Say goodbye to The Great American Bash (or simply The Bash, as titled in last year's event). Say hello to the new Pay-Per-View (PPV) show with a supposedly new concept.
With "Money In The Bank" scheduled to take place at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri later tonight, WWE, in their renewed initiative to rejuvenate their PPV business, has scratched out the tradition of rolling out a "American-themed" PPV to coincide with the patriotic spirits in July. And that is with good reason. Apart from the common theme towards the "Great American spirits", The Great American Bash events along the years have had a tradition of, well, for lack of a better word, sucking big-time. Can anybody recalled its monstrous incarnation during 2004?
For the record, the gorgeous Torrie Wilson had nothing to do with the absolute suck-itude of this one. However, the abysmal Texas Bullrope match for the WWE Championship between John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) and reigning champion Eddie Guerrero? Hellish midcard matches the likes of Kenzo Suzuki (complete with Hiroko) vs. Billy Gunn or the impossibly lame Mordecai against Hardcore Holly? That 's some memories better left untouched.
On the other hand, what has went on to be writing its place into WWE WrestleMania history in recent years would have to be the innovative "Money In The Bank" ladder matches introduced by Chris Jericho (Kayfabe, of course) at 2005's WrestleMania 21. Featuring anywhere from six (original) to even ten (recent) participants from any WWE brand, the match is essentially a further improvisation of a standard ladder match, but with the augmented objective of retrieving a metal briefcase that is suspended 20 feet above the ring, instead of the usual championship belt. So what's in the briefcase? A guaranteed title shot in the following 365 days for one of WWE world titles, inclusive of both the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship on RAW and Smackdown, at the date, place, and time of their choosing. So what's the main appeal of that? Well, up till now, winner of the eponymous titled briefcase has had a hundred-percent record of walking away a World champion after cashing in the opportunity (except for Mr. Kennedy who got ripped off by Edge when he put his Money in the Bank opportunity on the line in a match and came out losing).
With the growing popularity of the match and also WWE's renewed initiative to revitalize their PPVs, the match type has been upgraded to a PPV wrapped around the concept as not one but two Money In The Bank ladder matches held at the event for the RAW and SmackDown brands respectively. In addition, unlike the recent MITB match held at WrestleMania XXVI, of which an unprecedented ten wrestlers participated (and thereby inevitably producing an enormous cluster-fuck overload match), the participants for the two upcoming matches have been reduced to eight each. Ideally, I would much prefer the original six-man matches, but this is a positive development.
Meanwhile, we have several other big title matches, including women titles on the line. How that come about? Well, more on that later, as we roll along with the preview.
Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match
The players: Ted DiBiase vs. Chris Jericho vs. Edge vs. The Miz vs. Evan Bourne vs. John Morrison vs. Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry.
In contrast to many other online critic whom general consensus is that the potential quality of the SmackDown MITB match is way higher than the RAW one, I am of the opinion that they are quite evenly booked. With Edge, a proven Ladder match expert and Jericho, who have had some of the best Ladder matches around (His ladder match with Benoit during 2001's Royal Rumble is textbook material), I believed the rest of the young guns, Morrison and Bourne in particular, are set to up their personal game too.
