fans – basically if you are reading this article, you are probably considered a “smart” fan. Royal Rumble is next as the winner of the titular match at this event usually goes on to main event WrestleMania. Lastly, placing a distant fourth in the hierarchy, is Survivor Series. For a fair debate, we’ll take a look at the titular matches, rather than the entire event.
In my opinion, there are many reasons for MITB to supplant Survivor Series in the big four. MITB is a more entertaining match, consistently provides a tangible reward for the winner of the titular match, it has more meaningful use in storylines, it has provided a laundry list of superstars with a legitimate career boost and at this stage has quietly established an enduring legacy in the history of WWE.
For those of you who agree with Ricardo, and for Ricardo himself, I dare you to give me another legitimate reason for Survivor Series other than history? I’ll wait – and you can read Ricardo’s attempt to debate me on this. In any event, I’ll have my answer for you folks at the end.
More Entertaining Match
What’s better than five to seven of WWE’s midcard to main event superstars battling in a ladder match with a guaranteed title match on the line? I’ll tell you what, certainly not Survivor Series, and to be honest, not much of anything else in WWE these days. Beginning with the first iteration of the match in 2005 at WrestleMania 21, the MITB match concept has been filled with memorable moments, death-defying stunts, ridiculous feats of athleticism and more. Now, given that it’s a gimmick match, it will never be considered anyone’s match of the year candidate (neither would Survivor Series if Ricardo is being honest). Nonetheless, MITB matches have created more long-lasting memories than almost every event outside of WrestleMania and moments like CM Punk’s pipe bomb promo.
Disagree with me, here are some highlights of MITB matches over the years.
Furthermore, the MITB match in a lot of ways was the replacement for the TLC matches that had preceded it at WrestleMania. You can’t tell me that one of the reasons this match concept was created was to replace the TLC match in the absence of a vibrant tag division at the time.
Also, of particular note, out of all the gimmick matches that have since gained their own ppv, MITB is by far the best. Elimination Chamber, Hell in a Cell, TLC, Extreme Rules and others don’t have as much of an impact, neither are they as good overall. Too many times feuds are forced into scenarios to try to justify the match, rather than the natural building of a feud towards a specific match type.
Oh and just consider the lineup for this year’s match – AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn – if you don’t think these six guys have some absolutely insane things up their sleeve, you been living under a rock.
This next reason is one of the most important ones as to why MITB deserves a spot in the big four. Tell me this, what is the ultimate reward of winning a Survivor Series match? Think back on the last few years of Survivor Series events – what were the teams fighting for? We’ll come back to this in a second.
Now the winner of the MITB briefcase earns a guaranteed contract for a main-event level WWE title – formerly the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship and now the Universal Championship and WWE Championship. The extra bonus – and the major difference between this and the championship match earned at Royal Rumble – is that this title shot can happen at any time that the Mr. MITB chooses. The WWE champion looks like they have a knee injury – cash-in. The World Heavyweight champion just got beat down from another rival – cash-in. The champion just spent the last 30 minutes fighting in an Elimination Chamber match – cash-in. This has led to, in all but two instances, the winner of MITB winning a world title as a direct result of the cash in.
Now, back to Survivor Series, the most recent version of the event that made an attempt at having a tangible reward or consequence was in 2014. It was at that year’s event that Team Cena took on Team Authority. If Cena’s team won, the Authority would be removed from power. If the Authority’s team won, then all of Cena’s teammates would be fired. This was the match where Sting interfered to assist Dolph Ziggler in winning the match for Team Cena. With that, The Authority was removed from power… for all of 36 days. Which leads me to my next point…
Meaningful in Storylines
Looking at 2014’s event, along with a cursory glance at the Survivor Series matches, there is little to no meaningful impact on storylines coming out of these matches. 2014 is the most perfect example of this.
First, Dolph was the sole survivor on Team Cena, won the match, saved his and his teammates jobs, and ousted The Authority. Was he rewarded? Not particularly. Was he forgotten once The Authority regained power? Outside of a few repercussions, Dolph just slid right back down to the midcard.
Second, Sting, who interfered in the match to help Dolph win, would go on to face HHH at Wrestlemania a few months later – and LOSE. Now, you can say I am being petty by using a bad booking decision at Mania to justify the lack of meaningful impact from Survivor Series, but screw it, I just did.
Now, consider MITB. Edge, the first winner of the briefcase, waited almost an entire year before cashing in on John Cena at New Year’s Revolution 2006. His cash in led to an eventual extended feud with Cena and finally truly elevated Edge from tag team specialist turned midcard champion to a bonafide superstar and main event player. I want to refrain from doing this, but I can’t mention Edge’s main event run without this Raw celebration.