Predicted Winner: The Miz
Out of the eight participants involed, Orton stood out head over heels above the rest. (Sorry, Edge) Currently enjoying unprecedented popularity at times surpassing even the kid-friendly Cena, Orton has been marked by many critics as the next "Stone Cold Steve Austin" for his anti-hero antics. Examples of such includes his performance on the last RAW where he pulled one amazing RKO on a unsuspecting Evan Bourne in the midst of his always amazing Shooting Star Press. Which is the reason why Orton is not going to win this one. Being the company's top superstar, he can easily earn a championship contender opportunity in many other forms, and with his feud with Edge still ongoing and next PPV in line being SummerSlam, it is more likely than not that they will be escalating their feud to the next level by having a gruesome gimmick match next month. Jericho being the bes at what he does, just doesn't required accolades as such, while Henry is too far a shot from this one. That leaves us: Bourne, Dibiase, Morrison and The Miz.Out of the eight participants involed, Orton stood out head over heels above the rest. (Sorry, Edge) Currently enjoying unprecedented popularity at times surpassing even the kid-friendly Cena, Orton has been marked by many critics as the next "Stone Cold Steve Austin" for his anti-hero antics. Examples of such includes his performance on the last RAW where he pulled one amazing RKO on a unsuspecting Evan Bourne in the midst of his always amazing Shooting Star Press. Which is the reason why Orton is not going to win this one. Being the company's top superstar, he can easily earn a championship contender opportunity in many other forms, and with his feud with Edge still ongoing and next PPV in line being SummerSlam, it is more likely than not that they will be escalating their feud to the next level by having a gruesome gimmick match next month. Jericho being the bes at what he does, just doesn't required accolades as such, while Henry is too far a shot from this one. That leaves us: Bourne, Dibiase, Morrison and The Miz.
While Bourne seemed to be in favor with the management, evident from his recent push (not unlike Kingston's push earlier this year which ended tragically), it is unlikely that such major opportunity will be handed down to him. Especially when MITB are traditionally won and cashed out by heels, given its heel-ish nature. With that, we can scratch out both Bourne and Morrison. Dibiase, with his Million Dollar Man Jr. gimmick may seemed perfectly suited to the Mr. MITB status, but The Miz, with his consistently entertaining presence and gradually improving in-ring skills, is our pick for RAW's upcoming Mr. Money In The Bank. My second pick would be Morrison though.
SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match
The players: The Big Show vs. Matt Hardy vs. Christian vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Kane vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler
With Christian and Hardy around, you can be assured that the standard of the this one would not be too far apart from RAW's. Interestingly, both the RAW and SmackDown's MITB matches have a balanced mix of hardcore veterans, giants, smaller-build athletes and up-and-coming rookies. The fact that there are two giants in this one: Big Show and Kane is surprisingly better than RAW's giant, Mark Henry. Kane have had an impressive showing in his previous MITB outings while Show is pretty much as good as the giants come. The upstarts (Kingston, Rhodes, McIntyre and Ziggler) are bound to rise to the occasion in this one.
Predicted Winner: Drew McIntyre
I'm taking a wild shot right but hey, it's an educated guess too. And in fact, this actually sets up my prediction on the Mysterio/Swagger title match as well. With rampant online speculations that one of the two MITB winner cashing in the opportunity on the night itself to prevent repetitive storylines on both shows, I can foresee how McIntyre makes the best of his chances by taking out Mysterio, whose hard-fought triumph over Swagger has left him severely injured with Swagger's new-and-improved ankle locks. Nevertheless, I really hope that Christian can win this one. But reality sometimes don't just bite, they suck too.
WWE Champion Sheamus vs. John Cena (Steel Cage Match)
Meanwhile in the WWE universe... The Nexus (the namesake for the faction of superstars who participated the fun and games of NXT season one) has been relentless in extending their new-found presence upon having employed "legitimately" and beating the crap out of innocent superstars bystanders who unfortunately bumped into them. Just think TNA's Frontline combined with the Main Event Mafia. Yes, that's just one of the example how easy writing can be in the wrestling world and how these professional writers can easily screwed up the incredibly simple storyline. Cena, embroiled with the Nexus while engaging his full-time job of tangling with Sheamus, the current champion, has finally received the assistance of the human-sized mayonnaise in keeping the Nexus away. Yeah right. The Swerve is so blatant one can see it right before the White One dropped his lovely little steel pipe while chasing after the Nexus 7 while protect Cena.
And just when you thought for once, the stipulation finally made sense. What's going to stop someone from interferring a cage match, for crying loud. I can already see from my crystal ball how Justin Gabriel gonna 450 Cena from inside the cage, or even from atop the cage.