The following year, RVD won the briefcase and used it to cash in on John Cena in a planned Extreme Rules math at ECW One Night Stand. Now, fate (and weed) stepped in and cost RVD an extended run with the belt and an extended feud with the face that runs the place, but at the time it was an important move to have RVD holding both the ECW and WWE Championship at the same time.
Anyways, this all leads me to my next point.
Legitimate Career Boost
Continuing from the previous section, CM Punk’s two wins of MITB helped to propel him from indie darling who the WWE couldn’t figure out what to do with to budding main event superstar. Couple his two MITB wins with his straight edge heel run – Straight Edge Society, feuds with Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio, and leader of the New Nexus – you get a Punk that was primed for that fateful night in June 2011. For posterity…
The MITB match concept created main event level stars out of most of the guys who won the match – Edge, Punk, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Seth Rollins and Alberto Del Rio – all of these guys became main event players that had staying power (for the most part, looking at you post WM 27 Miz). They also used MITB to give Dean Ambrose his first world title last year. And, if they had done it right, it could have created more with Dolph, Damien Sandow and Jack Swagger. Yes, I know those three guys may be the poster-children for a counter-argument, but look at Daniel Bryan vs The Authority, CM Punk’s history-making run with the WWE Championship and Edge’s main event catapult, those three career explosions are sufficient to support my point. Even in cases where guys didn’t springboard immediately, it became an eventuality for most of them.
Legacy of the Event/Match
To take my last point even further, the MITB match has left a pretty substantial legacy. Out of the 17 men to win MITB and/or cash-in, 15 of them have won a world title as a result of their cash-in. That is a whopping 88% success rate. Consider that only 14 of the 24 men that have won the Rumble have gone on to win a world title at Mania, a 58% success rate, and you can see the impact of MITB.
It has been used to insert intrigue into storylines between the winning of the briefcase and the cashing in of the same. Edge held onto the briefcase until the very last minute and only cashed in on Cena after he had endured a grueling Elimination Chamber match. The Daniel Bryan cash-in was the beginning of his heel turn which eventually led to the Yes Movement and his feud with The Authority. It added more fuel to the fire that was the split of the SHIELD. Seth won it and eventually cashed in during the main event of Wrestlemania 31 on his former SHIELD mate Roman Reigns.
It led to the eventual triple threat between the SHIELD for the WWE World Heavyweight championship last year. Dean Ambrose won MITB, cashed in on Seth the same night Seth defeated Roman to recapture the title he never lost. The next month at Battleground we got the famed triple threat match that was set in motion by their initial split.
These are just two of the memorable moments and storylines that have either started from the MITB match or utilized the match to greatly further the story.
Also, don’t neglect the fact that WWE used the MITB concept to give established guys a pad to their resume – Randy Orton, John Cena and Sheamus come to mind. No matter how scripted wrestling is, WWE only gives certain guys and gals certain accolades. So the same way it’s important to note that Chris Jericho was the first Undisputed WWE Champion and that Alexa Bliss is the first woman to capture both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships is the same way that is important to note that Randy, Sheamus, Del Rio, Edge and Cena are the only guys to have won both the Royal Rumble and MITB. Not every guy gets to win a Rumble. Not every guy gets to win MITB. Even fewer get to win both.
This just in, WWE has also made it official that the first ever Women’s MITB match will be taking place this Sunday. Has Survivor Series ever done anything that meaningful? I rest my case.
For the Detractors
To paraphrase a great philosopher “And all you other cats taking shot at Alex, yall only get half a bar…”
All fun and jokes aside, I know the argument everyone will have. Survivor Series is an original big four event. It has history. It has impact. You have memories of when it used to mean something. To you I say this – do you still think that is true when compared to the history and impact of MITB? You can say yes, but I know you’re lying. Also, saying yes is akin to saying the PLP should have won the last election simply because they were in power for the last five years or for 35 of the last 50 years, and yall know what happened there.
I won’t go as far as to say that Survivor Series is trash – I won’t be that disrespectful. However, it no longer carries any meaning or importance. Survivor Series, as fun as the concept of a multi-man elimination match is, no longer means anything. It is the one ppv of the big four that just seems out of place now and no longer worthy of being a member of that squad.
Granted, I am almost 100% certain that WWE will never supplant Survivor Series with MITB (or any other ppv for that matter) because they are stubborn that way. That doesn’t mean that it’s not the right thing to do. It also doesn’t mean that I am wrong. In any event, here is to Money in the Bank our deserving member of the Big Four.