Predicted Winner: Sheamus
As mentioned, the diabolical Nexus 7 will undoubtedly interfere this one and screw Cena over, setting up for the major conflict next PPV with Cena coming up with a resolution to end the rivalry.
World Champion Rey Mysterio vs. Jack Swagger (World Championship Match)
The All-American American has been unfortunately engaged in a particularly boring storyline where the Big Red Machine goes around to pick up potential culprit who did his brother, The Undertaker in. It's Mysterio, damn it. I guessed Kane just don't have the time for internet. Other than that, there isn't really any heat with this match, and it's not like WWE trying. Which in fact became a major indication to my prediction.
Match quality-wise, this should be quite good. Swagger is steadily getting better with his consistent matches almost on a weekly basis while Mysterio has reached the level of excellency where you just can't figure out that he's actually severely injured.
Predicted Winners: Mysterio
As mentioned earlier where I predicted McIntyre's victory over the SmackDown MITB match, Mysterio gonna win this one, albeit after suffering numerous prolonged ankle locks. Just so that McIntyre can cash in on this one.
Unified Tag Team Champions The Hart Dynasty vs. Jimmy & Jey Uso
The Usos have conspicuously been spared from any match-up on RAW. While one might deemed that that might be an indication of their in-ring capabilities, it is more likely that the bookers are trying to keep the final confrontation fresh. Being the only two real tag-teams around in the locker room, we can see that from a mile back.
Are The Hart Dynasty hurt from Bret Hart's departure from the GM role? Hell yes. But the point of whether they are actually worthy of superstar-dom would be the revelation of this match-up as they are finally out on their own facing even younger upstarts.
Predicted Winners: The Hart Dynasty
Naturally, in order for the feud to further progress and for The Usos to continue to gather heat, The Hart Dynasty got to defend this one, setting up for the rematch down the line. Possibly SummerSlam if they got real lucky.
Divas Champion Alicia Fox vs. Eve
Not one but two women titles on the line here in a PPV? Is WWE on a suicide mission in its insane effort to revitalize interests in their Divas division? No, they are mad but not that mad. Yet. The real reason behind the two women title defence is that the MITB matches got too top-heavy as sixteen upper-card and mid-card superstars got engaged in two matches, thus opening up opportunity for the women titles. Just so that you can get two toilet breaks.
Meanwhile, Eve had gotten quite a shot in the arm, what with the ridiculous release of Mickie James, the injury that heavily-pushed Beth Phoenix sustained, and Maryse current role as Dibiase's valet (which is an admirable thing for the WWE writers to do for taking up my advice). However, there's just no worthy opponents as the Divas division are spread thin over two shows. So the only solution would be to create one. Alicia Fox is the current projected heel divas to feud with, having surprised everyone (who did not go for their bathroom breaks) by winning the Divas title in last month's Fatal-4-Way.
Predicted Winners: Alicia Fox
Just so that the feud can continue to torment viewers everywhere (and that we can move on to the... what! Another women title defence!)
Women's Champion Layla vs. Kelly Kelly
This one's more entertaining though. LayCool, being a clone unit of TNA's The Beautiful People, had been fun to follow with their diva antics (pardon the pun) being further demonstrate at the second season of NXT. Could the extended appearance of Michelle McCool be due to some diabolical interference from beyond this realm? Namely, from some "Deadman"... Anyway, Kelly Kelly has been just the very same drop-dead gorgeous blonde despite her admirable serious efforts in improving her in-ring skills.
Match quality-wise... What match quality?
Predicted Winners: Layla
Or rather LayCool, as they declared themselves the co-women champion. Their gimmick obviously had more mileage.
For the MITB match fans, this would be the fantast PPV to look out for. However, for veteran wrestling viewers, the hardcore level will pale in comparison to the Attitude era, and any long-time fans can tell you how that can tremendously affect the quality of a ladder match. Nevertheless, this show has all the making of a good one.
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